The Emotion of Penalty Phase

The guilt phase of the trial was hard.  So is the penalty phase, but in a different way.  The penalty phase is about the presentation of aggravating circumstances by the prosecution and of mitigating circumstances by the defense.  This means that much of it is about the character of the defendant and about the scope of loss felt by survivors.  It’s hard.  It’s hard to share a glimpse into your very soul in front of a room full of strangers.  I felt a great responsibility to try to portray who the boys were in just a few sentences.  How do you fit an entire life into a brief comment?  When you sit down in the witness box, much of what you planned to say goes right out the window.  I’ve been told that I did well, but I can’t really remember anything that I said.  It’s much easier to talk to you here, without critical eyes waiting for the least misstep to pounce (at least that’s how it feels at the time – like you’re a mouse under the unblinking gaze of a cat). 

In this process I not only had to show the depth of my own pain, but to share the pain of all the others.  Family members, friends, teachers, and parents of the little guys’ friends all had to pull open their shirts to show their wounds to the world.  That’s hard.  It’s hard for those testifying and it’s hard for those who are hearing.  My oldest brother cried on the stand today.  That freaked me out.  It just doesn’t happen.  The rest of us, yes.  But I didn’t expect Steve to break down, too.

I spoke on Monday – I was the first.  My daughter, Mala, spoke today, just before the detective who verified coroners’ photos and displayed the pillow that was used to kill Devon and Ian.  While Mala was on the stand, clips of videos she had taken of her brother and nephews were shown on the view screen.  You might think that would be sad, but not to me.  Hearing their voices, and watching their play and interaction gave me the strength to sit through the detective’s testimony.  Ian can still make me laugh.  Even when I know what he is going to say by heart, hearing it from Ian gets me every time.

Here are articles from this week so far:

Today  http://www.sgvtribune.com/ci_16631297

Article about yesterday’s testimony:  http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_16622327?IADID=Search-www.sgvtribune.com-www.sgvtribune.com

Article from Sunday’s paper about what would happen in court this week:  http://www.sgvtribune.com/crime/ci_16612733?source=rss_viewed

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