Thursday morning was a typical morning as far as getting a certain person out of bed and off to school. The previous evening's discussion and late night talk was having its effect on Collin, but Mr. Ken wasn't going to allow the teen to miss school because he didn't get enough 'beauty sleep' the night before, Mr. Ken told the boy as he shoved him off to the bus stop.
Sometime after 10 AM, Mr. Ken got a phone call from the assistant District Attorney asking if he could stop by and talk to Collin. The assistant DA wanted to discuss Rodney Costa's upcoming hearing the following day. When Ken heard that the hearing was tomorrow, Friday, and without any prior notice, he was livid and told the assistant DA so.
The two men began to argue over the phone and when the DA said he would go to the school and talk to the boy there, Mr. Ken went ballistic. He told the man in no uncertain words that since he, Mr. Ken Thomas, was the boy's guardian, he, the assistant DA, could not now nor ever speak with the boy without him and or the boy's lawyer present. The DA said he'd see about that and hung up.
It took Ken a few minutes to cool down before he called Bill Jackson and told him of his recent conversation with the assistant DA. Both men decided to head to the high school and head off the DA there. When they arrived, they found Collin had been summoned to the principal's office to await the arrival of the assistant DA.
"What is the meaning of this, Mr. Stanley?" asked a very pissed off Mr. Thomas.
"Well, the DA called asking if we could have young Collin here for him to talk to. So, I called him out of class and brought him here. I don't see any problem with that. The man is the assistant DA and has a job to do, doesn't he?" replied Mr. Mark Stanley, the high school principal.
"Were you ever going to call me and tell me that the assistant DA was coming to talk to Collin? Collin is my responsibility, you know, and I have the same rights as any parent does. Or, do you think not, Mr. Stanley?" asked a very loud Mr. Thomas.
"The man said he'd already cleared it with you so I didn't think it was necessary," replied the principal.
Mr. Ken was going to say something about the way Ryan had been treated the day before by that man, but Bill Jackson held his arm and began to speak instead. "Mr. Stanley, is it routine for anyone in authority, like the police or a nurse or doctor maybe, to speak with a student without the parent or guardian present? And isn't it proper that a school official be present when the parent or lawyer isn't available?"
"Well, no, not exactly. Sometimes the parent calls us first, or when we need to, we call them in advance, but everything works out. Hey, what do you mean asking about there being a school representative present when the parent isn't available?" said Mr. Stanley.
"I'm sure you know to what I am referring, Mr. Stanley, but that is for another day. So, did you ever talk to Mr. Thomas here, or did he call you saying this meeting with the assistant DA was OK with him," asked Bill.
"Well, no but the DA said he'd talked to you and told me it was okay, so why would I not trust that man. He is in a position of authority isn't he?"
"Yes, he is in a position of authority, and he is also someone who could abuse that authority, just as anyone, including YOU," emphasized Bill, "could overstep their bounds and make things work the way they, or another person in authority like a police detective, might want them to go, no matter what the rules or even the Law says. Don't you agree, Mr. Stanley?"
"Well, ah … ah put that way, I'd … I'd have to agree with you then. But, I had no reason to believe otherwise, yesterday, or today, so I had Collin brought down here and besides he will be here soon so we can ask him, then."
"By all means, you can be real sure we will ask him that," responded Bill.
As the men were having their conversation, the man, who caused all the ruckus, arrived and, unbeknownst to him, Ken Thomas and William Jackson, his and Collin's lawyer, were there waiting for him.
"Right this way, Mr. Greene" the three men and teen heard as the door opened. "The men are waiting for you in the conference room."
As the door opened and Mr. Greene looked in, his heart skipped a beat. He hadn't figured Mr. Thomas would buck him, since he represented the sitting DA but he figured he could handle him. He already knew the Principal, Mr. Stanley, standing there with the men but he wasn't sure who the other man was.
"I see Collin is here already, so thank you, Mr. Stanley for getting him here for me to talk to. I am surprised to see you here, Mr. Thomas. I told you I was going to talk to the boy. I don't need you here. And who may you be?" asked Green of the man he didn't yet know.
"Oh, I am William Jackson, and I will be sitting in on your talk with Collin."
"I don't think so, Mr. Jackson. I represent the District Attorney and what young Collin and I have to talk about is not open to the public. So, if you all will excuse us we need to get started."
Bill and Ken looked at one another and began laughing out loud. Mr. Greene didn't see any humor in what he said, so he indicated to Collin to get up and follow him. Collin did so and both Ken and Bill followed along.
"Gentlemen, I already told you that this conversation is between me and Collin, here. If you persist in harassing me I WILL call the police and have you arrested for interfering with an Officer of the Court, doing his sworn duty."
Bill Jackson stopped and looked at the man and said, "Do what you think is necessary, but I will be present when you talk to Collin and so will Mr. Thomas. Be mindful that if you cause Collin here to talk to you without Mr. Thomas or Collin's lawyer present; you will most likely be disbarred after I get through with you. Now, will you find a place to hold this, so called, conversation, so we all can get back to our own work?"
"I don't know who you think you are, Mr. Jackson, but you are beginning to get on my nerves!"
"I told you who I was Mr. Assistant District Attorney, but not what I was. I am Collin's lawyer, and also Mr. Thomas' here and I intend to sit in on your conversation with Collin, or there will be NO conversation. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Greene?"
Mr. Greene stood there thinking and not responding in any way. At the same time, Mark Stanley was remarking to himself that he had never ever seen anyone talk to an assistant DA this way – no way and no how. Just then, Mr. Greene got out his cell phone and made a call. He told the person he was talking to the gist of what was taking so long and then stood there and listened. Before long, he hung up and looked at Mr. Jackson.
"It seems you are well known in my office, Mr. Jackson, and are considered someone not to be trifled with, so I guess I have no option other than invite you to sit in on my talk with Collin, here. And of course, you, too, Mr. Thomas, as you ARE also within your rights to sit in on this conversation. Mr. Stanley, could we still use your conference room, please?"
The four men and teen all walked back to the conference room and sat down. Mr. Stanley was still with them and was politely asked to leave before the discussion took place particularly since he didn't want to sit in on yesterday's questioning of Ryan.
"Collin, I am John Greene, an assistant DA and have been asked to talk to you about tomorrow's hearing in front of Judge Adam Richards, concerning the disposition of one Rodney Costa who accosted you on the high school grounds on 28 January of this current year. Are you following me so far, Collin?"
Collin nodded and Mr. Greene continued.
"Collin, I want to talk to you about what the District Attorney wants to do tomorrow, when we go to court. Tomorrow is only a hearing, but we can get through to the meat and have Rodney accept a plea bargain that would give him 2 to 5 years in prison, with the possibly of parole in 18 months. How does that sound to you? He did almost kill you, you know, and we feel this is as good as he can expect if he accepts the deal. Otherwise, he will be charged as an adult and can get a sentence of 5 to 10 years, with the chance of parole in something like 36 months. Matter of fact, he could find himself in the same penitentiary as his dad." and with that, Mr. Greene laughed out loud at what he implied.
Collin sat there for a few moments thinking of what Mr. Greene said and then asked him, "Mr. Green, what if I don't want to press charges? What will happen to Rodney, then?"
Those two questions hit the assistant DA like a brick. His face showed he was stunned by the implications of what Collin Wilkerson was asking. He sat there and thought to himself that 'No one who was ever that close to death ever let the guy off and here was this pathetic thing of a teenager wanting to do just that.'
"I'm sorry, Collin, we just can't let that happen. He tried to kill you and you are entitled to some sort of recompense for his actions that day. You spent the night in the hospital, hooked up to all sorts of electrical lines and fluids, and he caused you to miss almost three important days of schooling. By all means, you should want to extract some sort of 'revenge' here, don't you think?"
"First, Mr. Greene, Rodney did not try to kill me. Matter of fact, I believe he was just as stunned as I was, when I couldn't get my breath. And, NO, I am not after revenge, Mr. Green, for what Rodney did to me that day. Sure, Rodney did something to me that caused me harm, but surely there is more to it than that? I mean shouldn't this hearing be about the whys behind his actions that caused him to do what he did to me that day? Doesn't he get the chance to tell his story and say he is sorry and ask me for forgiveness? It sounds to me as if you've already convicted him and want to ruin his life, because of something stupid he did?" said Collin.
"The man is guilty, Collin, and we are going to offer him something that will get him out of jail long before what he will get if we go to trial. Don't you understand? He gets off with a reduced sentence and you don't have to testify. Everyone is a winner here. So what do you say to agreeing to our little plea bargain for him, huh?" responded John Greene. Then he continued on to answer the lad's first question by saying, "Collin, if you do not press charges, Rodney Costa will get to go free to hurt or even kill someone else in the future. I hope that is not what you want to have on your conscious in the future?"
Before Collin got to respond to Mr. Green's questions, Bill Jackson spoke up.
"Mister Assistant DA, what else does the preliminary hearing do for Rodney and Collin here? Please tell Collin what the judge may and can do to Rodney, besides your plea deal. Please answer the boy's questions and then how about telling the full story, Mr. Greene, so the young man knows exactly what to expect at this hearing tomorrow?"
John Green sat there a few moments thinking it all through including what he was told over the phone. Then he looked at Collin who said, "Is there anything that the judge can do so that Rodney gets some help before he gets to that point?"
Those three questions flummoxed John Greene and he thought that maybe Collin had been coached or even been coerced into doing something he didn't want to do. Greene decided he had to have some answers before he went any further.
"Mr. Wilkinson, Collin, I need to know has either of these two men, or anyone else, talked to you about letting Rodney off? Did any of these men, or anyone else, threaten you that if you continue to press charges they will somehow get to you and cause you or anyone else you love harm? This is unheard of that someone who has been so grievously injured would want the perpetrator to go free," said Mr. Greene, Assistant DA.
"No, Mr. Greene, no one has gotten to me to make me think this way, and these two men here are my guardians and mentors, and only want the best for me. They think a little bit like you in this matter, but I want to know if the judge can give Rodney some sort of probation. You know something that will make him accept his responsibility in what he did to me, and also make him take some sort of counseling and has to stay away from those other boys and maybe do some other stuff? I don't want him to lose his chance of getting out of the situation he was in with his father, by sending him to jail and thus make him more like his father. Can tomorrow's hearing do that for Rodney?" finished Collin.
"Son, you have got the best of me right now. We at the DA's office are in the opinion that this boy needs to go to jail and here you are saying he needs help, and not jail. I know for a fact that Mr. Morris will not like what you want us to do. For some reason, he doesn't like either of your two guardians slash mentors. But I for one like the way you are thinking, here," said the assistant DA, Mr. Greene.
"Okay, here is what the judge can do for you IF, and that is a mighty big IF, this is what you want to happen. Tomorrow, at the hearing, the judge may ask you, in open court, what you think should happen to this lad. Understand, this will be a 'Closed' Court session seeing the lad is still considered a minor and is being charged as such. If he had been remanded as an adult, then, well, let's just say you would have to testify and it would get mighty ugly and you would have no chance to get what you want for the lad. To be totally honest with you, and both Mr. Thomas and Mr. Jackson here, it could still get ugly, if what you want to happen actually happens. Mr. Morris who wants convictions will definitely be fit to be tied if he 'loses out on this easy case and I for one do not want to be around him then.
"Sorry, I got off on a tangent there, but if the judge asks you … tell him what you want to see happen. You're only fifteen, and some might say you didn't really understand what you were doing and that should be your story and you stick with it, you hear. Sorry, I seem to have gotten off on another tangent. But tell him, the Judge, that you want an apology from the teenager, and that he needs to attend anger management counseling; that he must stay away from those other boys, out of any other kind of trouble and must graduate from high school and attend college or enter the U.S. military or whatever else you think the boy needs, to get on with his life and not have this hanging over it. Do you understand, Collin? But please remember that I didn't tell you any of that. OK? Just between you and me and these two flies on the wall?" John Greene got out as he looked at the two 'flies', Mr. Ken and Bill, now smiling, knowing what the man was doing.
"Yeah, I understand and thanks for being honest and telling me I can do those things, even if Bill here gave you a bit of a shove," answered Collin, as he smiled at the man who smiled right back at him.
"Gentlemen, I want to apologize for my actions, today. I obviously was given some erroneous information about you two, when I took on this case. I see by how young Collin responds to you both and, how he see things, that he is definitely going to be someone to deal with one day," said John Greene to both Ken and Bill.
"John, who, may I ask, briefed you about us and Collin? I have a good idea from what you said about a certain DA, but I want to be sure," asked Bill.
"Well, it wasn't George Morris, if that's what you are wondering. Actually, it was his right hand man. Dean Bennett. He told me how you two treated his boss after last month's New Year's Eve Party. Boy that sure had to be one hell of a party from what I heard. And, then, the pissing contest you got into with him. Anyway, Dean gave me this case to see how I would perform, seeing I am the newbie who just passed the bar and needed a job. He told me I was to 'take control' and 'not let you push me around' and make sure we got the conviction and the 'notch on our belt'. I guess after tomorrow, I will be looking for another job. I just don't think I will enjoy being a whipping boy for the boss or his 'boy' and someone without compassion, like young Collin here," said John as he ruffled Collin's hair.
"My personal belief," began John, "is the system should look at young offenders in such a way that would allow them an opportunity to turn their lives around before they got too deep into trouble. Something like what Collin here wants to do for Rodney. Then, after given a chance, and they continue down the wrong path, the system can kick their behinds, but good! Okay, I guess we are finished here. Now remember, Collin this was a private meeting and this should not be discussed outside any of us here, well, at least not that it could get back to my boss, OK?"
The four of them shook hands before they left the conference room and then the three waved bye to John Greene as he left the building. Just then the bell rang and Collin looked at the wall clock and said it was lunch time. He also asked if he could skip the rest of the day, seeing that he missed so much already and both Ken and Bill laughed at him.
"No, Collin, you can't take the rest of the day off. You yourself already said you missed so much and seeing you will be in court tomorrow, you are going to miss a lot more. Now then, what do you say if I were to go and eat with you? You think Mr. Stanley will let me?"
Just then, Mr. Stanley came out of his office and heard the request and said he would graciously give Ken and Bill the pleasure of eating in the school's wonderful cafeteria. And, as he continued to walk by them, they heard something like a chuckle coming from the man.
The three of them headed off for the cafeteria and a meal they wouldn't forget for a very long time
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