Well That Was Unexpected
By David Spowart
Edited by J Matlock
By David Spowart
Edited by J Matlock
Josh sat in the waiting area; he knew he was next to be called. An assistant of Sarah Watson was running through a few things with him, when…
"Calling Joshua Miller…Calling Joshua Miller," an usher of the court shouted, and Josh's heart rate doubled. This is the moment he had been dreading for weeks, the moment he would come face to face with the sadistic bastard, Derrick Reynolds.
"You okay, Josh?" the assistant asked, and Josh replied, "As I am ever going to be."
Josh entered the court. Smiles of encouragement from his friends, his lover and his brother slowed his heart rate just a bit. His breathing was heavy. He turned and sat in the witness box. He was sworn in to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
And then the moment that had him in a state of panic came. He looked over at the defence table and stared directly into Derrick's eyes, the person who had haunted him in his nightmares. The person who wanted him to suffer before killing him, the evil bastard that wanted to see the pain in his eyes, to see him defeated and beg for death. And he also told him he was going to make Cal suffer the same painful end.
The look on Derrick's face was one of pure evil. He didn't bow his head in shame. There was no sign of remorse. In fact, he looked confident. He gave the impression that he thought what he had done was right and just, and that the court would eventually thank him. "Fucking maniac," Josh thought to himself.
Josh then turned his attention to Rick Turner, the person who almost succeeded where Derrick failed. He stared at him intently, but Rick couldn't hold his gaze. He, for one, now looked beaten, he looked totally defeated, he knew he would at least be facing the remainder of his life behind bars.
Before Sarah asked me any questions, she addressed the court.
"Your honour, ladies and gentleman of the jury, I will show you an image of what the state believes happened to Connor Brian. We believe that Connor was attacked because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your honour I would like to enter into evidence Exhibit A45 and A46.
"So entered," he replied.
On the screen appeared two photos: one of Connor, taken a week before his attack. He looked happy. And one photo was of Josh, taken around the same time. Again a murmur went around the court, as the obvious similarity was evident.
"We believe that Connor Brian was attacked because he looked like Josh Miller, and with the poor light, the attackers thought they had gotten their man," she added. "They were wrong, and later on, after the savage attack of Connor Brian, they went back to rectify it," she went on.
She returned to her seat, just to leave the photos on screen for a little longer, just so the jury could see what she was trying to prove, in fact that she would prove. She then stood up and walked with purpose to the witness box.
"Mr Miller, may I call you Josh?" Sarah Watson asked.
"Yes ma'am," I replied.
"Josh, how do you know the defendant, Derrick Reynolds?" she asked.
"He worked on campus as a security officer," I replied.
"And how did you become acquainted?" she asked.
Josh then went on to explain what happened the night of his first attack, and how Derrick, better known to him at the time as Ben Kips, came to his apparent rescue. And that he had taken him to the medical facility for treatment, and how he appeared to be helping him when he heard threats coming from the common a few weeks later.
"Okay, Josh, when was the last time you saw Derrick Reynolds?"
I saw him several times, but the only time he talked to me was when I had been snatched from outside the dorm complex and had been tied to some sort of frame." I replied.
"Your honour, I would like to admit into evidence a picture taken from a warehouse on campus by an operative of NYPD. I will enter this as exhibit A49." And a picture of the frame that Josh had been tied too was shown with a large amount of blood pooling around the base.
"Go on, Josh. Tell the court what happened to you at the hands of the defendant." she instructed.
"Objection. Yet to be proven!" Knowles yelled.
"Sustained," replied the Judge.
"Okay, Josh, explain to the court what the defendant allegedly did to you," she repeated.
"I was studying for mid-terms, just like most of the campus. I decided to walk over and study with Calumn Kenner, my partner," I started, but looked at Cal, and he smiled when I mentioned his name. "I was walked over by my roommate, Todd Layton, and my friend, Dale Jackson." Sarah Watson jumped in. "Yes, your honour, Mr Jackson, who has already testified, is a friend of Joshua Miller," she informed the judge.
"Go on, Josh," she added.
"Yes. Thank you," I replied.
"They walked me over, as I had been receiving threats against my life," I added.
"Your honour, I would like this to be entered into evidence. This is a note that had been pinned to Joshua Miller's dorm room door, and will be labelled people's exhibit A50, your honour," she informed the judge.
"So noted," the judge replied, and the jury was shown, via teleprompter, the note taped to Josh's door.
"And then what happened Josh?" she asked.
"I went inside Cal's dorm complex. My friends left to go back to our dorm, so they could continue their studies. I knocked on Cal's door, and received no response. I waited several minutes, and tried his cell phone, but it was going straight to voicemail, so I decided to walk back." I stated.
"You didn't call your friends?" she asked.
"No, I thought I was being a burden," I replied. "And it was only 600 yds. I thought I would be ok…I was wrong," I replied, now getting emotional. I looked over at Cal, and he had tears falling, and Todd had his arm wrapped around him.
"I started to walk back, but I could hear footsteps behind me, so I started to run, but someone grabbed me, and pushed a cloth in my face, and the next thing I remembered was waking up lying on a floor somewhere with a hood of some sort over my face. And I could hear voices, one I recognized, but couldn't quite put a face to it, until the other one spoke to him by name," I stated.
"And who was that, Josh?" she asked.
"It was Terry Reynolds," I replied, and I could hear a murmur go around the courtroom.
"Go on, Josh," she said.
"I heard them talking about Connor's death, and how bad things happen to good people," I added. "Then they started talking about what they would do to me, and that it was Terry's cousin that was running the show," I added.
"Objection, your honour!" Mr Knowles yelled.
"On what grounds?" asked the judge.
"Your honour, how does the witness know it was Derrick Reynolds he was referring to? How could the witness be sure that it was Terry Reynolds cousin he was referring to and not the third party in this case, Duke I believe?" he added.
"Mr Knowles, you may ask that question during your cross. Overruled," the judge responded.
"Go on, Mr Miller," the judge instructed.
"Well your honour, to save time I will answer his question. Terry Reynolds made a call, and asked his CUZ!! how long he would be, and Terry then informed Duke he would be here at around 6am, as his supervisor was on duty with him," I responded, and Sarah looked rather pleased.
"Your honour, I will enter people's exhibit A51, a time card showing Ben Kips, AKA Derrick Reynolds, clocked off duty at 05:41am," she added.
"So noted," he replied.
"Go on, Josh" she added.
Josh, over the next forty minutes, went into detail of how he was tortured and raped with a solid pipe, how he was repeatedly beaten and punched, how he was whipped with wooden strips until he blacked out. And he explained how he was revived with ice water, so that he could receive more punishment at the hands of his abductors.
Tears at this point were flowing freely, but Josh was determined to get his statement across. He took a deep breath and waited for Sarah Watson's next question.
"So, Josh, you were beaten unconscious. When you were awakened for the second time, where were you? Be honest. Tell the jury what your frame of mind was," she asked.
"I was woken by Terry. I was strapped to the frame you had already shown. I was naked. I could feel the cold air on my skin. My eyes were blurred slightly. I had blood pouring down my face,…I was in so much pain… I wanted to die,… I wanted this to be over…Then he walked in front of me," I said pointing at Derrick.
"And just said, `Hello, Mr Miller,' then punched me. I believe he knocked me out," I responded, tears now falling like a torrent. Sarah handed me a tissue.
"Are you okay to continue, Josh?" she asked. "Yes, thanks. Please continue. I am okay, honestly."
And Josh went on to explain what else had occurred with Derrick. His threats about what he was going to do to Cal, and the fact that this wasn't his first `fag hunt,' and concluded with what happened with his subsequent rescue, and how Derrick tried to plunge a knife into him, and if it wasn't for the actions of Agent Scott of the FBI, he would not be alive today.
Josh also went on to explain the third attack by Rick Turner, in an attempt to stop him from testifying, and if Todd and Dale had not returned when they did, he would have succeeded.
"Your honour, the evidence shown and provided by expert testimony, the state believes without doubt Josh Miller was the intended target. Derrick wanted him dead, and Connor Brian died because he was in the wrong place at the right time," she said speaking at the judge.
"Thank you, Josh" she said, and sat down.
"Your witness," she said, looking over at Mr Knowles.
"Josh, I can call you Josh, can't I, sir?" Mr Knowles asked me.
"Yes, you may," I politely replied.
"The first time you were attacked, the attackers haven't yet correctly been identified, have they Josh?" he asked, and waited for my response.
"No not to my knowledge, but…" he was cut off by Knowles.
"So, if your alleged attackers had not been identified, isn't it feasible that my client had actually saved you from further harm?" he asked.
"I don't believe…" interrupted again.
"Your assailants were never found, and my client chased them off. CCTV footage shows this. So is it not feasible that my client did in fact save you from further harm?" he asked again.
"I don't…" interrupted again by Mr Knowles, and Josh was getting more frustrated, but Sarah told him that this would be a tactic used by the defence, so he kept calm, but it was hard.
"Your honour, I would ask that you instruct the witness to answer the question yes or no," Knowles said. looking at the judge.
"Your honour, I must protest. He is badgering the witness!" Sarah yelled.
"Mr Knowles, if you don't want the answer Mr Miller is answering, withdraw the question," the judge answered. "Your honour, the only thing I am asking is since the attackers had not been identified, is it plausible that my client in fact saved the witness from further harm. It is a simple question your honour," he insisted.
"Mr Miller, you are instructed to give a yes or no answer. Do you understand? No opinions, just a simple yes or no answer," the judge asked me.
And the question was repeated.
"Yes," I answered. "Okay, since we have determined that it is feasible that my client saved you from further torment, isn't it then feasible that you were mistaken in the fact that my client had actually come to stop his cousin from causing you further harm again, Mr Miller," he added, dropping the friendly tone of calling me by my first name.
"He punched me!" I shouted, losing my cool. "Did he Josh? You said yourself your eyes were blurred with blood. You may have been mistaken. You also indicated your frame of mind was that you actually wanted to die, so how could you be so sure that my client struck you at all. No further questions, your honour. He ended, and I was in shock. Had he managed to turn this around? Had he managed to put doubt into the minds of the jury?
"Mrs Watson, do you wish to ask anything else of this witness?" the judge asked, giving Sarah a second opportunity.
"Yes, your honour, thank you!"
"Josh, you stated when you were lucid, and you could clearly understand what was going on around you, the defendant threatened to harm someone else, did he not?"
"Objection, leading!" Knowles yelled.
"Sustained," the judge responded.
"Josh, when you were of sound mind, did the defendant make any further statement to you?" Sarah changed her wording.
"Yes, he told me he was going to kill Calumn. He said because he hit his cousin, it was grounds for him to die," I responded.
"No further questions, your honour," she replied. And I for one was glad that was over. I feel like I had been run over. She was correct in how the defence would come after me.
I stood up and walked out of the courtroom, but I did hear the judge's final question.
"Your next witness, Mrs Watson?"
"The people rest, your honour," she replied.
As I sat in the waiting area, I pondered, could I have said anything else, something stronger? I don't want these jerks to walk because I screwed up.
"Dude, you were fucking awesome!" yelled Todd, coming out of court. A sad looking Cal said, "You okay, babe?" "Better for seeing you," I replied. "Fuck, that was tough, bro," Lucas responded, grabbing me in a hug.
"What's happening?" I asked.
"Oh, they adjourned for lunch," Dale replied, walking up with Mrs Brian. "Hey, Josh, you were magnificent. I wish you could have met Connor, you would have liked him," she added. And from what I have learned about him, she was probably right.
Josh stuck to what he said he was going to do. He didn't want to stop and hear the excuses and reasons, and how Derrick and the rest are just misunderstood. They deserved everything that they had coming to them. Josh did what he needed to do he faced his demon, and watched as he was shown to be the evil bastard that he knew him to be.
He just hoped the jury saw him as he did, his own cousin had told them what he was like. For the next two days the defence tried to rip holes in the prosecution's case, but Todd and Dale informed Josh that Sarah was rebuffing everything that Knowles was throwing her way, even trying to suggest that Terry was the main player in all of this. But again, the information obtained from Derrick Reynolds apartment discounted that theory.
On the fourth day of the trial, and expected to be the last day, Josh and Cal attended to hear the closing arguments. Knowles was grasping at straws and Sarah threw all her experience into her closing statement. She was brilliant. Josh was in absolute awe.
The judge gave instructions to the jury regarding electing a foreperson and to consider all evidence. He was looking for a unanimous decision for a verdict, and if they didn't come up with an agreed verdict by close of the day they would be sent to a hotel under armed guard for the evening. He wished them luck in their deliberations. Any questions were to be asked of the usher outside their room and he would bring the question to him, and if necessary he would call them back into the courtroom for further instructions. And with that he sent the jury away.
"How long do these things take?" I asked Sarah. "Josh, to be honest, I have seen quick verdicts and they have gone both ways. We put up a great case, but we will see," she replied, and patted me on the shoulder. "Josh, you could have done no more, you did everything right," she said before returning to one of her colleagues.
We decided to head out to get some food, and some much needed caffeine. "He looked so calm," Dale said. "Who did?" I replied. "Reynolds. He didn't bat an eye lid," Dale added. "Is the death sentence on the table?" Cal asked. "I don't know. I never asked Sarah," I responded. "I am glad Mrs Brian went back to her hotel. This trial has taken its toll," Dale added. "What time is it?" Todd asked, looking at all of us.
"It's three-thirty. They have been out almost two hours," Lucas replied, sitting, texting someone. "Mom says hi," he added. "Luc, you're texting Mom?" I asked. "No, she texted me. She didn't want to phone in case you were in court, so she texted me," he replied. "Okay, say hi back," I responded. "She asked if you could ring her if you hear anything," Lucas added.
So, over the next hour or so they talked about anything and everything, and soon they were expecting a call from Sarah Watson to say that the jury would be sent to a hotel. Mrs Brian walked into the coffee shop and sat down next to Dale. "You okay, Mrs Brian?" Dale asked. "I will be when all of this is over," she replied. "Did you get any sleep?" I asked. "Oh Josh, just a few minutes. But thanks for asking," she replied.
Josh and Mrs Brian's cells went off, both being informed that the jury was coming in. "So are they being sent to a hotel," Todd asked.
"No, apparently they have reached a verdict, and they will be called back into the courtroom in about ten minutes, so come on, let's get this over with," I informed them, wrapping my arm through Cal's.
Ten minutes later back in the courtroom…
"All rise. The honourable Judge Peter Clarke presiding," the usher said out loud.
"Please be seated," the judge went through the motions, and gave instructions to the court regarding shouting out and disturbing the court."
"He still look's too calm," Dale whispered. "Let's see how calm he is when the verdict comes in," responded Todd, both looking at Derrick Reynolds.
"Will the foreperson of the jury please stand?" asked the judge.
"Madame Foreperson, has the jury reached a verdict that you have all agreed upon?" he asked.
"Yes, we have, your honour," a middle-aged, smartly dressed woman responded. And she handed a piece of paper to the bailiff, and he handed it to the judge. He read what was on it, closed it, and placed it on his table in front of himself.
Madame, how does the jury find the defendant Derrick Reynolds on the charge of murder in the first degree?" he asked.
"GUILTY," she responded, and a sigh of relief and some loud "YES's" were heard throughout the courtroom.
Madame Foreperson, how does the jury find the defendant Richard Turner on the charge of murder in the first degree?" he asked.
"GUILTY," she repeated.
"Ladies and gentleman of the jury, if you are in agreement with the statement, say `I'," he said, and all did as instructed.
Will the defendants please rise," he instructed.
"Derrick Reynolds and Richard (Rick) Turner, you have both been found guilty of the brutal murder of a 19 year-old student, an innocent being. Connor Brian had his life before him, but you chose to deny him that right. Before I pass sentence on you both, I will wait on reports from the various agencies and postpone sentencing for two weeks. Take them away," he concluded.
"Ladies and gentleman of the jury, you have performed your duties to the standard required, it is not an easy job, and the state of New York thanks you for your service. Before you leave, reporting restrictions are now lifted. Some reporters may want to talk to you, you may comment, you may refuse to talk to them. It is entirely up to you. You may go, and once again thank you," he finished.
The courtroom was a mass of noise when Sarah approached me. "Thank you, Josh," she said, putting her arm around me. "Thank you Sarah, you were amazing," I replied. "So, what happens now?" I asked. "Well, doctors and psychotherapists will be asked to evaluate them. The judge will take that all in consideration. But rest assured, they will at least never see freedom again," she offered that crumb of comfort.
"And Terry Reynolds?" I asked. "He will be sentenced on the same day. But, like his cousin, he will be out of society for a long time. We are pushing for the death penalty for Derrick and Rick, but Judge Clarke is not known for that tough of a stance," she added.
"You ready to go back?" Cal asked, and I just hugged him tight. "I am just glad it's all over," I replied. "Yeah, let's go," I added.
I had another question for Sarah as I caught her coming out of a side door and I approached her. I asked what was going to happen to Duke and she replied, "Josh what would you be happy with?" and I looked on, "Okay, you know we will not be prosecuting the Reynolds boys for your ordeal, as that would be a waste of the taxpayers money, seeing we already had a conviction for a more serious crime. And, whatever sentence they would have received would run alongside their present one, once they have been sentenced.
Now Duke, on the other hand, has two strikes against him. We will offer him a plea. If he takes it he will serve 12 to 15. If he doesn't take it, we go to trial, for which he will no doubt lose, and we will be asking for 25 to life. So, I think he will take the plea," she informed me, and asked, "Would that meet with your approval?" I just smiled and replied with a sense of satisfaction, "Yes ma'am," and walked out of the courthouse, down the stairs, and then that's when it happened.
We heard loud shouting from the alleyway beside the court, and all of a sudden, like I watched in slow motion, Derrick Reynolds, with cuffs hanging from his wrist and a security guard's service revolver running to escape, shouts of `stop or we will shoot' came from the direction of the alleyway. Derrick turned, realising he had no serious means of escape. He looked for once defeated, but then he spotted Cal and I.
We had stopped half way down the court steps, and Todd and Dale with Lucas and Mrs Barnes just behind us. He smiled at me and pointed his gun in my direction. All I heard was the shot and then nothing…
To be continued…
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