Chapter 30 | Guilty?
As I stand up for Judge Shepherd, I look over to see Jared with his famous, expressionless grin resting on his face. I don’t see how he is so calm after everything that happened on Friday with Jaxon.
When he looks up to his lawyers, he actually smiles as they smile back at him.
Something is not right.
“Please take your seats. Defendant, please call your first witness.” Judge Shepherd states to the courtroom.
“Your honor, we call Jonathan Bishop to the stand please.”
Everyone on my side of the courtroom looks confused as my dad slowly stands up and heads toward the stand. My mom looks confused as well, since she made it her mission to be here today.
Shane, Angie and Jax all look stunned to see Jared calling on my dad.
Once my dad stated his name for the record, Jared’s lawyer began interrogating him immediately.
“So, Mr. Bishop. You’d say you’re pretty close friends with Officer Bernard, yes?”
What does Officer Bernard have to do with this? I look over and notice him sitting in the far back of the courtroom.
“Yes, what is that in relevance to?” My dad asks.
“Well, it’s been brought to our attention that you and Office Bernard go way back... in fact, you go all the way back to five years ago one Thursday afternoon after an incident at work.” Jared’s lawyer states and my eyes go wide.
I slowly turn around to look at my mom and her eyes are almost as wide as mine are. I take a glance at Angie, and her face is expressionless at the mention of her father’s incident.
“What does Mr. Sage have to do with my daughter?”
“Can you please answer my question first?”
“Yes, I did know Officer Bernard five years ago. We actually met a little over seven years ago when he first started working in our town.” My dad answers with a grim expression.
“And isn’t it true that he was the current bailiff during the trial of a one Mr. Sage?” Jared’s lawyer asks.
“Yes, but I still don’t see how this has anything to do with my daughter’s case against Jared.” My dad has a genuinely confused look on his face now, and he keeps eyeing Angelica as well as my mother.
None of this makes sense. Why are they bringing up Angelica’s father?
I look over to my lawyer, who shares the same confused expression as my dad.
“Well, it seems as though a lot of the evidence used by your daughter’s lawyer, is evidence given by Officer Bernard.” Jared’s lawyer states.
“Yes?” My dad still doesn’t seem to understand what Jared’s lawyer is getting at.
His lawyer isn’t wrong though. Everything we have on Jared has been ran through Officer Bernard and his team at the station. I even showed him my recordings before I showed them to my lawyer or Judge Shepherd.
“Your honor, I would like to release some documents on Mr. Bishop’s behalf.” Jared’s lawyer states while handing over a bundle of papers to the bailiff to give to Judge Shepherd.
“Very well.” Judge Shepherd says as he looks over the documents.
I glance over to Jared who is smirking.
Directly at me.
I bring my gaze back to Judge Shepherd as he finally puts the pieces of paper down on his desk.
“Your honor, you are reading the illegal documentation written and signed by both Officer Bernard and Mr. Bishop, stating in full detail about their agreement to withhold vital evidence from the case of a one Mr. Sage. It appears that Mr. Sage’s accident was anything but an accident.” Jared’s lawyer firmly states, and the entire courtroom is so quiet you can hear the faint intakes of breath from the jury.
I begin slowly shaking my head, not believing for a single second that my dad could be a part of something so cruel. Why would he keep evidence from Mr. Sage’s accident?
I slowly turn around just in time to see Angie’s face turn from expressionless, to furious.
“What is happening?” I whisper to my lawyer.
“I... I have no idea. I had no knowledge of any of this.” He truthfully admits while watching the scene currently taking place.
“What does this mean, exactly?” Judge Shepherd asks Jared’s lawyer.
“It means... that Mr. Sage didn’t accidentally fall that day at the construction site. He and Mr. Bishop were in some sort of disagreement. It appears that Mr. Sage didn’t fall, but he was pushed.”
A few gasps are heard throughout the courtroom at the sudden, yet very shocking news.
“Isn’t that right Mr. Bishop?” Jared’s lawyer smirks to my dad.
My dad says nothing. His face has paled, and he looks as though he’s seen a ghost.
The ghost of Mr. Sage.
“Mr. Bishop pushed Mr. Sage off of that lift at the construction site, and when questioned by police he panicked. He and Officer Bernard covered it up as an accident, but that isn’t the case. They forged documents and evidence in a way to clear Mr. Bishop’s name.”
Judge Shepherd begins to rub his temples.
“Which means, your honor, that Officer Bernard is no longer credible, and neither is Mr. Bishop. Which also means, any and all evidence used against my client, Jared Winston is no longer credible either. That includes all emergency room medical records, all witness testimonies, and more importantly, all of the recordings given over by Ms. Bishop.” Jared’s lawyer finishes his rant as he calmly walks back over to his seat beside Jared.
“No further questions, your honor.” He says before sitting down and adjusting his tie.
Jared isn’t smirking any longer. Instead, he’s wearing a very bright and genuine smile.
My heart sinks as I look at my dad and then back at Angie. Her eyes are full of tears as Jax places his arm around her shoulders. I look to my mom, but she doesn’t look me in my eyes.
Did she know about this? Did they both lie to me and more importantly, to Angie and her family?
“Objection, your honor! The emergency medical records are enough proof to show that Jared did in fact hit Ms. Bishop. Surely you can’t allow him to walk free for that!” My lawyer tries his best to defend me.
“Unfortunately, due to the newfound claim against Mr. Bishop and Officer Bernard, I have no choice but to remove any and all evidence used against Jared Winston. We will take the jury back into their headquarters, where they will deliberate and return here in exactly twenty minutes.” Judge Shepherd slams his gavel down onto the desk as the jury head into the deliberation room.
I sink into my chair and bury my head into my hands.
“I... I’m so sorry Ms. Bishop. You had a fighting chance. I actually thought the bad guy would be put away here today, but I just don’t know how the Jury will agree to that knowing that your dad has forged information in the past on his own behalf. Who’s to say he wouldn’t do the same for you?” My lawyer says quietly to me.
I immediately snap my head up and glare at him.
“My dad didn’t forge anything and he certainly didn’t sabotage his own daughter. This is all Jared’s doing, I just know it. Mr. Sage and my dad were best friends. There’s no way my dad purposely pushed him off that lift. This can’t be happening.” I sigh as I sink even further into my chair.
I can’t even turn around to look at Angie again. The pure hatred and betrayal on her face actually scares me. I hope she doesn’t seriously believe that my dad could have done this.
After a very long and excruciating twenty minutes, Judge Shepherd returns as well as the jury.
“In the case of Addilyn Bishop vs. Jared Winston, the jury will now give their verdict.” Judge Shepherd announces to the courtroom.
Juror number one stands up and holds a small card in her hands.
That card is the difference between my attacker walking free, or doing time.
“Has the Jury reached their verdict?” Judge Shepherd asks.
“We have your honor.” Juror number one replies.
“And how do you find the defendant?”
“We find in favor of the defendant, not guilty your honor.”
It is in that exact moment that every single ounce of oxygen immediately escapes my body. Times stops around me as I take in the words.
Not guilty. They found him not guilty. Jared Winston wins.
I begin to shake my head in disbelief as I slowly bring my eyes over to the monster himself.
He winks at me, and then continues shaking hands with every member of his team.
“I’m so sorry, Addilyn.” My lawyer states before packing up his briefcase and exiting the courtroom.
I’m rooted to my seat, unable to move.
I feel a hand on my shoulder and I look up to see Shane.
I immediately shrug his hand off my shoulder and stand up.
“Addie...” He begins, but I hold up my hand.
I turn around and see my mom and dad arguing near the doors to the courtroom. They look up and start to walk over to me.
“Don’t say anything.” I say in a firm, yet thick voice.
Not a moment later, Angie appears with Jax right beside her.
“Angie-” I begin, but she cuts me off.
“I can’t believe I trusted you. I can’t believe my entire family trusted you.” She’s looking at the floor, but I know who she’s actually talking to.
“Angelica I-” But she doesn’t let my dad finish.
“No, stop. You don’t deserve the right to speak. How dare you. How dare you kill my father and then lie to cover it up. What kind of monster does that to someone? Is that why you started drinking all those years ago? I remember Addie used to spend the night with me a lot during that time. She didn’t even want to be around you. Now it all makes sense. You disgust me.” Angie spits with pure hatred.
“Angie stop!” I yell while standing in front of my dad.
“We don’t know that anything of what Jared’s lawyer said is true. He could of had fake documentation written up just to spite me. You saw what he did to all of us, to Jacob. He would do anything to keep this trial from happening, and since it happened anyway, of course he would try to sabotage it. You aren’t thinking clearly.” I say while taking heavy breaths.
“You can’t fake a signature, or the way that your dad didn’t even try to deny any of it. The way he sat there, the way his face looked when that lawyer handed those papers over to the Judge. Clearly, he is disappointed that his secret is out. He’s nothing but a... a murderer.”
“My dad may be many things, but he is not a murderer. I can’t believe you would say that!”
I can actually feel my heart shattering.
“And I can’t believe that my own best friend would take up for this monster rather than me. You know, you wanted to put Jared away for what he did to you, but you should have been looking right here. The real monster is right here.” Angie wipes a tear that has fallen from her face. “And I want nothing to do with any of you.”
After that, she turns around and leaves. Jax follows, but turns to give me one final glance. I can’t tell if he’s saying sorry, or if he actually believes that my dad would do something like this. It honestly hurts me to think that my two best friends, the two people who are supposed to be there for me through anything, are walking away when I need them the most.
“Oh and by the way Mrs. Bishop... Addie hasn’t been eating. At all. She’s also been throwing up her food every chance she gets, so you might want to look into that.” Angie says right before walking out of the courtroom.
My eyes widen as tears begin to fill them. My mom looks at me with a pained expression, but I push past her and run out of the courtroom.
I make it out just in time to see Jax holding Angie as she cries onto his shoulder. Her eyes find mine and it’s as if I’m looking at a complete stranger. Angie immediately takes Jax by the hand and they both walk out into the parking lot to leave.
“Addilyn, what is Angie talking about? You’re not eating? Is that why you really passed out on Friday?” My mom asks with worry laced into her eyes.
“No mom, she’s just lying because she’s mad. I’ve been eating just fine.” I lie.
I can’t tell if she believes me or not, and I honestly don’t have the energy to keep pushing the lie.
We all walk out into the parking lot.
“I’ll meet you at the car.” I say to my parents. They walk over to the car and get inside.
“Addie, I just... I don’t really know what to say.” Shane begins while grabbing my hand.
“I can’t believe she said those things.”
“But Addie, I saw those mints in your backpack a few weeks ago, and you always find some excuse to go to the bathroom after lunch every time you eat something.” Shane warily states.
“Oh, so you believe her? Great. You should just go over and ask them to give you a ride home then, because I’ve had enough of people telling me what I do or don’t do!” I snap.
“I understand you’re upset about the trial, but I’m sure everyone will make sure that you are safe. You aren’t going to have to see him ever again, if I can help it. We can do something about it, I’m sure. We came here and fought like hell, but we lost. We just have to accept it and try to move on.” Shane tries to reason.
“No Shane! Look at what he’s done to you, and to Jax, and to poor little Jacob! Jacob is still in the ICU because his levels dropped low again last night unexpectedly. He’s in the hospital fighting for his life and all you can say is we should accept it? Well no, I’m not going to accept it Shane. Not for a minute!” I practically yell.
“You know what Addie, ever since we’ve started dating I’ve been trying to be here for you but you refuse to let me in. Maybe you’re not doing what Angie says you’re doing, but you certainly aren’t taking care of yourself the way that you should be. I want to be here for you, so please just let me.” Shane pleads while still holding onto my hand.
I slowly pull out of his firm grasp and his hand falls to his side.
“I have to go.” I immediately walk away and once I’m at my parents car, I get inside without another word.
“Isn’t Shane coming?” My mom asks.
My dad pulls out of the parking lot and we start to drive home. The entire way there, my silent tears are falling onto my skirt.
Today was supposed to be a perfect day. Jared was supposed to be arrested, Jacob was supposed to be moved out of the ICU, and I’m supposed to be happy.
Rain clouds begin to form in the sky, and I sigh to myself as raindrops begin to fall against the roof of the car.
A single raindrop slides down my window as a single tear falls down my puffy cheek.
As the storm of my life thickens, I find it that much harder to keep my head above water.
Soon, I know I’ll drown.