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Chapter 61

2 1/2 months later...



“The trial’s starting today. How do you feel?” Sandra sits in front of me, sorting papers as she talks.

I bite my lip before speaking, “I’m nervous, I’ve seen Law and Order, binge watched it actually. The attorneys go hard, I can only imagine what’s it’s like in real life.”

“As long as you tell the truth there’s nothing to worry about,” She closes her briefcase and pulls it off the table, “Don’t worry, I’ll be there to object anything that crosses a line.”

“Okay,” I take a deep breath and a knock sounds at the door.

“I need to take her into the courtroom,” A security guard says, taking me by my arm and forcing me up from my seat. He leads me behind a big brown door and pushes it open. People are gathering in the gallery of the courtroom and I’m sat down in my seat.

Sandra walks into the room and takes her seat next to me. The prosecutor walks in also and starts to set up his stuff at his table.

Soon after, the judge and jury are taking their seats and I feel the panic begin to set in. I may not have done anything, but the feeling of weakness is overwhelming.

“This case is the people versus Gianna Bassett, Mr. Reynolds, and Mrs. Walker, you may begin with your opening statements,” The judge says authoritatively. The two of them nod and Mr. Reynolds stands from his seat.

“Today I am here to prove that the defendant, Gianna Bassett, is guilty of murdering 22 years old, Zachary Nelson,” He walks around his table and approaches the jury’s seating area, “This may be the only murder we’re charging her with but there are many more with the same M.O. and the second we all decide she is guilty, she’ll get what she deserves,” He turns his head to look at me, “That face may look innocent but let me tell you, under that facade, is a cold hearted murderer. The evidence the prosecution has will prove she is not the victim, but the suspect.”

Mr. Reynolds goes back to his seat and sits down. Sandra stands up and buttons her jacket.

“Mr. Reynolds claims he knows the defendant. Gianna is a girl who was put through some of the toughest things. Starvation, dehydration, neglect, rape. Miss Bassett’s childhood was one that I would and I assume every one of you in the jury wouldn’t wish upon anyone,” The entire jury looks at me but I can’t read a single one of their faces, “Now, the year she’s supposed to graduate high school, the year she’s to become an adult, she’s being convicted of a murder and thought to have committed murders that she knows she didn’t commit,” She looks back at me, sympathy in her eyes, “That face of innocence is real. This young girl is innocent of all crimes and the evidence will prove that.”

Sandra unbuttons her jacket and sits back down next to me. Mr. Reynolds stands and looks down at his desk.

“Prosecution would like to call its first witness to the stand, Darcy McCreery,” I furrow my eyebrows at the name, I’ve never heard of her before.

A woman comes from the gallery and is sworn in before sitting on the witness stand. Her hair is dark, black almost and the second she gets settled, she looks directly at me.

“Mrs. McCreery, I understand that you were the victim’s mother. What can you tell me about your son, Zachary?”

She swallows hard and takes a shaky breath, “Zachary was a good boy but he did have his problems. He was addicted to cocaine from the age of sixteen.”

“So your son had drug problems? Did he try to quit?”

Sandra leans forward in her seat, “Objection, what’s the point of this witness? This isn’t a trial about Zachary it’s about Gianna.”

Mr. Reynolds pulls an innocent face,“Your honor, the jury deserves to know the type of person Zachary was.”

The judge nods, “I’ll allow it.”

Mrs. McCreery tucks her hair behind her ear, “My son was trying to stop. He went to support groups and he even volunteered to keep his mind off of drugs. My boy was a good person, he just got caught up in the wrong crowd.”

Reynolds smiles, “Thank you for your insight. Nothing further.”

Sandra stands and walks up to the witness stand, “Mrs. McCreery when the M.E. did a toxicology screening on your son, it seemed that he did, in fact, have ketamine, cocaine, and MDMA in his blood. That doesn’t sound like someone that was trying to stop.”

“My son was trying to stop, he must’ve been drugged that night. He promised me he wouldn’t do it anymore.”

“Is there a possibility that your son had lied? Is it possible that he went out that night with the intent to get drugs?”

“No, no,” She begins sobbing, “He asked me for money to take his girlfriend out to dinner. That’s what he was going to do.”

“Mrs. McCreery, I think you’re just too blind to see that your son went out and bought these drugs, took them and met his untimely death later that night by a stranger.”

Reynolds shoots up from his seat and looks toward the judge,“Objection, speculation.”

“Withdrawn,” Sandra approaches our table, “No further questioning.”

The judge looks at Mrs. McCreery and dismisses her from the stand.

Sandra reads over her notes and says, “I’d like to call the defenses first witness, Lydia Montgomery,” A ginger woman stands from the gallery, is sworn in and sits down in the witness stand.

Sandra stands and walks over to Mrs. Montgomery, “Lydia... is it alright if I call you Lydia?”

“Yes,” She smiles sweetly and looks at me before averting her eyes back to Sandra.

“Alright, Lydia, you were the one who made this 911 call on the night of question, correct?” Sandra presses play on the audio file and two people’s voice comes through the speakers.

“911, what is your emergency?”

A panicked voice whispers into the phone,“Someone’s been murdered! Help! Someone’s been shot!”

“Ma’am, calm down, please. Can you tell me where you are?”

“I’m on the corner of Dalton and West, I’m hiding inside a bush.”

You can hear the clicking of the keyboard in the background as the dispatcher talks to her, “Okay ma’am, were sending police to your location now. Stay where you are. Is the person who shot the man still there?”

“No, he left, he’s gone.”

“Alright, do you see any movement? Is the man breathing from what you can see?”

“It’s too dark. I can’t see anything,” I hear her gasp, “I see lights, the police are here, thank you.” The phone call ends and Sandra turns to the witness.

“That was you, correct?”

“Yes, I made the initial 911 call,” Lydia tucks her hair behind her ear.

“Clearly in the audio, you said ‘he’. So the shooter was a man?” Sandra looks at the jury and raises an eyebrow.

“Yeah, I heard his voice and everything. I remember him saying, ‘You’re done Nicole,’ and then shooting the man.”

Reynolds looks down at his notes and interrupts the questioning,“Objection! Your honor, Nicole? Who’s Nicole?”

“I’m hoping we’ll figure that out, Mrs. Walker, please continue,” The judge gives Sandra the O.K. and she keeps going.

“Did you, Lydia, see a female at the scene of the crime at all that night?” Lydia hesitantly nods her head and Sandra raises her eyebrows in shock, “Can you tell the court when you saw this woman?”

“She was more like a girl, I’d say. I was out jogging that night and when I was passing an alleyway I saw the victim and three people in the alley. Instead of running past I just hid in the bushes because the girl pulled out a knife,” Lydia bites her lip, “She held it to the guys throat and they were yelling at him about some type of drug issue. I guess he didn’t pay her so she stabbed him over and over again. Then the two men that were with the girl kept trying to pull her away and were saying ‘Nikki lets go, let’s go’ but she didn’t move.”

“Objection!” Reynolds calls, “Your honor, may we approach?”

“Come,” He says and the two of them walk up to him.

They speak in hushed tones but I can still make out their conversation.

“Your honor, how are we supposed to know this woman is even telling the truth? In the 911 call she never mentioned a woman stabbing him!”

“The stabbing was recorded on the m.e.’s documents but she never released it to the press. Only the gun shot wound made the papers,” Sandra clarifies to the judge, “Also, the witness is perfectly allowed to testify as of to what what she saw or knows of that night. This is everything she’s seen.”

“I’m allowing this so far but don’t milk it Mrs. Walker,” The judge says, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair. Practically dismissing them. Sandra and Mr. Reynolds back off and I watch as she approaches Lydia again.

“Can you inform the jury what the young woman looked like?”

“I only remember what her silhouette looked like because it was so dark that night. She had short, wavy hair, she was probably around 5′3, maybe shorter, and she had a limp when she walked.”

“So, Mrs. Montgomery, do you think the attacker looked anything like this?” Sandra pulls up a photo of my 14 year old self, my hair was long, I’ve never cut my hair before, my curls were tight and I was almost 5′4.

“Like I said, I’m not sure. The girl was in a dark alley with two very big men so I couldn’t get the best look at her.”

“Thank you, Lydia. No further questioning.” Sandra comes back to our table and sits down.

Reynolds goes to stand up but the judge stops him.

“We’re taking a short recess for lunch, be back at 3 PM,” Everyone begins leaving the courtroom and I am escorted back into the room I was in with Sandra earlier.

The trial has barely begun and I can already see how hard it’s going to be. Whenever they find out who the killer is and who this Nicole chick is then I’m gonna have to face them.

I want to know who tried ruining my life. I need to know.

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