Hello dear friends,
I wrote this May 31st. Thank you for coming along and reading this. Writing about this has helped me a lot and has been therapeutic in so many ways.
In February during one of the phone calls with my Victim’s Advocate, I was told it was going to be a possibility that I would have to travel to New Jersey to testify depending on how the perpetrator plead. I’m glad she told me back then because this gave me time to marinate in my mind of coming face to face with him. After all these years. She told me to wait a few weeks and she would have the official trial date and to start telling my job that I would be gone for a few days.
March came and I got the call I was dreading. I was to go to New Jersey. So many emotions came and I knew I was going to have to do something extremely tough. My prosecutor and I would then have to have several calls (conference calls with a Detective present) regarding what kind of questions she would ask me and how to prepare to be asked by the Defense lawyer. I had forgotten that 17 years ago I had given a statement that was recorded by an officer. Before that, I was given a copy of my statement. It took me 2 days to read it because I read the first 4 sentences and I had to put it down because there were things I had forgotten about since that night. Reading my testimony was tough, but it had to be done. A time later, I had to LISTEN to the audio tape and hear myself speak. The older me had to listen to a scared and emotionally drained younger me explaining to the office what happened. This was upsetting, but I needed to hear the audio of myself from 17 year ago.
April came and this was it. I knew as soon as April 1st came that it was a big month. It was a time to be brave. I got special permission to bring along my son. I had the Prosecutor write a letter to my job explaining why I had to leave and not to penalize my absense and my son also got a letter to be given to his counselor allowing him to miss a few days of school. A week before trial, we got our plane tickets and hotel. Everything was top secret and there was a reason as not to disclose where we were staying.
Our flight was incredibly bumpy and it was quite a flight after 4 years of not flying. When we arrived, we were met by a car with 2 detectives to pick us up. I had the detective’s phone number ahead of time so they knew we were there. Just like a special ops scene from a movie, they rushed over to us, quickly got out, put our bags in the trunk, opened the doors for us to quickly get in and we literally sped off to our hotel. One of the detectives checked us in and we freshened up before we went out to dinner to finally meet my Victim’s Advocate. During dinner she explained the process of the trial and answered any questions I had. The time was mostly to get to know each other and mentally prepare. I found this incredibly helpful because I was nervous. It was also great to be back in New Jersey and eat the food. I even saw a man at the place wearing a Colorado shirt!
The day before trial, I finally met the Prosecutor who had been taking my case for the past 2 years. I met my family friend who was one of the witnesses. We were never allowed to discuss the case with each other, only things not related to court. It was nice to see her again as she was one of my mom’s close friend. She had driven all the way from Ohio to come testify as a witness. We went to the courthouse and even saw the court we’d be at. I saw where I would be testifying and where I would be seated. I also saw where he would be seated as well in reference to where I would be. This also helped me to be more prepared instead of just going on trial day and everything being new. The rest of the day I took time to rest and take a long nap. I was tired from flying and getting used to the normal oxygen at sea level. I live 6,000 feet above sea level in Colorado where the air is thinner, so my body was getting used to the increase in oxygen. My son took time to meet up with old friends and he loved it.
The day came for trial. I was so sick to my stomach I thought I was going to throw up. I didn’t eat breakfast in fear I was going to hurl. I just had a drink from a store. We sat in a room until it was time to testify. My heart was racing. I kept taking deep breaths to calm myself. I was feeling ok, but a bit shaky on my feet. Finally, we were told they were ready for us. As I was walking down the hallway, I saw a lady who said my name and quickly hugged me. She quietly said, “You got this! It’s going to be ok. You got this!” I suddenly realized it was my old neighbor from that time. She looked more or less the same. She and her husband were the sweetest neighbors. Just seeing her again brought tears to my eyes. I walked into court and had to immediately go to swear in. By then my voice was shaky and there were huge tears running down my eyes. Even the lady swearing me in looked like she was about to cry. I didn’t see him yet. I didn’t want to, but I felt his presence there. I saw the jurors and took my seat up front.
I looked at all the jurors. Each one. I was going have to open up about a traumatic experience from such a long time ago.
I prayed silently. Dear God. I need your help. This is going to be tough.
My prosecutor stood up and asked me the first question. I took a deep breath and so began the 3 hours of testifying.
To be continued…