My sister was murdered on September 17, 2009. Six months and 5 days later, on March 23, 2010, an arrest was made.  It will soon be 18 months since her death. It will soon be 12 months since the arrest was made.  I’ve been told that the court process will be slow. It will take time.  I’ve learned what I have been told is true. I’ve also learned that waiting is a true test of my patience.

The initial trial was set for June 7th, then continued until June 21st.  The trial was continued once again, this time until September 13th.  As September approached, yet another continuance, November 29th.  Then, just before Thanksgiving, the trial was once again continued until March 7th.  All the continuances were granted to the defense.

Every time the trial approached, I would feel myself becoming anxious and nervous.  It took every ounce of mind strength to focus on work and any other task I would do.  I told myself with each upcoming date not to get my hopes up. Try to stay pessimistic!  Avoid disappointment at all costs.  Try as I might, every time the trial has been continued, I go through a period of disappointment, letdown.

I know the trial will not end my grief. The trial will not make anything better. Justice being served will not bring my sister back.  What I hope for is that justice served will let me move past the waiting and worry. It will let me take a bigger step forward, so to speak.  When justice is served, I hope to be able to focus more on the good in my life.

I attended the final pre trial hearing on February 23rd.   It was the first time I saw the accused in person.  As this man was escorted into the courtroom in his orange jumpsuit, hands and feet shackled, I realized I was holding my breath.  I began my deep breathing…smell the roses, blow out the candle.

I knew I couldn’t say a word, I couldn’t cry out loud. Once we entered the court room, we were told no talking, no noise whatsoever.  I continued my breathing, all the while glaring at this man. I saw his size. A big man, much stronger than my sister.  At that very moment, I loved her even more for fighting as hard as she did.

He looked at me, our eyes met and I held my gaze. He looked away. I felt as if I won a small battle.

I had learned, a few weeks prior to this pre trial, that the lead prosecutor on my sister’s case had been terminated.  He was fired before Christmas.  My first thought was that now the prosecution is going to have to ask for a continuance.  The new prosecutor will need time to review the case.

Sitting in the court room, listening to the public defender ask for yet another continuance, my heart sank.  The judge agreed; he needed more time, since he had just been given information from the new prosecutor about the case.  So, once again, the trial was continued.

Now the date, May 16th is embedded in my brain. Will it happen then? Will we finally get on with this process?  Will justice be served for my sister? I hold onto hope. Hope, it seems, is all I can do.

Shirley Wiles-Dickinson 2011

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Shirley Wiles-Dickinson

Shirley Wiles-Dickinson is the youngest of four girls in a Midwestern family. In 2009, her sister was brutally murdered. She writes about her experience following this loss.

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