The trial for my sister’s murderer ended yesterday. It was a very intense week to say the least. The state rested about 3:30 pm. The case was turned over to the jury about 4 pm. We waited. I felt confident. I knew the prosecutors had done their very best. Still we waited.
Finally, about 4 hours later, we were told the jury had reached a verdict. At that moment, I remember thinking, I hope they get it right. I hope they listened, I hope they reviewed their notes and the evidence. As the jury filed in, not one of them looked to our family. They all seemed to be looking down.
For an instant, I panicked. Would they say “not guilty”. I held my breath. I clutched the hands of the people on each side of me. I waited. The judge read the verdict.
“We the jury, find the defendant, GUILTY of murder.” I breathed. A few tears slid down my cheeks. I thought I would feel a huge sense of relief when the trial ended. I thought I would be happy with a guilty verdict. I felt a bit of relief. No happiness came my way. No joy. I felt like a blank slate. Nothing had changed.
We left the court room, knowing the media was waiting outside. I had been asked to be the family spokesperson if I wanted to speak to the media. They approached me. I spoke calmly and quietly. I did not cry. I did not smile. I just spoke.
As we left the building, the jurors weren’t far behind us. Several of them stopped and told us how sorry they were for our loss. They hugged us, they cried with us. They told us how they saw things, how they were thinking throughout the week. We were blessed with a kind, caring, compassionate jury. Much like my sister was.
It was well after 11 pm when I arrived home. I took my shoes off and sat on the couch. I looked around my home. I sat in silence. Exhausted and feeling blank inside. What had I expected? Did I think the guilty verdict would change anything? I don’t know. I do know nothing has changed. At the end of the day, my beautiful sister is still gone. At the end of every day, she is gone.
Justice was served yesterday with that guilty verdict. Justice was served, not for my sister’s murder. Can you ever have justice for a murder? I don’t think so. Justice was served for our community, our state. Knowing that no other innocent person, no other family will have to go through what my sister went through, what my family went through by the hands of this murderer.
I truly believe a life will be blessed because of this verdict. A life will be spared. That’s what we received yesterday. And that has to be enough.
Shirley Wiles-Dickinson 2011