Walking back into the room I stopped for a second to look at the still form laying there on the bed, the much too still form.
Jeremy still hadn’t woken up and seemed to be dying from what the doctors had said even though there wasn’t a medical reason for it.
I went over and sat down thinking the poor kid certainly had no reason to live with everything that had happened to him as I picked up the file I wasn’t supposed to have and began looking through it again.
The more I read of what was in this file the more certain I became that Jeremy just didn’t have the heart to go on and was willing himself to die, maybe to join his father.
I could understand why too.
I wasn’t supposed to have that file but the Captain, seeing how attached I had become to Jeremy, had given it to me and reading it I learned a lot more than the barest details I had had of this child’s life up until now.
Jeremy had had a very good life up until several weeks ago when he had lost it all.
His father had been brutally murdered in front of the boy while trying to stop an armed robbery and then instead of helping a distraught boy get through the loss of his only family the system had instead began to systematically start screwing him over and now this.
I couldn’t imagine what he was going through after what had happened and shook my head at the thought that I had asked him to come back to all this pain and suffering.
What right did I have to ask that of him, he was all of ten years old for God’s sake.
I’d seen a lot in my life but this, this was…
“How the hell do You allow this kind of thing to happen?” I said softly looking up towards the ceiling. “How?”
I didn’t expect an answer and wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get one as I turned my gaze back to the pitifully frail form lying there.
How much more can one child be expected to take anyway?
The media had somehow gotten a hold of what happened in the shower and as usual were reporting things that were completely devoid of facts.
It had ranged from Jeremy attacking a group of black children to him killing twelve of them and it taking three officers to restrain him.
They even reported that guards had had to shoot Jeremy multiple times and that he still fought on and injured several guards before being subdued.
I had to wonder if any of these reporters had a single brain cell divided between them to report such crap and say it like it could even be remotely true.
Somehow with all the safeguards in place to prevent a child’s identity from becoming public, in this case it had, and it had turned into a local media sensation the likes of which hadn’t been seen around here since Old man Conner’s fourteen year old boy had been caught with a neighbor’s cow back in 88.
Maybe I shouldn’t ask him to come back to this and what awaited him here but damn it I just couldn’t let him go either.
I reached up and took his hand in my own and softly caressed the back of it for a few minutes thinking about things and then told him
“Jeremy, I know you don’t want to come back and I know how much you’re hurting but you gotta fight. Don’t let them win like this. Don’t let them make you give it all up. If your father was anything like the guys I used to know in the military he wouldn’t want you to give up, you never give up. Come back Jeremy and we’ll fight this together, just don’t die.”
There was no response as I looked at the lifeless face and bent forward brushing the hair from his forehead and kissing him softly.
“Don’t give up little one, don’t you give up.”
“Your turn Ethan,” I yelled as I tossed the Frisbee towards my oldest son who caught it easily before sending it on to Trevor.
He was so good with the twins I thought looking at them sending the Frisbee back and forth between them now.
Ethan was close to being eleven now and the twins were seven going on eight.
At least Trevor and Kyle were wearing clothes for a change which was more than they usually wanted to do.
I shook my head thinking about the incident at the pre-school when they were four, the school for some reason did not find it as amusing as I did.
Even their grandmother had stopped trying to get them to wear anything when they were at her house, mom could definitely recognize a lost cause when she was confronted with one.
“Off..Officer Roberts?” I heard a questioning voice ask me as I quickly moved my hand to my concealed gun and swung around.
There were not too many people who knew who I was and those that did were usually not the type you wanted to find you out at the park.
I was staring at a young boy who looked vaguely familiar but who I couldn’t place right away.
“It’s me, Darryl,” he said looking at me and I could see the fear on his face as he realized where my hand was and what it surely had to be gripping.
“Darryl?” I said thinking rapidly and trying to remember, then it hit me.
I relaxed as I heard, “Dad?” and looked to see Ethan approaching.
The other two were standing back and I knew Ethan had told them to stay away.
“It’s okay son.” I called as I turned back to Darryl.
“I’m sorry son I didn’t recognize you at first,” I told him.
Ethan had come up to my side now and was standing there looking at the boy.
“That’s okay,” the boy said, kind of sadly I thought.
I realized then that maybe he felt that no one did.
“Ethan this is Darryl, he was a friend of Jeremy’s.” I told my son.
“Jeremy, is he okay? Where’s he at?” Ethan quickly asked and I could see the excitement on his face but I could also see the disappointment on Darryl’s and instantly knew he wouldn’t get an answer.
“I was going to ask you that,” he mumbled dejectedly
“Ethan why don’t you go and play with the twins so I can talk with Darryl.” I asked, then added “Please” when I saw the look of determination to stay come across his face.
“Okay dad,” he replied before moving off to join his brothers.
“I thought you would know,” Darryl said and I could see tears starting to run down his face.
I moved forward without thinking and took him into my arms holding him close as he cried.
We sank down to the ground as I held him until he calmed down some.
He pulled back and looked at me before asking “What’s happened to him?”
“I don’t know.” I said softly.
He didn’t say anything for a while and just sat there looking down at the ground but finally looked up at me and said. “I haven’t seen him since that day in court and we didn’t get to talk or anything. We tried calling social services and finding out where he was but they won’t tell us anything and I’m really worried about him.”
I took a deep breath looking out over his head into the trees and simply replied. “So am I son, so am I.”
“But you’re a cop. You gotta be able to find him.” He asked.
“I’ve tried Darryl. I’ve been searching for him since that last day in court and can’t find him anywhere. I’ve pulled in favors from everywhere I can, and even my Captain has called in a few, but it’s like he’s disappeared, or been deliberately lost.” I said.
“Lost?” He asked
“Yeah, lost in the system either by accident or on purpose but no one seems to know where he ended up.” I stated.
“He looked so…so awful the last time I saw him.” Darryl said, and I knew this little guy was hurting.
“Yeah, I know. I hope he’s still alive.” I responded without thinking until I heard a gasp from the boy in my arms.
I looked down to see the look of horror that was across his face as he said, “what... what do you mean?”
“Darryl…” but then I had to stop and look away for a moment thinking back to everything.
“Darryl you know what happened to him right?” I finally asked.
“Um..yeah” he mumbled.
“It was very bad for him.” I lamely told him.
How can you describe being so hurt you didn’t want to live anymore.
“What happened? I mean I know about THAT but then he went to the hospital and all and I didn’t get to see him again until the day he came back to the jail, but he never said anything about what happened in the hospital.” Darryl asked me.
“I suppose of anyone you have the right to know.” I said looking out at my sons playing and wishing every child could have that simple joy and never know pain such as Jeremy had.
“Some of this I learned later but I’ll tell it to you in order so it’s less confusing. You know what happened that brought him to the hospital and that he almost died, several times as a matter of fact. What you don’t know is that it seemed like he didn’t want to live. Of course with what had happened, everything that had happened, who could blame him? He was dying and it wasn’t because of his injuries. I just sat with him and tried to be there for him as much as I could. I would talk to him and tell him to fight, to come back to….”
“Don’t give up little one, don’t you give up.” I said to the boy as I brushed another soft kiss onto his forehead before sitting back down again.
I kept hold of his hand but I guess these twelve hour shifts were catching up with me because the next thing I remember was some small sound waking me suddenly and bringing me instantly awake.
I looked around the room but relaxed as I didn’t see anything to have awakened me then turned my gaze to the boy lying there motionless and unconscious for so long.
It was then that I realized that he was unconscious no longer and tears were silently running down his face.
“Jeremy?” I questioned
I heard a moan as I got up and brushing the hair off his forehead softly told him, “It’s okay now sweetheart, you’re safe.”
He moaned again then slowly began to try to open his eyes as I repeated. “You’re safe now, no one will hurt you again.”
“Da…daddy…it…it hurts.” He half cried out in a whisper.
My heart broke at hearing that and I quickly pushed the call button to get some help in here.
“I know baby, I know. Help is coming.” I told him as a nurse pushed the door open and seeing Jeremy awake quickly went back out.
She was back moments later with several other nurses and a doctor who pushed me out of the way and began going over Jeremy, while I retreated to the other side of the room and just watched.
I was trying to hold back the tears I could feel on the edge of escaping over that, I knew he didn’t know who was there when he started to begin to awaken but it still broke my heart to hear him say those words.
He had no one in his life that cared and I guess me doing so had made him think of his dad as his first thought. I couldn’t imagine if it was my kids in any kind of similar situation who didn’t have anyone to give a damn about them.
I watched as they spoke to him and finally the doctor administered something before coming over to me.
“I’m Doctor Palmer.” she said.
“Ethan Roberts.” I replied
“I gave him some pain killer as he is in quite a bit of pain but what most concerns me is that he didn’t speak. There isn’t a medical reason for it that I know of.” She told me.
“I don’t know. He spoke to me briefly to tell me it hurt but that was all before you came in.” I said.
“Well we’ll keep an eye on it and see what happens, I would imagine it’s psychological in nature if it persists though.” She informed me as she turned to leave.
“Can you blame him?” I asked realizing that I did so rather bitterly.
She turned back and looked at me appraisingly for a moment before saying, “No, I can’t,” then turning and walking out.
I stood there for a moment before walking slowly back over to his side and just gazed down at him for a bit.
Finally I took my chair and his hand and dozed off again.
This became the pattern over the next few days, I would come to work and check in with the outgoing officer before walking into the room and saying “Good evening” and asking how Jeremy was doing. He would look at me, shrug his shoulders and stare at the ceiling.
I tried to engage him in conversation but it didn’t work.
He wouldn’t speak to me either so after a few days I stopped trying.
Then I got the idea to read to him as it would pass the time and hopefully engage him in something other than what had to be thinking about things.
I knew my boys loved having me read to them, even the ‘I’m getting too old for that stuff Dad,’ from Ethan Jr.
I brought the first of Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels in entitled “Deryni Rising,” thinking that he might like that one as it’s main protagonist was a thirteen soon to be fourteen year old boy.
He watched me as I sat down and opened up the book to the first page, but before I started reading I said, “I kind of like talking so since you don’t want to I thought I would read aloud, I think you’ll like this.”
He looked at me incredulously for an instant before the same look of disinterest that had been on his face for days took back it’s place on his countenance and he went back to staring up at the ceiling.
Fine then I thought as I smiled to myself let’s see if he can resist the charms of Kelson Haldane and began to read the fist page.
“Brion Haldane, King of Gwynedd, Prince of Meara, and Lord of the Purple March, reigned in his horse sharply at the top of the hill and scanned the horizon. He was not a big man, though regal bearing and a catlike grace had convinced many a would-be adversary that he was. But his enemies rarely had time to notice this technicality…….”
“Kelson knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to run to Morgan as he’d done as a child, to fling his arms around him and sob out his relief, terror, pain, all the nightmare of the past two weeks; let the calm and sometimes mysterious Deyni lord soothe away his fears and ease his troubled mind with that awesome Deyni magic. He had always felt so----safe with Morgan. If only he could… But he did not. He was a man, now-----or supposed to be. And furthermore he was a King! Maybe! He interrupted himself apprehensively---if Morgan can help me to survive long enough!”
(Above passages copy right to Katherine Kurtz from her novel Deryni Rising)
I stopped at page 47 and was rewarded with him turning his head to me with a sharp look clearly wanting me to go on but then his expression blanked and he looked back to the ceiling but it was enough. I had gotten through to him or should I say the man-child that was Kelson Haldane beset from all sides had managed to get through to him.
I would imagine that Jeremy saw in Kelson a kindred spirit as I am sure he felt the same way at this point.
I had kept my expression neutral and simply said, “Tomorrow is another night my prince,” and could see him start to turn to look at me with a very slight smile at the corners of his mouth but just as suddenly catch himself and stop.
It was enough.
I laid the book down and dimmed the lights allowing him to sleep if he so chose before hitting the bathroom and settling myself in for the night in my chair and was soon rewarded with the soft breathing that bespoke sound sleep coming from his bed.
I soon joined him thinking there were quite a few books in her series so they should work for some time if need be. She was one hell of an author and this series was my favorite of her works. The seven books she had set in the time of Kelson were wonderful as were the Camber ones set some two hundred years before. I only hoped I would be able to get through all of them to the point where we got to Cinhil’s sons for they were some of her finest yet saddest novels in the entire series.
With those thoughts running through my head I drifted off to sleep.
This went on for several days before our lives once again took an unexpected turn that neither of us liked.
I had begun reading to him as I had been doing lately when suddenly the door to the room burst open and two people came running in shouting.
I jumped up reaching for the gun I didn’t have in an attempt to pacify the hospital administration who didn’t care for weapons in their building even though I had the right to carry one as a peace officer.
It was a man holding a camera and a local reporter.
The woman was shouting questions at a terrified Jeremy who was trying to crawl backwards in his bed except the only problem was that there was no place for him to go.
I was already moving towards the man as I took all this in and slammed into him sending his camera flying across the room and into a wall.
All I could hope was that the very expensive piece of equipment was good and truly ruined.
He fought me and it scared me that I wanted to hurt him so much, but when Jeremy, in trying to escape the woman, fell off the side of the bed and onto the floor with a scream of pain I slammed the sucker down hard to the floor and pulled my cuffs out placing them on his wrists before jumping back up and going for the woman who was screaming about the first amendment and her rights.
I grabbed her turning her around and shoved her roughly into the wall placing my second set of cuffs on her and informed her coldly. “The only rights you have are to remain silent and right now I suggest you do that.”
I don’t know if it was the coldness of my voice or what but she actually went completely silent at that and I placed her on the ground as two security officers from the hospital came rushing in.
I was running over to Jeremy at that point and it broke my heart to see him lying there in a crumpled heap crying in pain because of people like this.
“Get those two the hell out of here, they’re under arrest and get me some help in here NOW!” I yelled at the two officers.
One ran back out of the room and the other roughly took a hold of the man hauling him to his feet and led him out the door.
“Ah Jeremy.” I said as I bent over and gently picked him up to put him back on the bed.
I noticed then he was bleeding and got even more worried as I laid him down.
“It hurts,” he said softly as the tears ran down his cheeks.
“I know but helps on the way.” I told him.
At that moment several nurses and Doctor Palmer came running into the room.
I was pushed out of the way as they went to work on him but he cried out and begged me not to leave him.
Doctor Palmer looked up at me and nodded so I went back over and took his hand in mine as they worked on him.
He had pulled his IV out for one thing so they were trying to re-establish a line for that and I noticed they were inspecting his wounds carefully.
“Jeremy, you’ve broken open some of the stitches and I think maybe re-opened some of the internal injuries as well. We’re going to have to go back in and fix it but you’re going to be alright.” Doctor Palmer told him.
He looked over at me and I could see the terror in his eyes.
“Don’t leave me!” He begged as I gently squeezed his hand.
“I’ll be right here when you get back, I promise.” I told him putting everything I had into that to make him believe me.
He didn’t say anything else as I watched Doctor Palmer inject something into his new IV, I just kept my eyes glued to his until I saw them slowly try to close.
“Shh go to sleep and you'll be all better when you wake up.” I said softly to him and watched as he stopped fighting it and let himself go.
“Let’s get moving, I want him up in the OR now!” She said to the nurses who began wheeling him from the room.
She watched him until he was gone from the room and then turned on me. “What the hell happened in here?” She asked of me.
“A reporter and camera man busted in here and scared the living hell out of him.” I said in reply.
“How?” She asked
“I don’t know but I sure would like to.” I answered.
“So would I.” She responded and began marching from the room with a stony expression on her face.
God I wouldn’t want to be the one to tangle with her right now was all I could think, as I followed behind her as she went angrily up to the nurse’s station.
“I want to know just how in the hell they got onto a locked pediatrics wing!” She said to the nurse standing there.
The nurse stood looking back at her and then said, “I’m sure I wouldn’t know.” She said in a tone that made me want to smack the smug look off her face.
The doctor just looked at her for a minute before saying. “For your sake that had better be true because regardless of the legal ramifications to you if you had something to do with it I can personally guarantee that you would never work in the medical field again in any state in this country, do I make myself clear?”
The nurse just stared sullenly back and I added, “Doctor would it be possible to get the security tapes from this area? I am sure they would shed some light on just who might be responsible.”
I watched that sullen look change to one of fear on the nurse’s face as the doctor without breaking her gaze on the nurse said, “I think that would be an excellent idea.”
Then she walked around the desk and picked up the phone dialing some numbers into it.
“This is Doctor Palmer, who am I speaking with?” She said into the phone.
Then she continued, “Sergeant Anderson I want all the security tapes pulled for the last couple of hours that pertain to the Peds ward and access points to it and brought to my office. I want you and you alone to bring them and stay with them at all times until I say otherwise. I am holding you personally responsible that nothing untoward happens to them is that understood?”
“Good, I am going into surgery so it will be a while but you are to wait with those tapes and give them to no one and I mean no one, is that clear?” She asked then hung up the phone.
“I’ll let you know how he’s doing.” She said to me then before turning and walking briskly away towards the elevators.
One of the security officers came up to me at that point and asked what I wanted to do with the prisoners.
“I told you they’re under arrest, call county and have them transported and booked.” I said.
“Yes sir.” He said with a grin, then left.
One more duty to do.
I walked over the elevator and took it down to the main floor where I headed to the ER where the security department was located and more importantly where my gun was at.
When I got there they buzzed me in and I asked for my weapon which was promptly given to me.
I inserted the clip and chambered a round before putting it back in my holster where it never should have left and after thanking the man there turned and walked out of the room.
As I expected I hadn’t even reached the elevators when after seeing me not leaving the hospital but instead going back into the officer came running up behind me shouting “Sir! Sir!”
I stopped at the elevators and after pushing the button turned and faced him.
“Yes?” I said.
“Sir you can’t have a weapon inside the hospital, you know that.” He told me.
I was through with playing after the events of the evening and in a cold voice told him. “Let me explain something to you. I am a peace officer in the State of Utah which means I can carry a weapon any God Damned place I want to including this fucking hospital. It should never have been agreed to in the first place to follow this political bullshit and I’m done following it now!”
He just stared at me for a moment before saying, “I have to report this.”
“I’m sure you do but you can also report that I will arrest anyone who tries to take it from me for interfering with a police officer do you understand me?”
“Yes Sir.” He replied before turning away.
Let him report me, they could all go to hell for all I was concerned.
I went back upstairs to Jeremy’s room and sat down to wait.
Eventually they brought him back and I again sat by the unmoving form, holding his hand and softly stroking it, telling him that I was here and wouldn’t leave him.
Some time later I got up and walked over to the TV, turning it on and flipping through the channels until something that made me sick brought my finger to an abrupt halt.
It seems that the cameraman wasn’t just taping what happened earlier but had been broadcasting live.
In all it’s glory after the anchor’s comments of course saying how despicable it was for them to have done such a thing they showed it all.
Of course despicable or not this news channel didn’t have a problem using the footage.
I watched in horror as they barged into the room and I saw the terror on Jeremy’s face not knowing who they were or what they wanted and he couldn’t do anything to defend himself if they meant to attack him.
I saw me jump up screaming at them and charge the cameraman then the picture went all wild for a bit as the camera sailed through the air but apparently they built the damn things pretty tough because it kept broadcasting from the floor pointed back towards the room.
It was all caught on tape, me slamming the cameraman to the floor, Jeremy tumbling out of bed and crying out in pain mixed with his fear.
Then the good Reverend was there to offer commentary as usual and it sickened me to listen to him spouting about the how the reporter’s first amendment rights were trampled tonight and then when the anchor asked what about Jeremy’s rights he said such “vicious murderers” shouldn’t have rights anymore.
That was all I could stand and I reached up and turned off the set before turning back to Jeremy.
To my horror I found that he was awake and had tears running down his face.
I quickly walked over to him and took his hand in mine as I said. “I’m sorry I didn’t think you’d be awake so soon, you shouldn’t have seen that.”
“Why does that man hate me so much?” He asked in a such a small hurt voice that it almost brought tears to my eyes.
I thought about my answer for several moments before saying. “I don’t know honey. I’m not even sure he does. The man makes his living, and then some, by going all over the country and turning every issue he can find into one about race regardless of the facts. Whether he actually believes the crap he spews I have no idea but he does make a lot of money by spewing it.”
“Why?” He asked bewildered.
“I don’t know. I’m sure you know that there is racism in this country and that it needs to be combated, but he and others like him go around trying to make everything somehow be about race. A few years ago there was a case in Illinois where several black teens started a riot at a high school sporting event. They got expelled and arrested of course, but several of his kind went out there and claimed it was racist and even had the audacity or maybe stupidity to say that what the youths had done was normal in black culture and called ‘Fussing’ and that whites had to understand that and accept it. I just laughed to think they were saying it’s part of black culture to riot and fight but they were serious and actually had thousands turn out to support them. Another case involved the Chicago School District who came up with a policy of if you fail your grade then you don’t go to the next one. They protested that as racist too, and said it mainly affected minorities. I could go on and on but this is what these people do.” I told him.
“I don’t get it. You fight you get in trouble, everyone knows that.” he said.
“Yeah you would think so.” I replied smiling.
“How could they even want their kids to go to the next grade if they can’t do the stuff they need to in the grade they were in?” He asked.
“I don’t think they care much. Their big argument was that all their children’s friends would be in the next grade and their kids wouldn’t be with them. It’s called social promotion.” I said.
“That’s stupid. They need to learn to read and write, they can play with their friends after school or something.” Jeremy said as only a kid can.
“Well you and I know that but the thousands who showed up to protest the policy didn’t seem to.” I said chuckling.
I was glad he had gone onto something else although I knew it still bothered him.
We talked for a while about race in this country and some issues surrounding it and I was quite surprised at just how articulate a boy this was.
He was able to converse quite well on the topic and offer insights that usually came to someone much older than ten years during the conversation.
Jeremy spoke to me from that point on and we became closer as time went by and he recovered in body if not in spirit.
Something was dead in him and I didn’t know how to bring it back to life or even if it could be brought back.
I could see the dead look in his eyes at times even when he tried to hide it from me and it broke my heart but I just didn’t know what to do other than hold him when that became possible and let him know there were people who cared.
With that in mind I had taken to bringing JR by to visit him and was surprised when they hit it off right away.
Jeremy had told me that at first he thought Ethan Jr. was just BSing him over liking climbing but after my son had started spouting off all the statistics about MacArthur’s Peak and then the absolute astonishment and envy Jeremy had seen there upon learning that Jeremy had actually climbed it had convinced him otherwise.
JR had become a fixture there in the hospital room almost every day and even the terrible twosome came sometimes.
Jeremy seemed to love having them visit him and the boys would all play games they had brought for hours until I had to send them home when their grandmother came to pick them up but only after many protestations.
Of course Kelson had become a favorite and Jeremy wouldn’t go to sleep without having me read as much as I would to him.
We had made it well into the third book when the first court appearance arrived and I could tell he was really nervous about what was coming with the morning.
Finally by unspoken mutual consent we gave up on reading for the night and I pulled him into my arms and just held him.
Neither one of us could concentrate on the book this night of all nights.
There were no words spoken for a long, long time as I held him closely in my arms but finally I heard him softly speak what he had been trying to suppress all evening.
“I know.” I said.
I just continued to stroke his head gently as he said, “They hate me so much.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He didn’t respond for a while but finally said, “I know you didn’t want me watching the news but, well I have been and they are saying so much stuff about me.”
I shook my head but replied, “I know honey but it’s not true and you can’t let it get to you. I’ll be there with you tomorrow and you’ll get through it fine.”
“You promise?” He asked.
“Yes I promise.” I said.
With that the silence returned and I held him until I heard the soft breathing and felt the total relaxation that I knew meant he had fallen asleep in my arms and not for the first time.
The next morning seemed to bring back his nervousness in full measure and then some as I helped him get dressed in a new suit that his attorney had brought several days earlier.
He was still in a cast on both his arm and a leg and even after all this time the bruises were still visible on his face from the attack.
He looked good in a suit and I told him so but even that couldn’t get a smile from him as I finally finished with his hair and got him into his wheelchair to take him down for the ride to the courthouse.
He kept a death grip on my hand whenever I could spare it all the way there, and once we were in the waiting room that defendants are taken to before being brought into court he was out of his chair and into my lap with his arms wrapped around my neck in a strangle hold.
His attorney came in and I tried to leave but Jeremy wouldn’t let go and begged me to stay.
The attorney finally nodded and with Jeremy still in my lap I stayed.
Mr. Washington basically told Jeremy that everything was going to be fine and not to worry, that the judge wasn’t going to grant the motion before them today and to relax.
Then it was time and we were called.
I put Jeremy back into his chair and still bending over said, “Remember, don’t let them get to you. You’re going to do fine, just fine.” Then began wheeling him out and over to the courtroom.
I only hoped that what I was telling him was true.
We entered the room and silence greeted us as I wheeled him forward towards the defense table but it didn’t last long at all as the crowd in attendance started muttering and phrases such as “God will punish you,” and “Murderer, rot in hell,” began to be heard.
I saw Jeremy stiffen and I placed a hand on his shoulder squeezing gently as we came to our place at the table next to Mr. Washington and I took a seat next to Jeremy.
“All rise for the Honorable Judge T. Elliot Graham.” The bailiff intoned as we all rose to our feet.
A tall elderly black man entered the room in judge’s robes with white streaking the sides of his hair and took his seat up on the bench saying “Be seated.”
As everyone sat back down he next said, “Bailiff call the case please”
“This is a motion hearing in the case of State of Utah vs Jeremy Rose, motion is to change the minor’s legal status.”
“Very well thank you. First of all there will be decorum in this court and if there isn’t then you won’t be allowed to remain in it.” He said to the gallery with a hard look.
When he was sure he had gotten his point across he turned his gaze to Mrs. Guthrie and said. “You have brought forward a motion to try Jeremy as an adult and I would like to hear just what makes you think I am going to grant such a motion regarding a ten year old child.”
I watched as Mrs. Guthrie stood up and looked around for a moment before saying. “Your honor the State at this time is also filing a motion to amend the charges.”
“Objection!” Mr. Washington called.
“Mr. Washington?” The judge asked.
“We have received no notice of this your honor.” He replied.
“The decision was reached this morning your honor, there hasn’t been time to notify the defendant’s counsel.” Mrs. Guthrie interjected before the judge could reply.
“I’ll entertain the motion and clear up both at this time. What do you want to amend the charges to Mrs. Guthrie?”
“Two counts murder in the second degree which we already have. We are hereby filing additional charges of five counts of murder in the first degree, five counts of assault and battery with great bodily harm inflicted and five counts of assault and battery with the intention to inflict great bodily harm. We are also charging special circumstances in all counts as these were racially motivated slayings and crimes.” She told the court.
There was stunned silence in the room before it broke out in loud cheers, everyone knew what ‘special circumstances’ meant.
Before the judge could do more than pick up his gavel to call for silence Mr. Washington was screaming objection over and over again while Jeremy had a completely stunned look on his face at this turn of events.
The judge finally got the silence he requested but it took a while and he made clear in no uncertain terms one more sound out of any of them and he would clear the courtroom.
After silence was restored for several minutes all he did was stare at an increasingly uncomfortable district attorney who finally began to fidget.
“Let me get this straight Mrs. Guthrie. You are actually coming into my courtroom and asking for special circumstances to be applied to a ten year old boy?”
“Yes your honor, the nature and brutality of the crimes with the racial motivation behind the attacks clearly meets the guidelines for it to be invoked.” She replied.
“Well not in my courtroom it doesn’t. Motion for attachment of special circumstances denied on all counts.” The judge said.
“Your honor I object!” She protested.
“I figured you would but I will not countenance sentencing a child this young to die notwithstanding the recent Supreme Court decision ruling out Capital Punishment for those under sixteen which you should be well aware of. Personally I find this grandstanding for the media and certain elements of the community and I don’t like it.” The judge told her.
“Very well your honor.” She said realizing that she wasn’t going to win this one.
“Now I would like to hear about these new charges and why you think he should be tried as an adult.” He asked.
“Your honor the defendant is a menace to society and harbors an unreasoning and unacceptable hatred of African Americans that has resulted in the brutal murder of seven innocent children so far and the severe injury of five others. In addition to that he attempted to cause great bodily harm to an additional five children but was prevented from doing so.” She told the court.
The judge looked over at Jeremy for several minutes before responding. “Mrs. Guthrie do you have evidence to back up these claims because they seem rather outlandish.”
“Yes your honor, in addition to sworn statements regarding the attack at the market which originally brought us here I also have a sworn statement from a guard who overheard the defendant on the way to attacking the other group of boys say, and I am quoting here so please forgive me, ‘I’m gonna get them Goddamn Niggers.’”
With that pandemonium broke out in the courtroom as people began screaming and yelling at Jeremy who was cowering back in fear.
Suddenly one man jumped up and ran towards where we were sitting, jumping over the rail to get at Jeremy.
I was reaching for my gun when Mr. Washington moved faster than any man I have ever seen and almost before I could even realize it had the man by the throat and was holding him in the air.
My weapon was out and ready for anything else that might happen but by this time the bailiffs were clearing the courtroom and one had came and taken the attacker who I learned later was a brother to one of the dead boys in the shower, away and into custody.
I was standing over Jeremy in his chair and watched as they attempted to get things under control but it took them a good five or so minutes to accomplish the task.
When I was sure that there was no more danger to Jeremy I holstered my weapon and set about trying to comfort the terrified little boy who was trembling in my arms now.
Once order had been restored the judge addressed the court again.
“Before we get underway I would like to know who you are?” He said and I realized he was addressing me.
I tried to put Jeremy back in his chair but he wouldn’t let go of me and only managed a strangled “No!” in plea so I decided to hell with it and simply looked up at the judge and hoping this wouldn’t get me transferred for becoming to close to my charge answered.
“Your Honor my name is Ethan Roberts Sr. I am a corrections officer with the county currently stationed at the juvenile facility where Jeremy resides. At the moment I am assigned to guard him while he is in the hospital receiving medical treatment.”
“I see. You are assigned by Captain Sabian is that correct?” He asked me.
Surprised that he knew that information I quickly replied. “Yes Your Honor.”
“From this moment on you are to consider yourself on detached duty and your sole responsibility is the protection and welfare of young Jeremy Rose. This order stands until and unless you hear directly from me is that clear?” He asked.
“Yes Your Honor.” I replied.
“Also I am directing you to make sure that once he gets back into the jail that no more such untoward incidents occur.” He added then turned to Mrs. Guthrie.
“You say you have a signed statement then I want to see it.” He told her.
She proceeded to search through her briefcase for a moment before taking a document from it and handing it to the bailiff who brought it to the judge.
He looked at it for several moments before saying, “It says here that your witness is anonymous?”
“Yes Your Honor, he wishes to remain anonymous in this matter but the District Attorney can attest that he is a peace officer employed at the correctional facility where Jeremy Rose was incarcerated awaiting trial.” She told him.
“I’m sure well you should be aware that a law enforcement officer cannot claim anonymity unless he is working undercover so is he?” The judge asked.
“No Your Honor.” She replied.
“Good then get him in here. You see I also have several sworn statements from Mr. Washington with names incidentally which state that they either saw or heard individuals going to the shower room and they were talking about going there for the express purpose of harming young Mr. Rose. Now what is interesting is that a number of them were older children who were not allowed in that section of the facility which makes me wonder if your anonymous guard could be the same one who allowed them into a restricted area in the first place.” He said to her coldly.
“Yes Your Honor.” A rather pale faced prosecutor said before sitting back down.
“Now Mr. Washington do you have anything to add?” The judge asked.
“Your honor obviously we protest the leveling of these additional charges but if they are sustained then we also will present clear evidence at trial showing them to be false. I strongly urge the court not to transfer this to adult jurisdiction as this is a very young boy who did nothing more than defend himself against aggressors all of which were older than he.” He said.
“Very well, then here is my ruling. Motion to amend sustained with NO special circumstances. Motion for moving Mr. Rose to and to try him as an adult, Denied this court in is adjournment. I’ll see you all again at the commencement of the trial.” The judge ordered then stood and walked from the courtroom before we could even get to our feet.
With that it was back to the hospital for Jeremy who was quite bored with everything but we tried our best to keep him occupied.
The boys came all the time, especially Jr., to visit him and I got through several more books in the series before he was transported to a rehabilitation facility for further care.
Eventually though it came time to return him to the jail and I could tell he was sad and not a little bit afraid to be going back.
I marveled again on how much perseverance the kid had as he worked way beyond what the physical therapy instructors asked of him.
He simply told me he had to get back in shape and pushed himself many times to tears with the workouts he gave himself to perform.
Nothing I or Jr. could do would convince him to let up any so we just tried to be there for him as much as possible.
The night before he was to return was a sad one but I tried to tell him that I would still be there but we both knew that it wouldn’t be the same as it was now.
It couldn’t be because I wasn’t going to be able to spend all my time with just him.
I found that I was going to miss that.
We brought him back the next morning, and I left him with Darryl after giving him a long hug and telling him to come to me if he had any problems.
It was several days before the trial when I saw Jeremy going towards the showers only he didn’t see me as I followed discreetly to make sure he didn’t have any surprises since I could hear the shower running.
I heard him go in and then nothing so I looked around the corner and felt my heart go down into my throat at what I saw.
Neither boy could see me from where I was but I could see them.
One had a look of fear on his face while the other had one of pure rage.
I could see Jeremy clenching his hands, and noticed the blood dripping from them because he had them so tight that his nails were cutting into his palms.
Then stupid opened his mouth as he started backing away from the angry boy confronting him.
“Hey man what are ya doing? Look dude, I’m really sorry for what happened but it wasn’t my fault.”
I closed my eyes for a second in disbelief knowing that this was one of the boys who had brutalized Jeremy, and when I opened them I found Jeremy rushing the older and heavier boy grasping him by the throat and shoving him up against the wall as he growled. “Not your fault?”
I started to move forward when suddenly stupid pissed himself and Jeremy froze for a moment before looking down and watching the stream of urine hitting his leg.
Then to my complete surprise he started laughing and I couldn’t help but smile as he dropped the boy who slid down the wall not daring to move while urine continued to dribble out of him in his terror.
I backed off quickly as Jeremy turned to leave and was around the corner when I heard something that chilled me to the bone.
“Don’t worry kid, I will be seeing you soon, real soon but not today.”
It was said in such a cold hard voice that it even scared me.
Three nights later Jeremy’s world was violated again.
Guards came into his cell in the middle of the night and Jeremy thinking he was being attacked again, started fighting with everything he had in him.
Even Darryl fought back, and got in some good blows, but it only took one of them to hold him down while it took three for Jeremy, but eventually they got him down, and put the cuffs on him.
The guards involved would remember it for a while though, with all the bruises they now had, but sadly Jeremy had some new ones of his own as they led him down the hall to an interrogation room where after cuffing him to a chair they left him alone.
He told me later he figured they were doing it to soften him up, and scare him so he was determined not to let them see him that way.
Eventually about an hour later or so the two of them came back in.
One of them was the Perv as Jeremy had taken to calling him since that day when the man had performed the cavity search on Jeremy and had enjoyed it so much.
He came over and sat down across from Jeremy while the other one sat behind and to the side of Jeremy both just staring at the boy who stared back defiantly.
“Good morning!” Jeremy said smiling at them which they didn’t like much.
“I want to know how you did it?” Perv asked menacingly.
“Did what?” Jeremy asked with an innocent look plastered on his face.
“Don’t play games with me you little shit. I want to know just how in the hell you did what you did tonight?” Perv said while the second one remained silent.
Jeremy just looked at Perv for a moment before a mischievous smile played upon his face briefly then he answered. “Well you see….it’s like this, I took my thumb and two fingers and placed them on either side of my dick and began rubb….”
“I don’t mean that you little fuck!” Perv screamed as he launched himself out of the chair and lunged at Jeremy bringing his hand up to strike the boy who moved back in fear as far as the cuffs would allow.
Perv stopped himself just inches away from striking the boy as the other guard loudly said. “That’s enough Jack!”
I meanwhile had been making my rounds when I found Darryl handcuffed to his bed and sobbing, with Jeremy obviously not there.
I freed him and finally got out what happened.
They had came and taken Jeremy.
Pissed as hell, I went looking for them, and soon found them in the interrogation room.
Knocking loudly on the window, I saw pissed both of them off, but they did come outside where I was waiting.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I asked as soon as the door was closed.
“Interrogating a suspect.” Jack told me sneering.
“Without counsel or a guardian present, are you crazy?” I asked.
“Fuck off Roberts! This ain’t your business.” Jack said moving towards me.
“Oh please, I’d love for you to make a move, come on.” I said hoping the asshole would try something.
“Jack don’t.” His partner said.
“I’m getting tired of his shit.” Jack responded angrily.
“I have a court order placing Jeremy in my protection, and I’ll be glad to call Capt. Sabian if you want confirmation. This ‘interrogation’ is over.”
“We’ll see.” Jack snarled as his partner grabbed his arm and said, “Come on,” dragging him from the room.
Yeah we certainly will I thought as I took out my cell phone, and called the Captain at home filling him in on what I had just walked into.
To say he wasn’t thrilled was somewhat of an understatement, but I had a feeling that good ole Jack, and his days of body searches were finally going to be over.
I moved over and entered the room to find Jeremy looking up at me apprehensively and I quickly knelt down and undid his cuffs telling him.
“Oh Jeremy I’m so sorry I couldn’t stop this.”
He looked at me for a second then said. “That’s alright but what…what’s going on?”
I stopped and looked at him looking deeply into his eyes before asking. “You mean you don’t know?”
He just shook his head in the negative.
I thought after all this time that I had gotten to know the kid, and would be able to tell if he was telling me the truth or not, so kept a close eye on him to gage his reaction.
“Well Jeremy somehow, some way, the five kids who are left who were involved in the assault on you, were themselves attacked.” I said waiting for something, anything but I didn’t get it.
“I just came from the med center, and all five are in really bad shape. They don’t think any of them will die, but…well…they won’t ever be able to have any children.”
I just looked at him, but was surprised when there was absolutely no reaction to gauge.
I was met with a stony and hard look that told nothing about anything.
He matched my stare for several seconds before a small, very small smile started to play at the corners of his mouth and he said in a saccharine sweet voice “Oh darn” then gazed at me with such a look of doe eyes innocence that it took my breath away and I just knew he had played the other cops for all they were worth.
It also told me he had somehow done it.
I would give a lot to know just how in the hell he pulled it off but figured I never would and it also left me with another dilemma, and that was the fact I was a police officer and was supposed to report such things as this.
The problem was those cretins had certainly deserved exactly what they had gotten, and I couldn’t blame Jeremy for bringing them to justice for what they had done to him.
That was the final determining factor for me.
What those punks had put this kid through there could be no excuse for and if it damned me to hell I wasn’t going to say a word, ever.
“Come on then let’s get you back to bed, somehow I think you’ve had enough excitement for one night.”
He gave me a knowing smirk but simply said, “Okay,” and with that I led him back to his cell.
“Good night Jer.” I said as I turned and walked away.
“Thanks Ethan, thanks.” I heard from him before I turned the corner, and went back on my rounds.
The next day was the beginning of the trial and I took Jeremy and transported him to the courthouse for it.
Once again he was nervous and frightened and I told him it would be alright, but he just looked at me, and I could tell the answer was, ‘no it won’t.’
When we pulled in front of the courthouse on the way around to the back we got a shock at all the protesters out front, and the huge amount of riot police present to try and keep order.
Jeremy looked white with shock and asked, “What’s going on why are they here?” Pointing to the many people in the white sheets with pointed caps.
“Well Jeremy many people seem to believe what has been said about you and your father. You’re right in the middle of a racial shitstorm I’m afraid.” I told him.
I could see the tears on his face as he said. “But it’s not true, it’s not. Dad hates those people.”
“I believe you Jer but like the blacks these people will jump on anything they can for their own purposes as well.” I told him.
He was silent the rest of the way around to the back, and inside where I stopped off in the bathroom so he could clean his face up a bit.
Then it was on to court.
The bailiff called the court to order which was packed once again and in walked the judge who ordered everyone seated.
“Okay listen up people. I will not have a repeat of what happened last time. Any, and I mean any outbursts, and you all will be out of here is that clear?” He said.
“Good, let’s get this circus on the road Mrs. Guthrie?” He said next.
“Good morning your honor the state will begin with the two murders at McHenry’s Market and will show that the defendant did willfully, and with malice take the lives of two innocent teenagers who were simply trying to assist the boy’s gravely injured father….”
It went on and on until she finally wound down and took her seat.
“Mr. Washington?” The judge asked next.
“Well obviously I disagree with the District Attorney’s office and the defense will show that in all cases Jeremy was simply defending himself or his father.” With that he sat down. Short and sweet, hopefully enough.
“Very well, remember what I said and Mrs. Guthrie you may begin.” The judge said, while looking at the prosecutor.
Mrs. Guthrie called one witness after the other, to the stand, who all said basically the same thing. The two boys entered the market, and were trying to help the injured man when Jeremy screaming racially charged epitaphs charged them and attacked them. They all said they were sickened as they watched the boy repeatedly kick and hit the two boys who never even tried to fight back.
At one point Jeremy jumped up screaming, “That’s a lie” as I grabbed onto him trying to pull him back down into his seat.
The judge was calling for order in the court as Jeremy fell back sobbing in my arms and I was sure that everyone could hear the heart wrenching pleas. “Why do they hate us so much?,” followed by “Why are they lying about us, why?”
The judge admonished Mr. Washington to keep Jeremy under control, but then surprised me by telling Jeremy that he would get his turn, but he had to remain quiet for now.
Mrs. Guthrie looked all too pleased with the result.
The judge motioned her to go on, and she kept at it calling witness after witness who all testified to Jeremy’s unprovoked attack on the good Samaritans, all the while screaming things like ‘Niggers’ and other such tripe.
Mr. Washington surprisingly didn’t ask hardly any questions of the witnesses other than to clarify a couple of things like how many times the two teens were kicked and punched and where those blows landed.
When the last witness had been called the judge asked. “Am I to understand you wish to break this down into the market deaths and then tackle the shower incident Mrs. Guthrie?”
“Yes if it pleases the court your Honor.” She replied.
“Very well, Mr. Washington your turn.” He said.
“Thank you Your Honor, I would like to call Doctor Jeff Spicoli to the stand.”
The doctor was called and sworn in.
“Doctor Spicoli can you please state who you are and where you are employed outlining your responsibilities.” Mr. Washington asked.
“Certainly I am Dr. Jeff Spicoli, and I am the Chief Pathologist for city and county of Salt Lake in the State of Utah. I am in charge of the Coroner’s office, and of performing and/or overseeing autopsies in my department.”
“Can you tell this court if you had the occasion to perform autopsies involving the two teen boys in this case from McHenry’s Market?”
“Yes I did.” He answered.
“Can you tell me what you found during those autopsies?” Mr. Washington asked.
“Objection.” Mrs. Guthrie called out.
“To what?” The judge asked.
“Relevance Your Honor, anything found could be prejudicial to the two boys and serve no useful purpose in this matter.” She replied.
The judge turned his gaze onto Mr. Washington who quickly said, “Your honor the results not only will show motive for robbery, but directly refute the testimony of ALL of her witnesses.”
“I’m willing to listen, overruled.” The judge said and Mrs. Guthrie sat back down not looking happy.
“Doctor?” Mr. Washington asked
“Jamal was found to have sustained a crushed trachea resulting in death by asphyxiation. Tyrone had sustained significant trauma to his testicles, and minor trauma to his penis. He also was found to have the nasal bone to have been forcibly interjected into the brain causing almost instantaneous death. Both boys showed also showed significant toxicity levels of illegal substances in their systems.” The doctor said.
His final comment got an angry reaction from the crowd and one woman standing up saying, “You lie, my boy don’t do no drugs!”
The judge called the room to order and had it cleared once again before the trial could resume.
When it did Mr. Washington began again. “Doctor can you tell us in your professional opinion if a boy was punched and kicked repeatedly with great force, a number of times either, just prior to or just subsequent to, death would you find evidence of such an assault on his body?”
“Certainly.” He replied.
“Can you tell us if you found any other type of injuries of any kind on either boy?” Washington asked.
“Not like that. Tyrone had a scrape on one knee, but that was all other than what I have already noted. Jamal had no injuries either. Both boys had tracks marks from needle usage, but there was no indication of trauma such as you describe.” The doctor said.
“One more question if you will please. Could such trauma be inflicted upon a person and not show up in your examination?” Washington asked.
“No. That would be impossible.” The doctor replied.
“No further questions and I think that directly impeaches Mrs. Guthrie’s witnesses.” Mr. Washington said.
“Objection!” Mrs. Guthrie called at that.
“Overruled.” The judge replied.
There wasn’t much she could say to that. After all her witnesses had said that Jeremy kicked and punched the boys after they were down over and over again and the doc had just said it didn’t happen which basically said they were all lying.
“I would like to call Mr. William McHenry to the stand.” Mr. Washington said next.
We watched as an elderly man clearly nervous was led into the courtroom by the bailiff and taken to the witness stand where he was sworn in. Then Mr. Washington asked him some basic questions about who he was and how he was employed before getting to the main one.
“Mr. McHenry can you tell us what happened on the night in question?”
“Aye, young Jeremy and his da came into our store like they always do to buy some things I suppose, and went off to the back of the store after my wife gave him a piece of candy he likes so much.” The old man said sparing a smile at Jeremy.
“What happened next?” Mr. Washington asked.
“Well bad business that. Two teen age boys came into the store while Adam and Jeremy were in the back. They looked around a bit and came up to the counter where one of them grabbed me and pulled me across the counter top while he held a knife to me throat.” He paused there and took a sip of water before continuing basically recounted what I knew Jeremy had said had happened that day.
I just held onto Jeremy’s hand, and he had it in a death grip by the time it was the testimony was over with.
“Thank you, just one further question for you and then you can go.” Mr. Washington said then asked. “Can you tell us if you have surveillance cameras in your store?”
“Aye, we have them.” Mr. McHenry replied.
“Were they working on the night in question?” Washington asked.
“Aye, they were.” He replied.
“And can you tell us if you have a tape of that night?” Mr. Washington asked next.
“I did, I gave it to the police when they asked for it.” He told the court.
“I see, thank you. No further questions.” Mr. Washington said.
After Mr. McHenry left the stand the judge asked. “Mrs. Guthrie can you tell me where this video is?”
“Ah..no Your Honor I can’t.” She replied.
“You can’t?” The judge questioned incredulously.
Looking decidedly unhappy Mrs. Guthrie finally said. “It seems to have gone missing.”
“Missing?” Was the judge’s response.
“The police have it logged into evidence, but can’t locate it.” She told him.
“Your Honor we have requested this tape over and over again, but have gotten no response from the DA’s office at all.” Mr. Washington said.
“Is this true?” Graham asked of the prosecutor.
“The defense has never contacted our office about anything Your Honor, matter of fact I have never spoken to Mr. Washington at all.” Mrs. Guthrie replied smugly.
“Really?” The judge asked before turning to Mr. Washington and asking. “Care to explain that?”
“Certainly. Mrs. Guthrie is technically correct when she says that I have never been in contact with the DA’s office or spoken with her but it has not been for lack of trying. The District Attorney’s office and Mrs. Guthrie have never returned phone calls I have made. Nor did they have time to see me when I went down to their office in an attempt to discuss this case.” Mr. Washington said.
“That’s a lie!” Mrs. Guthrie yelled.
“I was afraid this might happen Your Honor, so I have brought phone records for my office phone, as well as my cell phone. I also have parking receipts for my visits to the courthouse.” Mr. Washington said.
With that Mrs. Guthrie sat down.
“Mrs. Guthrie all I can say is that this borders on prosecutorial misconduct if it doesn’t outright cross into it, I will be referring this to the ethics panel for review. I want that tape and I want it now! Mr. Washington any further witnesses?” He asked.
“Yes Your Honor I would like to call Jeremy Rose to the stand.”
I saw Jeremy start at that and gave his shoulder a squeeze as he slowly got up and made his way to the witness stand.
“Jeremy I know how hard this is for you but can you please tell us what happened that day and evening?” Mr. Washington asked.
I could see Jeremy look down for a moment and then back up trying to find the courage then he began. “My dad and I went camping that weekend and I finally made it to the top of MacArthur’s Peak. We were coming home from that and Dad was going to make my…he was going to cook my favorite dinner to celebrate.”
I could see the tears in his eyes from here and felt matching ones in mine as he went on.
“You see my dad, he made the best Chicken Curry in cream sauce in the whole world…he knew I loved it…” Then he stopped as he broke down in sobs.
There was silence in the courtroom and all I wanted to do was go and take the boy into my arms but that I couldn’t do right now.
“Jeremy can you continue?” The judge asked.
“Yeah, I’m sorry it’s just…I’m sorry. We didn’t have all the stuff to make it so we stopped at the McHenrys to get it. We had gone in and picked the stuff we needed up when as we were walking back towards the front of the store dad suddenly grabbed me and told me to run outside and call 911 because the store was being robbed. I saw this kid holding Mr. McHenry and he had a knife to his throat. Dad took off running towards the kid and I ran outside and called the cops. Afterwards I went back into the store and told dad the police were on the way and it was then I saw the other boy...”
Jeremy stopped then and looked down and I knew he was fighting to be able to go on.
Finally though he looked back up and although there were tears running down his face he continued. “He was coming at dad and he had something shiny in his hand. It took me a second as I screamed 'DAD!' to warn my father to realize that it was a knife. And then…I didn’t warn him soon enough and saw the kid stick it in his back. Then dad was just falling and he looked…he looked so surprised like…like it couldn’t be happening. I remember I screamed again as I saw the boy bringing the knife down to stab him again and I just reacted. I couldn’t let him hurt my dad no more…I couldn’t...” Jeremy stumbled to a halt crying openly now, shoulders heaving in great wrenching sobs of grief.
I wondered if this was the first time he had let it all out or not.
As he got control or at least some semblance of it back Mr. Washington asked what happened next.
“I went after the greatest threat at that moment, which was the boy about to stab my dad again, and making a sharp wedge of my fingers drove them into his trachea then rolled and came back up to deal with the secondary threat. I aimed a kick for his balls, and then when he doubled over sharply from that used his own momentum to add to my own as I brought the heel of my hand up and into his nose forcing the bone there back into his brain.” Jeremy said before stopping again.
“Then…Then…he was bleeding…he was bleeding so bad, I tried to stop it but…Oh God I tried, but I couldn’t….I swear I couldn’t.” With that he lost all control, and I said to hell with it as I jumped up and ran to his side taking him into my arms and hugging him tightly to me as I sank to the floor with a devastated little boy in my arms.
I heard the judge order a recess of thirty minutes, but I didn’t care at the moment, there was only one thing on my mind at this point and it was the poor kid in my arms.
Finally, he looked up at me and with tears still streaming down his face said. “I tried Ethan, I tried so hard but I just couldn’t stop it.”
“I know, you did everything you could.” I told him.
“Why did he have to die, WHY?” He begged me for the one answer that could make some sense out of it, but I didn’t have an answer for him.
I could only shake my head and say, “I don’t know.”
“Why???” He softly cried as he buried his head in my shoulder again.
We stayed that way until the judge came back and asked us if Jeremy could continue.
“Can you go on?” I whispered in his ear and heard a soft, “I guess I have to don’t I?” as he looked up and then wiped his face.
I helped him up and back to the stand before grasping his shoulder once again and heading back to my seat.
Mr. Washington walked up and said, “I’m very sorry to have to make you relive this Jeremy but I need you to finish telling what happened that night.”
“It’s okay. I started CPR like I learned in first aid class and that’s kind of the last thing I remember until I woke up in the hospital.” Jeremy said almost woodenly and I knew he was clamping down on everything as much as he could in order to get through this.
“Jeremy just one last question and I’ll be done. Can you tell me if at any time you deliberately sought to kill those boys?” Mr. Washington asked.
“No.” He replied.
“Thank you nothing further at this time.” Washington said returning to his seat.
Now came the hard part as Mrs. Guthrie got up and walked over to Jeremy smiling at him in a friendly way which I hoped Jeremy could see was bullshit.
“Jeremy that’s quite a story you told and very emotional too. I’m certainly sorry your father died in the altercation but it’s clear from witnesses those two boys had nothing to do with it. So with that in mind how do you expect anyone to believe the story you’ve made up?” she asked.
“I don’t expect you to believe anything Mrs. Guthrie.” Jeremy replied coldly while looking at her as if she were a bug or something.
“Really then why get up here in court and tell such a story then?” She asked implying it was all a fabrication.
“Just because I don’t expect you to believe it, doesn’t mean it isn’t the truth.” Jeremy told her.
“So you want the court to believe it then?” She asked.
“It really doesn’t matter what anyone believes, my dad is dead.” He told her.
“Yes he is and I hope someday we can catch who is responsible for it.” She replied.
“I already did.” He said glaring at her.
“Jeremy many witnesses say otherwise.” She told him.
“Oh really cause that’s real funny.” He said
“Funny?” She asked
“Yeah cause ya see, there was the McHenrys, me and dad and then there were the two kids robbing the place. There wasn’t anyone else there to ‘witness’ anything.” Jeremy told her.
“So you say.” She snapped back.
“Yeah so I say.” He threw at her.
“Let’s see here. In your testimony you stated you didn’t intend to kill either of those boys yet they’re dead. How do you explain that?” She asked.
He looked at her perplexed for a minute but finally said, “I crushed the trachea of one and sent a bone into the brain of the other that’s how.”
She looked surprised for a moment before saying, “that doesn’t seem to bother you much.”
“It bothers me a great deal.” He replied.
“That’s funny because I haven’t seen anywhere in any of the reports I have on you that you have ever expressed the slightest bit of remorse for taking two innocent lives.”
“They weren’t innocent! They killed my dad!” Jeremy almost growled back at her.
“You keep saying that but, are you sorry you killed them or not?” she asked him not letting up.
“The only thing I’m sorry about is that I didn’t get to them sooner.” He almost yelled now.
I was getting worried because he looked like he might attack the bitch, which wouldn’t be that great a loss, but it also wouldn’t look real good either.
“You’re sorry you didn’t kill them sooner?” She asked in disbelief.
“Yeah that’s right if I had then my dad might still be alive... but I couldn’t move fast enough.” Jeremy said through gritted teeth.
“So you’re glad they’re dead.” She asked.
Jeremy didn’t answer at first and I could see him trying to calm himself.
“Answer the question!” She demanded and he snapped. “You’re damn right I’m glad they’re dead, they killed my father and they deserved to die.”
“So you did intend to kill them?” She asked satisfied now.
“No.” He said
“You just said you did.” She snapped back.
“Try listening, I said I was glad they were dead but I never said I intended to kill them.” He told her.
“Well it sure sounded like it to me.” She retorted.
“Then clean out your ears.” He jibed.
“Objection your honor.” She said to several snickers including the judge.
“Overruled. Jeremy can you explain what you mean?” The judge asked.
“Well you are trained to stop an opponent and while that can mean killing it doesn’t automatically. You want to neutralize the danger as quickly as possible in the most effective way. I had one who had a knife who was about to use it again, and another who was also a threat and his knife was on the counter next to him. I reacted to what I was faced with, to stop them in the quickest way I could and to also ensure they wouldn’t continue to be a threat. My dad needed medical treatment right away and having them be able to get back up right away would put us right back in danger. I didn’t even think about it just did what I had to do to stop the threat.” He said.
“Yeah dead certainly stopped it.” Mrs. Guthrie muttered.
“You have something you would like to say?” The judge asked her as he glared at her, while Jeremy looked like he would gladly strangle her if the opportunity presented itself.
She shook her head no and the judge asked “Anything further?”
“Yes your Honor. I would like to continue on to other matters at this time.” She replied.
“Very well.” He said.
“Jeremy one last thing, you say you just reacted is that correct?” She asked
“Yes.” He replied.
“So did you just react when you put three police officers in the hospital?”
I watched Jeremy hang his head in shame at that before saying “I didn’t mean to.”
“You didn’t mean to?” She asked.
“I…I don’t really remember what happened.” He admitted.
“I see.” She said. “Tell me do you remember what happened when you savagely attacked a group of African American teens in the shower at juvenile hall?”
His head snapped up at that and he glared at her but didn’t say anything.
“Well?” She asked again.
“I didn’t attack anyone.” He said finally.
“Then maybe you can tell me why it looked like a war zone in there after you were through?” She prodded him.
Again he didn’t answer.
“I’m waiting.” She told him.
“I don’t wanna talk about it.” He told her.
“I’m sure you don’t but you aren’t being given that option.” She informed him.
“Fine then, tell me, when was the last time you knew of one little white boy attacking fifteen older African American boys huh? Tell me when?” He yelled now.
“Jeremy you will have to control yourself.” Graham said shocked at the look on the boy’s face.
Even Guthrie had backed away a bit at seeing Jeremy’s expression.
“Ummm…there are five dead children because of you and five more who were severely injured. You can’t argue that, so tell me do you not remember what happened that did that to them.” She said loudly as she grabbed something off the table and walked back to the boy setting them down in front of him.
“You did this so you’re telling me you don’t remember.” She yelled now.
That was it, Jeremy was up out of the chair and coming towards her screaming. “I can’t forget you stupid bitch, how can I forget. I wished I could but I can’t. Yeah I did it. I’m only sorry I wasn’t strong enough to kill them all.” All the while I was screaming Jeremy while the judge was calling for order in the court.
I got in front of him and called to him. “Jeremy listen to me, listen to me, you have to calm down. You have to get control. Jeremy.”
I was never more scared than I was at that moment. It was because the absolute dead look in his eyes was worse than anything else could have been. I had been expecting rage, and it was there, but it never reached his eyes.
Suddenly, the little boy was back and he fell forward collapsing in my arms as I lifted him up, and held him to me while he cried over and over again. “That’s all I want to do is forget.”
“Your Honor I want him restrained!” Guthrie cried from across the room where she had ran.
“Listen you damn bitch you caused this to happen. He’s been traumatized enough as it is, and there was no excuse for what you did!” I yelled before the judge could respond.
That earned me a look from him but he turned back to Guthrie and said. “Mrs. Guthrie, I don’t know what purpose that was supposed to serve, but frankly it just ended your case as far as I’m concerned, and my judgment is the only one that matters. While I don’t appreciate usually things like Officer Roberts said in my courtroom, this time I’m forced to agree with him. Any further evidence which you have you can present but Jeremy is through unless Mr. Washington wants to cross.”
Mr. Washington was looking very unsure at this point but finally nodded his head that he did.
I asked a still shaking Jeremy. “Are you up to more?”
I heard a whispered “I don’t know, I lost control and I’m scared.”
“What do you want to do?” I asked softly.
“I’ll try.” He finally said and I carried him back over to the witness stand.
After returning to my seat Mr. Washington got up and approached Jeremy. “Jeremy please tell us what happened in the shower that day”
“I don’t want to.” He said looking down.
“I know that, and that this is going to be very difficult, but you have to.” He replied
Jeremy wouldn’t look up but finally said, “I was taking a shower when they came in.”
“Who came in?” Washington asked
“These boys. There were ten of them and they surrounded me. I was real scared, but when they came for me I fought back. I wasn’t doing to badly until five more came in. There were just too many.” He finished still without looking up.
I saw Washington look at the judge and bite his lip and knew what he was going to bring up next.
“Jeremy that’s not all that happened that day is it?” He asked.
“Yes it is, nothing else happened, nothing.” Jeremy said desperately now looking up with pleading in his eyes.
I knew he didn’t want the world to know even though they already did.
“Jeremy you have to tell us.” Mr. Washington said softly.
“Nothing happened! I swear it! Nothing! Please!!” He begged tears running down his face again.
There was silence for a while until the judge said kindly, “Mr. Washington I have the doctor’s reports and lab tests. I don’t think Jeremy needs to expand on those. I will take them as evidence of what took place.”
I could see the look of horror and shame that came upon Jeremy’s face as he said. “You... you know?”
“Yes Jeremy we do, and you have to remember that it’s not your fault.” The judge said kindly.
Jeremy just looked down, and didn’t answer as the judge dismissed him getting up and slowly walking forward to sit next to me once again, but he wouldn’t look at me and when I put my hand on his shoulder he shrugged it off.
“Your honor, since he’s denying the rape took place, I move that any allegations of sexual assault to justify his actions be stricken from the record.” Mrs. Guthrie said.
I watched as each word seemed to shake the boy and the judge turned an angry stare at the prosecutor.
“Mrs. Guthrie I’ve had about enough of this…” But was interrupted by the door opening and Darryl along with a police officer carrying a manila envelope came walking into the room.
The judge recessed the court and taking the officer and boy with him disappeared into his chambers.
“Jeremy…” I started to say but he turned to me and said. “No, it’s not alright and it’s not going to be just leave me alone!” I could see that lost and dead look back in his eyes.
A few minutes later the judge came back out alone and sat down.
“Alright I’m ready to rule in this case.” He said holding up his hand when Guthrie started to protest. “Don’t say it, I don’t want to hear it. I have just seen the video from the store that you couldn’t seem to find, Mrs. Guthrie and am adding that to the list of things I am sending to the ethics board. It clearly shows what happened in the store that night, and clearly shows that Jeremy acted in self defense of both himself and his father. I am also releasing it to the news media in an attempt to put to rest this racist garbage that has been foisted off upon this community. Accordingly I find him not guilty of the first two counts in the indictment. As to the remaining counts it is beyond my comprehension how you could see fifteen boys against one boy as an attack by that one on the rest. Chuck Norris couldn’t have pulled that off, and it is beyond any common sense that Jeremy would have initiated any type of altercation under those circumstances, and that is even without taking into account the fact that there were older teens in the shower area that should never have even been in that part of the building. It is clear from a number of statements that those boys went there with the express purpose to attack and seriously hurt, maybe even kill Jeremy, and also for the further purpose of sexually assaulting him. That they managed to do all those things except kill him is despicable in my opinion, and I am ordering a review of all juvenile facilities to find a way to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.”
With that he paused and looked down at Jeremy for a moment before going on.
“Jeremy, I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am that this happened to you. None of it should have and I wish there was something I could do to help ease the pain you are suffering. I am sure your attorney will be filing appropriate legal action to hold accountable those who have defamed you and your father as well as caused you such grievous injury, since none of what happened would have if they hadn’t falsely arrested you for something that I believe they knew to be untrue. I also know that no amount of money will be able to make the pain go away or ease the ache in your heart. All I can do is tell you that my prayers are with you and that I strongly urge you to seek help for what you have been through. I know you don’t want to hear this right now but I am going to say it anyway. There are resources out there that can help you if you avail yourself of them. I am going to give you the name of a rape crisis center, and I really hope that you will contact them. It is comprised of people who have been through what you have, and know what you’re going through. It’s not just talk, they’ve been there Jeremy, and they can help I promise you. So I find you not guilty on all charges but unfortunately due to a number of factors including your own testimony and actions here today I cannot release you at this time.” He told him as Jeremy’s head snapped up.
“Objection!” Washington called out coming to his feet.
“Sit down.” The judge ordered.
“I’m truly sorry, but I’m afraid that until you deal with the pain, and more importantly the anger that you have inside of you, that you are a danger to others and even possibly yourself. As you said on a number of occasions today, ‘you can’t control yourself,’ and that worries me. I will not see you spend anymore time at the detention facility but I also can’t release you out in the general population. Because of your extensive training you pose a threat if you lose control. Therefore, it is the order of this court that you are to be placed in a supervised foster home under the auspices of Child Protective Services, and are to receive psychological counseling to help you recover from what you have been through, not only the attack but the loss of your father. I will monitor your progress closely, and I want monthly reviews of your status. I hope you’ll be out soon, but for now this is the only option. Good luck Jeremy.” With that he stood up and said, “court adjourned,” as he walked from the room.
He turned to look at me with such despair in his eyes that all I could do was to reach out for him, but was surprised when he pushed me away and stood up.
I wasn’t sure what to do as the case worker walked up and said “Jeremy if you’ll come with me.”
“Jeremy…” I started to say but he turned and in a dead voice that matched his dead eyes said, “It’s not going to be alright, I knew it wouldn’t be. I wish I had died. Why couldn’t I have just died?” He then turned and walked from the room leaving me standing there in shock.
“So you see Darryl that was the last time I saw him. Judge Graham had an automobile accident almost one month later just before the hearing was scheduled and I haven’t been able to find where they put him.” I said to the boy sitting in front of me with tears running down his face and I realized running down mine as well.
“Do you think he…that he might have…” But he couldn’t complete the sentence.
I didn’t want to.
“I don’t know, God I hope not, but I just don’t know son.”