As South Bosque Tommy and I cruised to the Courthouse down 84 in his Diesel Gunboat, I recalled the day that Vic was found “not guilty”, and we drove from Tayor to Austin. The government has color alerts, amber to red. I used my Xanax chart. I pondered what color Xanax I had taken that morning, I think I had gone from the purple to pink spectrum that month, and this was the ultimate. I had settled in for hours and hours of pain in that Courtroom, the jury went out and came back so fast I spent the rest of the day with no feeling in my lower face when the Xanax kicked in. Bad timing. Looking back I’m sure everyone appreciated my calm and quiet that day.
The hot deputy asked me, “Well, what do you think?”
“Not guilty in two hours”, I quipped back, like a dumbass.
BOY, was I wrong.
Closing argument is the Superbowl of trials. Opening Statement is when each side, the State and the Defense, tell you what they’re going to prove to you. It’s cut, it’s dry, it’s legal.
I consider it all to be a recipe, except I usually start with a stick of butter, you may not know why Julia Child did what she did with that cream sauce, but whatever it was it was set in stone.
The State of Texas, represented by the AG’s office, starts the close for the prosecution, Lawyer One, who left town like a scalded dog this morning so knowing his name isn’t really ncecessary, explained to them “The Charge”, the elements or ingredients of the case that they had to vote “Yes” to and get a guilty verdict.
I didn’t care, I was waiting for Clint Broden.
With only about 45 minutes for close, Broden, did his closing argument. He stood and walked and delivered his Close as though he were in the juror’s living room. No question, the jury liked Broden better and when he stood up, they leaned forward in unison, hanging on his every word. He had a chart, he was the “Holdout Whisperer”, the great unsaid was, “Hey, if you are the only one who thinks Seth’s innocent, you can hold on to that and get your way”, but he never said it. He may have had on a suit in front of a group of people who only wore one to funerals and church now and then, but Broden and that jury became connected.
They liked him better.
The last Assistant Attorney General began his Close, with some Psalm, and that was cool for a few seconds until he turned into a Sunday School Teacher over at the snake kisser church, held paper like a bible, raise his arm, did the whole thing.
He’s looking at hard working people losing money from just being there and somewhere in the county, concrete is drying and one guy here is fucking worried about it.
Basically, if they weren’t among the “Richeous” they were going to hell and would remember this day the rest of their natural lives. He pinned that “Citizen Badge” on them, I figure it was the same close he’d done in every case in his overly religious life, and just filled in the words, “attempted Capital Murder” in this one.
He’s getting paid, he’s not coming back here, what the hell does he care?
This jury as all juries took this shit seriously. They were Citizens before, they know more than you think they just didn’t have the opportunities or whatever to get where you are. This was a group of 12 very free thinkers too, they also could put on their “face” as they sat there, nothing is real in here, no real crime, no real heroes, no real villians, words, and law.
South Bosque Tommy and I are totally cranked up on Jack and Jill donuts and coffee so we think we’re ready for everything and should be home by two.
If you were never a smoker then you won’t appreciate this, Tommy and I smoked like chimneys during this. If ever there is a time for MARLBORO REDS, this is it.
Unfortunately, several of the jurors subscribed to this and the next twelve hours were filled with small bladders, rehydrating, and around nine thirty Tommy Witherspoon’s patience with the smokers wore thin, as they filed out like little ducks to go to the front of the Courthouse and blow circles of grey in the dark breeze of Austin Avenue.
If not now, when, I ask you.
The jurors also came equipped with snacks hidden in different pockets and purses, they thought they all had it figured out too, well, until about eight o’clock that is.
South Bosque Tommy almost had to breathe into a paper bag as his people watch during the Close led him to believe one of the two women on the jury was going to be the Foreperson. All manner of maleness came out and sentences began with, “Oh, my God”, as he talked to himself and me.
The jury filed out and we went looking for snacks. Salty, sweet, water, and the basement was full of machines.
South Bosque Tommy is the fixit man, a livesaver, he’s priceless and I paid him for putting together my “cheap materials” chickenhouse with a gallon of homemade ice cream, Kolaches, and various food delights. The drink machine decided to take Tommy’s money, which isn’t done.
I have a cantankerous mini dishwasher that has something wrong with one of the switches. Drives me nuts. If I turn it off or if there’s a power outage, it’s gone. Somehow, if you press or touch it just right, though, it comes back on.
I only call on Tommy when the frustration is too much and I just can’t try to fix the damned thing anymore.
He has what I call the “magic finger”, I just erased what we really call it, but, you got the picture, and I’m feeling like not offending anyone.
South Bosque Tommy can touch an appliance and it defies the laws of Nature Herself.
A line of women with credit cards stood there as Tommy and the machine wrestled. Every single time it took his money, a total of three, for that bottle of water, Tommy’s forehead went crimson.
He finally got the water, and managed to subdue the machine into working “fine just fine” the rest of the day.
The man is a tribute to the “Y” chromosone.
Vic Feazell was there and he and I decided to pretend we didn’t know eachother and secretly texted back and forth. Once the jury was gone, Tommy had Vic talk him down from the “Oh, shit” ledge about that “blonde woman on the front row”.
Between the snacks and the constant bladder relief, the jurors sent out NOTES.
Broden was wound up waiting that morning and he had a time where he circled the Rotunda without saying a word and everyone’s instinct to just sit back and let him go was in the air. Over and over again, see everone has their recipe and their “magic finger”, you also realizes how deeply he cares about Seth Sutton and his family and the only mask Broden wears is the one that belies the heart of this man that works to keep his facing from letting you know how much he cares and at this point, he doesn’t want even the Suttons to see.
I don’t know what time it was, maybe around 8 in the evening and South Bosque has identified the “shitty job” someone did on the front railings of the Courthouse.
Jury sends in Note #3.
I’m too addled at this point to give you the exact wording and, like a dog, I got the “tone”, so here goes.
“If we find Seth Sutton guilty, do we get to set the punishment”
Katy Sutton physically and emotionally was minimized to pain in that moment. She’s smart, she knows what this means.
To appease and compromise they’ll vote him guilty and take it back with less than 99 years.
I remember this shit.
I don’t know you Katy Sutton, but I do speak woman.
We sufer for what men do. That’s not original.
I miss my son so.
Last Christmas the neighbors were gone and their cats were wandering about so I stole one for four days. I miss being a mother sometimes.
I wanted to be your mother for just a minute, life sucks so badly, the clubs I belong to are not ones you want.
Don’t worry, I returned the kitten, I have a pet door so I said it “just wandered up”, and became quite a hero in the hood here.
What the hell does that say about life?
When Vic was found “not guilty” after two hours, we had relief. We thought on that drive home with our boy we had our life back, fine just fine. We were wrong then too.
It’s not about me though, but so much has played out in that place with those people so many strange things happen and happened there.
I made up with Witherspoon after forty years, and like I told him, people get old and they get sappy, I hate it.
I’m fucking there.
I’m not alone, Vic Feazell, whose “body is a Temple”, ate pizza after the jury decided to eat yet again. Then there were Shipley donuts.
It’s cold in that place and the later it became the more like a dark, kind of creepy place it is.
All this with the note took place in a few minutes as on the heels of hinting they were going to do a compromise verdict, they sent out a note saying the magic words.
‘WE ARE HOPELESSLY DEADLOCKED”
SOUTH BOSQUE TOMMY pretended to be working on a screw in the row chair by him while looking at the ceiling filled with emotion by the way, and I’m sure Broden’s insides folded as his brain went into overdrive.
Pee, smoke, eat, drink, back in the jury room.
One of the women watching was a client of Marcus Beaudin’s that I called, “Miss Lucky”, she there, and it was truly all a bonding experience staccato as it was, we’re all still blank about this morning.
Somewhere in here I get a text , SETH TOOK DOWN HIS FACEBOOK PAGE.
You know what happened, if you’re reading me you know what happened already, I’m just telling you that “dog years” went off people’s lives last night.
By nine thirty Vic’s sitting with the family and we’re texting eachother cat memes, that’s how crazy it got.
By this time the entire third floor smelled like pizza, so did the second, the rotunda is hot and the courtroom is cold the minute you go from one to another it’s back to the bathroom and some fo us stared at the jurors through a semi opened windown with a shade until they noticed and shut the damned thing.
They went out another note asking for the definition of “solicitation” and Vic, who was miffed that they were eating again whispered,
“Give me a verdict and I”ll buy you a pizza”.
See, that’s the thing. He’s funny. He puts me on he floor funny, I beg him not to be funny as I’m not prepared and bladder leak old.
I wander aimlessly to the old DA’s office via the walkway to see the door he shook off its jamb was still there and it’s now just wall.
Nothing is sacred.
We’re all stuck together in a twelve hour sweat lodge, with thirty minute dips in Barton Springs here, with cracked out on sugar and coffe, and cokes.
Vic motions to me from the hall that there’s another note, and asks me what I’m doing, I tell him about how I was looking for his door and its gone.
“You were still the best”, and it’s the truth.
It just dawned on me.
You have to pay big money for this kind of therapy.
After the second note about being desperately deadlocked, it became a very tired but relieved pretty much close knit group at this point.
My most fuzzy Hallmark moment was when Tommy Witherspoon and I realized that Retired Judge Walter Smith hated us both. Now that’s a club.
Women suffer for what men do.
Katy Sutton can’t be described by me only perhaps in sounds but I don’t know.
Even after she knew it was okay.
Somewhere in here Scott Vaughn came in twice or so and I’ll save all that for when I go through being pissed off later.
Cell phones died, people blew up phones, twitter went nuts and after all that, the jury came in and a mistrial was declared.
The jury’s faces were changed, some were red, Vic and I had decided neither of us had any instinct at all about 9:30 and the rest is jibberish.
We will do an autopsy on that bullshit later too.
South Bosque Tommy and I had figured that we had lived two seasons of JOE PICKETT that one night and he was so relieved he missed the Speegleville exit.
The Judge asked the jurors to stay and he wanted to talk to them. As Tommy and I waited for the light with two of them, they crossed the street with us and slapped high hands, their faces were red as though they were running, these two were now “brothers” they had their own language must like the bikers and just like the cops.
They didn’t hug but they certailnly earned a “patch” in those twelve hours.