The People Vs. Molly Ellis
waiting in the gallery
This is it. By the time I finish writing this, I will have an answer: guilty or not. I have waited a year and a half for this day. I’m glad to be getting it over with at last. Still, I am terrified. If I am found guilty it can impact the rest of my life.
This was not an assault with an attempt to harm. If found guilty I face up to a year in jail and a $2000 fine. Maximum sentencing is unlikely in my case due to the fact that I have no prior criminal history. Even so, because I opted for a trial instead of a plea bargain, my sentence will be significant if I lose.
Sitting in the gallery, I am listening to three young men behind me brag about their cases to one another. "I beat his ass" and "He’s still covered in bruises" are a couple examples of what I am overhearing. I can not believe that I am charged with the same crime as these men who are talking about violence as if it is a regular occurrence in their reality. They seem to not be phased by any potential consequences or the gravity of the room they are sitting in. These are the people I was being likened to. These are my supposed peers.
called out by my public defender
I had some trepidation about my defense because the public defender whom I had met with the most frequently had already informed me that he wouldn’t be at my trial. When I met with the bright eyed, tiny firecracker of a woman who was there to defend me, I was instantly relieved. Every other lawyer always emphasized that no matter what the reason, I had committed an assault and I had to keep that in mind. In contrast, she looked me dead in the eye and said: “you did nothing wrong, you were protecting your child.” I knew I was in the best possible hands I could’ve hoped for. I relaxed slightly.
taking my seat at the defense table
First came the “preliminary matters”, all the people whom had a case being continued or dismissed, were done; it flew by as I watched the gallery thin out one person at a time. My anxiety increased with every one. Until, the last woman received her paperwork and my attorney turned around and motioned me up with a smile. I took my seat next to her at the table on the left, the defendant’s seat.
In her opening statements she compared me to a mama bear protecting her cub, which was exactly how I felt the night in question and exactly the reason I committed the act in question. The judge, however, chortled a bit when she said this, as if she was being overly dramatic. Being male, he could never completely understand; but I hope he keeps an open mind.
The prosecutor seems capable but almost apathetic in his fervor to present his case. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but he doesn’t seem to be trying too incredibly hard. At the very least he hasn’t made any attempt to paint me as a violent person or in a negative light, whatsoever. He is just presenting the facts as he knows them. The first witness he called to the stand was the complaining witness, or the “victim”. From here on out I will refer to him as the “CW”. It was tense as he walked in, I didn’t meet his eyes once.The prosecutor asked him to describe the incident in question; and he poured out an exaggerated sob story while my lawyer made frequent objections. He claimed that the bite he sustained was bleeding and he had to remove his shirt to stop the flow of blood. He claimed that I didn’t get out of the vehicle until I decided to bite him. According to him, my hands were free when I bit him which makes no sense. Some of his testimony made me extremely emotional because it brought up a very traumatic night in my life. It brought up a lot of guilt about what my daughter went through. I am not guilty of the crime I was charged for, but a big chunk of the responsibility falls on my shoulders when it comes to that night. During cross-examination, my lawyer pinned him down to a story that he had to stick to completely. She did this knowing that not only my testimony, but the eyewitnesses and even arresting officers statements contradicted his story substantially. When he finished testifying, I was feeling guardedly hopeful.
The civilian eyewitness stated the facts exactly as I remembered them to occur, which vastly challenged the CW’s version of the night. He made eye contact with me and offered a weak smile, which I gratefully returned. The first police officer that testified bolstered my defense quite a bit more than I was expecting him to; not intentionally, he has to justify the arrest. First, by denying that the CW was bleeding in any way or even had his skin broken. The second officer that testified confirmed this as well. He also scowled deeply at me when I made eye contact. The second major score was about something called “utterances”. When filling out a report after arresting an individual, the officer writes down any statements the person being arrested utters after given their Miranda warning. My lawyer asked him if he remembered me telling him that the reason I bit the CW was because his arm was wrapped tightly around my daughter’s neck and I thought he may harm her. “Not that I can recall…” he answered. “Well, let me refresh you memory”, my lawyer said, a little bit condescendingly. She strode over to the witness stand and showed him a report, filled out in his hand, stating that the first thing out of my mouth was the above statement.
The second officer was overkill in my opinion. He just reaffirmed that I was indeed, the defendant. That was quite dramatic, when every witness on the stand was asked if the suspect in question that night was in the courtroom. Just like on television, they had to point at me. He also confirmed that he took the photographs of the CW’s “injury” and he was not bleeding.
ran out of time
I was starting to feel really good about everything and eagerly awaited my turn to testify, which was finally drawing near. I wanted to keep up this momentum of confidence from the way the trial had played out thus far. Then after the state rested, the judge eyed the clock and asked my attorney about how long it would take to present her case. “More than ten minutes.” she informed him. “Then this case will be furthered until the next available date.” the judge decided.I couldn’t hold back tears, I was so close to the end! The next available date was three weeks away. This is life, and I had to accept it.