Resurrection 70Posted: December 29, 2016
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
J.W. stayed doubled over for what seemed to Ray White an eternity. Ray was not a particularly empathetic guy, years practicing law had beaten that out of him, but he felt for J.W. He went over and grabbed the trashcan and placed it at J.W.’s feet.
J.W. had stopped retching now and just sat immobile, his torso folded against his thighs, his arms hugging his lower legs. Ray sat back down, also silent. Despite Ray’s newfound empathy, he had no words.
After a few minutes, J.W. sat back up. He didn’t look at Ray, he didn’t seem to be looking at anything, he just stared off into space.
Over the years as a criminal attorney, Ray had seen clients break down, cry, scream their innocence. This was different. J.W.’s mind was just not there. The shock of so much, so quickly, had left him completely stunned. Uncharacteristically, Ray just waited in silence, hoping for J.W. to come back from wherever he was and rejoin him.
When Ray could stand the silence no longer, he said, “J.W.? You OK?”
J.W.’s mind was processing but couldn’t seem to pull all the pieces together. This past week had been unbelievable. He wanted to pray, even in his mind, but he couldn’t mentally form the words. He sat there in shock, not hearing Ray.
Finally, Ray slammed his hand to the metal table. “J.W.! Snap out of it!”
J.W. turned to look at Ray, his eyes blank. “J.W., you gotta snap out of this. Are you OK?”
“No” J.W. replied.
“Look, you have to snap out of this. You don’t want to let them think you’re suicidal, they’ll put you in the hole, and that’s a lot worse than any of this.”
“The Hole” was a single cell in the White County Jail. It was normally used for prisoner discipline and had a toilet/sink combination bolted to the wall, a cot and nothing else. It had a solid metal door with two slots, each with a sliding metal shutter. One was at eye level and one was used to uncuff, cuff prisoners and pass them their food. There was no light so once you were in there and the shutters were closed, you were forced into darkness. Prisoners were placed in there for 23 out of every 24 hours.
When a prisoner was deemed a suicide risk, the law stated they had to be placed into a room where they could not harm themselves. In White County, the hole became that room. The COs would unbolt and remove the cot. The prisoner was stripped down to his underwear and placed in the cell with no blanket he could use to hang himself.
More often than not, when the COs wanted to punish a prisoner they didn’t like but who had not committed an infraction, they would “observe” him engaging in suicidal ideation, note so on his file, then throw him in the hole. “For his protection” they would say.
J.W. appeared broken already, thought Ray, and putting him in the hole would just make it worse.
“J.W. I need to talk to you about this case and what is going to happen. Can you communicate with me?” Ray wasn’t sure he could.
J.W. pulled his mind back from the brink and replied, “yes, I mean, yes, I think I can. I don’t understand any of this.”
“Well it is a shock. I want you to know we’re going to do all we can to make this as easy as possible. I need to talk you through what will be happening to you over the next day.”
“I need you to get me out of here.” J.W.’s eyes were pleading. It took all of his will to not scream.
“We’re going to see about getting that done. Let me tell you what’s going to happen. You’ll be arraigned tomorrow afternoon….”
J.W. interrupted, “You can’t get me out of here tonight?”
“I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. Judge White will do arraignments and motions tomorrow at 1pm, that’s the earliest you can get before a judge.” Ray had become used to referring to his brother as “Judge” having done so for many years now.
“So far you’re only being charged with one murder, Officer Canada, but you’ll likely be charged with two more tomorrow. I will be speaking to the Commonwealth Attorney in the morning.”
“They can’t believe I killed anyone.” Replied J.W. flatly. The fight had gone out of him.
“Look, I’m sure you didn’t. But Chief Dalton seems to think you did and we won’t see the evidence until discovery. Tomorrow at the arraignment I will file a motion with the court to show ‘probable cause’ which will, if the Judge grants it, force the police to show they had probable cause to arrest you.”
“So it could get, what, dismissed tomorrow?”
“Technically, yes, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. There is a police officer dead and it’s unlikely you will get out that easily.” Ray failed to mention his brother was facing reelection and that meant more to Judge White than justice.
“It might tell us whether they have any real evidence though. By now they’ve searched your house and turned up anything they can. Is there any reason they would find a weapon or other incriminating evidence in your home?”
“Over the years I’ve shot many guns, but I don’t own any. I can’t imagine anything in the parsonage being a problem.”
“Good. That’s good. Did they swab your hands when they brought you in?”
“No, they didn’t. It all seemed so fast. I was just talking to the chief and the next thing I knew he was arresting me for murder.”
“OK, I will ask the court to check your clothes for gunshot residue. The prosecution will want to explain it away, but it can’t hurt.”
“Now, let me walk you through your arraignment…” Ray then talked through the steps J.W. would go through Monday afternoon.
When he finished, he got up to leave.
“Please, don’t go.” J.W.’s eyes were pleading.
Ray placed his hand on J.W.’s shoulder and leaned down close to his face. “You’ll be okay, we’ll get you through this. Pray, meditate or whatever you can do. The next day will be hard, but you’ll make it.”
Ray walked to the door, called for the guard and he was gone.