Monday, October 26, 2009

The longest week ever

When we got back to Bloomington yesterday night and I put my things in order for work the next day, I found myself unable to believe that only a week had gone since the previous late evening arrival home (which was in fact exactly a week earlier). So much was packed into that week. I had the elation of my half marathon race and PR, the feelings of congratulations and disappointment upon hearing about friends' races, and good times with the running buddies in Columbus. Then the slow/fast, excruciating first three days of the work week, trying to focus on work. And then, of course, the trial, which was surreal. I felt by turns light-headed, bored, fascinated, frustrated.

During my testimony, I was shaking so hard that I could barely pick up the glass of water they provided and set it back down again. And I needed that water because my mouth and tongue felt like sandpaper. They said I did a good job and stayed poised during my testimony. What was going on outside and inside were apparently very different. I'm just glad I didn't faint. I was afraid to look at Mark, my parents, or the women from my running group who had come to support me because I thought I would cry. I was very touched and grateful for the people who were there for me (in person or in spirit) those two days. I did come close, but held it together. I had promised myself I wouldn't cry in front of him again. Near the end, the prosecutor asked a series of questions to introduce the fact that I am well acquainted with my assailant's (Murphy's) voice, having heard it frequently during the attack and then again when they interviewed the suspect on the news, and then at his hearings in the following months. Then he asked if the owner of that voice was present in the courtroom, to which I said yes, and then asked me who that person was. I turned and pointed to him and said, "There, that's him." It felt really, really good.

I was not able to return to the courtroom until closing arguments the following afternoon. I spent the interim waiting in or around the courthouse, walking around downtown, or at the Bakehouse ODing on coffee. When I returned, both sides delivered their arguments. I found out then that DNA evidence had been collected (my DNA was found in one of his samples, and vice versa) but then Murphy's appointed lawyer got up and read a statement Murphy had written which accused one of the witnesses of perjury and seemed to be trying to imply that the nurse who had conducted the rape kit and the suspect kit had contaminated parts of both kits.

After this, Murphy and his attorney (Schrems) whispered to each other, and when the judge asked them if there was anything further, they said there had been a miscommunication and they wanted to introduce more evidence. The judge literally put his head down on his desk. The defense's case was reopened, and I was allowed to stay. First they played the tape which had been made by the detective when she first interviewed Murphy the night he was caught. She asked him a series of questions about his activities that day before accusing him of the attack, at which point he promptly asked for a lawyer. He had apparently said he was at home all day, but under questioning began to admit a series of errands that he had been on during the day, including retrieving a bike lock from a bike locked by the trailhead (which I guess turned out to be same one I saw that day? I honestly don't know--I am fuzzy on the details that I wasn't there to see myself). Nothing in the tape seemed to help his case in any way that I could see.

Then he started going about how the SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) had become hostile toward him as soon as she found out he was a suspect, and how she had contaminated the samples from the two kits she was taking. Finally it was decided that the nurse would be called to testify. She was not on the witness list and had not been involved with the case or the investigation since that night, so the fact that she was there within 45 minutes of being called was pretty amazing. She took the stand and answered an exhaustive series of questions that established that she had done my kit, which took about two hours, always staying in the room with the kit and not leaving sight of the kit until it was sealed and handed over to police, and then done his kit about a half an hour later. She described the many precautions SANEs take to make sure no outside contamination occurs with the samples, including changing clothes after each swab and sample, etc. It was clear from her testimony that everything Murphy was ranting about was complete bullshit.

I learned later he had taken the stand in his own defense. His defense was simply to deny everything and accuse the police and the hospital staff of some huge conspiracy to frame him. Unsurprisingly, the judge was in chambers for less than half an hour before returning to pronounce him guilty. The sexual battery charge was lessened to a misdemeanor, because that charge and another charge would be considered one for sentencing. But the important thing is that he is guilty of criminal deviate conduct, an A felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 50 years. He was also guilty of three other lesser felonies, with varying sentences. Sentencing is supposed to happen with a month, but they were not able to agree on a date at the time, so I'm staying tuned to find that out.

Upon hearing the verdict, Murphy started crying, and I hope it doesn't make me sound like a terrible person when I say that I really enjoyed watching him do so. This wasn't him being remorseful, by the way. This was absolutely crying of the oh-shit-I-was-caught variety.

Looking back over the whole ordeal really makes me appreciate the extraordinary set of coincidences that led to Murphy's arrest, and more amazing than the coincidences, the awesome people who were in the right places at the right times, and alert, to take advantage of these coincidences. I feel immense relief that I was lucky enough to see my attacker brought to justice in such a relatively short time. Ever since I heard his voice on that newscast, I have known he was guilty, but proving it in court is a different story, and I know voice identification by witnesses is not considered the most reliable evidence. I'm so glad that DNA evidence backed it up.

The debacle of re-opening the case and bringing in the new witness meant that the verdict did not come until well after 6 p.m. We had dinner with my parents and then went to bed soon after. We got up early and drove 5 hours to Galesburg, Ill., for Homecoming, which was a whirlwind weekend involving very little sleep. But it was worth it to go even for such a short time because I have missed my friends so much and it was so good to see them. We dawdled around campus until 4 p.m. the next day, putting off the drive back, but we finally got underway again and got home after 9. By this time I was so tired, mentally and physically, that I literally couldn't see straight. When I woke up this morning, I felt like I had just put my head down on the pillow. I think I could have easily slept for another 12-14 hours.
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