The defense puts Jamie's father on the stand.
Home, Sweet Home
Part 5 - The Trial, Part 2
HOME, SWEET HOME - PART V
THE TRIAL - PART II
By Barbara Lynn Terry
We all arrived at the courthouse and went directly to the courtroom. I looked around and saw the tables where the attorneys sit, empty, as was the place where the judge sat. There were three people just below the judge's seat. Two of them were women, maybe in their forties and a young man that looked to be about mid-twenties. He sat off to the left of the women in a little space next to the witness stand. I assumed he was what auntie said, the stenographer. He punched keys into a little machine that recorded everything that was said during the case. Mark, the court deputy, knocked on the judge's door and peeked in to tell him we were ready. He then opened the other door and my father was brought by the same deputy as before. When my father sat down, the deputy sat in the chair behind him. Mr. Manian came in at that moment and said he was sorry he wasn't here to greet us. Mark went through another door and the jury took their places in the jury box.
Then Mark said facing all of us. "The circuit court of Plymouth county is now in session. The Honorable Winston McNeil, presiding. Silence is commanded and gentlemen, please remove your hats. This is case number F-99-373, the Commonwealth of Massachussetts versus James McNeeley, Your Honor."
"Thank you, Mark. What would I do without you? Mr. Beale, are you ready to proceed?"
"Yes, Your Honor, thank you. I call James McNeeley to the stand."
The deputy behind my father got up and then my father did too. The deputy escorted him to the witness stand. After my father was sworn in, he sat down. The deputy then returned to his seat.
"Your name is James McNeeley, sir?"
"Yes, it is."
"Where do you live Mr. McNeeley?"
"I live in Hudson, New Hampshire, sir."
"Do you recall the events of Sunday, a week from this past Sunday?"
"Yes sir, I do."
"Would you tell us in your own words, sir, what happened on that day?"
"My wife and I decided to go out to get something from a fast food place. As we were going to the car, my daughter wanted to know if she could go along. I asked my son, Jamie, if he wanted to go too but he said no, he would wait at home. We then left. When we got back, Jamie was nowhere in the house. So we called a few of his friends and they hadn't seen or heard from him. I then told my wife I was going to go look for him. When I couldn't find him, I went back to the house and called my sister-in-law who lives here in Plymouth county."(a shocked look was on my mother's face at that point). " asked her if she had seen Jamie and she said no, why. I told her he was missing. I then decided, maybe I should go down there because maybe she wasn't trelling me the truth. I . . ."
"Why do you think she wouldn't tell you the truth?"
"Because Jamie has done this before"(a shocked look was on MY face). "so I drove down to my sister-in-law's and demanded that she bring Jamie out so I could take him home."
"Did you at any time, threaten or strike anyone in your sister-in-law's home?"
"No sir, I did not."
"What do you make of the testimony of a sworn law enforcement office and the maid, as well as that of Jamie?"
"I'm sorry, sir, but they are lying. My only intention was to bring Jamie home."
I notice that you refer to Jamie in the masculine pronouns. Is this the same Jamie that testified here yesterday?"
"I see that a young lady by the name of Jamie Anne MacCreeley tesified here yesterday. Is this your son?"
Mr. Beale was looking at the police report and then looked back at my father. "Did you ever, while at your sister-in-law's home, make an attempt to go in the home, without being invited?"
Thank you, Mr. McNeeley. No further questions, Your Honor."
"Mr. Manian, any cross?"
"Yes, Your Honor, thank you. Mr. McNeeley, is it your testimony that a sworn officer of the law would perjure himself on the witness stand, just to lie about you?'
Mr. Beale stood up and said, "Objection Your Honor, inconclusive."
"Sustained, you may answer the question."
"Well, they have to be lying because I only went there to get my son."
"Do you know Deputy Corby Wilson, sir?"
"Then why would he make up a lie about you?"
"I have no idea, sir."
Oh, my father was smooth. He answered these question while facing the jury, as though he were the victim and not my aunt.
"Well, I want your honest opinion about my next question. Have you ever mistreated anyone in your family by threatening them, causing them physical injury or humiliating them?"
"No sir. Never would I do something like that."
"Can you think of anything, anything at all, that might have made Jamie run away?"
"No sir, I can't."
"No further questions, Your Honor." I could see the look of anger on Mr. Manian's face as he walked back to his table.
"Any re-direct, Mr. Beale?"
"No, Your Honor, the defense rests."
"All right, Mr. McNeeley, you may step down." the deputy that was my father's escort went to the witness stand and walked him back to Mr. Beale, and when my father sat down, he did too.
"Mr. Manaian, you made a motion to the court, at the beginning of the trial, to call another witness for the purposes of rebuttal. Do you wish to re-open at this time, sir?"
"Yes, Your Honor, thank you."
"Then call your witness."
"I call Amanda MacCreeley to the stand."
My aunt went to the witness stand and was sworn in. After she was sworn in she sat down and Mr. manian started his questions.
"Mrs. MacCreeley, please state in your own words, what happened on Sunday, a week from this last Sunday."
"I was at home with my niece, Jamie, and we were talking about sending a letter to her parents to let them know she was all right. I then received a phone call from my sister, in Hudson, New Hampshire, telling me that her husband was on the way to get Jamie. I told Jamie to go to her room and stay there until I called for her. It was a couple maybe a few hours later, that my brother-in-law came pounding on the door as if he were going to break it in. Donna, my downstairs maid, answered the door. she inquired as to what he wanted and he demanded in a very loud voice that he wanted his son and if I knew what was good for me, I had to hand him over immediately."
"Did anything happen, after he made his demand?"
What if anything, happened after he made his demand?"
"A deputy, who patrols our area quite frequently, responded to my sister's call for help. When he arrived, he asked my brother-in-law to tell him what was good for me. James, my brother-in-law, told the deputy that he wanted his son. The deputy asked him if he would step over to his patrol car, and that is when my brother-in-law pushed me with a forceful shove and began to enter the house."
"Did James succeed in entering the house, after he pushed you?"
"Overruled. You may answer the question."
"Yes, he did. He only got in past me, when the deputy tackled him like a football player. The deputy then handcuffed him and took him outside."
"We need to clear the air, her a little bit. you say your niece, Jamie, was in the hosue with you, but James says that this is his son. Would care to elaborate a little on the gender confusion?"
"Yes. The night that Jamie ran away, he was wearing his sister's clothes, as a disguise, so he wouldn't readily be identified. I was called by my sister to be on the lookout for him. When I found him, he was sleeping on the shoulder of the road, dressed as a girl. Well, I knew right away who he was, but I didn't let on. I took him home and put him to bed, and the next morning I started calling him 'young lady' because he was dressed like one. I also told him that as long as he was dressed in that manner, he would be treated as young lady in my home. You see, sir, Jamie didn't remember me, because it has been many years since we saw each other. So, I asked him if he would stay and be my daughter. This was all talked out by my sister and I before I even mentioned it to Jamie. Jamie said she would have to think about it and a couple of hours later at lunch, she told me she would like to stay and be my daughter because it gave her respite and protection from her father, well, she said parents, but I knew what she meant. So I told my staff that her name was Jamie Anne MacCreeley and she was to be treated with respect and dignity as my daughter. They all agreed. That is how my nephew became my niece."
"Thank you, Mrs. MacCreeley, No further questions, Your Honor."
"Mr. Beale, any cross?"
"No, Your Honor."
"State rests, Your Honor?"
"Very well. both sides having been in this matter, it will now go to the jury for deliberations. I see that it is lunch time, and we will re-convene at two thirty this afternoon, at which time I will instruct the jury. Have a good lunch."
Mark then said all rise and we did until the judge was out of the courtroom. My father was led back to the jail and we went to a restaurant outside the courthouse to eat. As we ate, we talked about my father's testimony.
"I can't believe that weasel," my mother said. "I mean he actually said all of that with a straight face."
"Yes," my aunt continued. "I thought he was going to walk on water, next." We all giggled.
"Mom, auntie, I don't understand why they made such an issue out of my being a girl."
"Honey," my mom answered. "It's just the way his attorney was trying to make your father look like he had done nothing. Don't worry though. Okay? Your father is in for a big let down. I saw the smirk on his face as they took him back to jail. He thinks he is getting off on this one. But when he called Corby a liar, I was looking at the jury and I saw the disbelief in their eyes, He will be convicted."
"I agree," my sister put in. " I was looking at the jury too, and one woman even opened her mouth in a shocked manner that James could call a man of the law a liar, since the deputy was right there as a witness. I swear, there are times when I wonder what this earth did to deserve him." Mary and I giggled.
"Well, don't worry, sweetheart. Your father is going to be locked up for a long time. This charge is light compared to the one facing him. That one will put him out of our lives forever."
"I know, mom, and thanks. All of you. You have been very nice to me."
It was time to go back to the courthouse and sit in the courtroom. When we walked in my father's attorney saw us and just smiled. That was odd! we sat down and then my father was brought in and he sat next to his attorney. Mark called the court to order like he did before, and the judge entered and sat down. Then the jury was brought in and they took their places.
"I am now going to charge the jury. Anyone who doesn't want to be here should leave as the courtroom door will be locked until I have finished." No one left.
"Very well, Mark, please lock the corridor door." He did and the judge proceeded. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have heard all the testimony and seen all the evidence. It is now up to you, the jury to decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. You will discuss the testimony and review all the evidence in order to arrive at a just verdict. Your first duty, upon retiring to the jury room is to select a jury foreperson, then discuss the facts of the case and arrive at your verdict. You may now adjourn to the jury room."
After the jury left the judge said the court was in recess. My father was taken back to the jail. We decided to wait and see if they came back in a short period of time or a longer one. I was a short period of time and my father was led back in the courtroom. As soon as he sat down, so did the deputy. The judge came back in, and told Mark to bring in the jury. As the jury walked to the jury box, they all had solemn faces and didn't even look at my father. When they sat down, the judge began.
"Madam foreperson, has the jury reached its verdict?"
"Yes, we have, Your Honor," said a woman who looked like she might have been middle thirties. She had on a nice tan skirt with an off white blouse and her auburn hair was just a little past her shoulder and looked like it had been feathered.
"Please hand your verdict to the bailiff."
Mark walked over and took the verdict from the lady and handed it to the judge, who looked at it, and gave it back to Mark, who then gave back to the lady.
"Madam foreperson, how say you as to count one of the indictment?"
"How say you, as to count two of the indictment?"
"Mr. Beale, do wish to poll the jury?"
"Yes, Your Honor, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, with a nod of your heads, was this and is this now your verdict?"
They all nodded together and then Mr. Beale said thank you and sat down.
"Sentencing will be in three weeks, in order to give the state time to investigate. Mr. Beale I assume you are going to appeal?"
"Yes, Your Honor. I will have my motion filed in the morning."
"That is acceptable, Mr. Beale. Very well, this court is adjourned." After my father was taken out the courtroom, the judge came up to us and said to me.
"Young lady, you conducted yourself with respect and dignity in this court. I wish you luck in your new life."
"Thank you, Your Honor," I said with a smile.
We left the courtroom and went to the car. This trial was a drag on all of us and we were tired. Relieved too, now that it was over. I asked my aunt what will happen to my father, not that I cared, but I was curious.
"Well Jamie, first of all the district attorney will investigate all the things your father said. When they don't find a record in the phone company of that pretentious call to me, he said he made, that will weigh heavily against him as far as to how much time he will get in prison. Plus, he called Corby a liar. The judge will not take kindly to that either. With all of the testimony we gave, he will go away for a long time. The second count, in case you didn't know it, was attempted kidnapping. You won't have to ever worry about him again."
"Well, that's good. Hey! Can we go riding tomorrow. Brownie needs excercise." We laughed a little at that and my aunt and mom agreed that it would be a good idea. We got in the limo and Jeri just smiled.
The next three weeks included school starting, so I wouldn't be there for my father's sentencing. I heard he was going to get a lot of time out of just this case alone. Mr. Manian said he would see to that.
On the first day of school, there were so many limos coming and going, I lost after twenty. Jeri pulled up to the main entrance and Mary and I got out, ready to face the music. We went in to the office to get our locker numbers and combinations and went to our first class. My first class was civics, and we were told by Miss Kenyard, the teacher, that we would all be going to the courthouse to see the sentencing phase of a trial. She was about my height, nice build, early thirties and today she wore a gray skirt suit, with a white ruffled blouse. Her brunette hair was shoulder length, and her makeup impeccable to bring out her natural beauty. Her round blue eyes sparkled as she spoke and she seemed to enjoy her work.
"Jamie. After we get back from the courthouse, would you please give us a run down on what the trial phase of a criminal case is like. I don't want you to go into detail, just touch on the highlights as to what happens. Okay?"
"I would be happy to, Miss Kenyard."
The rest of the day was much like first period. We got our books from each class, except sewing, that we received patterns and were told that for our class project, we had to make something that we would like to wear. It could casual, formal, dress, skirt, blouse, pants, it didn't matter as long as we made it ourelves. The day being over, we went to our lockers and got our things and I met Mary at the front door. Jeri was already there, and she opened the door for us.
"How was your first day at school, ladies?" She asked with a smile and then gave that famous wink.
"It was nice, Jeri. Thank you for asking," we both said together. Then all three of us laughed at that.
When we got home, I told auntie about our field and had my mother sign the permission slip. She said that we were probably going to go see my father's sentencing. I also told them that Miss Kenyard wanted me to speak on just the highlights of what happens during a criminal trial.
"Why Jamie, that's wonderful. Looks like you kinda fell into this class. Huh?"
Giggling time again. Mom was right on target. Well Mary and I took our things up to our rooms and changed out of our uniforms and hung them up, then we went back downstairs after changing into casual clothes for the evening. Dinner that evening was roast beef, with three kinds of vegetables, and for dessert, we had Dutch apple pie. Ala mode even. Dinner was nice, but the conversation centered around my father and the sentencing.
"Mom? Can we change the subject please? I have really had enough of the trial and tomorrow, we will see exactly what James gets from the judge."
"Okay sweetheart. We're sorry. Yes we can change the subject. How did you like your teachers at school?"
"Mom, they were great. In sewing class we have a class project each student has to do. We have to make something to wear. It can be fromal, casual, pants, skirts, dresses, blouses. Miss Kenyard said it didn't matter, as long as we made them ourselves."
"Honey, that's great!" She exclaimed. "Do you know what you are going to make, yet?"
"Not yet, mom. I'm still thinking about it."
"Okay, dear. Just take your time. If you need any advice, I'll be glad to help."
When dinner was finished, we went in to the parlor and watched t.v. Auntie just loved the old movies and this one was with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn called, The African Queen. Since it was on cable, it was only on for an hour and a half. No commercials. It was a good movie and after it was over, it was time for bed. we all hugged and kissed and said good night and Mary and I went up to our rooms toget ready and go to sleep, because we had school tomorrow. I was going on a field trip and I made sure I had my permission slip in my pack. I brushed my teeth, brushed my hair and went to bed.
I awoke to the singing of birds and the sun shining in my window. Today, I was going on a field trip to the courthouse with my civics class. I turned to sit up on the edge of the bed, my feet following in a flowing motion, with the rest of my body. Shaing the mildew and cobwebs out of my head, I greeted the day with a smile, as the birds seemed to put me in that mood. I stood up and went to the closet. I took out my uniform, and went to the dresser to get my underthings and knee hi socks. I got out my black t-bars and went in to run my bath. I put in lilac bath oil and beads, then I went to brush my teeth while the tub was filling. I then got in the tub and just soaked in the fragrance of the lilac. After washing and rinsing I got out and patted down and went ot get dressed. I put my bra, half slip, and panties on and sat down to do my makeup. I did that slow and when that was completed, I put my clothes on. After I was dressed, I looked in the mirror at my hair. It needed a little brushing, and I think today, I'll make it a ponytail. All of that done, I went down to breakfast taking my pack with me. I met Mary in the hall just coming out of her room.
"Well, sister mine," she said, "I smell something good cooking. Let's find out where it's coming from."
"Lead on, Sherlock," I quipped.
"Right then, Dr. Watson." We both giggled.
Breakfast was ham and eggs, with wheat toast, milk and juice. As I was eating my mother asked me if I had my permission slip for the field trip.
"Yes mom, it's in my pack."
"All right, dear. I was just making sure."
Mary and I finished eating at the same time, almost, and we rinsed our dishes and put them in the sink. We got our coats from the closet and went out to the limo. Jeri was smiling and said good morning, ladies, and closed the door after we were in. When we got to school, I gave Miss Kenyard my permission slip and she said we were waiting for two more students, then we could leave. The students arrived in short order, gave the teacher their permission slips and then we lined up at the door. Miss Kenyard made sure everyone was out, and then closed and locked the classroom door. We went out to the bus and as we were all seated Miss Kenyard said:
"Ladies, we are going to an official proceeding at the courthouse. The sentencing phase of a criminal trial. I want you all to be on your best behavior. You are representaives of the school, so conduct yourselves accordingly." She nodded to the driver who closed the door and we were on our way.
We got to the courthouse, without any hard bumps or rolling you experience on a school bus when going to public school. This driver was very good at her job. She was an older lady, with greying hair and she wore stretch pants and black, soft leather shoes. She wore a green jacket with the school bus company's insignia on it and another patch below that said she was a fifteen year safe driver. As we filed out of the bus in an orderly fashion, there was a female deputy sheriff there to greet us.
"Welcome, ladies, I am Deputy Karen McCall, I will be your chaperone for this field trip. Hi Jamie, good to see you again. You know which court we're going to, don't you? It's all right, you are going to be very well looked after here. Okay ladies, let's go, we'll all go through that door on the side there."
She took us a door and unlocked it with a key and held it open until we were all inside. Then she closed it and locked it. She took us to an elevator and we went to the courtroom where I and the others had given our testimony. We went in the courtroom and deputy McCall ushered us into our seats. We all sat down and waited for the proceedings to begin. Then I saw Mark come in from the judge's chambers. He then went to his desk and called someone, and shortly my father was brought in the courtroom. Mark then told the judge everyone was ready. Mark did his usual all stand thing, and when the judge sat down, we did too.
"Before we begin with the sentencing, I see we have visitors. Welcome ladies, you are going to see first hand what I do with persons convicted of a crime. This proceeding should always stay with you because the phrase that 'crime does not pay' is true , as you will see.
Mr. James McNeeley, please stand before the bench."
My father was escorted by the same deputy who brought him and who stood behind him.
"Mr. James McNeeley, do you have anything to say before I pronounce sentence?"
"Yes, Your Honor. I was only going there to take my son home. I really didn't mean to--to push my sister-in-law like I did. But she blocked my way."
"I see. Well, that is no excuse for shoving her and invading her home without her permission. There were other resources you could have used legally to accomplish what you set out to do. Is that the end of your statement, sir?"
My father just looked down and said, "Yes, Your Honor."
"Very well. I think you will notice that the charge on your copy of the indictment was changed to Home invasion, by use of force. Did you notice that change before the trial began?"
"Yes, Your Honor."
"Mr. James McNeeley, pursuant to Chapter 265, Section 18C of the General Laws of Massachussetts, I hereby sentence you to not less twenty years nor more than life imprisonment. You are to be delivered to the superintendent of the Bay State Correctional Center, designated as the recption center for the crime upon which you have been convicted. I also sentence you to five years for the crime of attempted kidnapping, pursuant to Chapter 274, Section 6 of the General Laws of Massachussetts, both sentences to be served at the Bay State Correctional Center and both sentences are to run consecutive to each other. Mr. McNeeley I hope you think very seriously as to what you have done. We do not take kindly to strangers coming into our state and causing us problems. Deputy you may remove the defendant." After my father was escorted from the courtroom, the judge addressed the class.
"Ladies, I hope that this was a good learning experience for all of you. Thank you for coming. Mark, I will hear the next case in fifteen minutes. Court is in recess."
There were tears streaming down my face and deputy McCall asked me if I was all right.
"Yes ma'am. I'm just glad this is all over. I'm glad he got what he deserved."
"It's all right Jamie. This whole mess had to be quite a drain on you and your family. You won't forget about this, ever. But time heals all wounds. Now, let's get your class back to the bus."
I didn't see my mother and aunt in the courtroom until after we started to file out. I asked deputy McCall if I could go with them instead. She asked Miss Kenyard, who said it was all right because this class was going to be excused for the rest of the day, anyway. I went home with my mother and aunt.