Monday, August 22, 2011

Dismissed, but not Unscathed...


Thursday I returned to work as the judge instructed me.


The jury duty summons was tucked in my calendar as a daily reminder to call August 14th to see how my civic duty would materialize. Sure enough, Juror # 78 would need to report on Monday. Although uncertain of the specifics, I was confident and assured as I entered the jury room with 355 strangers. Orientation promptly began and the jury selection process was set in motion. I, along with approximately 70 unknown humans was corralled into a court room.

Upon taking my seat in the juror’s box, I eyed two sets of attorneys before my eyes settled upon a man with strawberry blonde military type haircut, black rimmed rectangular glasses wearing a blue short sleeved button down shirt. He sat attentive flanked by his legal representation while an elderly couple which I presumed to be his parents sat in the first row of the court gallery.

Behind the second set of attorneys was a young woman whom I now know to be the mother of the infant murdered. How she sat in his presence, I will never know.

The excitement of being able to actually hear a trial quickly dissipated when the Honorable Judge laid out the specifics of our case: a capital murder charge with childhood sexual abuse was being sought against Joshua Stepp. I’m certain my mouth visibly dropped to the floor as past memories settled into my body bringing anxiety in the form of nausea.

Because of the nature of the case, we would be individually questioned which gave rise to abrupt and rapid anger within manifesting itself in fitful sleepless nights, the inability to eat, and impatience of all those around me along my need to articulate this experience to everyone I encountered. There was no ‘normal’ as I endured the three days of torturous waiting for my face to face inquiry with the judge.

The 45 minute meeting happened early Wednesday afternoon as my views and beliefs of the death penalty were sprawled out before the people within the court room. I was asked of my ability to focus on the evidence of the case rather than what I may or may not have heard about this particular case that occurred in 2009. I was grilled on following the law given by the judge and not personal judgments as well as my ability to give up 4-6 weeks of my life. (ohhh, not certain of this one; my trip to the ocean in jeaopardy?)

I was sensing I may be anointed ‘juror’ as alternate #3 when the interrogations shifted to the childhood sexual abuse. His initial question: ‘Have you or anyone close to you been sexually abused?’ to which I could only reply with a nod of the head, then instructed to speak into the microphone.

I was quickly dismissed when the judge inquired about my ability to separate the facts of this case with my own personal experiences. Is that actually possible? I couldn’t give a definitive answer. In my heart of hearts I really didn’t know of my ability with this aspect.

I completed the necessary forms for check out and rapidly took cover in the sanctity of my automobile. Once there, I got on the internet and surfed the name: Joshua Stepp which brought up his case of accusations of sexually assaulting and murdering his ten month old step-daughter, Cheyenne. I repressed the urge to vomit yet couldn’t escape the horrendous facts throughout the drive to the safety and security of my own home.

Overjoyed and thankful, yet repulsed; this case continues to plague my existence. So as the judge directed, I may be continuing with my normal routine yet little Cheyenne Yarley is never far from my thoughts.

30 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

why do these traumas get presented to folks - to rile up old horrors and nightmares? why, of all cases, this one for you to have to face? i am glad you were not picked for the jury. you've endured enough revisiting...

Bish Denham said...

Although I was not abused in any way, I worked for 23 years with kids who had been. I seriously doubt I would be able to sit on a jury in a case like that and not be judgmental. I say, do to the perps what they did to their victims.

Wanda's Wings said...

Due to my personal history I could never serve on such a jury.

Rita said...

I am happy for you that you were dismissed; I honestly don't think I would have been able to face this. Life is a real????
Rita

KathyA said...

My stomach actually turned when I read this...You showed so much strength and control.

Kay Dennison said...

I honestly couldn't serve on such a jury!!! You are a very courageous lady!!!!

Tiggeriffic said...

Having a wonderful childhood with two loving parents I just can't imagine being able to sit on a jury knowing what this man did to a child. You were very courageous~! Glad you didn't have to serve on the jury with this one. Can you imagine what was done to him when he was a child? These kind of things seem to pass onto generation to generation.
Have a Blessed Day from Iowa:)

Kim said...

I'm glad you got dismissed. The things these jurors will hear will affect them the rest of their lives. I was called for duty in a rape case several years ago. I was dismissed - thankfully.
That poor little innocent girl and her family.

Out on the prairie said...

I have only been called up once, a molestation case. I wasn't wanting to be part of it, yet wanted to get the person off the streets.I had to be the foreman, and was glad when it was over.I'm glad you survived this ordeal.

Tammy@Simple Southern Happiness said...

When I read what the trial was to be about I started to cry, it does not take much to bring to my vivid mind the ordeals of my past.

No one can seperate or put aside the past and listen to the so called facts.

I am glad you did not have to serve, I know for a fact I would have thrown up on the stand.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I'm sorry you had to endure that.

My first thought was that while I have never had such horrors done to me I don't think I could be objective either. What kind of human does such things? Any why shouldn't they pay? I would not be able to serve anymore than I could be able to free Casey Anthony. I guess I would make for a horrible juror.

Cheyenne is in our prayers.

Linda Myers said...

Just showing up you did your duty.

Daisy said...

Oh my, Tracy. What a relief that you were dismissed. I'm not sure how you managed to make it through the time that you did spend there. Such a sad, tragic case.

Old Kitty said...

Oh dear! What a horrific case! But you were honest with the judge and with yourself. Well done you.

p.s. welcome back btw!! Take care
x

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh My Gosh... What a terrible moment for you to have to endure, Tracy. I'm sure it brought up many bad memories... I surely am glad that you were dismissed from that jury duty... It is a horrible case --and that man deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Hugs,
Betsy

Jules said...

As I read your post I felt the trauma you must have felt my friend and so you know, it is no crime to not be able to separate what we know from what we are presented. That is is how we learn drawing from our past, does not matter if it all was not good.

And I'm going to bite my tongue on my other 2 cents.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Happy Days said...

What a creep. I think I would have liked to serve on that jury just so I could hopefully put that guy away. It would stick in your mind for sure. Hopefully justice will prevail...and not like the Casey Anthony Trial...debbie

Jeanie said...

You showed a lot of strength and honesty. I'm so glad you didn't have to go through any more than you did, though I know it will stay on your mind.

Munir said...

I am just glad that you were able to get out of the situation without further trauma to your mind. I am hoping that the effect that the case already has on you does not linger for too too long. Try and do something different, may be watch a fun movie or play some board games if you can to wash off the memories. sometimes a happy song can stick to your mind as well. Try it. I will pray:)

browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

Our prayers are with you, that quickly your mind will heal the pain. While you will never be able to wash the wrenching experience from your memory, may it soon be buried beneath pleasant thoughts along with its unpleasant reminders so cruely dredged from their resting place.

BrownDog's Human

Mamma has spoken said...

Wow that is one sad story. I read the links and I am surprise that this hasn't made the cable news especially Nancy Grace.
I have sat on a couple of panels where we get to hear the attorneys' arguments before it goes to trial (they do this to see if they can win or need to change their stragies). Each time I have done this I thank God that I don't have to actually be a juror for this. It's just to hard to keep my emotions out it.

Lin said...

Oh, thank god they released you. I can't imagine the hell it would have been to sit in that room and listen to the details. How does ANYONE do that??

Linda Reeder said...

How unfortunate that you were called for that particular case.
I would have gotten myself dismissed by my objection to the death penalty. There's no wayI would want to go through a trial like that.

Ami said...

((hugs)) glad you didn't have to sit through it, but so sad that cases like this are everywhere... all the time.

Awful that you went through abuse. I never understand why these things happen. I really don't.

Corine said...

UNbelievable! Horrible! I'm glad you don't have to go to all those meetings, and so sorry you had to go through the one. Give yourself a hug for me...

Corine said...

PS. Nice to see you here again! :)

troutbirder said...

Oh my. I've never even been on a jury. In this case I think you lucked out. Many fond memories here of those first days of school. Special ed. teachers were a godsend in the classroom for me.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I had a similar experience a few years ago, and was so thankful that I wasn't asked to serve. It was a huge relief and I said prayers of thanks for a long time afterwards,just as I'm sure you did.

I'm glad you can put your energy towards something positive!!

Pat Tillett said...

I couldn't sit on that jury. I'd like to be the one to flip the switch on that bastard...

Donnie said...

I,too, could not separate this from the past and would be another casualty of this horrible case. It made me upset just to read this. Back into my shell I go. Take care.