To the reader: Some of you, who have gone through a similar experience as mine, have asked what to expect in the courtroom. This was my experience and it was my last because I didn’t think my body or mind would have been able to handle another courtroom visit. I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for that moment but I hope this entry helps…
Below is the excerpt from my journal:
I continued to live in New York for about a year after Christina’s death.
No one talked to me about going to therapy.
No mention of mental health.
I was a kid, 22 years old, surrounded by other kids. How would we know what to do other than to move forward and suppress?
Sometimes I would disappear for a full day, check into a hotel and cry. I’m not sure why, maybe so my roommates couldn’t hear me at the house. Sometimes I would walk on the highway near the hotel, again not sure why, but I think… just because I was broken.
My parents dealt with the courts, the lawyers, and those from victim’s crime and would update me.
I attended the first plea hearing. It would be the first time and the last time I would see Joseph Amador.
I sat in the courtroom with my family and Jay. The media was also there with their cameras and reporters. Amador’s family was in the back right corner of the court room staying quiet and away from our family. I felt nothing for the Amador family- not anger, nor pity.
I sat there feeling sick. I started my period earlier that day so I knew this contributed to the sick feeling but I didn’t understand, at the time, my anxiety was also causing the sick feeling in my stomach. I sat there wondering how we would respond when we saw him. I could feel my heartbeat pound throughout my entire body. Everything sounded muffled I could hear no one over my heart.
When Amador finally walked in the courtroom I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He had his hands cuffed and a prison jumpsuit on. My mom said out loud “He’s wearing the shoes we bought him”. A reminder of how they welcomed a man who murdered their daughter into their home.
The gut-wrenching, stab in the heart pain a pair of shoes would bring.
He didn’t look at us, but I waited for him to look over. Something in me wanted him to look at us. I envisioned attacking him, climbing over the row in front of me. I quickly planed out in my mind how I could get to him before anyone would stop me. He just needed to look at my family and I would attack. I felt my blood boiling inside me as I looked at the police in the courtroom knowing they would stop me.
Stop me? Stop me??? He is the murderer and they would stop me?!? It was too much anger to handle. Tears started to roll down my face.
At this point, we knew they found in Amador’s possession a gym bag filled with a knife, gloves, his shoes, shirts, pants – all soaked and stained with Christina’s blood. My sister’s precious blood spilled out on clothes which were now evidence. There was no question who did this.
But… Amador plead not guilty.
My body felt like it would burst. This meant a trial or agree to a plea agreement. It meant more trauma for us.
How could he murder my sister and still have the audacity to plead not guilty? How is this even allowed? How could his family, sitting quietly in the back corner of the courtroom support this? Now I felt something for his family- anger. Anger they could raise and still support such a pathetic human being.
Anger. Something, I knew body didn’t carry well but I could feel it in me, it was clutching my heart. Growing up mom always had told me and Christina how anger can make the most beautiful person ugly. She told us to always give our anger to God because in the end it would only hurt us. I prayed, “But Lord God in this moment or ever how could I let this go? I don’t want the anger, the anger has me, it is consuming me!”
We watched Amador walk out of the court room with his “not guitly” plea surrounded by two police officers to protect him from us. Protect him? Amador kept his head down as he walked past us. My mind was screaming “Look at me! Look at me you coward”.
He didn’t look up.
We all walked outside; my dad talked to the lawyers as we walked trying to figure out the next steps. I didn’t even realize this was a possibility, he was guilty and was caught, there was no question. Over the next few months, the lawyers would push my parents hard in taking a plea agreement- scaring them with how a trial would reveal all the details of Christina’s murder.
I felt dizzy and couldn’t breathe well. Jay headed to get the car and my parents headed to their vehicle. I sat alone outside the courthouse. As I sat there, I noticed my pants were wet. Did I pee myself? How did I not notice? I touched the wetness and stood up. There was a pool of blood under me and my hands were bloody from where I touched. It wasn’t a little blood, it looked like someone spilled a small glass of water. It wasn’t normal, even for a period.
I took off my suit jacket and tried to clean the blood off of my hands and from the marble courthouse step. It smeared and now I think of Christina’s blood – on Andy’s hands, on his clothes. Not guilty? I stood there, crying, trying desperately to clean the blood off my hands. Jay arrived with the car. I tied the jacket around my waist, wiped my tears and laid down in the backseat. The images of Christina’s blood continued to replay in my mind.
I tell no one and decide I wouldn’t go back to the courthouse again.