I cry for the jury. I am the jury. We are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, bankers, lawyers and teachers. We are all too young and naïve for this job.
The following was submitted by a reader in response to an essay from David Woo, “Serving jury duty can take a real toll, says serial juror.”
I am sad. I tear up at odd moments. I am a grown man, a teacher — and men aren’t supposed to cry. And you can’t prove that I cry. It’s not in evidence. See what jury duty has done to me? Still, I am sad.
For whom do I cry? I cry for Lindsey Bonistall, who was beaten, raped, strangled and murdered during her sophomore year at UD. Lindsey won’t go to class any more. She won’t argue sophomoric politics until 3 a.m., and she won’t run up stairs any more just because she is young, she is happy, and she can. Lindsey won’t feel the excitement of falling in love; she won’t wake up wrapped in another’s arms; she won’t become the woman of grace and beauty she was destined to be. Lindsey will not rock her baby in her arms. I cry for Lindsey’s baby, too, and her lovers, and her husband. I cry for everything she could have been. I cry for Lindsey Bonsitall.
For whom do I cry? I cry for the Bonistall family. My stomach hurts to think of the pain they must feel. Losing a child is losing a huge piece of yourself, perhaps all of yourself. Your little girl is lost, and you are lost, too. So, I cry for the Bonistall family.
I cry for all of James Cooke’s victims and all the people who loved Lindsey. Will any of them ever recover the peace and happiness they once had?
For whom do I cry? I cry for James Cooke. I know what he did. I know he is a monster. I know he will never cry for me or you or Lindsey, yet he did not ask to be a monster. He was a three-pound baby born to a drug-addict mother, left alone and whimpering for nourishment. He was a baby punished with scalding water, and he screamed while his skin blistered and dead tissue peeled from his feet. He screamed after painful, corrective surgeries. And the words of comfort were “Shut up, m—f–er! Useless bastard!” And he screamed in rage while other children went out to play. And he went to school, where he failed, where he smelled, where he misbehaved, and he screamed and screamed. And nobody listened. Well, we are listening now, so yes, I cry for James Cooke.
I cry for all of James Cooke’s children. What’s it like to be known as the child of a murderous psychopath? What futures will they have?
I cry for Newark Police Detectives Rubin and Maiura, and everyone else who investigated this crime and similar crimes everywhere. In one crime scene photo, someone’s gloved hands are lifting Lindsey from her face-down position in the bathtub where she was found. Whose hands? Who took the photo? How do these officers confront such things? Do they get used to it? Do we want them to get used to it? And how does that feel? Don’t worry, they’re tough guys. Right. I cry for them, too.
I cry for the judge and the lawyers and the clerks and the bailiffs, and the court reporters trying to maintain an impartial judicial system. They sit and listen, absorb the horrors and hold it all in. And we expect them to go home every night to be kind fathers and nurturing mothers and good citizens. Case after case, different crimes, victims and offenders, all processed through the system. They deserve my tears and I cry for them.
I cry for the jury. I am the jury. We are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, bankers, lawyers and teachers. We are all too young and naïve for this job, even though some of us are grandparents and we think we are worldly. Day after day we saw the pictures, heard the testimony, smelled the clothing, held the ligature, and looked the fiend in the eye. We went home each night exhausted from the horrors, and the procedural boredom, the self-imposed emotional shutdown, and the effort to remain impartial.
You read the papers, and you think you know, but you don’t. Over a few weeks we have become narrowly focused experts on cell phones, handwriting analysis, forensic medicine and forensic psychology. We became astute at recalling small details to settle debates over other small details on which a verdict and a human life might depend. We confronted filth and incredible sadness, we saw the worst human behaviors imaginable, and we could not discuss these things with anyone. We lay awake in the night recalling the horrors. We are marked forever. We will never, ever be the same again. But don’t you dare cry for us. I will cry for us, the jury.
For whom do I cry? I cry for you. You ask, “How was it? What was it like?” I don’t resent these questions, but I really can’t answer them. So, you will never know. You will continue to live, happy or not, but without the baggage your jury has taken on for you. You will continue unscathed. You will not be scarred. You do not need to cry. I am the jury and I will cry for you.
NewsWorks covered the trial of James Cooke Jr., who was convicted in the murder of Lindsey Bonistall.