Driving to the courthouse that day was surreal. I could not believe it was March 17, 2000. It was Saint Patrick’s Day. Hopefully that meant the day would be lucky. I guess that is not the right thought. What I wanted had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with justice.
David died in April. It was nearly a year. I had trouble comprehending it had almost been a year. Little Michael will be turning two at the end of this month. I thought about Michael’s first birthday. That was the last time our entire family was together, happy. I remembered Dave’s smile that day as he proudly held his son. The tears started.
I had to pull over. I had to pull myself together. I wanted to do an effective job reading my impact statement. The prosecutor told us this was our day in court. We did not have to cry quietly. We were not going to be told where we could look and where we couldn’t. Our day in court, yes this was important. I had to get myself together.
I pulled down my visor mirror and did my best to repair my running makeup. Shortly I would witness once again the two scumbags being led off to prison in shackles. This time they would be going off to prison for at least twenty five years. That thought gave me peace. Not happiness, just peace. And of course there was satisfaction in the sight. I could not help that feeling. The thought of the two of them being thrown into little cells with little windows, alone, God forgive me but that was satisfying. I felt better, stronger so I pulled back onto the road.
As I saw the huge round building, I thought about how out of place it looked in this old town. It was too modern. I wondered who designed the ugly building. Maybe ugly isn’t fair, it didn’t fit the landscape of historic Doylestown. Supposedly the courthouse was built here because Doylestown was the center of Bucks County. I wondered what it looked like from the air. It probably looked like a big round ugly dot right there in the center of Bucks County.
I loved the quaint little town. The shops, the old Victorian homes, galleries, the restaurants and of course the bars and churches that reminded me of Bristol. The people that lived in this town, a lot of them were stuck up. They thought their town was so much better than Bristol. They thought they were better, people. But, they did not have the Delaware River and I doubted this town could even come close to the real small town feel of Bristol.
I parked, and started my long walk around the ugly round building. It was windy and as usual I was freezing. I wished bad karma on the idiot that closed the doors closest to the parking lot and the cheap morons that did not install security at both entrances. Things would have moved so much quicker and smoother. The security lines were always too long.
If I was in charge- what a thought that was. There would of course be two entrances. I would also provide some kind of safe haven area for victims and their families. The way it is now, throwing everyone together like cattle was ridiculous. It was also very dangerous.
There was talk of tearing this courthouse down and building a new one. I hoped whoever designed the new building would be a little more compassionate towards victims.
Once again, there were many sheriffs in the hallway leading to the courtroom. I was surprised again by the large crowd. I scanned around looking for my family. I did not feel safe with so many people gathered in such a small area. I saw my friend Sam the policeman who was now a county sheriff. I would have to remember to wish him a happy Saint Pat’s Day. I knew it was one of his favorites. I missed seeing him in his patrol car in Bristol. He had been there for so long.
I had barely arrived when I was bombarded by my family with the news that Galione and Reeves also had the right to have people speak on their behalf. I was livid. We should have known. It would have changed the way we prepared. We would have had more letters written, we would have asked more friends and relatives to be here for us. I tried so hard not to cry. Damn, I did not want to have to fix my make-up again. I wanted to appear confident and in control.
I was truly shocked to see that Nicole Rivera, Jerry Reeves, girlfriend brought their baby to court. This poor baby had been born with no arms or legs. I felt they were using the baby for sympathy. From what I had heard Jerry had never been there for Nicole or the baby. I did feel sorry for Nicole and hoped she would have the common sense to move on with her life and find some happiness. I hoped her family would be there to support her. For Galione’s girlfriend, Janine, I wished misery for her. She washed David’s blood off Galione’s clothes and lied under oath. I knew she would not stick around and wait for her man. She was too selfish.
I was not prepared for the friends and family of the defendant’s to be given the opportunity to speak. It was sheer torture sitting there listening to how wonderful these two young men were. They were murderers. It was ridiculous. Galione presented the judge with seventy letters of support. Galione’s parents enlisted their friends to speak on their son’s behalf saying, “he has always been so polite”. I was going to be sick again. The judge even commented, as to how disturbing it was to that so many of the letters claimed Galione was innocent. The parade of aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and teachers seemed to go on forever.
When it was finally my turn to speak I walked to the front of the courtroom and faced the judge. I got through my letter. Tears stung in my eyes but I fought them off. I did the best I could. When I finished, Mel Kardos asked permission to question me. That had not happened to anybody else all day. I looked at Matt and he shook his head yes. The judge granted the permission. I was shaking. He asked me where I worked. I was stunned. What was his point? I told the judge I was scared to say where I worked. I did not want any of them to know where I worked. I knew Kardos wanted me to say I worked at The Bucks County Courier Times. He was going to say I had something to do with the press coverage of this case. It was ridiculous, I was lucky if I got a pen in that building let alone the power to drive the news. I turned to Kardos, smiled sarcastically and answered I worked for a company called GPN. He was clearly, annoyed that he did not get the answer he wanted. It was the truth. GPN was Greater Philadelphia Newspapers, I did not lie. That was what was on my paychecks.
I nervously looked over at Laurie Mason, she is the writer for The Bucks County Courier Times, that covers all trials and court related events. She even has her own little office in the basement of the courthouse. I thought that was so cool. She smiled. I ran up to her as soon as it was over and asked her if I lied. She laughed, and said no. She said it was amazing that I came up with the perfect truthful answer.
I found out later from the prosecutor and the reporters that they had never, ever, heard someone questioned after giving an impact statement. It was another excuse to hate Mel Kardos. What an arrogant sob he was.
Judge Heckler gave a little speech. He said there had been many lulls in the fighting that night and he said Jimmy and Jerry should have stopped.
Jerry Reeves asked to speak. He stood up and said he was not responsible for David’s death. He said the real killer was still free. Yeah, I had to agree there were other killers still free, but he was responsible for David’s death. They all were. Peter Hall asked the judge to delay the sentencing so he could do more investigating. He was a moron, more investigating was not needed, more arrests were needed. Thank God the judge refused.
|Bucks County Courthouse; Doylestown, Pa.|