Archives for posts with tag: evidence

(This story is part of a continuing series, An Assault in Venice. Part 1 starts here.)

My new home was the Eartha Kitt room in the finished attic space at Rob and Amy’s, named for the dozens of pillows in wild prints that covered the floor. It acted as a sort of bunker during the long, sleepless nights, and it was also where Rob and Amy and I gathered to pray. We prayed about everything—that Jeanette would have a good night, that Detective Mora would be blessed with fruitful leads, that we would all be able to sleep, that Karen and David would find some measure of peace and comfort. We’d already experienced a series of miracles, like the fact that Jeanette had not sustained any trauma to her brain, and even more surprising was that her right eye would eventually regain normal function—something I was particularly worried about. Perhaps the best news of all was that Karen had been able to convince the hospital administrators to not transfer Jeanette to a county facility. Jeanette didn’t have health insurance, and already the medical bills were staggering.

Every night in the Eartha Kitt room, Rob and Amy and I lit candles, held hands, closed our eyes and prayed. We visualized the details of her upcoming surgery—that the bone fragments in Jeanette’s face would come together seamlessly. We blessed the surgeons and the nurses and the assistants. We filled the room with loving energy. We even prayed for the man who had done this to Jeanette. Oddly, none of us felt particularly vengeful or pitiless. In fact, I often imagined myself sitting across from him, trying to understand who he was and what horrible things in his life had led him to this. Most of the time, the only thing I had for him, besides fear, was compassion. Certainly, he was hurting. Of course, when I imagined him, he was always behind bars. If I was ever to see this man, I wanted to see him behind bars.

I awakened early on the morning of Day 4. I slipped out of the house and walked over to the grocery store across the street. It was only about 6 AM but the store was open 24 hours. Employees were in the aisles opening pallets of items and stocking the shelves. I asked one of them if I could speak with the manager. The daytime manager didn’t arrive until 9, he said. I explained to him what had happened—that there was a violent crime that had been committed in the neighborhood. I told him the police had reason to believe that the perpetrator had followed the victim home from the store, and that they were interested in seeing the surveillance tapes from that day, if they were still available. The guy explained that one tape holds 24 hours of surveillance, and that they tried to keep tapes for a week. But, he added, sometimes they forgot to take the tape out of the machine, in which case, it got recorded over. I asked him if he’d have the day manager pull the tape from Monday, and said that a detective from the LAPD would be by later to pick it up.

(This story is part of a continuing series, An Assault in Venice. Part 1 starts here.)

I opened the envelope and popped the videotape into my VHS player. The screen was divided into quarters, each displaying footage from one camera—down the aisles, in the meat section, across the cash registers. Images from each of the four cameras flashed on and off in such fast motion I couldn’t track anything. Luckily, there was a function on the remote to play the tape frame-by-frame. When I did I discovered that each camera captured one frame every few seconds, and the camera views in each quadrant of the screen changed frequently to show the whole store over time. I could see various angles of people in different parts of the store, their jerky movements jumping across the screen before disappearing.

The images were grainy black-and-white video. You’d be hard-pressed to identify anyone from it. I knew that Jeanette was wearing a white sweater and jeans; the contrasts would make it easy to identify her. I had intended to fast forward through the tape to about the 4:30 or 5:00 hour, but then I noticed the date stamp on each camera was 2/11/99—three days after the attack. The tape I needed had either been recorded over or I had the wrong tape. I scrolled through it to make sure there was nothing from 2/8/99, then I popped it back into the envelope and returned to the store.

I was feeling more confident. I told myself I hadn’t actually impersonated a police officer since I never told anyone I was on the police force and certainly not a detective. If they believed I was, they were mistaken. And if anyone had asked me, I would have told them the truth and promptly sent Cagney over in my place.

I confronted the store manager again. I told him I’d scanned the tape and it had yesterday’s date on it. I needed Monday’s tape. I asked him if I could look at all the tapes from the entire week, hoping they’d been mislabeled. He went back upstairs, returned with two more tapes and handed them over. I thanked him and left, feeling like a total fraud but an arrogant, victorious fraud.

(This story is part of a continuing series, An Assault in Venice. Part 1 starts here.)

I wouldn’t, of course, take Jay up on his offer… But if I did, would I want the thug to be killed in a counter attack or would I want him to be maimed beyond recognition? I decided he shouldn’t be killed. In a perfect world, they’d string him up, get a confession out of him on tape as he told them exactly what he’d done to Jeanette and then they’d do the same thing to him. After he went to the hospital, he’d go straight to prison. Then, when he got out of prison, because of course he would, he’d get another visit.

Those are the sorts of things that filled my head.

In one scenario, I confronted him myself. Not that I expected him to have much compassion but I wanted to make it clear to him that actions have consequences.

I thought about Marathon Man, that horribly violent movie where Dustin Hoffman’s teeth get pulled out with pliers. I thought about old mob movies where they cut off people’s fingers with bolt cutters. I decided I wanted this man to be physically altered—something that would compromise him, something that would remind him of the wrong he’d done. Maybe they would cut off his whole hand. And then leave him, taking the hand with them.

I’d be sitting in a room staring off into space, daydreaming scenes of violence, and finally come back to myself, stunned. Whole days were going by while I was fixated on revenge.

I called Cagney incessantly. I wanted her to let me off the hook. If she could arrest him then I wouldn’t have to imagine myself as executioner.

Jeanette’s brother Richard had arrived, and they made a date to come back to the house and pack up her things. During the month since the attack, everything had been left as it was. Cagney had cleared it as a crime scene, and there was no way I could allow Jeanette to see it like that. Oddly enough, I didn’t want to hire some service to come through and swab up all the remains of the event; it seemed like some kind of healing ritual to do that myself. But I certainly couldn’t do it alone so I asked my neighbor Rob if he would help. We gathered buckets, towels, sponges, bleach and other cleaning compounds and entered. The room was a temple of some sort: a place where lives had been indelibly altered.