The title is a pun, in case you missed it. It is probably the only light-hearted thing about this post. It is also inaccurate, because this is a very long post.
There was a hearing on Wednesday. As usual, it takes me a little while to process and regurgitate the information.
The short version is that Haynes is still in custody, still has bail set at $100,000 and still seems to have no interest in taking a plea deal. The trial is set for September 17th. Before you go marking calendars, let me get a little more detailed info from the lawyers. My impression is that even though the case starts on the 17th, it is likely going to take a few days of sorting out schedules and choosing a jury before the fun begins. I’ll let you all know as I get a better understanding of how these things go.
Now, here’s the editorialized version of what happened on Wednesday.
Haynes has been in custody for a month-ish. Her family has met the public defender a couple of times. They do not seem to think that she should be held accountable for Jason’s death. Based on some overheard conversation, they seem to think that the courts are doing everything in their power to appease me. I feel differently. I feel like the power here rests with Haynes. It is her choice whether we go to trial, her choice when that trial is (well, that’s mostly the lawyers’ and judge’s schedule, but she gets to ask for a speedy trial), and she gets to speak in court. I’m stuck waiting on her to decide what she wants to do in silence. I can’t speak in court, I can’t cross the line into the active side of the courtroom. All I can do is observe. And make snarky comments to the Victim’s Advocate about the bullshit happening at the podium.
At the hearing, the public defender attempted to get a return to her previous supervised probation, aka house arrest, status. He wove a lovely tale which included how she needed to get genetic testing to determine paternity of her son, and how she needed to apply for health insurance and benefits for him and only she could do either of those things. (Bullshit, his legal guardian can do all of that. A legal guardian which was assigned as soon as she was arrested and is likely a grandparent. Also, the benefits go with the kid, so she loses her benefits when she loses custody of the kid.) The story involved how she knew someone would come pick her up and she was just waiting by the door for that knock. (Again, bullshit. When she was picked up, the person who answered the door originally said she was not there. The police who arrested her told the door-person that she was and she needed to come out. A few minutes later, she was magically at home in that house. Fancy that.) It included how the marijuana use was for pain, because the pain pills she was prescribed were addiction forming and she didn’t want to have an addiction, so she smoked weed instead. (Again, bullshit. If the judge has ordered you to not use anything other prescribed drugs, why use weed? And latest research coming out says that weed actually doesn’t do anything for pain. (Friends, if you want to argue about that statement, I will find the links to the studies. Don’t argue with me about this right now, I’m in a mood to end someone.)) It was a lovely story about how her family is all here in the Twin Cities so she didn’t have anywhere to run to, thus making her not a flight risk. (Not withstanding the fact that she disappeared for 2 months.) And that by living at her father’s house, he and the rest of the family would keep an eye on her and make sure was made her court dates. (Because that worked the first time. Oh wait, no. It didn’t. And when the public defender contacted her father, he said he didn’t know where she was. So either she slipped that watchful eye once already, or he was lying for her.)
The judge let the public defender say all of the pretty words which contradicted themselves and the facts of the last few months. Then the judge looked at Haynes and said that she had had 3 chances already. By disappearing for 2 months and needing to be hunted down by the VCAT team, she’d lost her chance at waiting for her trial outside of a prison. The judge was very clear. The judge had been very clear in November when she said this was her last chance. Luckily, the judge remembered that conversation and brought it up. She gave her no leeway. I felt a little better about the world.
Then the public defender asked for a reduction in bail. The grounds were similar; she had no violent crime history, the family couldn’t afford that kind of bail, etc. The judge put a hard stop to that nonsense as well. What Haynes did killed one person and endangered literally dozens of others. The judge said as much and left bail at $100,000.
The public defender then asked for a speedy trial. This is one of the rights granted us in the US legal system. It is defined as a trial within 60 days. I am under the impression that judges have special “speed trial” slots in their calendars, because otherwise the scheduling would be a logistical nightmare. It still took several tries to find a date that worked for both lawyers and the judge. The date they settled on is September 17th.
I don’t know a lot about criminal trials. I don’t know a lot about the legal system in general, though I’m getting an up-close and personal lesson these days. My understanding is that first day will be proving to all the other lawyers that this case takes precedent (because of the speedy trial thing). The second and probably third days will be jury selection. I’m not sure why this takes so long, but I guess it does. So it won’t be until mid-week that things will start happening.
The lawyers who was previously on this case was planning to call 12-15 witnesses. He figured that the public defender would have a similar number, a lot of which would probably be the same people. That means testimony might last several days to a week, depending on how much cross-examination and rebuttal testimony there is. Then the jury goes into deliberation. Which can take like an hour, or it can take a week. No one knows. The lawyer told me to expect 2 weeks of courtroom time.
My emotions around this are turning darker and angrier the longer it drags on. I’m still living within my moral code and beliefs, but I have to regularly examine and re-examine that. I know that her continued unwillingness to take accountability and admit guilt has been playing into the darkness of the emotions. I’m unlikely to find forgiveness for Haynes anytime soon. I will keep searching for…something. It might not be forgiveness. I don’t know what it will be.