Morgan Freeman Giveth…
Finally, mercifully, the sponge’s day of reckoning had come.GoldenBoy and I made our way through security in the lobby of the courthouse and even as I was being physically patted down because I kept setting off the metal detector (it was the clips in my hair) I scanned the room for any signs of my sister, Beena.
Relieved and with my shoes securely buckled back on we headed for the elevators. Just as the doors were closing, a thin, pin-striped arm sent them flying back open. When they finally closed GoldenBoy and I were trapped in a tiny box with four strangers, the sponge’s defense attorney, Beena and my 10 year old niece, A2.
And yeah, you read that right. My sister took A2 out of school and brought her to court where she planned to have her sit and listen to everything, including numerous jail phone calls where the sponge repeatedly refers to my sister as a stupid fucking cunt, threatens to cut her head off and leave it where A2 can find it when she comes home from school and tries to convince her that when he gets out they should kill A1 and A2 then run away together because, hey, they can always have more kids.
She’s fucking Mother of the Year, isn’t she?
I asked the DA weeks ago to request A2 not be allowed in the room for any testimony and when I saw Beena had brought her I begged them to find a way to keep A2 out.
Thankfully, that was inadvertently taken care of when the defense asked that witnesses only be allowed in the room to give their individual testimony, which meant ALL of us were asked to leave. GoldenBoy and I spent the next 4 1/2 hours in a small room with the five police officers called to testify. One, who had relocated a couple of months ago, drove all the way from Corpus Christi. When I thanked them all for being there he said “There’s no way I’d miss it.” He’s the one who tased the sponge during his second arrest, which makes him my absolute favorite!
We weren’t allowed to talk about our testimony, but all of them agreed Beena was the worst case of battered women’s syndrome they’d ever seen. The undercover cop who witnessed the original assault referred to her as the sponge’s punching bag and personal ATM machine.
Truer words were never spoken.
My turn on the stand was both excruciating and quick. At least it seemed quick, but when it was all over I was up there almost an hour. They played three of the jail calls, asked me to authenticate the voices I heard and then the defense attorney grilled me about whether or not the sponge had ever threatened me (uh, yes, he threatened to hang me from the rafters in the attic of their house when Beena left him once for two weeks), or if I thought he was mentally ill (to a point, but he definitely knows right from wrong), or if I thought the sponge loved my sister (absolutely not), or , or, or…
While this was going on I made a point to occasionally look over at the defense table and make direct eye contact with the sponge. No way was I letting him think he intimidated me. He’d lock eyes with me for a split second and then look away, shake his head and lean over to whisper something to one of the attorneys Beena bought for him.
When I was done I was both relieved it was over and worried they hadn’t asked me enough. There were so many other horrifying things I could have said, but it was out of my hands, so I grabbed my purse and headed back to the room with GoldenBoy and the cops.
Directly across the hall, just three feet away, was the defense witness room. My sister and niece were the only ones in it. Not one friend, not his father, not his brother, not his sister…NOBODY showed up to testify for the sponge except Beena, which speaks volumes, don’t you think?
I could see her green shirt through the frosted glass doors and when they finally called her to the stand I slipped into her room to find A2 sitting on a chair, bent in half and sobbing. Her face was red and puffy and soaked in big, fat, terrified tears.
Me: Are you ok?
A2 (clearly lying): Yeah.
Me: Is it ok if I come in?
A2: Yeah, but if Mom sees you in here she’s going to be mad.
Me: I can handle your mom. Come here.
She practically ran into my arms and I held her for a very long time while she cried into my chest.
Me: You know I love you right?
Me: I hope you understand that everything GoldenBoy and I are doing is because we love you and your mother very much and we’re trying to keep you safe.
A2: I know.
Me: This has been a hard day, and by the end of it your mother is going to be very upset and really, really angry, but you’re going to get through it. We’re all going to get through it. Ok?
She looked up at me and I pushed the hair out of her eyes, her arms still wrapped around my waist.
Me: No matter what happens, if you need me all you have to do is pick up the phone and I’ll come running. The same goes for Grammy, Grandpa, GoldenBoy and Boop. All of us love you very, very much and we’ll always come if you need us. Ok?
She laid her head back on my chest, squeezed a little tighter and nodded.
I was hoping to have more time with her, but the DA’s investigator swung the door open and told me Beena was on her way back. I hugged A2 one more time, saw her smile for the first time all day and walked back to the room across the hall where GoldenBoy and all five officers stopped mid-conversation to hear if A2 was ok.
Unfortunately the answer was NO, which visibly upset all of them.
With Beena’s testimony complete it was time for the grand finale. Since he had already pled guilty all that was left was his sentence. Solemnly, everyone filed back into the courtroom. The judge instructed everyone to refrain from making any emotional outbursts when the sentence was read and asked the sponge to stand up.
After 20 years of dealing with his crap, 11 months of living in terror and 6 hours in court, the sponge was sentenced to 15 years in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and 10 years for harassment of a public servant. Twenty-five years total, but set to run concurrently so the maximum is actually 15. Because it’s an aggravated assault he has to do at least half of that before he’s eligible for parole, which will be a little less than seven years with time served.
After fighting for so long I expected to feel the weight of an aircraft carrier lifted off my soul. Instead I just sat at the edge of the hard, wooden bench, shook and felt completely numb as I held onto GoldenBoy’s arm.
I should have felt victorious! The dragon had finally been slain, the villagers were safe and we could all live happily ever after right?
Unfortunately, again, the answer was NO.
…And He Taketh Away.
While I was stunned to numbness, my sister was sobbing heavily a few rows behind me. Grief-stricken and horrified she hugged A2 until she started crying along with her. Even though I know this was the absolute right thing to do, it was hard to watch them lean on each other in devastation.
I was sure there was about to be a scene, but they left quickly and I spent the next 10 minutes hugging the DA, her assistant, the clerk, the investigator, the original DA who testified and all five officers, thanking each one as they awkwardly bent to oblige me.
What can I say? I’m a hugger.
We were all talking about how we expected the sponge to lose it after hearing his sentence when one of the DA’s interns walked and said the sponge was in the holding cell in the back screaming at the top of his lungs at his lawyer because he was convinced the guy was in cahoots with and had been texting the original DA on the case, which is obviously why he ended up with a 15 year sentence instead of probation.
Jackass. Jackass. Jackass.
GoldenBoy and I said our goodbyes, thanking everyone again on the way out, and went to get something to eat. It was 3 o’clock and neither of us had eaten all day. We went for sliders and shared a basket of fries at the Phoenicia and finally felt a little lighter. We smiled and joked and talked about our testimony. Eventually the conversation swung around to how Beena was going to react. A couple of hours later we got our answer.
She texted us both and said she hated us for what we did, that she had been preparing for months for the sponge to come home and that WE destroyed her family. She said she never wanted to see any of us again, was going to change her last name to his and that she would wait for him forever. The most venomous part? She vowed to make A2 hate us as much as she did and we were never going to see either one of them again!
THAT is how brainwashed she is.
Nothing matters but the sponge, and turning A2 against us? She knows that’s the absolute worst thing she can do to our family. The fact that she’d purposely try to turn her own daughter against the people who love her the most is atrocious, and I can barely breath just thinking about the level of hatred it took for her to say something so vile.
But…everything comes with a price.
Losing my sister and possibly a niece is almost too steep to bear, but I’ll find a way to live with it knowing that they’re safe.
At least for the next seven years.