Comforting Words: Performing Arts My Ass! Conclusion

Monday, February 15, 2010

Performing Arts My Ass! Conclusion

Three years after Whacko 'attempted 'to murder The Witch, we were finally in Court.

When temper was flaring and hopelessness had fully set in, Whacko told me that doing the time for the murder of The Witch would be worth it. I disagreed because my 9 to 5 job takes me inside and based on what I see and have to process –I know prison is no walk in the park.

Maybe because the plan to murder failed or maybe when the pain of being betrayed eased Whacko was no longer in a hurry to do time. So the trial for the six or so charges that were hanging over Whacko's head was postponed and postponed and postponed.

My woman-friend, Anni, warned me that being on the witness stand would not be easy. I did not give her warning the due consideration that it required until I was on the witness stand and Whacko's lawyer began his cross examination.

But I am getting ahead of myself here.

Anni had picked me up at the Edmonton airport and we drove around a bit talking. She warned me again about being on the stand but also reminded me that it was the defense lawyer's job to discredit me. Anni had been on the stand before and so was speaking from experience.

By the time I checked into my hotel room, courtesy of the Crown, my nerves were on edge. I ordered hamburgers for myself and my daughter who had come over to keep me company but could only eat a quarter of mine.

Early the next morning, maybe realizing that I needed a finally wake up call, the Universe threw me to the ground. On my walk back from the Starbucks a few blocks up the road from my hotel; I slide sans the grace of an Olympian. As I went down flat on my tummy, the $4.00 cup of coffee went splash to my right and the breakfast sandwich went left.

A couple hours later, all decked out and limping in my wide black skirt, offset by a beautiful floral blouse Anni gave me for Christmas and my knee high boots, I took the witness stand. My make-up was partially ruined from the tears that had washed my face a few minutes earlier.

The Prosecutor had played for me the 911 recording of my call that fateful night and it was horrific. It took me back to a time and place that all I wanted was to forget. Mr. Defense Lawyer would later try to get that recording thrown out.

In total, I might have been on the stand for two to three hours that first afternoon but it was the longest few hours of my life. This was my first time testifying in a criminal proceeding, except for the preliminary hearing, yet I was comfortable on the stand.

Things changed when the cross examination began.

Discomfort was not what I felt but anger but my wise woman-friend was sitting to the back of the courtroom and we had agreed on a signal that would help me to keep all emotions in check. She could not see my eyes though!

The 'attacks' on my credibility came fairly quickly. It was clear what the strategy was when copies of posts from my blog, Comforting Words, was brought into evidence. Mr. Defense Lawyer tried to get me to agree with him that I was a whacko like his client back in 2007, probably willing to get even. When I said that I would not describe myself as insanely angry but bitterly disappointed, he drew the Court's attention to these lines from a February 2007 post:

"As for my birthday (February 15), ever since I was a year old, my mother would celebrate my birth with a party of some sort. It became a tradition for me to mark my birthday in some way, one that continued throughout the 16 years of my last relationship. Needless to say, at the time of writing the last post I was both sadden that this year would be different and somewhat angry at what know feels like a farce that took place last year. …. With both these feelings in my heart – sadness and some amount of anger – I continued to ask for Guidance. I knew I did not want to leave my solitude and be in any group setting where I might be expected to put on a brave face when brave was the last emotion that I was feeling."

I agreed that I wrote the word in my blog but the most prominent feeling was profound sadness. Point to Mr. Defense Lawyer. So he moved in for the kill – the indisputable fact that would prove that not only was I angry then but that I am now crazy!

Mr. Defense Lawyer:
"I noticed that you have a Facebook link on your blog."


Mr. Defense Lawyer:
"So, you are still using that name?"

"What name?"

Mr. Defense Lawyer:

Me: (Stifling a laughter that was about to overpower me) " I never used that name, Sir, before last year when I got married to one [R] McLaughlin."

The silence was so thick you needed a hack saw to cut through it. I believe Mr. Defense Lawyer congratulated me, but I was too busy sticking it to him in a diplomatic way:

"One of the ironies of life, Sir."

He did not hear me the first time, so I kindly repeated it for him.

All credit to Mr. Defense Lawyer, he recovered quickly and began to "suggest" to me several other versions of what took place that night. He suggested that the route that I said was taken to house was inaccurate and that we had taken a different one that would have gotten us there in less time. He suggested that I could see that Whacko's hand in pocket routine was innocent as the hand was visible through meshed material. He suggested that I actually sat outside the house and did not call 911 until I realized that Whacko's plan had gone sideways and heard the approaching sirens. Mr. Defense Lawyer suggested that I knew that Perfidia, who I had not spoken to in weeks maybe a month, was at the house watching The Oscars with The Witch and had communicated this to Whacko.

I really wanted to suggest to Mr. Defense Lawyer that he and his client kiss my ass but Anni would have none of it – she was staring me down from the back bench to keep calm.

My second day on the stand was relatively brief. Mr. Defense Lawyer came again, though half-heartedly, with his suggestions. It soon became painfully obvious that they were useless as I was more resolute than ever to keep calm and continue to speak only the truth as I knew it.

What the previous day of cross examining did to me was wipe me clean of any empathy I might have held for Whacko. Up to that first day on the stand, while not condoning the foolish choice to take someone's life because they were cheating you in every sense of the word, I understood the pain.

It never crossed my mind, not even for a second, to hurt Perfidia. Yes, I might have inflicted pain in my writings but it was not intentional. I only wanted to release myself from the emotional suffering and the best way I knew to do that was and is to write. As for The Witch – one of the slyest person that I have ever had the misfortune to meet – I would never physically exact revenge. Expose yes, kill no.

Whacko lost my respect and empathy on that stand. If Whacko could three years later carry out the threat to implicate me by attempting to discredit the thing dearest to me – my integrity – then my empathy was withdrawn.

A couple weeks after the trial, my curiosity got the better of me and I wanted a little more detail than I had. The Prosecutor had gotten in touch with me the day after the sentence was known. The judge found Whacko guilty on almost all the charges, except one, and a sentence of two years was handed down. However, the judge felt that Whacko was not inherently evil or violent or an undue risk to public safety so the time would be served through house arrest.

A Google search produced rich results, showing that the story of the trial was picked up by newspapers, television and radio stations across the country. Even a couple blogs carried the report and comments about the ludicrous defense that Whacko offered on the stand. Here is an edited version from the Edmonton Journal (January 20, 2010), the newspaper that reported the story the best in my opinion:

A spurned Edmonton artist who claimed [a] furious, knife-wielding attack on [an] estranged partner was a piece of performance art was sentenced Tuesday to two years of house arrest.

[…], 56, was convicted of uttering threats and breaking and entering with the intent to commit an assault with a weapon in connection with the Feb. 25, 2007 attack.

"Although the truth can sometimes be unusual ... Ms. […'s] description of events defies common sense," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Beverley Browne said in her decision. "[…] version of events is simply unbelievable."

Court heard […] had separated from […] in the months leading up to the attack. […] remained in the home and got a restraining order.

[…'s] mental health deteriorated and … tried to commit suicide. On Feb. 25, 2007, […] went to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in search of help but left after waiting for several hours.

A concerned friend offered to have […] stay the night …. The pair stopped at […'s] apartment to feed the cat and pack an overnight bag.

At that point […] started to conceive piece of performance art.

[…] selected a cheese knife and a filet knife from … drawers.

[…] would go to […'s] home… and stand … with the knives [to the] sides, to show that […] has nothing to fear.

[…] would say aloud: "I am not a violent person," and throw the knives over [the] shoulders [and] would fall to [the] knees.

[Then]…they would talk.

Plan in mind, […] turned to [the] friend and asked her to drive to [the] home.

The friend tried to persuade […] it was a bad idea, but […] was unstable and threatening…

The friend dropped […] and frantically called […], then 911.

She was so hysterical the 911 recording is virtually inaudible, Browne said.

[…] broke into [the] home, went upstairs and found […] and […] barricaded in the bedroom.

[…] lunged into the bedroom with a knife in each hand, […] fled across the bed and [the] new partner …seized the raging […].
[…] yelled: "You've been lying to me all along." […] kicked, bit and flailed wildly using all … bodily strength, Browne said, but [the new partner] was able to restrain[…] until police arrived.

"Jealousy is one of the most powerful emotions we all have to deal with at some point in our lives," Browne said.
"I reject categorically and completely the suggestion that […] went to the house to do performance art."

Now, my dear readers do you understand why these posts are entitled: "Performing Arts My Ass?"












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