Copyright© 2021 by Mark Elias
We went to a small diner just down the street from the courthouse. Mrs. Patrick sat down with me and told me that she was going to call me next. She reminded me of some of the questions that the defense would probably ask me and made sure I was ready to go. By 12:25 we were all seated and waiting for the judge to come back in.
“Mrs. Patrick, call your next witness.”
Round two was about to begin. I closed my eyes and heard Mrs. Patrick called my name, “The State calls Alex Jackson to the stand.”
I took a deep breath and felt both my parents give me a squeeze of support. I could do this. I had to do this. This would be justice for myself. Justice for Marcy Graves. Justice for Peter Moon. Justice for the horses that Mark had almost killed. Justice for every person who Mark had, or ever would, torment. When I sat on the stand and was sworn in I felt something wash over me. It was a stone cold determination. I wouldn’t be intimidated. Today ... I had to stand up for myself. Even if I never did it again, today I would be strong.
“Alex, a lot has been said so far today. I can imagine it’s really difficult to hear some of this. How are you holding up?”
“I’m pissed off. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m scared. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to stand up for myself. I want to run out of the doors of this courtroom and hide so that I don’t have to see Mark ever again.”
“That’s a lot of emotions for someone to deal with. How are you dealing with them all?”
“Most of the time I’m barely holding on. On the really bad days I have a therapist that I’m seeing. She’s really been helping me deal with a lot of the emotions.”
“Where do these emotions stem from?”
“I’ve been bullied all my life.”
“Is one of your bullies here in this courtroom, today?”
“Would you please point them out for the court?”
I pointed straight at Mark.
“Let the record show he identified the defendant Mark Green.” She looked back to me, “Alex, I know this will be difficult, but can you tell us about some of the times that Mark has bullied you?”
“There are a lot of them.”
“Just take us through the ones you deem important.”
So I did. I told her all about the first time it started way back in third grade. I told her about how I had never met Mark before then. I told her about having my lip busted and my shirt torn off. I told her about how I hid away from everyone until the teachers all came out looking for me. I told her about multiple instances where Mark beat me up just to beat me up. I told her about the instance in sixth grade with dodgeball and how Mark and David had purposely gone after me. I explained how Mark had tried to convince me to get my dad to turn down a job because he was going to be working for Mr. Moon. Mrs. Patrick, for the most part, let me speak as long as I needed to, only speaking to have me clarify something, or to help me move on to the next incident.
“Now, Alex, I want to talk about something specific. Do you remember what happened after you returned from your suspension for fighting Mr. Green?”
“Allison broke up with him and he blamed me for it. He said it was because I couldn’t understand that she didn’t want anything to do with me.”
“What else did he say?”
“That the only reason he hadn’t tried to kill me yet was because she didn’t want him to. Then he said that since she wasn’t his girlfriend anymore, I had to pay him one hundred dollars a week or he’d finish the job.”
“How did he expect you to pay him that much every week?”
“That summer I had taken a summer job. I worked for Allison’s dad at his horse farm. I was making almost two hundred dollars a week. I saved up everything I could because I wanted to build myself a computer.”
“So did you pay Mark the money?”
“Yes. He told me I had to meet him every Monday in the boy’s locker room before school. I paid him every week from the second week of November until the week of March twentieth.”
“That’s a very specific date, Alex. Why do you remember it so clearly?”
“Because that was the week of Allison’s fourteenth birthday. I used the last of my money to buy her a gift. I felt I was going to die that week, one way or another, and I wanted her to have one final good memory of me. So I found a picture of the two of us from when we were kids. I had it framed, and had my parents give it to her for me.”
“Why did you feel you were going to die?”
“Either Mark was going to kill me, or I would finally kill myself.”
“Please tell us what happened on that Monday.”
“I told him that I couldn’t pay him anymore because I didn’t have money. He kicked me and beat me harder than he ever had. He was in some sort of rage. The only reason he stopped is because the bell to start school rang. He told me I better bring him the money next Monday or he would do worse to me. I left my book bag in the locker room and just walked home. That day I took a bunch of Tylenol and sleeping pills and I tried to kill myself so that Mark wouldn’t do it.”
Mrs. Patrick paused for a second to collect herself before picking up a set of papers, “You’re Honor, at this time I would like to present exhibit-A. This is a bank statement from Mark Green’s personal bank account. An account that he had set up the Tuesday of the second week of November. On that day he made an initial deposit of one hundred dollars. He continued to make a deposit of exactly one hundred dollars each Tuesday with the last deposit being on the week of March twentieth.”
The judge took the papers and set them aside.
“No more questions, Your Honor.”
Now it was the defense’s turn to try and make me look like a bad guy.
“Mr. Jackson,” He started, but before he could even ask the question, I was out in front of him. I could feel myself hardening, if but for a fleeting few moments.
“My father is Mr. Jackson. My name is Alex. You can call me that since the judge clearly sees through your pathetic attempt at making me seem like the bully instead of the abused victim pushed to the brink of suicide.”
I looked at him and I could tell that he was taken aback. In fact, several of the people in the courtroom were. Mark wasn’t expecting me to be so aggressive and had more than likely told his lawyer how much of a pushover I was going to be. My parents just stared at me before my dad gave me a wink and the tiniest bit of a smile.
“Okay then, Alex, you say you are an abused victim pushed to the brink of suicide, but my client didn’t make you try to kill yourself, did he?”
“No, he didn’t, Mr. Crawley, a bottle of Tylenol opened itself up and forced its way down my throat. I’m so relieved that I didn’t have to get beaten the next week by your client, since he threatened to kill me.”
I wasn’t sure if sarcasm was the way to approach things, but I was angry. I was fuming. My temporary pain and hatred of confrontations had been locked up, that left only a new feeling I wasn’t familiar with. Aggression. I didn’t like it much, but I felt this need to push back against this guy. It was one thing to be bullied, but it was something completely different to be lied about.
“Alex, you were suicidal long before any of the instances that have been mentioned here today, weren’t you?”
Mrs. Patrick stood quickly, “Objection, Your Honor! He’s clearly leading the witness, and this is an extremely inappropriate line of questioning.”
“Your Honor! The door was opened to this line of questioning by the State itself. They have made the mental health of this witness a central part of their case and made it appear that my client played an integral role in that mental state. I have every right to prove that is not the case.”
“He’s right, Mrs. Patrick. The State opened the door to this line of questioning. However, Mr. Crawley, I will advise you to tread lightly and treat the topic with the sensitivity expected of an officer of the court. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
Then the judge looked at me, “Alex, you’re going to need to answer these questions and answer them truthfully, but if at any point you need to take a few moments, then you let me know and I’ll call for a recess.”
“Thank you, Your Honor; but I’m okay, right now.”
“Very good, proceed, Mr. Crawley.”
“Alex do you need me to ask the question again?”
“That won’t be necessary, Sir. I remember it quite well. You were attempting to make it seem like me, the victim of long term psychological and physical abuse, had been suicidal long before your client came into the picture. But that is not the case.”
“So you never attempted suicide before the night you tried to overdose?”
“That night was the third time.”
“So there was already a history of suicidal tendencies.”
I wasn’t sure if he was trying to ask me a question, but I launched into a heated tirade on the previous attempts at suicide I had made.
“Yes there was, and each one of them had to do with Mark Green! The first time I tried to drown myself in a creek. It was a half-hearted attempt at best, and I berated myself for not having the strength to do it. That one happened right after the dodgeball incident, when Mark began isolating me from the only friends I had ever known. The second time I tried to kill myself, I was attempting to cut my wrists. I took one of our kitchen knives and was going to do it, but my mom came home early and stopped me. I don’t know if I would have had the strength to go through with it, and I’m very thankful that my mom came home when she did. That time, in case you were wondering, happened after two of Mark’s associates rammed my head into my locker and then slammed it shut on my head, all while telling me I needed to convince my dad to turn down the opportunity of a lifetime for a job promotion, simply because it would possibly put me in closer contact with my best friend. So yes, Mr. Crawley, there were suicidal tendencies.”
“But those incidents you describe, they didn’t really have anything to do with my client, did they? I mean you talk about a dodgeball game. We played that back when I was in school and no one ever killed themselves because of it. And you said my client’s associates attacked you for the second one. Mark wasn’t there at all for that one, was he?” Mr. Crawley was grasping for straws now.
“Mr. Crawley, I’m only fourteen, and I’m certainly not a psychiatrist. Thankfully, I don’t need to be because I have a wonderful therapist. I may not be a doctor, but I do know that it is human nature to be connected to other people. My whole life, that’s been difficult for me to do. At fourteen, I have two real connections to people my age, both of them are in this courtroom today. I didn’t try to kill myself because of a game! I did it because the only human connection I had ever been able to make was suddenly cut away from me, and I was isolated. I was scared and alone, and I didn’t know how to cope with that!” I was shaking now. I felt the determination and resolve within myself, but it was starting to weaken. I just wanted to crawl into a dark hole and escape, but I continued while I could. “I stayed in that frame of mind for over a year. I’d wake up each day feeling like I was alone and had no one to turn to. That was something Mark did every single day. He made sure to remind me that I was alone, and that the one human connection I had made, didn’t even want to talk to me. You can only be made to believe you are alone in the world so much, before it becomes a reality to you.”
“I have no more questions, Your Honor.” Mr. Crawley looked defeated as he spoke.
The judge rapped her gavel on her desk, “We’re going to take a fifteen minute recess.”
I didn’t wait for anyone instead I pushed my way out of the courtroom. I found myself leaning with my forehead against a wall when I felt Allison pressed herself against me.
“I’m okay.” I could feel my parents near me and several others. “Really. I’m fine. I just had to get out of there for a bit.”
When we were back from the quick recess things went a little quicker. Mrs. Patrick called one of my doctors from the emergency room. He explained what happened and why I was rushed into emergency surgery. Mr. Crawley tried to make it seem like my overdose had caused the internal bleeding, but the doctor was quick to stop that line of thinking. He brought out an x-ray of my ribs and pointed out the fractured ribs they had seen before surgery and also pointed out several other areas that indicated previous fractures that had never been treated properly. He finished the defense’s cross examination by saying that if anything at all, the fact the overdose brought me into the hospital, helped them find the bleeding quicker. If I hadn’t come in that night, it would have been worse.
Dr. Markov was the next to testify. She had to walk a fine line because there was a lot she couldn’t say since she was still my therapist, so Mrs. Patrick kept her speaking more towards what would lead someone to suicide, the effects of bullying on teenagers and other things of that nature. We thought the prosecution would rest just after that, but she surprised all of us. Well, all except our lawyer.
“Your Honor, The State calls Hector Rivera to the stand.”
We all turned around as Lou’s nephew came into the courtroom wearing a prison orange jumpsuit. He took the stand and was sworn in.
“Mr. Rivera, for the record, what is your relationship with Alex Jackson?”
“We work together at Blue Moon Ranch.”
“And do you consider yourselves friends?”
“Not really, no.”
“And who is your uncle?”
“Luciano Dominguez. Everyone calls him Lou. He also works at Blue Moon Ranch.”