Chapter 17 - Trialed
Seated in the large, government-looking courtroom was nerve wrecking. I waited patiently in a chair just a few feet away from Andy, still dressed in the orange prison uniform while everyone else (including me) wore suits or else the nicest clothing possible. To my right was an older lady, her white hair short and expertly curled and she wore a dull colored pinkish-grey dress with her handbag clutched in her wrinkled hand. Taking a guess, I'd imagine this was Andy's neighbor. On my left Mrs. Biersack sat, a black long-sleeved dress fell past her knees and a white plastic clamp held back her golden hair. She held my hand comfortingly, almost like I was her son too.
I could see the side of Andy's face, serious and somewhat depressed looking. Waves of anxiety flowed from all of us like river water, making the room feel hot.
"We got this." I said softly. He looked at me from the corner of his eye and nodded, leaning forward on his elbow.
Andy, Mrs. Biersack, the woman, Andy's lawyer and I all took the oath for truth, not that I needed it. Lying was one of the things I was not too good at. Andy's lawyer spoke about the things Pete would do, going through most of their life story together. It started out as a heart warming stepfather-stepson story which quickly changed to something you'd see on a show like Americas Most Wanted or something.
I saw Andy squirm uncomfortably as they started to show pictures of his injuries after autopsy pictures of Pete and the weapon that was used to kill him. I could feel acid rising in my stomach when they showed Pete's smashed in skull, again surprising me of what Andy was capable of. What sickened my the most was when they showed the stitches he had to get in his...well, where the sun don't shine as Auntie says.
After a while the judge finally called witnesses, starting off with Mrs. Biersack.
"Can you please explain how you saw the situation, Mrs. Biersack?" The judge asked in a firm tone as Mrs. Biersack took a seat at the witness stand.
"Yes, well..." she squirmed. "I first met Peter when Andy was a little kid, I never imagined he would turn out to be the way he is. He was a sweet man before he started drinking and thats when he turned violent, using the both of us as his anger punching bags." she paused and swallowed, looking down at Andy for a split second. "I knew what he would do, but I was scared of what he would do if we spoke up. Some nights he would just smack me or him across the face other nights he'd go crazy and beat the hell out of me or Andy."
"Can you describe to the jury how he would take out his anger?"
"Belts." she said. "Belts and his fists."
"Describe the night of Peter's death."
She took another deep breath, keeping herself from crying. "Andy had just come home from a friend's house and Peter was already drunk and raging. Before he came he had beaten me and given me bruises all over then told me ot tell Andy to go upstairs when he's home. I had no idea what he would do when he took Andy up there, I figured it was because there was more belts up there in the closet. He went up there and I heard Andy screaming..."
She took a deep, shuddering breath and wiped her eyes, pushing a stray hair out of her face. The lawyer urged her to finish, nodding solemnly at her.
"First I could hear the creaking, and I knew he wasn't just beating him. I snapped and grabbed his shotgun from the basement and went in there." she tried again not to break down but failed, gasping softly and trying not to cry very hard. "My baby was on the bed and bleeding, he was...he was crying for me and I had to stop that bitch from hurting him..."
They let her cry for a few seconds. The jury people looked on the verge of tears, Andy was already crying softly and so was I. Andy wiped his face on his bare wrist, all his scars obviously showing too.
"Can you tell us what happened next?" The judge asked in a gentile tone. Mrs. Biersack nodded and continued.
"I told Pete to get away from him and he started playing innocent. I held him at gunpoint and told Andy to call the police but then Pete got up and grabbed it away from me. We started fighting and before I knew it Andy was back, Pete punched him and then went back to fighting me, thats when he was killed."
The lawyer lady said something, but I was trying to block out every mental image possible of the story she just told. Unfortunately I was going ot have to tell my story and Andy tell his.
I was ushered up to the stand. The chair was wooden and twice as uncomfortable as the other seats, making me feel short as possible. I could see the whole room from up here...
"State your relation."
"Best friend." I said.
"How old are you?"
"15, your honor."
"Can you tell us your story, Ashley?"
I nodded, taking a breath just as Mrs. Biersack had did. I could see why, it was scary enough to be up here and part of the trial. "I found out about Andy's stepdad abusing him a few months ago, but he begged me not to tell anyone because he didn't want to be taken away from his mom."
"How did you find out?"
"We were at my house one day and he accidently spilled his water on his shirt, I offered to put it in the dryer for him because I was trying to be friendly, I didn't think there'd be anything wrong with it but when he took off his shirt....it looked like he had tiger stripes."
An audible gasp came from the jury. I looked over at Andy, trying to tell him it would be okay and I'll fix up my story to make it sound convincing.
"He begged me not to talk. If you've seen him and his mom together you'd be heartbroken at the thought of them separated too. I promised I wouldn't talk as long as he's not in danger of dying."
"Did you know about the raping?"
"No." I said. "Andy never talked about it."
The lawyer started asking me questions, her green eyes boring into mine. Why did she look so mean? I'm on her side.
"Was Andy ever violent?"
I thought for a moment, remembering how he punched the jock at school and what he did to his arms.
"Andy and I are bullied a lot by the sports-y kids, the big muscle boys. One time they made fun of Andy and he punched them in the face. Thats all I can think of."
"Did Pete ever threaten you?"
I shook my head. "I never got to meet the guy."
A few more awkward questions later I was dismissed. Feeling regretful of myself I walked back to my seat as the woman went to the stand, having to be helped up the small steps to the stand. She wasn't much help either, considering that she only heard some things and had no idea what was going on.
The jury was dismissed to talk about it, leaving the rest of us to talk among ourselves. Andy turned sideways in his chair, his eyes bloodshot from crying and droopy. I had the overwhelming urge to hug him and tell him its okay, but it wasn't okay.
"I'm getting life." he said, looking from me to Mrs. Biersack. "I know it."
"Andy please don't..." Mrs. Biersack murmured. "Please."
"They're not convinced, I know it!" his voice broke and squeaked as he cry-talked, hiding his face in his hands and sobbing. I reached up and patted his shoulder comfortingly, rubbing his back softly.
After what seemed like forever, the jury returned back to their seats. The whole room seemed to heat up, anxiety filled my body and Andy's too. He grew paler as he whiped it head to the side of the room.
"We hereby find Andrew Dennis Biersack guilty of murder in the third degree."
I felt color drain from my face as they read off the rest.
"and grant him 2 years in state prison, parole set at $2,000."
They said other things I didn't hear and the judge hit the gavel. Everyone started packing up to leave an the guards came to take Andy. Mrs. Biersack flung her arms around Andy and hugged him tightly, crying into the crook oh his neck. His shoulders shook as he hugged her back, crying together. The sight of it made my heart break even more...he wasn't going to see her in person for two years.
Mrs. Biersack broke away and pulled me over. I hugged Andy tightly around the shoulders, tears spilling down our faces like waterfalls, his tears falling into my hair and mine staining his shirt.
"I'm so sorry..." I sobbed into his chest "I'm so sorry."