I got home from Kentucky eight days ago, but pieces of the experience flicker through my quiet moments, and I expect they always will.
On Wednesday night, after the jury recommended double life without parole and was dismissed, Mrs. M, the Spawn, and I gathered our things — jackets, bags, and pictures of Mom and Dad — and thanked the prosecution team and police before we headed to the doors. Michael was hustled out a side door, just beyond the witness stand. I was told later that his daughter was brought to him before he was taken back to the jail, and he gave her a hug.
We stepped out the door to the hallway, where we saw a knot of reporters. “Dr. Moore,” one asked, “would you like to say anything about the verdict?”
“No, thank you,” I said, and we headed down the hall, where another group stood. There were six or seven of them, and it took me an instant before I recognized them as some of the jurors.
“Thank you,” I said. “You did the right thing.” And I think they did — as I’ve told other folks, I think this was the least unsatisfactory outcome that was available. I don’t know if Michael deserved the mercy he received, but I think his daughter probably does.
“We just wanted to tell you how sorry we were, Smitty,” one said. I nodded and smiled — I think I may have said I was sorry they had to go through the whole business, but I don’t remember for sure. I know I thanked them again, and told them I was satisfied and grateful, and shook hands with those who offered. Then the elevator arrived, and my wife and daughter and I went downstairs, back to the parking lot, from which we went to the hotel, from which we returned to Mondoville the next day.
If I were to encounter the jurors tomorrow on the streets of Mondoville, I don’t know if I’d recognize all of them, but there are some I know I would. But I’m connected to them all now, and I find myself thinking of them and wishing them well, in my quiet, unguarded moments.