07 In limbo

Jill Turner had short, black hair, brown eyes, round glasses and a small pointed nose right in the middle of her smiling face. She was in her mid thirtees, but looked younger. Her clothes were very smart, letting on that she spent a small fortune on clothes. Today she was wearing a light pink blouse with very pretty green leaves and red roses embroidered on the front. Her knee long skirt was light blue, embroidered with a nice, yellow pattern. Her shoes were bright red stilettoes that could be spotted a mile away. She smiled and hummed to herself as she entered the Charles Coogan’s memorial hospital. Surtain of herslef she walked straight up to the reception and asked where Kate Stewart was. The receptionist sent her to the fourth floor where she found the number 412. A policewoman was sitting in a chair outside the room guarding it.

– “Oh!” Jill Turner blurted out.

– “Is this where I can find Kate Stewart?”

The policewoman stood up. She was tall and slim with her light blond hair done up in a long ponytail than hung down her back.

– “That’s right! And who might you be?”

Jill just smiled and offered her hand.

– “I am Jill Turner from the department of Children and Family services! And who might you be?”

The policewomas snorted.

– “I am officer Dana Scolari!”

Jill Turner grabbed the officers hand and shook it violently, still smiling. The policewoman, however, was not amused.

– “What have you been told about this kid?” she asked with a dark voice.

Jill Turners voice was light, happy and singing still.

– “Oh, somebody informed me that she has been beaten up pretty badly, and that she ended up killing one of her attackers!”

Officer Scolari bit her lip and lowered her eyebrows.

– “Do you find that amusing, Miss Turner?” she said sharply.

– “Heavens, no!” Jill Turner exclaimed with a shout.

– “But I’m sure that there is a perfectly logical explanation to why she did it!”

The police officer gave a big sigh.

– “She is a killer, Miss Turner, and I am here to babysit her till she gets taken to court or someone relieves me from duty!”

Jill Turner smiled again.

– “It is actually Mrs. Turner,” she underlined.

– “I have been married five years now!”

– “Terriffic!” Dana scolari sighed.

Jill didn’t let the grumpy police officer get her down, but opened the door and entered the room where Kate was lying in a bed with a bandaged nose.

– “Hello Kate!” Jill Turner almost shouted.

– “How are you?”

Kate sat up in bed looking at the smiling woman who had just entered the room.

– “Who’s asking?” she croaked.

– “I am Jill Turner!” Jill bursted out, sitting down on the chair next to Kates bed.

– “I come from the department of Children and Family services. I am here to help you!”

Kate looked suspisciously at the strange woman.

– “With what?”

– “Well,” Mrs. Turner leaned forward.

– “You have to go to court, and I will help you to stand trial, if it comes to that.”

– “What do you mean by ‘if it comes to that’?”

– “Well,” she answered again.

– “We wanted your case to go to juvinile court. After all, you are only nine years old, Kate.”

Kate wrinkled her nose and eyebrows.

– “But, the state want to try you for murder, and that goes straight to normal court. There will be a priliminary hearing soon to decide what they want to do about you, but it might come to a trial in the state court. Do you understand what I’m saying to you, Kate?”

Kate looked like a questionmark.

– “I will do all I can to help you, Kate. I have to ask you a few questions, okay?”

– “I suppose!”

Jill turner took up a small notebook.

– “What are your injuries, Kate?”

– “Huh?”

– “Where did you get hurt? Did that girl you stabbed break or sprain something on you?”

With visble pain, Kate wiggled herself under the covers again.

– “She broke my nose and a couple of ribbs…” she murmured.

For once, Jill Turners smile had disappeared.

– “That’s terrible!” she sighed.

– “Can you tell me what happened?”

Kate sunk under the duvet.

– “They tricked me, all of them. They tricked me to go behind the shed, then they jumped me!”

– “How many were they?”

– “Four,” Kate sniffed.

– “Priscilla knocked me down. Then they kicked me and beat me till everything went black.”

Small sobs were heard from under the duvet.

– “When I woke up, I was in so much pain….” she cried.

– “Then I felt the knife in my pocket….”

Mrs. Turner looked serious.

– “Where did you get the knife from?”

– “It was mine! I got it as a birthday present!”

Jill turner allowed for Kate to get a little time to gather herself again.

– “Why did you stab Priscila, Kate?”

Kates head popped out from behind the duvet. Her eyes were red, and tears har made her entire face wet.

– “Because I hate her!” she shouted.

– “I hate that evil, pompous witch, and I would do it all over again if I could….”

– “All rise for the honourable judge Swann!” the bailif shouted, and all the court stood up.

Kate stood up beside Jill Turner and their lawyer, Amanda Coleman. Coleman was a young lawyer in a smart suit with long, dark hair that was put up in a knot with a feather pin at the back. She had a warm smile and a soft voice, and Kate couldn’t help but like her. She had come to the hospital to talk to her and Mrs. Turner less than an hour before they were off to  Court. Officer Dana Scolari was also present, sitting right behind Kate. A police car had picked them all up at the front of the hospital, and the woman officer had insisted on holding Kate’s hand instead of her putting handcuffs on. It was a strange feeling to be transported in a police car, guilty of murder. After all, Kate had commited murder, and she was not sorry for it. She was wondering if they would put her in prison for the rest of her life. Lawyer Coleman had said that would not be the case, but what if she was wrong?

Judge Harry Swann came gliding gracefully into the court room. He was almost bold and had a big, grey beard that was neatly trimmed. He was a skinny man with piercing, brown eyes and small, round spectacles that were bearly hanging at the tip of his pointed nose. He glanced around the room before he plumped himself down on his seat. The bailif shouted:

– “This court is now in session!”

A short nod was given, and everybody sat down aprt from the bailif.

– “Will the defendant please rise?” he shouted.

Amanda Coleman and Kate stood up. The judge turned towards the bailif.

– “What do you have for me at this time, bailif?” he said with a sharp voice. The bailif looked at his papers.

– “Case number 1079/507 the people versus Kate Stewart. This is a prelininary hearing, Your Honour!”

The judge looked at the papers he was given. Then he cleared his throat.

– “So this young lady is a murderer, you say? Well well!”

He shook his head in disbelief.

– “Who is for the People?” the judge boomed.

The D.A. stood up quickly.

– “Charles Benson, Your Honour!”

The judge was looking through his papers.

– “And the defence?”

– “Amanda Coleman for the defendant, Your Honour!”

The judge seememed to be looking for something amongst the papers without being able to find it.

– “And what does the People say?” the judge asked, still looking at the papers.

Charles Benson was a tall, dark man, cleanly shaven ithw a dark cape around him. He pointed towards Kate.

– “This Young lady is murderer, and we ask for a trial as soon as possible, Your Honour!”

– “Is there any evidence to suport this?” the judge asked.

– “Yes, Your Honour! There is the wurder eweapon, a knife, with handprints on it. We have several witnesses, and the defendant is admitting her guilt!”

The judge looked up, surpise written all over his face.

– “Miss Coleman, what do you say?”

Amanda Coleman spoke up with her soft voice.

– “Your Honour! According to the defendant’s young age, I humbly ask that we consider the Juvenile Court for this case!”

The judge’s face darkened.

– “Miss Coleman! You know as well as me that murder gets tried in the State Court of the Federal Court because of it’s serious nature!”

– “I realize that, Your Honour, but the defendant is only 9 years old….”

– “Request denied!” the judge thundered.

– “Was there anything else?”

Amanda Coleman gave a big sigh.

– “I urge the Court to consider the defendant’s young age, her circumstances and her social history before making a verdict in this case!”

The judge almost looked angry, Kate thought. Then again, it could be that he always looked this way.

– “This is not a trial, miss Coleman!” judge Swann boomed.

– “I am sure all this will be mentioned in the trial!”

The judge was reading something in his papers.

– “I see that this young lady was injured quite severely and hospitalized. Is that correct?”

-“Yes, Your Honour!” answered Amanda Coleman.

– “She was severely mistreated, nose and ribbes broken!”

The judge’s voice seemed to soften a bit.

– “Yet there is no psychiatric evaluation on this girl?”

– “No, Your Honour!”

The judge put the papers down and looked straight at Kate.

– “Why did you kill this girl, Kate Stewart?”

Kate answered with a shivering voice.

– “She hurt me so bad! I would not let her hurt me again, ever….”

The judge bit his lip for a second.

– “I am ordering that Kate Stewart is being transfered to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. She will stay there under guard for a week. Trial will commence next Monday at 9:00 AM.”

Judge Swann beat his wodden hammer on a plate on his desk, and the bailif filled his lungs with air.

– “Tell me about your mother!”

Kate swallowed. The psychiatrist looked staright at her, notebook in hand.

– “She died!” Kate said shortly.

– “Surely, you can tell me more than that!”

The psychiatrist was a little, old woman with short, grey hair and thick glasses. Kate wondered if she would be completely blind if you took the glasses from her. Fran Gibson had been working at the psychiatric hospital for over 30 years, and she had seen many people come and go, heard sad and terrible stories, and witnessed many tragic lives ruined at a young age. She knew that many of her patients would never completely recover. Now, she was stuggeling trying to get through to Kate.

– “How do you feel about your mum?” she asked.

Kate thought for a while.

– “Sad!” she said.

– “I feel sad!”

– “Tell me something you remember about your mum!”

Kate’s eyes started to water.

– “She was skinny, like me!” Kate moved slightly, unable to sit still.

– “She was pale…. she was sick…. she sent me to get her food because she was feeeling better…. But when I came home….”

Tears began to trickle down her cheek and her voice faded. Her throat swelled up, and she was unable to speek. Softly, she cried, turning her head away.

Fran Gibson pushed her glasses higher, stearing sympathetically at Kate.

– “Have you ever known your father?”

Kate shook her head, not uttering a single word.

– “Have you never met him?”

Kate shook her head again.

Fran gave deep sigh.

– “Why don’t we take a break. We can talk again tomorrow! Okay?”

– “Okay!” Kate mumbled With a low, almost unrecognizable voice, filled with sadness.

A nurse stood outside the door waiting. She followed Kate to her room. Kate went in, threw herself on the bed, and the nurse sat down on a chair outside her room. Kate wept into her pillow.

– “How are you keeping up, Kate?”

Kate didn’t answer. The week had been full of doctors, preists, psychologists and Child Services and God knows what. Everybody had asked her question after question. Did she believe in God? Did she love her mother? Did she feel angry? What was her view on stealing? What were the Stewarts printing in that printshop of theirs? In the end, Kate stopped answering all the questions. The priest was convinced that the little girl was a true heathen, the police believed she was evil, the doctors and psychologists had testified that she had been neglected and robbed of a childhood. Amanda Coleman had decided not to put Kate on the stand, and that was probably a wise decision. She just might have blurted out how much she had hated Priscilla, and that she would have stabbed her all over again if she could, and that would most likely not have gone in her favour.

– “Are you all right?”

Jill Turner looked worried as she asked, but Kate had had her fill of it.

– “Am I all right?” she repeated.

– “What a stupid question is that! And don’t dare to ask how I’m feeling, ’cause I’ll punch your nose if you do!”

The People in the waitingroom turned their heads at Kate’s outburst, and the earlier humming of voices completely disappeared. The trial had gone on all day, and Kate was worn out. She was hardly sleeping at all, something Amanda Coleman had been sure to mention during the trial. There was no question as to Kate’s gulit. She had done the dirty deed, but the judge had retired to try to find a suiting sentence for the young girl.  Finally, the bailif returned to gather the people back in to the court room. The local newspaper was there as Dana Scolari pushed Kate into the room. Everybody stood as the bailif did his shouting announcements. Judge Swann came back in the courtroom, and as soon as the Court was in session, everybody sat down.

– “Will the defendant please rise?”

Kate and Amanda Coleman stood up. The judge looked down at them.

– “Miss Stewart!” he started.

– “You have been found guilty of murder according to your own admission. However, the Court finds a few mildening circumstances. The first is your age. You are very young, miss Stewart! This has been taken into consideration. Also, you have suffered many traumatic experiences in your lifetime, such as you birthmother leaving you a an early age. Furthermore, you were greatly provoked and injured by the girl, Priscilla Bowman, before you stabbed her. This will also be taken into consideration. However….”

The judge stopped for air.

– “You ARE guilty, and will be sentenced. I hereby sentence you, miss Kate Stewart, to 10 years of service at Greenville Juvinile Detention Center right outside of Boston. You will be able to continue your schooling there, and you will be followed up by the psychiatric healtcare in Greenville. If you refrain from violent behaviour in the future, the sentence can be reduced by as much as 5 years. This will be evaluated by your new caseworker in Greenville JDC and a representative from the Greenville police department. Do you understand what I just said, miss Stewart?”

Kate looked at the judge.

– “Yes, Sir!” she said loud and clear.

– “Do you have any last words to say, miss Stewart?”

All eyes turned to Kate and stuck like flies on flypaper. Kate licked her lips with uncertainty.

– “Thank you?” she almost whispered.

Then they all laughed at her.

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