03-02-2012, 08:43 PM
Chapter Ten: The Defendant
During the summer of 2007, the tedious process of jury selection for Luke's trial began. Fourteen jurors had to be selected out of nearly a thousand candidates, a seemingly impossible task given the high profile of the defendant. Many were dismissed because they had children who were Luke Blade fans, others were convinced of his guilt. One overly religious individual claimed that Luke was a minion of Satan. She was summarily dismissed.
Luke's legal counsel knew the odds of aquittal were slim to none, so they tried to go for an insanity plea. At least Luke would be spared prison life, which would make him even more dangerous, in their view. They had the backing of the psychologists in the mental hospital, who provided their findings about Luke and his mental condition. Sending Luke Blade to prison would just add fuel to the fire, they argued. At least in a mental hospital, he could get the help he needed.
The prosecution, however, was loaded for bear with the help of the CSI team's forensic evidence. The fingerprints from the gas can, the footprints taken at the crime scenes, the DNA from the wand torch, and the eyewitness accounts of Sylvia Walker and Investgator Mac Taylor made it a slam-dunk as far as the DA was concerned. Luke was as good as convicted.
The trial began on October 5th, 2007. Luke had been incarcerated for seven months at the hospital. He had been placed under twenty-four hour surveillance, sedated to a near zombie-like state to keep his rages under control. Now he arrived at the courthouse in prison orange, his wrists and ankles shackled. He glowered at the court assembled to try him, especially at Mac Taylor, the man who had ruined his greatest trick, but he remained silent.
The presiding judge, the Honorable Thomas Williams, read the charges against Luke: Two accounts of first-degree murder, one account of attempted first-degree murder. How did the defendant plead?
The counsel for the defense pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Luke was unaware of his actions, being unable to distinguish reality from fantasy, cause from effect. The defense recommended that Luke Blade was unfit to stand trial, and should be committed to a psychiatric ward.
The court turned down the insanity plea, stating the defendant had meticulously planned the murders. The plea was recorded as "not guilty". The case of State of New York v. Luke Blade began.
Transcripts of the trial were unavailable to the author; only summaries and second hand information was available. The prosecution opened with a brief outline of the crimes and Luke's involvement. He was not insane, as the defense claimed, but had premeditated his crimes down to the last detail. Luke was intelligent and totally aware of his actions, even if he was not aware of the consequenses at the time. He was a dangerous psychopath, on the level of Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer. He should be removed from society forever, the Prosecution stated.
The defense was called to make its opening statement. Luke Blade suffered from the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which left him unable to distinguish reality from fantasy. They stated the example of Luke addressing an imaginary audience in the warehouse on 44th St. A CAT scan revealed minimal brain damage in those areas of the brain which controlled perception. Also, there was his past to consider: given up for adoption as an infant by an ex-con father; given up again at age of six; the shuttling between foster homes and various institutions. For the first time, Luke's stay at the infamous St. Mary's Children's Asylum was brought to light: the abuse the children who stayed there were a matter of public record. It was enough to push anyone over the edge, they argued.
With the opening statements out of the way, the cross-examination began. The first to be called was Sylvia Walker, Luke's former adoptive mother. She related the kidnapping at the supermarket parking lot, the warehouse, and the terror Luke had inflicted upon her. She had sought professional counseling just to get up the courage to testify against him. When asked whether she was sorry that she relinquished Luke at age six, she said no. The ordeal had confirmed the rightness of her decision, she said. She had given him up out of fear for the safety of her unborn child, and with good reason. Luke had been so uncontrollable she became afraid of him herself. She had tried to love him, be patient with him, but with FAS, it was impossible. She told of the great sense of relief she felt when the doors of the children's home where she left Luke closed behind her. Luke had cost Sylvia her marriage, she said. She and Gary had thought him a gift from God when they adopted him. He turned out to be a demon from Hell.
Sylvia Walker was dismissed. Investigator Mac Taylor was brought to the stand. With an air of professionalism honed from years of experience dealing with lawyers, he clearly stated the evidence he and his team had found--the bloody saw which had ripped Vienna Hyatt in two, the footprints on electromagnetic film, the gas can, the charred wand, the fingerprints found on those items, and, most damning of all, the tiny speck of flesh burned off from Luke's finger which provided the DNA evidence pointing to his guilt. Taylor also recounted the scene at the warehouse on 23rd and 11th: Sylvia Walker hoisted upside down in a water tank, bound and gagged, with Luke watching on with a satisfied look on his face. Taylor fired a single shot at the tank, shattering the glass, and freeing Sylvia from her watery prison. He also described Luke's reaction of outrage and fury over his stunt being destroyed. He was aware of Luke's past, having a copy of his record. He had described Luke Blade as "a ticking time bomb" when they got word of the missing truck. No cross-examination from the defense could trip him up. Taylor was a pro; like Dragnet's Joe Friday, he wanted, and got, just the facts. His invetigative and scientific skills were unquestioned.
Things were looking bad for Luke at this point. When he was called to the stand, he swore to tell the truth, but only as he saw it. he was not at the murder of Vienna Hyatt. He had only fired her instead. She had been disloyal to the Family. He had been on stage performing his illusion. Also, he was not at the scene of Austin Cannon's murder; that was three blocks away, and he had been in flames for four hours during that time, in front of a live audience. They were persecuting him, he claimed, because he was famous, because he was better than anyone. There were members of the Family who had wanted to leave him--they were responsible for the killings, just to get back at him. He stated this with so much conviction the jury were overwhelmed.
The court was adjourned for the day. Luke was taken back to his holding cell. Beckie Winslow dashed over to give Luke a farewell hug, but was rebuffed by security. Luke gave his one remaining Family member who had stayed loyal to him a sorrowful look. Beckie burst into tears as Luke was led away. Nurse Victoria Soames, who had taken Beckie in when Luke was arrested, led the mentally handicapped woman away as well.
The second day of the trial began at promptly 9:00 AM. The first witness of the day was Victoria Soames, Luke's personal nurse. She recounted Luke's behavior toward his Family and herself. Soames also told of Luke's bedtime habits, where he slept with many of the female members of the Family and sometimes with female fans, two or three at a time most nights. He never took drugs, but he had been known to be drunk sometimes, though never at a show. Luke had become a monster over time. All he thought of was himself. He cared for no one's feelings or opinions.
As the trial wore on, Luke was becoming increasingly agitated. His "Nursie", his adoptive mother, his "Family"--everyone was against him. There was only one person who would stick up for him, and she was not allowed to testify because she was retarded. He felt abandoned by all who said they had loved him, just like before. Didn't anyone believe in his innocence?
The court was adjourned for the day. Tomorrow, the jury would deliberate Luke's fate.