09-05-2011, 02:46 PM
Seldom was a courtroom filled to capacity as was Courtroom 3A in the Clark County District Courthouse that morning. Twelve jurors, a mix of ordinary citizens roped into performing their civil duty for twenty-five dollars a day, sat alongside the far wall, adjacent to the witness stand. The counsel for the prosecution sat in her assigned place, reviewing her notes about the case on her portable laptop. The counsel for the defense sat opposite, waiting for his client to arrive from the lockup. The bailiff stood attentively by the chamber door, ready to announce the judge's appearance and ascension to the bench.
The gallery was practically standing room only, with more women than men crowding the padded benches behind the low partition separating them from the bench. Conversation, what little there was, remained muted, reduced to low murmurs and whispers among the women called to testify against the defendant. Dimitra Sarantakos sat among them, flanked by her two elder sons, JD and Costa. She wore a modest blue dress with a white lacy collar with low-heeled black shoes, and she clutched her black leather handbag nervously, as if afraid someone would snatch it from her grasp. Sensing her anxiety, JD caressed his mother's shoulder comfortingly.
"You're gonna be okay, Mom," he murmured. "He can't hurt you. He's just a flasher. It's not like he's a serial rapist."
Dimitra tried bravely to smile. "I know, honey," she said. "But I've never been in court before, and I've never testified against anyone. Besides, I still don't like to see that man again."
"Trust me, Ma," JD assured her, smiling. "After this is over, no one is ever gonna see this guy again."
As if to refute those words, the defendant, Alvin Zubrowski, arrived, dressed in prison orange accessorized by a pair of regulation handcuffs on his wrists, escorted by a single officer to the defendant's chair. His bandage was gone, but the restorative surgery on his nose did little to improve his looks: his once bulbous nose had shrunk, and there was a slight but noticeable scar across the bridge. No one spoke when he took his place beside his attorney.
"All rise," the bailliff called out.
Everyone present stood as the Honorable Jerome Schwarz stepped up to the bench. He was a rather handsome man, about early fifties, with salt-and-pepper hair that accented his good looks and went peculiarly well with his black judge's robe. His face, however, remained professionally grim as he read the file of the case before him.
"State of Nevada v. Alvin Zubrowski," he read. "Are all parties present?"
Both parties confirmed their presence in the courtroom. "Will the defendant please rise?" Judge Schwarz requested.
Alvin struggled to his feet. "Mr. Zubrowski," the judge began, "you have been accused of sixteen counts of indecent exposure, one count of third-degree criminal sexual assault against a minor, one count of conspiracy to defame, and one count of burglary. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty," Alvin replied.
"You may be seated."
Alvin sat down. The counsel for the prosecution made her opening statement, presenting to the court the list of the notorious Vegas Flasher's crimes: exposing himself to no less than sixteen elderly women over a six-week period, including a sixty-year-old grandmother in the presence of her fifteen-year-old granddaughter on Fremont Street; theft of personal photographs of famous illusionist Criss Angel to hold for a one-million dollar ransom, then passed onto a co-conspirator to post on the Internet. The defendant had lost three jobs due to his reprobate behavior, and had been divorced twice for the same reason. A psychological examination revealed no sign of mental disorder: Alvin Zubrowski was fully responsible and fully accountable for his actions.
The counsel for the defense rose to give his opening statement. Alvin Zubrowski had an uncontrollable compulsion to exhibitionism, he claimed. He had tried unsucessfully in the past to rein him his impulses, even going so far as to seek treatment, but with no results. He had no real intention to expose himself in front of a minor--indeed, he had no desire for younger women at all. As for the conspiracy charges, they were totally false: Alvin had nothing against Criss Angel whatsoever, he stated--it was Kevin Smythe who wanted revenge against the star for firing him. He was the one who posted the photos online, not Alvin. His client needed therapy, not incarceration, he pleaded. Why punish a man for something over which he had no control?
The defense closed his opening statement. Then the trial began. Throughout the day-long trial, ten out of the sixteen women who were brave enough to come forward, Dimitra included, told their tale of their traumatizing encounter with the notorious Flasher:
"I was just standing there, talking on my cell phone to my husband, when that man over there came up to me, opened his coat and showed me his naked body. I nearly dropped my phone onto the sidewalk! I told Grant--that's my husband--about it, and he told me to call the police."
"I was on my way to my car in the parking garage after work when I saw him. He just spread his coat open like bat wings, and I saw his hoo-ha sticking right out at me! I wanted to punch him one, but he ran off. I reported him to security."
"I was with my granddaughter on Fremont Street when he came right up to us, opened his coat up and ta-dah! Showed off all his naked glory! I covered Davey's eyes when he did that."
"Grandma and me were on Fremont Street. I just got off the roller coaster, and we were going to get seats for the Criss Angel show when that creep over there flashed us! Grandma called the cops on him. When I got home, I posted a message to all the Loyals to watch out for this guy. I'm glad George broke his nose the way he did--he deserved it!"
"He just flashed at me, right there in front of God and everybody! Thank God my kids were at home at the time."
Finally, it was Dimitra's turn. "I was waiting for my son to pick me up after my nephew's boxing match outside the Excalibur. That man over there came up to me wearing a raincoat. I thought, what, there's no rain. Then he opened it up, and he was naked underneath. I scream, he run away, and my nephew, George, hit him in the face."
Alvin sat in his chair, squirming. He cast furtive sidelong glances at the older women taking their turn on the stand, biting his lower lip. He wanted to do it. Oh, God, how he wanted to do it! But his hands were cuffed, and there was a guard beside him. But maybe he could get away with it if he was careful. If he was lucky, no one would notice. He casually, unobrtrusively, looked around the courtroom: all eyes were on the witness stand, all ears trained on whomever was testifying--good. Then he slowly and discreetly slipped his cuffed hands into his orange prison trousers and...
An eagle-eyed juror spotted what Alvin was doing under the table. Flustered, then outraged, he stood up and shouted, "Hey! That guy's playing with himself over there!"
Chaos erupted as the guard grabbed Alvin by the arm with one hand and tried to pull up his trousers with the other. On the stand, Dimitra looked away, flushed with horror and embarrassment. There were nervous squeals and shouts of outrage from all parts of the room. Judge Schwarz angrily hammered for order in the court. In the gallery, George had to fight the impulse to punch the pervert in the face again; besides, there were too many cops around for him to do so. Alvin was quickly removed from the courtroom, the escorting guard hauling him off by the waistband of his pants and the scruff of his neck. It took another minute for peace to be restored in the courtroom. Judge Schwarz regained his composure and recessed the trial for thirty minutes.
"God!" JD exclaimed later as he lunched with his family in a small cafe on the mezzanine. "I can't believe that guy would just whip it out right there in the courtroom! I mean, is that guy a wack job or what?"
"He's sick!" Costa chimed in. "He's totally sick!"
"He ain't sick," George argued as he munched on his sandwich, "he's twisted. He loves doing what he does because it gets him off. It's a thrill for him. He's a degenerate."
"One thing's for certain," JD said. "After what he pulled in the courtroom today, he's gonna get sent up for sure. I'd bet anything the jury's already reached a verdict before this break is over."
Costa smiled sheepishly. "Well," he said, shrugging, "it would save a lot of time if they did."