I was carefully advised that I might not want to sit through the medical examiners report.... "Some families don't want to. You don't need to."
I chose to attend, so this morning we listened to the esteemed Dr. Peter Markesteyn, Medical Examiner give his report. There is something beautiful about the authority of a lifetime of knowledge applied to the pursuit of justice. He did it so well.
But why did I choose to sit through it? Because I need to -- I have a wicked imagination. If I don't check my imagination with reality -- things are always worse in my imagination.
To deal with what happened in that shed where Candace died has always been problematic.
Actually that shed became a reality that first night when Candace went missing. I knew she was being kept somewhere. Even then I envisioned the worst. I was relieved when the investigators told me after her body was found that there had been no sexual assault; that she had only been bound hands and feet and probably died of hypothermia.
No obvious motive was mystifying - but I would rather live with the story that Candace had died a rather painless death of hypothermia -- bound by someone who could have been a stranger - perhaps even a friend - and just slept her way into eternity.
It was in this frame of mind that I went to the preliminary in 2010 - 26 years later -- expecting it would be easy to listen to the medical examiner's report - it wasn't.
During that first appearance of Dr. Markesteyne on the witness stand, I found out that Candace wasn't just tied, in an attempt to restrain her. She was hogtied! And then I had to learn what that meant. Suddenly the shed had become a torture chamber... and I started to cry.
At the trial in 2011, I learned that dying from hypothermia isn't easy. It isn't just 'falling asleep." And I cried even more.
Finally while writing the book about the trial -- I went beyond the presenting facts - I looked at what they really meant, I allowed myself to imagine the worst , the absolute worst possible scenario. I stared at the perversion - and I was nauseated - sick for days.
This morning as I sat through the report again -- there was nothing new - just the presentation of the hard, horrible facts. It was more clinical than ever before. We didn't even go close to the hell that I had imagined before!
So while everyone worried about me, I felt I got off easy this morning.
But then, right after the autopsy report, Jon Lutz took the stand, the investigator who brought new eyes to the Cold Case file in 2006 - and my heart dropped.
The entire trial swerved off the expected path. Up till now there has been nothing new. Now I could see the narration of the seven hairs - the exhibit and explanations that had formed one of the bases of the last trial - was being dropped.
From Lutz's testimony, we learned that the hair that had looked dyed wasn't artificially altered.
This is new territory.
At the last trial we spent four days listening to Ogilvie - the hair expert at the time - testify as to how he had selected the four scalp hair because they were dyed and then watched him being mercilessly cross-examined as the judge at the time wrestled to understand if it was bleached or dyed. Now the hairs only looked suspicious - looked as if they were dyed - but not really. All of the hair-dyed argument, which I found so convincing, is being dropped.
We are into something new!
We are leaving the main road and heading down a path through the mountains, uncharted, unexplored.
Was that all imagined?
Am I imagining this? I don't know.
However, I was born in the mountains - I love the mountains.
This holds promise of a new narration.
Slowly, this new path is grabbing my imagination....
Memory has thousands of eyes staring into the experiences of the past, while Imagination peers into every corner of the universe. ~James Lendall Basford