Hard to fathom that one moment I am watching brilliant macaws flitting in the trees and the next moment I am in courtroom 230 - third row back. It all feels surreal.
As I slide into my seat, I am feeling guilty.
I missed four days of trial. Being a mother isn't just about bearing and raising a child, it's also about bearing witness to that's child's life. I believe in the power of witness.
I settle in. Tanya is called to the stand. This is an important witness.
Actually throughout this entire trial, we have enjoyed a series of witnesses. A witness in legal terms is derived from a root meaning "to bear in mind;" "to remember;" "to be careful." A witness can be defined as one who has knowledge of something by recollection and experience, and who can tell about it accurately. By this definition, we are all witnesses for one another.
I have two witnesses of my own that I have placed in the courtroom as representatives of my interests during my absence.
My first question when I got back, "Was there anything new this week?" I had given them a very clear definition of what I considered new. They kept their pens and sketch pencil poised on alert for their own records but also to report back to me. There had been nothing new - which to me means that there has been no serious doubt introduced.
Not that the Defence hadn't tried. Simmonds had produced electropherogram after electropherogram and gene mapper after gene mapper -- all kinds of charts and work sheets from the case file. But apparently Dr. Chahal, the DNA expert, remained calm throughout and continued to give very detailed explanations for everything for the three-day cross-examination. Even the judge had difficulty following the DNA discussion - as did everyone else.
There were new flaws and new questions, which is not surprising given that the DNA was not pristine - in fact quite degraded. But I think it is also becoming more apparent with each presentation that the mistakes made are not malicious, biased or deceitful but the results of a pioneering spirit. Molecular World was not a seasoned established laboratory at the time. All of the DNA testing was still in its pioneer stages exploring the uncharted frontiers of the time. There is a sense of the "Wild West" that is emerging.
In any case the DNA evidence though important in its power to exclude was never enough to convict on its own. This is the second day that Tania is on the stand. I understand that yesterday she had answered all the tough questions firmly, with a no nonsense kind of attitude. Some had described her as "feisty." Her recall of Grant's comments about having killed Candace, as well as his threats uttered later at her house, were very clear and very dramatic.
She had also testified in the preliminary so again there is nothing new in this confession - and yet it is new in this context. She has matured - and she expresses herself so well.
As a primary witness - she is believable.
The power of a witness!
The next three witnesses on Friday were Blaine Webster, manager of the Redi-Mart where Candace made her last phone call, and Adis Abdi, a friend who saw her walking home, alone.
The final witness was really Grant himself - as viewed through his videoed interview by cold case investigators and attended by Al Bradbury and Jon Lutz.
We closed Friday with Al Bradbury standing in the witness box. He stood through the entire four hours as we watched the video symbolizing the respect and honor of being a witness.
Bradbury is the last Crown witness.
We are almost done.
While some stories are sweeter than others, all long for the benefit and necessity of a witness, for a witness assures us that our stories are heard, contained, and transcend time; for it can be said that one is never truly forgotten when one is shared and carried in the hearts of others. - Shelley Galasso Bonanno,