As I was driving back to the Brazos County Courthouse after lunch Thursday (read: more work, less food), a song played on the radio with a lyric that summed everything up for me from this past couple of weeks:
"Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same..."
Wallflowers, "One Headlight"
I remember that song so vividly from my youth. I didn't own a CD player in the 9th grade, so I would record songs off the radio in Grand Forks, North Dakota onto a cassette tape and listen on the cold, half-hour bus ride from the Air Force base to the downtown high school.
Ironically, it was around the 9th grade, if the testimony is true, that Kelly Sifuentez started wrapping the much-younger Christian Olsen around her finger, irrevocably changing his life and those of so many others.
Sit through a trial, and you'll become invested, like it or not. Combine real people with unreal acts, startling revelations with unconscionable images, and you've got a recipe for an eye-opening experience.
As I've sat in that courtroom, I've put myself in every pair of shoes that I can.
The Westbrook Family: How they must search for closure for Etta Jean's untimely end, but will any result in this trial provide it?
The Olsen Family: Are there any words or acts that can heal their own wounds, much less help heal others'?
The Prosecutors: In their search for justice for a family wronged, how deep are the sympathies for another family watching a child's life on the line?
The Defense: As they fulfill a Constitutional guarantee, they sit next to a murderer and think...what?
The Jury: Each member wouldn't have been picked if they weren't willing to consider the death penalty, but to look into so many innocent, hurting eyes, how do you decide which ones to please and which ones to disappoint?
Christian Olsen: After a year-and-a-half in jail, faced with the prospects of jail life forever or death, is he truly sorry, or is he sorry he was caught?
From my own shoes, I can say I've sat through more gruesome pictures than I care to ever see again, more tears than should be shed in sorrow, and more sad twists and turns than any terroristic theme park could provide.
Jakob Dylan and his band was right in this case. None of us have changed through this, but anyone associated with this trial sure ain't the same.