Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Disconnection in the Courtroom"

Continuing this week on Courtside television is the live trial of Juan Mendez whom on July 24, 2006 was charged with second degree murder in the deaths of his wife Whitney Mendez, 19 and mother-in-law Lorena Stone.

Whitney Mendez obtained a court order of protection and the prosecutor played a video tape (before she was murdered) from one of the hearings where Juan Mendez in typical abuser form made accusations against his wife before a judge in an attempt to shift the violence in the home to a story which amounted to nothing more than a pathetic excuse about his actions the day he came into the home and why he got upset with his wife.

What disturbed me about the trial is when I learned friends of Whitney did not come forward for almost a year saying "they were afraid Juan was going to hurt them" or their families. The trial appears to be weighing heavily on "hearsay evidence." Mostly from friends and co-workers whom are on the stand testifying to what Whitney disclosed about the abuse while she was alive. Allegedly, she told those close to her that she was in fear for her life and was not able to leave her abusive husband.

The couple have a young son whom was not harmed and in my opinion spared (because he was a boy) during the gruesome murders. If this was a random act of violence it is likely the child would have also been killed. As I watched Juan Mendez all decked out in a crisp white shirt, suit, and tie his body language told the story of many abusers in a court of law sitting pretty and smug hoping to get away with murder.

What I did not understand is why those close to Whitney Mendez remained silent for so long? Why they did not come forward immediately after learning the news that their friend and her mother were found murdered? Why didn't they go to authorities?

The power that an abuser has over a friend or family member often transfers onto others as in this case and the cycle of intimidation and, of second hand abuse repeats to others. As a receiver of information or a witness to a crime when a person does nothing, they empower the abuser whom ultimately wins.

I was not able to watch the entire trial today, because I didn't have time and frankly, what I viewed was enough to determine this case is clearly in the hands of the jurors. With the stage of the courtroom already set by a well dressed man accused of murder, holding his head high as though he wouldn't stomp a bug with the sole of his shoe and a beaming air of confidence along with a skilled defense team representing him. Unfortunately, the case does not appear to be going all that well for the a prosecutor.

When a prosecutor is unable to connect the facts of a case on behalf of crime victims a disconnect is likely to happen with the jurors. I hope for the lives of these women forever silenced, I am wrong.


TigressPen said...

Powerful! I so agree with your concerns on this trial.

Anonymous said...

Abusers bully their way through life if not stopped.

Look at Amy Leichtenberg, her ex-husband intimidated the judge and the police right into letting him kill his sons.

Yeah he wore a nice suit too.

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