1,341 miles … One down, one to go

1,341 miles… yes that is what Goggle Maps says the distance between here and a smidge of justice is. Well … I am still thinking if that is accurate.

Wednesday, Sept. 26th there were 12 of us who came together in the Shawnee, Oklahoma courtroom #1, oh wait… 16 if you count the D.A., the Victims’ Advocate, the kidnapping sister/wife and a lawyer standing in for her’s…. Yes, uncounted are the judge, a stenographer, many other criminals, a passel of lawyers, a gallery full of civilians, a handful of bailiffs and a couple of other badge sporting folks. It was, after all, a normal day of arrangements, etc.; it was a full docket and we were waiting for number 26 on the list.

We entered the gallery and took over an entire pew, 5 rows back. Across the isle, two rows up, sat my (would-never-be) daughter-in-law’s mother and aunt, behind them a sister and a friend. We waited. Then my oldest daughter and her friend came in and sat two pews in front of me. It did not take but minutes for my daughter-in-law to see the kidnapping sister/wife. She sat in the first pew… only five rows up, by herself. It was erry that our girl could recognize her previous capture from behind. Just by seeing the back of someone’s head.

Not ever having met this sister/wife my skin began to crawl, even at seeing only the back of her head and shoulders. I was glad to be sitting shoulder to shoulder with my daughter-in-law, I could see it eased her uncomfortableness… even if it was a struggle, she, managed to keep calm and semi-secure. Ironically, our five foot three inch, not even 100 pounds girl was helping me keep my cool. She’s a great example.

My oldest daughter saw there was an empty spot open up on first the bench beside the sister/wife. My daughter got up and sat beside the female she once babysat for.

“So … you ready to go to prison? Yah scared?” the 11 of us watched my angry daughter closely. We were ready to pounce on her if her anger got the best of her. We needed to help her avoid going to jail, but we let her speak her peace.

Sure of my daughter’s hatred for this incestuous waste of flesh as she often loudly expressed it, her friend moved to the pew right behind the kidnapping sister/wife and my daughter.  My daughter was now within arms reach. I guess the friend did not know how fast this momma can move… even if it is in heals on a slick courtroom floor. We all knew my daughter needed to be able to speak her mind. It’s all part of the process.  Plus, I figure she would say some things I was feeling.

“Yah, I’m not scared,” the sister/wife said.

Sitting elbow to elbow with my son’s sister would make anyone nervous. Her anger oozed out of her pores. The sister/wife was lying and my daughter knew it. So, my daughter pushed on.

“Yah think they will add on the money you still owe me for babysitting those [inbreed] kids of yours on to your restitution?”

“No,” the sister/wife looked at my daughter and laughed, it was an uncomfortable laugh, especially since she now looked my daughter in the eyes.

It was then that my daughter-in-law’s mom moved over and sat in the empty spot behind her daughter’s capture.

There were comments between my daughter and this mom about broom handles and the like… the sister/wife could stand it no more. She hastily got up left the gallery walking behind the railing. She sat in the jury box with her lawyer.

The opportunity was cathartic for both my daughter and my daughter-in-law’s mom. It was their first time to let the capture feel their anger, anger that had been building for just over 2 years. The sister/wife may only being charged with the kidnapping, but my daughter’s actions allowed the sister/wife to start knowing we all think she is more involved and owed this family more than she was getting. And if she wasn’t sure she would become more aware of it shortly.

From the jury box the sister/wife could not only see her previous captive, but me… and as genetics are strong… there was going to be little room for doubt that I am the mother … of her previous babysitter and of my son, the other victim.

Okay, so when the Under Sheriff came through the courtroom and greeted me with a smile and a big bear hug, while he looked over to the jury box, I know she knew, at that moment, for certain who I was. I.E. I would not longer be the mystery lady sitting beside her pervious captive, but my son’s mom, which to her I pray is just as important. To solidify her knowledge I called my two daughters over, whom the sister/wife would recognize. I introduced them to the Under Sheriff. Knowing full and well there were eyes on us from the jury box. Now that incestuous b-ouch would know who was looking her square in the eyes every chance I got.  And I looked her square in the eye frequently over the next hour or so, never looking away. Always waiting until she could take it no longer.

“Michelle Gouker,” the Judge called. She, the lawyer and the D.A. stepped forward.

“You are here, charged with kidnapping.” It was a statement not a question. “You are hereby sentenced to 20 years in a plea agreement.”

My desire was to clap, but as my daughter-in-law had told me an hour before, we could not do that. “It would look bad on the victim” she had said. And that is something I would not ever do. Instead we all sat, speechless. We were doing our best to hear very syllable, every breath.

“Oh, your honor, I would like to ask to have Miss Gouker placed in protective custody,” the stand-in suit said after a slight nudge from the defendant.

The judge looked up, a small scoff in his voice, a bit of disbelief in his eyes, “protective custody…?” another half-laugh could not be avoided when the judge looked down from the bench at yet another criminal who knowingly broke the law, and now wanted it to protect them. “I can’t tell the prison what to do, but I will put it in the record that you have requested it.” The distain was dripping from the Judge’s words. The chuckles where under our breaths, especially when he dismissed her, but not before saying, “good luck with that,” in a tone that straddled the border of sarcasm.

“Not scared my backside,” I said, I was not the only one thinking this … I bet there were 10 others who said it at that very moment too. Okay, most likely 12 as I know my son was looking down on us all as the sister/wife of his killer was taken away to begin her 20 years.

1,341 miles… yes that is what Goggle Maps says the distance between here and a smidge of justice is. Well … I am still thinking if that is accurate or if justice is still father away.


2 thoughts on “1,341 miles … One down, one to go

  1. What a powerful article. I feel like I was sitting in that courtroom with you, although I don’t know that I could have controlled myself as well as you did. However, as you said, “it would look bad on the victim” to do otherwise, which only emphasizes your devotion.

  2. Jennifer — Thank you. I guess you might like the book that is in the works about this too then. As the head of the family I had to set the tone for children and adults alike. There are so many looking at me to see how I am going to react, fall apart, or keep it together. The DA was counting on me keeping the family corralled and controlled. I couldn’t let anyone, including my dead son down. And I did not want to bring any undue scoffing looks on my daughter-in-law, after all, some still were blaming her for her own kidnapping and rape. And yes… a devoted mom … that does describe me. Thanks for the compliment.

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