Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No Regrets

No Regrets
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
It was a simple question. “Do you have any regrets?” I stared into the eyes of my defense attorney as she asked me the question. The twelve jurors were sitting there in the juror box, waiting for me to answer. My answer might make the difference between being found guilty or innocent…or maybe just not guilty, which is different than innocent. Innocent meant you didn’t do it. Not guilty could mean you did it, but they believe you had good reasons.

Since I had committed the crime, not guilty was the best I could hope for. I didn’t try to deny that I had done it. I was found standing over Carter with the gun and gunshot residue on my hand.
So did I regret killing him? That was the question. If I said yes, maybe the judge would have leniency on me, if the jury came back with a guilty verdict. If I said no, maybe the jury would find me guilty, thinking I was a heartless monster that had taken a man’s life.

Did it matter why; I had taken it, why I had decided to kill? It did to me…and to my son. If I went away, he would be without a mother. But he would know I had done what I did for him. That monster…Carter, he had hurt my son. Done things to him…he would never be an innocent child again. He woke up screaming most nights, thinking Carter was there in the room with him. After I would calm him down, he’d lay awake for hours while I held him…rocking him gently and singing to him the way I had when he was a baby.

He still was a baby. Only eight years old. Carter was his teacher and a friend. He trusted him. I trusted him. If I had known about his conviction in the last state he had lived in, I never would have allowed him near Steven. If the school had done a proper background check…but they hadn’t. And they allowed him near Steven.

“Do you have any regrets,” my attorney asked again. Her voice was gentle; she knew how difficult this whole trial had been for me. I looked at the jury, so similar to the jury that had been there for Carter’s trial. The same jury that had come back with a not guilty verdict for Carter.
Carter’s attorney had made Steven seem like a liar. They brought up past disciplinary actions. He’d been troubled after my divorce and had acted out. But that didn’t make him a liar. It made him a child who had been confused.

Sure, Carter wasn’t at the school anymore, but he would drive by our house every day. I tried to get a restraining order but was told that unless he did something to threaten me or my son, there was nothing I could do.

“Ma’am,” the district attorney had said, “I know you are frustrated but he is a free man. He’s allowed to drive down any street he wants to. Unless he does anything to threaten Steven…”

“He waved to him just today! You don’t think that’s threatening? Steven is scared to death to go out into the yard!”

“It is just a wave. We can’t stop him from waving.”

I had wanted to punch the district attorney in his placating face. “Maybe you can’t,” I said, walking out his door, “but I can.”

The District Attorney was sympathetic with me when I was arrested. He offered me a deal, fifteen years. Fifteen years for getting rid of the scum he couldn’t take care of.

“That is better than what you will get if a jury finds you guilty,” he said.

“IF a jury finds her guilty,” my attorney had said. Under her advice I turned down the deal. I wondered now if I had made the right decision. It didn’t matter though. Even with fifteen years I wouldn’t see my son again until he was an adult. Of course I would be able to see him again. If I went away for life, which is what the D.A. was asking for, I would only ever see him from behind bars.

It was ironic though. My lawyer was able to get evidence admitted that proved what Carter had done to Steven, evidence the district attorney had tried to have admitted at his trial and Carter’s lawyers had managed to suppress. Now the D.A. had tried to suppress the evidence. My lawyer argued that it went to my state of mind and the judge agreed. So the jury knew…they KNEW that Carter had raped Steven. They KNEW Steven wasn’t a liar. And to me, that was all that mattered, even if they did find me guilty of murder.

I looked at my lawyer as she patiently waited for my answer. Someone in the jury made a scraping sound with a shoe as he shifted in his seat. In the gallery, a woman cleared her throat. I heard the judge instruct me to answer.

“No. I have no regrets.”
Copyright© 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar.  All rights reserved.


  1. I wouldn't have any regrets either, except maybe that you can only kill someone once.

    Good story. Very thought provoking.


  2. Some people do deserve to die more than once.

    This is a great story!