Ezinne eyed him again after she had made certain that the Judge was looking into her note. Circumstantial evidence indeed! What evidence was found on her that would cement his so called circumstantial evidence? Her heart did three flops at the thought of the prosecutor doctoring evidence just to win his case, he looked like someone who could go all the way just to make sure he won. She trailed her eyes until they settled on her lawyer, he looked calm so why wouldn’t she also calm down? Why did she have this sinking pit feeling in her stomach? Cold fear gripped her heart causing her blood to freeze. She could hear the rhythm, one in every 5 seconds. Thump! Thump! Thump! There was no amount of breathing in and out that could calm it down.
The Judge was writing her heads bowed as she followed the statement of the prosecution. Except for her thumping heart the rest of the court was silent so much that one could hear a pin if it hit the ground.
“My Lord, in response to the assertions of the prosecution.” The learned silk got on his feet when the Prosecution was done with his opening address.
“Learned silk, I believe you know you are not entitled to a reply in an opening address” the Judge interrupted him.
“The prosecution has made some serious assertions which I see there is grave need to respond otherwise the accused would be placed in a prejudiced and precarious position. So I want it on record that the defendant is not guilty by reason of the battered wife syndrome protection.”
The courtroom became noisy with murmurings and whispers. The Judge swallowed, looked up from what she had been writing. A quarter of a second passed before the Judge said any word.
“I am sorry Learned silk, can you elaborate please?”
“In the case of R v Ahluwalia (1992) 4 AER 889 where a wife murdered her violent and abusive husband the court of appeal in an outstanding conclusion ordered a retrial on the basis that the evidence of the battered wife syndrome showed an arguable case of diminished responsibility in English Law. This position was upheld in R v Charlton (2003) EWCA Crim 415.”
The court went silent for a few minutes; all eyes were focused on the Judge waiting for her to say something. She continued to write.
This doesn’t look any good, why would her lawyer talk about a battered wife killing her husband when she had been clear that she didn’t kill him? She was trying to meet his eyes but he made sure to keep his eyes contained between the Judge, the Court Registrar, Clerks and his file. Had he been paid to make sure she was convicted for this crime?
“Learned silk, let me understand you. You are asserting that the defendant’s action is one under section 226 and 227 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State and not under section 220 and 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos state under which she was charged.”
“Yes my Lord, I am relying on the cases already stated to disprove the position of the prosecution.”
Panic hit Ezinne. No, no Lord this was not the miracle she was looking for. A voice in her head asked her why she was keeping silent when she was about to be condemned for an offence she knew nothing about just because she had attempted it before.
“No, no, no. I didn’t kill him” she found her voice in the midst of the silence. The Judges’ warning glare did nothing to subdue her into silence. The world had to hear her voice; she was the only one who knew her position in all of these.
“Please if you don’t believe me, ask my daughter. She was there with me and will never tell lies about it.” Caution had long been thrown into the wind. Her own protest against her daughter being brought into this forgotten, what was the use of her caution if she was going to be killed for another person’s offence? If she was a martyr just maybe she would have maintained that stance but she was no martyr.
“Defendant, you have a lawyer, he is here to speak on your behalf.”
“But ma, I didn’t kill my husband and he is saying I did. We were not in the best of terms but I did not kill him.”