Ethan, Chris, Troy and Alicia, having already seen the video, were as prepared as anyone could be. Nobody else was. The judge opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. The members of the jury all sat there stunned. Ethan was totally hysterical. His siblings and his best friend surrounded him and held him close.
The judge noticed that they left the spectator seating area and were sitting around the plaintiff table trying to console the inconsolable. “I’ve seen enough.” He looked towards the jury box and everyone nodded, indicating that they had seen enough. The video was turned off. In an unprecedented show of compassion, the judge left the bench and approached Ethan, touching him gently on the shoulder.
“Mr. Evans, I’m very sorry for what you went through.” He returned to the bench.
Mr. Cruz stood. “Your Honor, as much as it pains me to say this, you and the jury need to see the video in its entirety. There is crucial evidence to be seen at the end of the video. I suggest the Mr. Evans and his family be excused from the courtroom until the video is over. It’s very traumatic to Mr. Evans and his family, and since they’ve already seen it from beginning to end, I do not feel it necessary for them to be put through viewing it again.”
“I agree. Ms. Evans, please take your family out to get something to settle your brother down. Upon the completion of the video, this trial will be adjourned. Mr. Cruz will notify you when the trial will resume. Mr. Winston,” he addressed the defense attorney, “you and Mr. Sims will remain. Mr. Cruz, please resume the video.
Chris got up from the letter he was writing and answered the door. He returned with Mr. Cruz in tow. “Ethan, can you come down, please? Mr. Cruz is here.” He yelled up the stairs. Ethan slowly came down the stairs. The haunted look in his eyes was still there since the trial, but there was something else. There were dark circles under his eyes that had been covered up with makeup for the trial. Mr. Cruz could only stand there and stare.
“Please sit down. Can I get you anything?”
“No thanks. I’m good. I just dropped by to let you know that the trial will resume tomorrow morning at 9am. My god, Ethan; I didn’t know it was that bad. Why did you cover this up?”
“He hasn’t slept much since he came home from the hospital.” Chris glanced over at his brother. He lowered his voice, which wasn’t really necessary as Ethan was off in another world. “The jury needs to see this.”
“I doubt they will,” Chris said in an equally quiet voice, “Ethan doesn’t care anymore. In fact, he doesn’t seem to care about anything. He doesn’t eat, he doesn’t sleep. To be honest, I’m worried about him.”
“He had thought that it was all just a nightmare. To find out that it actually happened had to do a real number on him.”
“You don’t think─”
“I don’t know.” Chris whispered.
“All rise. This court is now in session.”
“Be seated.” The judge glanced at Ethan. The dark circles under Ethan’s eyes did not go unnoticed. He then turned a cold eye on Patrick. “I am deeply concerned with what this court has witnessed. I cannot understand how someone could perpetrate such a heinous act against another human being. That being said, Mr. Winston, you may continue.”
“Thank you, Your Honor. The defense wishes to cross-examine Mr. Ethan Evans.”
“Mr. Evans, I remind you that you are still under oath.”
“Yes, Your Honor.” Ethan mumbled.
“Mr. Evans, I understand that you and Mr. Sims were in a long-term same-sex relationship.”
“Yes, for two years.”
“What happened to end the relationship?”
“He infected me with HIV.”
“In the video we saw, you were having sex with 11 men. I submit that any one of those men could have infected you.”
“Objection! The video clearly shows that all of the men with the exception of Mr. Sims wore condoms.”
“Mr. Evans, with our current level of technology, it is very easy to create such a video. Did you in fact create the video to cover up the fact that you were cheating on your boyfriend?”
“No. I wouldn’t do such a thing. What happened in the video really happened.” That should put sufficient doubt in the jury’s mind. He told himself smugly. “No further questions.”
“Your Honor, permission to redirect.”
“You may proceed.”
“Mr. Evans, I hate to cause you any more pain than you’ve experienced so far, but I must ask, how did you come to be at the defendant’s apartment?”
Ethan’s response was slow in coming and came in a voice completely devoid of any emotion. “It was a celebration of our second anniversary.”
“Who, with the exception of yourself and Mr. Sims, were the men in the video?”
“Friends of Patrick’s.”
“And did you know these men?”
“No. I was introduced to them as they came in.”
“So you didn’t know any of them?”
“Objection, Your Honor! The witness has already told us that he didn’t know the men.”
“Sustained. Please continue, Counselor.”
“Mr. Evans, did you, in fact, offer yourself up for sex with Mr. Sims’ friends as an anniversary present?”
“No. I am a monogamous person. I do not cheat.” Ethan replied in a voice devoid of any kind of emotion or reaction.
Mr. Winston got right up in Ethan’s face. “You’re lying. We have video evidence that you are nothing more than a cheating slut and you made all this up.” He yelled. The entire courtroom was in an uproar. The judge banged his gavel several times and it took approximately 10 minutes before order was restored.
“The witness is excused. The jury is hereby remanded to the jury room for deliberation. Ms. Evans, please approach the bench.”
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