The days dragged by as I trudged my way through the court process. There was very little to do in the cell. I listened to the radio, read novels and worried about what would come next. I had plenty of time to go over every regret in life. My life consisted of waiting for the next court hearing to arrive until early 1996, when my trial date finally came. I was taken to the court house and the ever present reporters were there waiting. The week before, my public defender told me he had spoken to the district attorney and my trial would be postponed. There were some motions that had not been heard yet. Since I believed the trial would not begin, I had called my family and told them not to come.
Inside, I was the first person to go before the judge. The public defender asked for the postponement as planned, but the district attorney objected and asked that jury selection begin at once. The judge agreed. I was shell shocked. I would be going to trail that day, and knew I was about to get, not only the book, but the entire library thrown at me. My public defender tried to explain to the judge he had already arranged for a postponement with the prosecution and he was not prepared to go to trial. The D.A. denied he had agreed to anything. The judge called all the lawyers into his chambers, and a few minutes later, the public defender came back and told me what had happened.
According to him, he said he had been led to believe the district attorney was going to agree to a postponement. The D.A. denied it which led to the two of them trading punches in the judges chambers. After they were separated, the judge decided the trial would go forward. The judge also sent me a personal message. I was to plead guilty and agree to testify against Sarah in exchange for a thirty-five year sentence. If I refused, I would be found guilty and given the maximum sentence of ninety-nine years. Had I any legal knowledge and not been in a state of such, I may have realized this was highly unusual.
I balked. The enormity of the sentence scared me to my very core. I knew I could receive a life sentence in Mississippi, but that was still distant and seemingly far away. This was here and now and all too real. My lawyer kept pressing me to accept it, telling me I had no chance to win in a trial. He was right because my defense team was unprepared and not ready to go to trial. Finally, I caved in. The only thing appealing about the deal was the chance to testify against Sarah and pay her back for turning me in for the Mississippi murder.
Before I accepted, I asked if I could call my mother for advice. He left to get permission and returned a few moments later to lead me to a break room where a phone was. I called and my mother picked up the phone. I explained to her the situation and asked what I should do. She still wanted to believe there was some way they would just let me go even though she knew it was impossible. Despite everything, she still wanted to believe I was innocent. Finally, after many tears, she told me to take the deal. In truth, there was no other option. Later that day, I stood before the judge and pled guilty. Sentencing would take place after Sarah's trial. I would have to wait in the parish jail until then.