"A Tale of Two Prostitutes" Part 1

Actually, this a tale of 2 hookers, their pimp-slash-friend-slash-drug dealer-slash-girlfriend, the dead hooker's family, some questionably sloppy detective work and magical drug dealers. But that is a really long title.

WARNING: this post adult themes, and some adult language. 
And a gross, heart-breaking glimpse into the fresh hell that is the heroin epidemic currently in the Chicago suburbs. If any of that is a trigger for you, you'll want to skip this one. It's also more sad than funny, because it's the truth.

I wanted to give as many details as I could about the Trial of the Century, or Decade, or certainly Year, that I was a juror for last week. That is a link to the post on jury selection if you're curious.

It's taking longer to write about the trial than I anticipated. It took me the better part of week just to get all my thoughts down. There were a lot of different parts. I still need to edit out what is not significant, put things in order, and get rid of all the redundancies. 

I will probably do a 2-part post, otherwise it's too much information. I'm not trying to be cliff-hangery or try to get clicks, I don't look at traffic, stats or even have ads here. I just don't have much time to write. This is just a really good story, and I would love to tell it.

This was thee FIRST ever trial by jury for a drug-induced homicide in the history of my county. 

There was only ever one other such trial before, and it was a bench trial.

The judge explained that is why it took so long, and the jurors had to leave the courtroom so many times throughout the 4-day trial. There were parts we couldn't hear, and he also kept checking things to make sure we were proceeding properly. We were all glad he took it so seriously.

Jurors are given notebooks and pens to take notes throughout the trial, but they are NOT allowed to take these notes home. Even after the trial is over. They are left in the jury room, and we were told they would be destroyed. 

I tried to jot down some of my feelings and impressions in the evenings as best as I could, just for purposes of telling the story here, but I didn't have much time. I changed the names.

I had to drive my children to other towns to people who could watch them, then drive back to my town to the courthouse. I had to give myself enough time for traffic, to make it through the parking garage and security, to report to the Jury Commission Room. This is where we would start our days. 

We were to leave all phones, laptops, pretty much everything other than "handbags" in a locker in the JCR. Then we would line up and start the march up to the 4th floor jury room all before court began each morning.

You probably already know that during a trial, jurors can not do any research on the case or people involved with the case. Jurors can not discuss the case with family or anyone else, until after the trial is concluded. We could could not even discuss the case with each other until all the evidence was presented and deliberations began. We swore under oath. 

That may have been the most difficult part. Not discussing the case with each other.

Well, other than having the fate of another human being in our hands of course.

At first I felt it would be easy, and I foolishly thought perhaps it might even be cathartic to bring a drug dealer to justice after what I've been through in my life. Boy, was I stupid. I was so naive about justice way back when this whole thing started. Last week.

I can't speak for other cases or defendants in other trials, but right now I feel that if it's easy for you to hear about another human being, in this case a mother of 4 children, and then be responsible for putting that human in jail for years, you might be a monster. 

Or a lawyer.

We joke about lawyers, but their job is so much more difficult than I ever imagined. 

The injustice they see on a daily basis is devastating. 

Cases that can never even come to trial because of lack of evidence.

The botched and/or "lost" evidence, compromised data, destroyed, thrown out and most importantly never seen by juries for a myriad of reasons.

The 'bad guys' that get away. The ones that don't. The families left behind.

I don't know how they sleep at night. I imagine a prescription is involved. Or at least a liquor store.

Speaking of liquor, you would really be surprised at the number of people who SMELL LIKE BOOZE inside a county courthouse. Most of them try to cover it up, like the juror who sat to my right for the whole trial, with mouthwash, cologne, gum, hand sanitizer and for 2 days: Ben Gay. But you could smell the sweet, pungent alcohol smell under it all.

In this case, the defendant was not a typical drug dealer. She may have looked like an addict, from the moment I first saw her at jury selection, but she wasn't a cold-blooded criminal. Their pimp, on the other hand? That's a whole different story. The defendant was certainly involved in buying and selling serious drugs, but mostly she was a heroin addict trying to feed her demon. 

For over ten years according to her recorded confession, she struggled with her addiction. She sold drugs and she and the deceased victim both prostituted themselves, to support their habits. But she wasn't a murderer or any kind of cold-blooded killer.  

She was friends with the defendant.

The "victim" called her several times and asked her to bring drugs to her, she thought she was helping a friend. Well, as as her attorney worded it, as much as drug addicts can be friends.

She is an addict. To me, a person who needs help. She is a mother, a young woman, a person. A person who is already incarcerated and now stands to receive a sentence of an additional 6-30 years in prison.

Six to thirty years in prison.

For helping a friend.

Why? Because law were passed to deal with the current epidemic* of heroin use, abuse, addiction and death.
*That's not my being dramatic, this is taken from my daily suburban newspaper, the Daily Herald:
"With 72 heroin deaths in the past 20 months in this County alone, heroin has become a public health issue of epidemic proportions."

With our current system in place, it's very difficult to catch and punish the people responsible. It's very difficult to know who is responsible. How do these drugs get into our county? Who is bringing them here? Selling/distributing?

In the meantime, the problem grows, people and children suffer. We look to our law makers to do something.
Do something.
Do anything.
Fix it.
Help us.
Save our children.
Save our county.

In response, drug-induced homicide laws were changed in 2011. They are not an all-encompassing solution, but this was a measure taken to at least take control the portion of the problem that enters and takes place in our county.

When you're accepted as a juror you swear under oath that if the state's attorney(s) proves that the defendant broke the law as it is written, beyond a reasonable doubt, you must be able to sign a guilty verdict. I swore I could.

The judge told us to put our feelings aside as much as we can, review the evidence, read the exact wording of the law and if the state has proven the defendant is guilty, we must vote guilty. The burden of proof is on the state. If the state has not met it's burden and proven the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, we must vote Not Guilty.

Pretty cut and dry, right? But there is always more to the story.

I'll get to the story eventually, but here is the law in my own words.

The law states that any person found to deliver a controlled substance, in this case heroin, that caused or contributed the death of a person, is guilty of drug-induced homicide. The heroin need not be the sole or immediate cause of her death.

We did not need to consider intent, or anything else. To us, after hearing the details of the case, this is a very broad and unspecific law.

If you don't agree just picture yourself when you were younger, or a friend or family member. If you or they happened to be a person who delivered a controlled substance to a friend as a favor or some such situation, even BY REQUEST of the recipient, and those drugs happened to contribute to that person's death, you or they could be guilty of drug-induced homicide. The penalty is 6-30 years in prison. 

It's probably true that these drugs are not the drugs of our youth, but they are all too common today. It wouldn't matter if you weren't a drug dealer, or didn't mean any harm to that person. The law says nothing of intent or circumstances beyond delivery and death. Harsh. That is the law.

The jurors all agreed that the law is harsh. We didn't necessarily agree with the law as written, but it wasn't our job to agree or disagree with the law.

The case, the law and the evidence were very black and white to me. It wasn't easy to find to sign a guilty verdict, but after hours of deliberation we did.

Here is how I explain the case to a casual acquaintance when they ask:

Hooker A gives Hooker B heroin and crack. Hooker B dies. Under the letter of the law, Hooker A is guilty of drug-induced homicide. And one count of delivering a controlled substance.

Why did it take us four days of court, and four hours of deliberation to find a verdict? Because there is always more to the story.

In a couple days, I will start with the story. I don't mean to be all network television about it. I just have to get the details in some sort of order that makes sense. Many witnesses testified to the same thing, some details aren't necessary to the story, etc.


  1. This was actually a really cool read, and I'm glad you posted it. The two of us have a childhood friend who recently went through heroin addiction (If you read our Graveyard Shift book, he's actually the main character of the story 'They Call Me Mr. Lucky, which we wrote as a way to grieve his downfall). Last year he was caught for shoplifting (as a way to pay for heroin) and used that scare as a way to turn his life around. As of last week he's 1 year sober, has a good job, and seems like he's genuinely interested in living a better life. Back when he was using, he was sharing it/selling it/using it with all of his friends, so I can't even imagine what his life would be like now if he had actually been caught for heroin use instead of shoplifting and given something like 6-30 years in prison just because he was passing it around.

    Not that every drug in the country should be legal, but I too think that some drug charges can be extremely harsh. I had a cousin who was convicted of smoking marijuana in the 90s; she had a full ounce on her and they pinned her with intent to distribute even though it was just for her and her friends to share. She got 7 years in prison. Never mind that marijuana is no longer even illegal in Colorado, but 7 years in prison for a mother of two sharing pot with her friends? She missed most of her boys' childhoods because of that. Even as a kid I thought that seemed too harsh a punishment.

  2. This is just the TIP of the iceberg, there is SO MUCH MORE to the story.
    I didn't realize you based that character on someone. I'll have to read it AGAIN. So great that he had a wake-up call that worked. The victim was just coming out of jail for prostitution, for supporting her habit, when she OD'd and then this whole trial came of that. At least the defendant is still alive. That pot story is absolutely insane!

  3. I agree. This was a great read, and I can't wait to read the rest of it! That must have been insanely stressful experience!

    1. Thanks, Jen. There is SO MUCH more. I just have to decide what is not important, otherwise it's a mini novel. And that's not even counting how much I can ramble! It was harder than I thought. I told the story to my mom today, a week later and I cried like a little girl bitch.

  4. And that's why many people argue that addiction should be handled via a medical model, not by a legal model. I agree with that to a certain point, so long as the crimes involved are property-based. Once the crimes move to death, serious assault, murder etc., I don't see how the criminal justice system can NOT be involved. Justice for the victim kind of demands it, I think.

    1. On some levels it is, rehab-wise. They are given methadone for their withdrawal symptoms, even in prison I think. But then when they get out, the methadone is cut off. They're not given many choices in terms of follow-up or counseling, and crack and heroin are cheap on the streets.
      I agree about the homicide or any death, point of view. The next person could be very young. We have to do SOMETHING.

  5. I have knots in my stomach over this. I don't know how you managed. I would be a terrible juror.

    1. I'm sorry. It was tougher than I thought, especially not talking to the other jurors or anyone about it. AND not doing any research! The night the trial was over, I searched like hell and was immediately glad that I waited. I found an article of the original arrest, the comments were horrible of course, but there were a couple of comments from FRIENDS of the defendant, those killed me. One lady said she knew her from the time they were kids, and she would never hurt a fly. It doesn't change the facts of the case, but I immediately felt a pang in my stomach. She's guilty by the letter of the law, but she's also a person.

  6. I would have died. I have only been on juries where there was like $5 stolen. Big whoop.


    I can only imagine how hard mentally and emotionally something like that is. Probably can't let it go for a while.

    And it's pretty funky how the system works, huh?

    My husband has been with the sheriff's department for well over 23 years. I quiz him every day about anything. I'm constantly saying, "Well, THAT'S not right..." and "Who came up with THAT asinine rule?"

    He sees things I'll never see...(thank you for that, Jesus) and another part is how the media only shows about a smidgen of the truth. It's pretty interesting.

    Man...I would have been bouncing off the walls. How friggin' interesting!!!

    1. I don't know how officers, or even lawyers, see these things every day and don't lose their ever-lovin minds. It was hard to shake off.

  7. In a way, it's probably better that you have to decide based on the letter of the law; if we think about it and feel for any of the defendants, that would make it so much harder!! But boy! What a tough, complicated situation!!

    1. YES, you're exactly right! That is why the defense attorneys try so hard to humanize them, tell you all about them and their family/children, etc., to build sympathy. It works! I'll post my next part shortly, and I say consistently throughout that I had to FORCE myself not to think about how I would feel in that position, or if it were my family, etc. It's harder than I ever thought it would be.

  8. This makes my heart sad. I hate addiction. I look forward to the next part of the story though.

    1. I know, it's awful. The SAME kind of thing happened with Courtney Love and the bassist for Hole. She was apparently leaving Seattle and the drug scene, and Courtney eventually admitted to giving her heroin, which turned out to be almost pure heroin. Her body couldn't take it because she was clean, she overdosed and died. ALL OF HER THINGS were packed in a U-Haul outside her apartment. By this law, Courtney Love is guilty of drug-induced homicide. There are a million rumored reasons why she was never brought to justice for this, what people are calling "murder." I'm working on the rest of the story, but there is just SO MUCH INFO.

  9. damn! pretty amazing post.

    My admiration for your strength, as this story unfolds. (as someone wiser or more messed-up-than-me once said, "Laws are about society, not people").
    I did jury duty once (and fortunately it was a civil and not criminal case), but I served on a Grand Jury and had a terrible time. Talk about 'the magic of mobs'… 20 or so people deciding if a case was worthy of prosecuting… unfortunately (for me) I was identifying with the accused (of hitting someone with their car while on the phone)… and I actually brought up the idea, 'hey who hasn't done this'… trouble was, intent was very important and the majority were all righteously outraged that someone could both a) hit someone accidentally and 2) talk on the phone while driving…. so they all voted for (deliberately) negligent driving. no one was killed and the matter did not invoke horrifyingly punitive punishments….

    again, my admiration for your strength

    1. Thanks, Clark. I agree with your quote. I often think of Dr. Spock's quote "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." In a non-perfect world, there at least has to be consequences for breaking rules, or we have anarchy.
      That case sounds really tough, and yes, who among us indeed has not had a phone conversation that should have happened later, or should have at least pulled the car over. I'm so glad my current vehicle has a hands-free option for phone calls. I cannot imagine having to deal with that mob mentality!

  10. Wow. These laws are just so out of whack. I can't imagine having been in your position. I've never served jury duty. Scary stuff. Looking forward to reading the next part.

    1. This really is harsh. I don't have a better plan, but I do find it harsh. I am having the hardest time getting the next part down to a digestible chunk, as opposed to the mini novella it has become. It IS a really good story to me, though. Thanks for reading.

  11. I don't know how you even did it! I totally get that it is going to take time to get it all down on paper and making sense. I couldn't do it. I would lie to get out of jury duty. No joke. I have only been called once, and luckily didn't even have to report (I was called off the morning of before ever even leaving home), but my step-mom served on a murder trial and was completely traumatized. As in, can't even TALK ABOUT IT. Still. And that was several YEARS ago. So....as much as I can't wait to read the next installment of this post, take ALL the time you need. And I really enjoyed reading all this "background" info! Very enlightening. And well written (as always!) <3
    Thanks for linking up on #BlogDiggity today!

    1. I know a LOT of people who try to get out of it, work or otherwise. I figured THAT was the perfect time in my life to do it. Other than securing daycare for my children, I was on summer break from my usual kids I watch. I figured SOMEONE has to do it, and it was interesting to me. This CASE? I didn't expect all of this.
      I can see how your mother would be upset, murder would be worse than this. It helped me to talk about it. I feel bad for the defendant, but we did our civic duty. Someone has to. Trial by jury is a lot more fair than the alternative.

  12. This is all terribly heartbreaking, and I imagine this experience will sit with you for a very long time. Thank you for sharing the story. I can't wait to read the rest of it.

    1. It was tough. There are a few parts that I can not only still HEAR, I still feel all the feels. I posted one of the things just today in the next installment: The pimp's testimony. It's live on the blog now.
      Another is coming in the next post. Hopefully there will only be 1 more. I need to edit it down more.

  13. I am so late to this story, but I am enthralled. I just finished the first part and am jumping right over to part 2. Dang Grrl, this sounds like it was really tough case to listen to.

    1. It really was. I was so interested and fascinated at first, and so saddened and blown away. I haven't done a great job of promoting this story, too busy trying to get it WRITTEN before I forget, along w/everything else I have to do in my life.

  14. Ho. Lee. Shit.

    I didn't know about that law (or about the Courtney Love thing). This is all so complex and tragic and awful. Oh, and incredibly interesting. I guess that's why people are obsessed with shows like Law and Order, right?

    1. That sounds like the perfect 3-word summation of the main characters:
      Ho. Lee. Shit.
      I KNOW!
      I think that IS why we love Law & Order, you hear so much than just the headlines. The whole story is the part we can relate to a little more, the HUMAN part of the story. It's mind-blowing.

  15. It reads even better here....looks like it went over big! Nice!!!

    1. Thanks for reading Zoe. This was difficult for me to write. And edit down from the original novella I had going!

  16. Woah, this is so- ...I don't even know what to say. Thanks for writing this, I guess, it's really interesting and it must be hard to write about. I'll check out the longer post too. Oh and I also didn't know about the Courtney Love thing! I'll be researching that later.