As an Assistant States Attorney, I handled a lot of murder cases. The files always included in depth police reports, crime scene and morgue photos and a litany of witnesses and grand jury or preliminary hearing testimony. It was one thing to handle a double homicide at a local bar. Or a home invasion murder. But the files that were hard to take were those where the victims were children. I could only read the files for short periods. Often eyes misty. And then I had to turn to something else.
In one particularly horrific case, a 6 year old girl was forced to stand on all fours. While a boyfriend of the mother would beat her. He’d use the buckle end of the belt. And if she cried or whimpered, an avalanche of trauma rained down on the little girl. He would stand over her. Waiting for her to flinch. After months of torture, trauma, beatings and horror, the little girl – her name was “April” – finally succumbed after a punch that split her sternum. And the boyfriend – Felix F. – was charged with her murder.
The coroner – always a staple in a murder case – took the stand and testified that the little girl’s hypothalamus had literally disappeared given the daily beatings and chronic fear that she endured. The good doctor testified – I remember well – that there was not one square inch of her body that had not been brutally traumatized “save for the soles of her feet.” He was convicted and sentenced to a long term.
I know. This is hard to read. But – what do you do with such people?