The final jury focused in on the young accusing witness, clutching a stuffed basset hound doll, who told of wondering if the episode could somehow have been a dream.
~John Nova Lomax
Whoo, the Houston Press likes to lay it on thick. This paints a very sad picture…A tiny little girl, cuddling something so cute that it’s not just a stuffed animal, it’s not just a doll, but both at the same time, huddles on the witness stand. Looking soulfully up she wonders, no, wishes that somehow, maybe it all could have been a dream. He really should have ended this sentence with “the poor dear!”
The fact she says she’s not sure whether or not a grown man went eyebrows-deep into one of the most sensitive parts of her body is painted as a brief thought; something that came and went quickly, a passing fancy. It’s handled a little better in the article Ask Another Mexican:
The prosecution's case consists almost entirely of the girl's testimony, which includes the statement that she thinks the assault might have been a dream.
But we know how the Houston Press is. We know how they report. Let’s see what the Houston Chronicle had to say about it:
On the stand for nearly two hours, she said that after Coy's daughter had fallen asleep, he sat on their bed and touched her inappropriately.
During initial questioning by prosecutor Denise Oncken, the girl said she wasn't sure what had happened and thought it could have been a dream.
"Do you remember it clearly?" Oncken asked.
"No," the girl replied.
Under cross-examination by defense lawyer Chip Lewis, the girl again said she was not really sure what had happened because she might have been dreaming.
During follow-up questioning, Oncken asked the girl to define a dream. The child described it as something that happens while a person is sleeping and is not real.
"What Carlos did to you - is that something that really happened?" Oncken asked.
"Yes," the girl said.
"Were you dreaming about this?" Oncken asked her.
"No," the girl answered.
It wasn’t just something she said to the defense attorney because he was a big ol’ meanie and she was scared. Twice she said it might have been a dream; first to the prosecutor, someone that she probably looked at as a friend, and once to the defense. She also told him that she couldn’t clearly remember the event. After this Oncken pulls her up short and demands to know if she can tell the difference between a dream and reality, and was “what Carlos did to you” real. It’s almost like she’s reminding her…“Fix your shit or I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!”
See the word picture I painted there? The prosecutor as the Wicked Witch of the West. Bam.
If a child’s testimony can be changed in an interview room or on the therapy couch, can it be ‘adjusted’ in a courtroom, too? Maybe she mentioned that it had been a dream in the first interview and, frightened by the court room, was trying to dial the story back to what she said then; we’ll never know, of course. The audio malfunctioned. Mom was too upset. No one in the police station was able to hold a pen that day. There is no record.
Common sense suggests we not send a man to prison for a crime when the supposed victim isn’t even sure if it occurred. Let’s say you’re being tried for a carjacking; the person who accused you gets on the stand and says “Well, I might have been grabbed and thrown out of the car; but maybe I just forgot where I parked it.”
Unfortunately, from what I can see common sense has no place in the justice system. This weak testimony is not an unimportant point, but I don’t believe it’s the only point that should be made. It’s one piece of a shoddy, claptrap conviction jury-rigged together by government employees who were used to getting their way.