According to SPM’s letter, immediately after finding out that Jane Doe had, in fact, seen the movie that she clearly said she had, Judge Ellis said “So, that’s a problem.”
Here’s the whole exchange:
Jane Doe: This isn’t the one I seen at my house.
Judge: That’s not the one you saw at your house? Have you ever seen this?
Jane Doe: Yes.
Judge: Did you see the whole thing?
Jane Doe: Yes.
Judge: So, that’s a problem. Okay.
Now I see two possible explanations for this, so I’m going to try to break it down to look at it more closely.
There’s two meanings that seem reasonable to me;
1) it’s a problem that she’s seen the movie. Now this could be because:
a. It’s a problem for the prosecution’s case. Maybe he believed them, or maybe he was just backing them up. I think that, if this is why he spoke, it suggests that anything that might exonerate Coy was a ‘problem’.
b. It’s a problem because he just finished reversing his previous statement that Jane Doe’s answer was perfectly clear the first time, that it was common sense. Now it looks bad that he did that.
2) It’s a problem that the judge just asked the question, point-blank, and received a blatant answer.
Why would that be a problem? Well, there’s no wiggle-room left. The first time she said “I saw it’, it wasn’t in court; the only record of it was the prosecutor’s statement that it had happened, and it was easily dismissed by ‘talking to mom’.
Before she was made to sit down and watch the movie, the judge goaded Chip Lewis:
Judge: Why are you afraid to ask her the question?
Chip: I’m not, Judge. This is a waste of time. I’m getting the runaround after the Court gave a perfect directive and Ms. Andrews followed it and I trust her, just like I trust you.
Judge: Well, I had no reason to believe she may have only seen a portion of the movie until this morning.
Chip: Yes, you did. You made the statement yesterday when Ms. Oncken made the objection about we don’t know what part she’s seen or not seen. And you said the Court - - and we could go back in the record - - I trust - -
Judge: So, I can’t change my mind is that what you’re telling me?
I can only assume that Chip didn’t want to ask her because he suspected she’d either been told to lie or misled into believing she hadn’t seen it.
Now, she knew exactly which movie they’re talking about. When the judge asked his question it seems like he accidentally limited their options. How were they going to ‘fix’ such a blatant, obvious answer? Despite the prosecutor’s insinuation that she couldn’t remember titles, she obviously remembered the movie, and immediately knew that she had not, in fact, watched it at her house with her mother, father, and cousin.
The mother ‘misremembered’ how and where she saw the movie; Jane Doe remembers perfectly, and Mom’s later testimony backs that up. Whether it was done intentionally or not, it appears that Jane Doe’s memory of the event was steamrollered by someone. “No, no, this is what really happened”.
Eventually the second story is presented to the jury, but not the story of how it got there. They didn’t get to see how it was turned around in a period of a few days, and were prevented from seeing how easily testimony could be crafted, tweaked, and changed.