SNEAK PEEK: THE GUILTY VERDICT
The courtroom was packed. The onlookers could not help but stare at Marquis Trapp, the man who was accused of raping and murdering a twenty-year-old college student. The anticipation was building as the jury used up every second they had on deliberations. The irony in his name because he was one of the biggest drug dealers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Every property he acquired was turned into a trap house, which everyone in the hood nicknamed “Trapp Houses.” There was even a block that was known as “Trapp Street,” flooded with his product. Packs of junkies worked their way up and down this street day and night. A one-stop-shop for any type of drug. The police could not do much to stop the transactions because the lookout boys would spot them before they could even get close to the block.
Even though his main occupation was selling drugs, he was on trial for two violent felonies that were not drug-related. Those charges could possibly land him twenty-five years to life in prison. Dressed in a fine, tailored three-piece suit, Marquis looked back and winked at his family. They were all on edge, awaiting the outcome of the trial. He then looked over at the victim’s family, who were in tears. He gave each member of the victim’s family a menacing stare, showing no sympathy.
“You’re the devil!” Someone yelled out.
Being tapped on the shoulder by his defense attorney, Eugene Berdichevsky, forced Marquis to turn back around. In the city, Eugene was one of the best. He was known for beating some of the biggest cases for some of Philly’s top movers and shakers. His large, six-foot-five frame was very authoritative as he towered over the jury when making his closing arguments.
Tapping his pen on the table repeatedly; the curiosity of not knowing the verdict was surely getting to Eugene. At the front of the courtroom was a large portrait of Kayla Young, Marquis’ latest victim. Showing no remorse whatsoever, Marquis slowly stroked his thick goatee and admired Kayla’s beauty. He could not risk going to jail. Not with a million-dollar drug organization to run. He knew this and used every penny he had to get in the pockets of the judge, jury, and potential witnesses. Those who did not accept his generosity did not live to tell their side of the story. A story that no one really heard, due to Marquis being advised to exercise his 5th Amendment Right in court. Eugene never allowed his clients to testify because nine times out of ten, they would incriminate themselves or in Marquis’ case, come off as an arrogant and heartless monster. Eugene glanced over at the man that sat next to him, knowing that his client indeed put a bullet in a young girl’s head simply because she rejected his advances. He then glanced past his client and spotted the parents of Kayla Young. He could not imagine the pain they felt of having to bury their baby girl during her senior year of college. Life had not even begun for the young psychology major. Although Eugene never asked Marquis what truly happened on the night in question, his intuition told him that Marquis was more than capable of carrying out the horrendous attack. If it were not for the six-figure payout and all the media buzz around the case, Marquis would definitely not have been a client Eugene would have represented. Deep down inside, there was consciousness inside Eugene and he truly felt bad for the Young family.
A devilish grin was plastered across Marquis’ face as he stared at the judge, who was avoiding all eye contact. Knowing Eugene’s firm was a key contributor to the judge’s campaign; Marquis figured that the extra contribution they made that morning would pay off. Guilt was all over the judge’s face and it was obvious as he stared at his gavel during the deliberation.
“Sir, you have to put your phone away!” One of the sheriffs in the courtroom yelled at a man sitting in the crowd, directly behind Marquis. Due to the packed court room, the court bailiff requested that Philadelphia Sheriffs be present in the courtroom.
“You hype as shit,” Antwan replied as he slid his iPhone back into his pocket. Antwan was Marquis’ cousin, but he was more like his brother. Antwan grew up with Marquis after his parents were killed when he was five years old. Products of their environment, Antwan’s father was a low-level drug dealer and his mother worked at a pharmacy. Once the streets found out how much money Antwan’s parents were making off pills and marijuana, the couple immediately became targets. It didn’t take long for the Delancey Street Gang to murder them while they were stopped at a traffic light. Their bloody bodies were left rotting in the intersection of 52nd and Pine Streets. Their Mercedes Benz sedan was filled with holes. Young Antwan had witnessed the horrific tragedy from the back seat. The bullets that tore through the side of the car barely missed the young boy. It was not until the police and paramedics arrived on the scene that anyone noticed that Antwan was even in the vehicle. He was lucky to be alive, but the catastrophe left him scarred for life. Antwan became one of the most ruthless young men that walked the streets of Philly. It was as if everything innocent inside of him was ripped out and only anger and pain remained.
Antwan sat in court wearing a black NWA t-shirt, slim jeans, and tan Timberland boots. Tattoos covered his body, a few were even on his face; including three tear drops which didn’t even represent half of the lives he had taken. At the tender age of 22, he was a force to be reckoned with in the city. His thuggish appearance was very intimidating, causing the sheriffs in the courtroom to keep their eyes locked on him.
“Yo, what’s taking’ so fuckin’ long for that jury to tell us what the fuck we want to hear?” Antwan blurted out. More supporters of Marquis chimed in on the question as well, hooting and hollering. This made the Young family upset and both sides began going back and forth. The courtroom was ready to explode.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
“Order in the court!” The judge pointed his gavel at Antwan. “Young man, another outburst like that in my courtroom and I will hold you in contempt. That goes for everyone in here. You all need to show some type of decency in here, you are not out on the streets.”
Although the courtroom suddenly became quiet, Antwan chuckled at the judge’s threat. He knew that his cousin had the judge in the palm of his hand and there was nothing the judge could do to anyone in their crew.
The judge focused his attention on the jury, who had slowly re-entered the courtroom. “Has the jury reached a verdict?”
“Yes, your honor, we have,” the head juror replied as she stood to her feet. She unfolded a small sheet of paper. “When it comes to the charge of murder in the first degree, we the jury find the defendant not guilty. When it comes to the charge of first-degree rape, we the jury find the defendant not guilty. Finally, when it comes to the charge of aggravated assault, we the jury find the defendant not guilty.”
The courtroom erupted in a combination of joy and disappointment. Both sides were once again going back and forth, only this time things became physical. Punches were thrown and people were shoved to the ground. The sheriffs had to step in, beginning to push everyone out of the courtroom and directly into the hallway where media personnel were posted and awaiting the verdict. Photographers began snapping pictures of the entire fiasco and news anchors hurried to go live to get the first look at the well-publicized case. Eugene somehow dipped through the crowd and made it into the hallway. He didn’t even stick around to speak with Marquis, because it wasn’t a victory that he was proud of. It was just one to pay the bills. Nonetheless, it was a great victory for him and one that would gain him notoriety.
“Mr. Berdichevsky, Mr. Berdichevsky, do you have anything to say?” One of the reporters asked, as the others being flocking towards him.
Eugene contemplated walking directly to the elevators but knew this was his time to shine. “First and foremost, I would like to extend my condolences to the Young family. They lost an important member of their family and as far as I’m concerned, her killer is still on the loose. That animal must be brought to justice and face fate. I hope the Philadelphia Police Department and District Attorney’s Office are done with this wild goose chase of my client. Kayla Young’s killer is still out on the streets and I want them to do their job and find that person.”
“Some people are firm believers that you were representing that animal you are referring to. What are your thoughts on that?”
“Mr. Trapp is no animal and that was proven today in court. The Commonwealth presented no evidence in that courtroom that would suggest my client had any type of involvement in the murder of Mrs. Young. Not a single piece of evidence came close to showing any type of connection. The Commonwealth should be ashamed of themselves. Ashamed that they drug my client’s name through the mud. You better believe we will be following up with a lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the city of Philadelphia and each individual that defamed the character of my client during this case. Justice will be served.”
“Well Mr. Berdichevsky, what client will you get off next? Another murderer? A terrorist? How about a school shooter?” A reporter asked sarcastically, suggesting what everyone thought. Eugene’s diligent work did nothing but allow some of the most violent criminals in Philly to remain on the streets. He would be doing the same thing next week for a first-degree murder case involving Antwan. After hearing the question, Eugene was stuck; actually at a loss for words. Eugene thought those exact sentiments about himself. His guilt was finally getting to him. What started as a career in defending innocent men and women and protecting them from wrongful accusations had quickly become a career in making hundreds of thousands of dollars protecting those who could afford his inflated price tag. There were no morals behind his cause; there was only greed. Eugene scurried out of the courthouse and into the parking lot, fleeing from the truth-bearing reporters. He was ready to escape from the pandemonium.
As he approached his silver Maserati, he noticed a note sticking out from under one of his windshield wipers. “What the hell is this?” he muttered. He unfolded the thick sheet of paper. A small photo slid from the paper and into his hand. It was one of Kayla Young’s graduation photos. Eugene felt a heavy weight drop down on his shoulders. He continued to unfold the paper, revealing a handwritten note.
Kayla Young was a beautiful soul. She was so pure and so innocent. She wanted nothing more than to finish school and make her family proud. She was on the path of completing that goal when she was brutally taken from this earth. First her purity and then her life. You have received this letter because you are in some way responsible for Kayla not receiving the justice she deserved. This is a final plea for you to do the right thing and to do what you know is right. KAYLA DESERVES JUSTICE.
Eugene could not hold back the pool of tears that formed in his eyes. The note was another reminder of how guilty he felt about the outcome of the case. He looked around to see if anyone else was in the parking lot. Where the hell did this note come from? Who would go through all this trouble to give this to me? How did they know what the verdict would be? Many thoughts began flowing through his head. He began checking his car in paranoia. If someone were swift enough to leave a note on my car, they could have also booby-trapped it. He wiped his eyes with his sleeves and began checking underneath his luxury sedan to ensure the brake line was not cut or any suspicious devices were not attached to the undercarriage of the vehicle. Once he felt it was safe to enter, he sped out the parking lot, leaving behind the note which was like a sharp dagger into his conscience.
Back in the courtroom, everyone was still on edge. Sheriffs were still forcing people out and into the hallway. There was only a handful of people left which included Judge William Barrett, Assistant District Attorney Jason Justice who was the prosecutor in the case, Detectives Matthew Cobb and Riley Collins who handled the investigation, Mr. and Mrs. Young, Marquis and Antwan. The sheriff decided to remove Marquis and Antwan from the courtroom first, seeing as though they had their crew waiting in the hallway for them. The two cousins were born to be gangsters and loved the drama that their actions caused. Since they were kids, Marquis and Antwan have always been in or around the streets. It was somewhat inevitable. Despite Antwan’s parents being murdered, their family was well-known and feared in the streets. They had an army of friends and family that were willing and ready to do anything necessary to stay on top of the drug game. Antwan gave Mr. Young a death stare and he stared back with beady eyes and a clenched jaw. Antwan was sure Mr. Young would cower in fear. Mr. Young looked away, but when he did, he was staring directly at the portrait of his late daughter which had been knocked to the ground during all of the pandemonium. He became enraged, locking eyes with Antwan, ensuring him he did not have one ounce of fear in his body. Despite being covered in tattoos and scars that he obtained in the streets and jail, Antwan wasn’t more intimidating than Mr. Young. Mr. Young was a large man. Standing at about six-foot-one, he was easily two hundred and sixty pounds and would probably destroy Antwan in a fistfight.
“Oldhead, I will knock you the fuck out!” Antwan barked.
“Come on young blood, I’ve been waiting to get my hands on one of you punks,” Mr. Young responded as he attempted to push through the sheriffs to get his hands on his target.
“Yo Antwan, fuck that nigga. He only acting tough cuz all these pigs around,” Marquis stated while holding Antwan back.
“Acting tough? You killed my daughter, motherfucker!”
“Fuck that bitch and fuck you!”
Hearing Marquis refer to his daughter as a “bitch” sent Mr. Young over the edge. Resorting back to his college football days, he performed a swim move which got him past one of the sheriffs. Marquis was not expecting to feel two hundred and sixty pounds of pressure against his ribcage as he was tackled to the ground. “I’m going to kill you!” Mr. Young announced as he began pummeling Marquis. Antwan’s street instincts kicked right in and once he saw his cousin in danger, he began throwing haymakers at Mr. Young. Although his varied combination of punches had little effect on the large man that continued thrashing Marquis. He was being hit with a barrage of punches; Marquis could do very little to defend himself. He could feel his lip splitting open with each blow.
The sheriffs immediately manhandled Antwan and threw him out of the courtroom. Once the courtroom doors flung open, the media gravitated directly towards the commotion that was coming from inside. Brief shots of Mr. Young pounding Marquis were being captured and would make a great headline for every news station. The sheriffs were hesitant to immediately peel Mr. Young off Marquis and once they did, everyone was in shock at how much damage Mr. Young inflicted in such a short time period. Blood was pouring from Marquis’ mouth and two of his front teeth had been knocked out and made their way down his throat during the melee. That did not stop him or humble his arrogance. He gathered his bearings, stood to his feet, and spit blood at Mr. Young.
He wiped the spit off his face. “I promise I will kill you, boy. Your parents will feel the pain I feel, but only worst.”
Marquis’ laughter was a smack in the face to Mr. Young. The young thug could care less about his threat because it would not be the first time someone threatened his life and based on his lifestyle, it definitely wouldn’t be the last. Marquis escorted himself out the room, while he held his middle finger in the air towards everyone who remained.
“You are going to die a painful death, boy. KAYLA WILL GET JUSTICE.”