She Swears She Saw Me
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
The night is late, as the neighborhood appears to be quiet with little traffic on the public highway going towards Main Street in Lyons, Nebraska. Many citizens there have decided not to walk in the evening anymore because it's very dangerous to be alone, especially on certain streets near the local town square at twilight. It's not being superstitious, rather more about feeling safe in their hometown.
Apparently, rumors began to circulate suggesting that it all happened, when eyewitnesses saw too many boys were targeting individuals randomly for their iPhones.
Some neighbors believe they were not from around here.
One neighbor who is known for being outspoken within the community wishes to remain anonymous, as he called one time at the emergency police station hotline number and said, "It's a bunch of no-good hoodlums causing all the trouble that's why they need to go back where they came from!"
On the contrary, for some folks, it's not true about what the caller said.
In fact, they welcome everyone from all walks of life, in need of a place to call their home.
Nebraska has a good reputation for being the most kindhearted place where you find down-to-earth citizens that are true in every way.
Although recently at the local town community meetings which are held on a monthly basis, some people do agree with what the caller did say as they gently nod their heads among themselves.
Honestly, the truth is they want some kind of action to be taken seriously for the ongoing problem.
But for now, one thing is certain it's best to stay home.
Still for the most part the police are doing whatever it takes to make it feel safer again.
Nevertheless, the nightfall turned pleasant and calm like usual except for this one particular night it felt different than any other night.
It's kind of hard to describe, but I think tonight something bad is about to happen.
Maybe it could be the new Liberty Bell Mayor Steveson had installed recently in the town square. Apparently, he wanted to have a replica of the one exactly in Philadelphia, PA that honors those that fought so hard for the war and most importantly the cause. Realistically the citizens believe Mayor Steveson just wanted to do this, so he could be re-elected another term. Actually whatever the reason may be the Liberty Bell in the town square kept being noisy than usual. It can be heard everywhere throughout the entire neighborhood.
The eerie sounds let the townspeople know it was past the witching hour.
Nonetheless across the street from the town square lived a neighbor named Mrs. Chelsea Smith. She is a young beautiful thirty-two-year-old woman who is happily married with three children.
Even so, on this strange evening, Chelsea felt a bit uncomfortable.
She was very concerned after speaking on the telephone earlier with Mrs. Susan Gibson an elderly woman in her late 60's who sounded frightened about her son Ernie's whereabouts. The troubled Mrs. Gibson was upset because Ernie did not come home last night.
Ernie Gibson is pretty good about calling his mother all the time, especially if he was running late or something was wrong. Chelsea reassured Mrs. Gibson not to worry about her son. However if she wanted to be really certain if, Ernie is fine then it was probably best to call the police for help, but Mrs. Gibson felt it was a bad idea.
The fact that Ernie had been out on bail. She thought the right thing to do for now was to simply just wait. During all this time, Ernie became eager to prove his innocence in front of the judge and jury in his upcoming trial set on Monday. Because all he ever wanted is to have his freedom back. The injustice Ernie felt for being different and standing up for his rights. not only as a changed man but someone who deserves to be set free. Even so, it was a never-ending ordeal in trying to fight to stay alive. The truth is Mrs. Gibson knew the police were just patiently talking among themselves on how Ernie could mess up. They believed Ernie was guilty on all charges and wanted him back in jail where he belonged.
A heavy cloud of grudge against Ernie was indeed hovering over the policemen involved in the case. It's not certain what caused it. Yet it's possible it had to do with a young lady named Lisa. Lisa is a pretty young lady in town that all the boys go crazy for her. She is kind and hardworking at every church gathering.
Chelsea and Mrs. Gibson agree it had to be about Lisa.
It's not her fault that the boys like her so much, including Ernie, liked her.
One particular policeman named Charles really likes her. He will stop at nothing to get Ernie back in prison. Because all that matters is for him to get closer to Lisa.
And yet, it was still as cold as the North Platte River in Nebraska. As the sound of the tall Liberty Bell makes a normal ding-dong ring that could be heard all the way up to Chelsea's window. Now that everything is calm at home, Chelsea decides to go visit Mrs. Gibson before her husband Roger gets up to go to work at 5 am early in the morning.
Chelsea made the excuse in telling her husband she was going to stay up for a while longer in fixing a computer program for one of her prestigious customers. Roger kissed her good night and so did her children. Chelsea knows her husband is the most heartfelt loving human being she's ever known. He kindly tells her not to get involved in other people's affairs, but he's the first one to take out his checkbook and write out a check to any family in need.
As the night continues, they talk more about where could Ernie be all this time, especially knowing that tomorrow morning is his court date.
Mrs. Gibson made a fresh pot of coffee for the two of them. She had already baked homemade buttermilk biscuits as well. It's Ernie's favorite meal. The women discussed Ernie's case.
Mrs. Gibson said, "Ernie should have listened to me in leaving Lisa alone, but my son can't seem to take no for an answer."
She was terrified that if he didn't appear in court tomorrow they might send out a bounty hunter to go look for him.
If that occurred he would be right back in jail with no chances of ever providing his innocence. All the same, Ernie had recently broken up with Lisa two weeks ago. Moving on was not possible for Ernie. I mean, let's face it his entire world fell apart. To him, Lisa was the love of his life. In some way, Ernie thought everything was fine between them. Not until she called him to say it was over. The next day after the breakup. Ernie went to go see Lisa. But she was not home. Regardless Ernie decided to stay and wait for her. He just wanted to know if they could somehow remain as friends.
During this time he was riding his mountain bike. He really enjoyed riding his bike everywhere. From home to work, even to the local market to buy groceries for him and his mom. As Ernie rode his bike up and down the streets where lived. A Hispanic lady came out of nowhere screaming that Ernie broke into her car then stole her iPhone 6s.
The Hispanic lady said, "I saw him do it with my very own eyes. I was really afraid to stop him because I thought he was going to hurt me."
Chelsea remembers that day like it was just yesterday. She recalls Officer Joseph Williams came to her house first before going to see Mrs. Gibson about Ernie being in jail for robbery. He told her how Ernie had a past criminal record. First, it was for shoplifting a pair of boxer shorts at the Sears department store. Afterward for drunk driving at the age of fifteen. This turns out to be during the time Ernie had suffered the loss of his father deeply because Mr. James Gibson was found murdered at work with no evidence on who committed the heinous crime.
Later Ernie and his mom would go through financial hardships, especially since Mr. Gibson never had any life insurance or a will. Shortly they had to ask the neighbors for donations to bury Mr. Gibson at the local Warwick town cemetery. Of course, Roger and I gladly helped them with a couple of house payments until; they were able to get back on their feet again. In fact, Roger insisted for them not to worry about paying us back. You see, my beloved husband knows firsthand how it feels to lose a father. He lost his father when he was only nine years old. Roger clearly remembered exactly how it felt not being able to pay for the funeral home expenses or put food on the table. Since then he vowed to help anyone in trouble because many of his father's friends came together in assisting the family's needs. And so, he never forgot that.
Meanwhile, Officer Wilson says, "I have a strong feeling Ernie's innocent Chelsea."
He was certain Ernie just happened to be there at the wrong time and place. Joseph wanted me to accompany him to Mrs. Gibson's house to tell the bad news about Ernie. He believes, he could get him out on temporary bail. However, Ernie needs to hire a good criminal attorney to defend him on his scheduled court date. Still, the other problem was Ernie's income only helped pay for the utilities while Mrs. Gibson's retirement benefits paid for the current house payment. Telling it like it is, they couldn't afford bail or even a criminal attorney for Ernie.
Sure enough, Joseph told me the bail was about 3,000 thousand dollars, but he knew a bail bondsman who could get Ernie out not for 1,500 dollars and later on pay the rest in installments. In the end, Roger heard my conversation with Joseph. He came out of the bedroom with his checkbook. And just like that, he wrote the full amount of the bail money then handed it to Joseph.
Roger said, "Don't cause Mrs. Gibson any more grief. Go release Ernie out of jail immediately. We will figure out later how to hire Ernie a good criminal attorney."
Suddenly I realized it was getting late. After all this time, I tried my best to comfort Mrs. Gibson about Ernie but my thoughts were somewhere else. In any case, Mrs. Gibson continues to talk about the possibilities where Ernie could be. She remembers like I do the day Ernie was in jail. I vividly recall when Joseph and I arrived to tell her what happened to him. Mrs. Gibson received a collect call from Ernie being in jail already. He explained to his mother he was being accused of robbery but denies he didn't do it. Ernie began to swear on his father's grave, he just wanted to visit Lisa with the hope of getting back together again. All the while, a Hispanic lady contacted the police through the OnStar emergency service in her car and told them she was being robbed.
Ernie says, "She swears she saw me!"
He continues to tell his mother how the cops told him they just wanted him to go down to the police station for more questioning then afterward they were going to let him go home. No such luck, it turned out he was put in handcuffs next, read his Miranda Rights then booked for robbery. Mrs. Gibson knows at the time, Ernie was very upset but relieved to find out Officer Wilson and Mrs. Smith were going to help get Ernie out of jail on bail.
In truth, Mrs. Gibson expressed how wary she felt about Ernie still not being home nor returning her calls either. In fact, she repeatedly tried calling his cellular phone all day. And yet, nothing. Somehow Ernie's phone would ring and go straight into voicemail.
By this time Mrs. Smith had interrupted her then apologized because it was getting late. Once Mrs. Gibson understood she gladly walked Mrs. Smith to the front door. At the precise moment, Mrs. Gibson started to cry as she feared the worst had happened to Ernie. A mother's intuition always lets her know, something is out of place, especially when it has to do with her child at any age.
Chelsea hugged Mrs. Gibson telling her not to dismay. He probably went over to Lisa's house. Mrs. Gibson smiled as she closed the front door behind Chelsea followed by turning on the porch light in case Ernie comes home.
Finally, Chelsea gets home safe, she immediately notices the alarm clock in the living room read 4 am in the morning. After having two cups of coffee followed by three buttermilk biscuits with melted apple butter on top she couldn't sleep. Ernie was on her mind. She needed to find answers, not for her own peace of mind but mostly for Mrs. Gibson.
Chelsea recalls Joseph allowing her to read the police report. Of course, it was a copy of the original. Under no circumstances is anyone permitted to have access to the original police report. Also, all names are marked out with a black sharpie marker and instead are identified by ethnic background only.
The copy reads as follows, Ernie fully cooperated with the authorities. He claims not to be near the vehicle or taking the iPhone 6s of any kind. The Hispanic lady told the police in her own statement how her boss gave her permission to leave early on that day because it was slow. And she works part-time at a local beauty salon cleaning from 6 am to 11 am on Monday through Saturday. However, on Thursday, June 12th, it was about 10 am when she got off work early as mentioned then decided to pick up her daughter at the daycare center so they can spend the day together as planned.
According to the daycare protocol, safety is a top priority at the daycare center at all times. There is a sign-in and sign-out log sheet, which every parent or guardian must sign before dropping off or picking up their child. The Hispanic lady elaborated further how it only took her 10 minutes to pick up her daughter from the daycare center when she noticed Ernie coming out of the parking lot with her iPhone 6s in his hands. She claims to ask for help from an employee at the daycare property. An individual being a white male in his late thirties got into his car, drove around each street in the neighborhood searching for Ernie, who was riding his bike, listening to music with his new headphones on that were called The Beats Pro by Dr. Dre.
Finally, the white male located Ernie and didn't want him to get away so he took it upon himself to drive right into Ernie's bike in order to stop him. The suspect Ernie flew right off his bike, landed on the sidewalk pavement. Luckily he was not seriously injured. Soon the police arrived within seconds to question Ernie about the missing iPhone 6s as well as, why he left the scene of the crime. Ernie tried his best to explain being innocent by telling the officers he went to go visit his ex-girlfriend Lisa which so happens is she lives across the street from the daycare center.
What's alarming is why did Ernie go through the back to visit Lisa instead of the front door?
Apparently, he has always visited her from the back of the house with no problems. Nevertheless, the Hispanic lady swears she saw him break into her car. And yet, the suspect states he did nothing bad. He even suggested for the white male to call the police. Furthermore, the suspect volunteers personal information to the officers he had a past criminal record, which he already served time for. Even more starling the suspect was extremely nervous, during his questioning with Officer Peterson.
To the point, he pleaded with Officer Peterson, he was an innocent man. Afterward, the suspect continues to repeat he is innocent and very worried about his mother who is probably concerned about why he's not home by now. The questioning stopped, Ernie stood quiet as he felt tears running down his face like the Niobrara River that has a low flow in the Great Plains of Nebraska. He wept as Officer Peterson arrested him.
Off the record Officer Peterson talks to his partner Officer Wilson and says, "Ernie seems to be telling the truth."
Even though no iPhone 6s was ever found at the scene of the crime. They still had no choice but to take him, due to several witnesses' accounts. Officer Peterson conveys to Chelsea, the truth is Ernie had a past record, and usually, the majority of offenders fall back into committing the same crime once they are out of jail.
As the nightfall becomes creepy.
Chelsea listens to a strange unnerving howling sound that causes the windows in her living room to rattle all at once, as she tries to rest in her favorite loveseat. The noise increases more as branches scratch the glass window even closer with the wind blowing a disturbing ambiance of sorts. Followed by the brisk morning sunlight, which emerges through the old glass patio window. The beauty of it continues to warm, enchanting weather as it goes inside the entire house while Chelsea falls into a deep sleep.
Soon Roger comes in to prepare his cup of coffee for the day. He is disturbed to find Chelsea asleep on the loveseat.
He whispered, "Honey go to bed please."
Day breaks, the telephone rings, Chelsea hurries to answer.
"Good news," said Mrs. Gibon
Ernie had slept over at Lisa's house. Now they are both getting ready to go to the court building together. Ernie told his mom, how sorry he was for not calling. You see, Ernie ended up working longer hours than usual because during the time of the year it gets extremely busy at work. Not only that, customers place their orders earlier before the holidays to qualify for a cheaper rate in shipping. Therefore Ernie needed extra hours to pay for bills, groceries, and attorney fees. As the day progressed, he was so happy to see Lisa walk into the store. They both made eye-to-eye contact like it was the first time meeting each other.
Lisa actually stopped by to talk to Ernie about giving their relationship a second chance. She then waited for Ernie to go on his lunch break that way they can go eat at the Hi-Way's Diner next door. Upon arrival at the diner, Lisa noticed one of the police officer's sitting outside in the police car, while the other took forever drinking his cup of Joe in the front booth of the diner. She smiles at Ernie who seemed to be nervous/afraid of them. At that point, she told him not to worry he was going home with her tonight after work.
Soon they would enjoy eating their lunch and talking about making plans for Christmas. Later on, the happy couple walked back to the UPS store holding hands, laughing, kissing, as if nothing ever happened between them.
In the meantime, back at the Hi-Way's Diner, the same police officer who took his sweet time drinking his coffee noticed Ernie left his phone on the counter. Without hesitation, he confiscated the phone, walked out of the diner, got into the police car, looked through Ernie's phone calls and messages with the hope to find anything they can use against him in the trial.
A run of good/bad luck you could say because Ernie had just bought a used phone with not many apps or data, so there was actually nothing stored in the memory of the SIM card. For some odd reason or another Officer Jackson hated Ernie. An ongoing grudge develop because he wanted Lisa to be his. Lisa on the other hand felt Officer Jackson was too controlling. It just won't work out between them, her love belongs to Ernie. Besides she couldn't get over Ernie. She knew they were meant to be.
Anyways Officer Jackson still believes Lisa and him do have a chance if, Ernie was out of the way for good. And that meant behind bars in the county jail. Somehow Officer Jackson never took any fingerprints on the car where Ernie was being accused nor did he bother to find the missing iPhone that had been stolen at the scene of the crime. Basically, it's his word against Ernie's. On a positive note, Ernie hired a very well-known attorney, who believes Ernie is innocent. All that really matters now is today's court hearing.
Chelsea told Mrs. Gibon the police report appears to be inaccurate. She wanted to reassure Mrs. Gibson not to worry, Judge Wilson is a fair man. Hopefully, he will do the right thing in dismissing the case or giving Ernie a lesser sentence. Overall Judge Wilson has a good reputation in town. For some he is considered a hero, for others, he is dedicated and loyal to his family and friends. Judge Wilson has an impressive background in attending the University of Nebraska with honors, thirty years of experience as a judge, started a local food bank within the community, opened up the first homeless shelter downtown.
As the morning lingers on slowly in the courtroom poor Ernie tries his best to remain calm. Everyone from the neighborhood wanted to be there to give Ernie moral support including Lisa, who asked for the day off from work. She knew it meant so much to Ernie for her to be there. No matter what the outcome would be.
As the judge's chambers open, Judge Wilson comes out, goes directly to the front of the courtroom on the bench then sits holding a manila folder in his hands.
Next, he opens it, he says, "After much deliberation from both sides in the courtroom the jurors have made a decision is that correct?"
Juror number 009400224 answers, "Yes, we have your honor."
Judge Wilson asks, "How do you find the defendant?"
Out of nowhere, time stands still as everyone waits for the verdict. Sweat trickled down Ernie's pale face, as he continues to stand in front of Judge Wilson. He is so eager for this to be over with.
All of a sudden, juror 009400224 responded, "Your honor we find the defendant Ernie Gibson, not guilty on all charges."
A news photographer from the Omaha World-Herald starts taking pictures of Ernie's facial expressions for tomorrow's morning front-page headlines. Ernie tries to refrain from crying as he quietly folds his hands in prayer.