The Blind Eyewitness
As his assistant escorted the main prosecution witness through the door of his office, Franklin Shaw, the District Attorney for the state, almost choked. His star witness was a beautiful blond lady in her mid 30’s, wearing what Franklin considered to be probably the most powerful pair of glasses he had ever seen in his life. And, to top it all off, she was carrying a white cane. What were his assistants thinking, bringing her in as an eyewitness?
Franklin motioned to Robert, the assistant leading the blind lady to follow him into the adjourning office. Robert helped the lady to a seat, excused himself, and followed D.A. Shaw into the next office.
“Close the damned door behind you Robert.” Franklin barked at him.
Robert closed the door. “Boss, I can explain.”
“Explain how it happens to be that our primary witness is blind, and could not have seen a thing at the distance that she is supposed to have been watching, or explain how it might just happen that the defense lawyers won’t jump all over the fact that she is blind!” Franklin almost shouted, the spittle spraying from his lips, as it was prone to do when he got very angry, or extremely excited.
“No sir, you don’t understand. Ms. Miller is so nearsighted that she is legally blind, even with her glasses. But, she uses a specially made pair of glasses, almost like a pair of binoculars that give her vision far better than people with perfect eyesight. When Ms. Miller is wearing these binocular type eyeglasses her vision is better then 20/10 for the distance. And the other night when she saw the perp kill that lady, she was using the binoculars. Both she, and the doorman at the apartment building identified the same suspect.
“Well, I suppose we better not keep her waiting, but there better be a convincing argument for using her visual identification. I don’t want to be ripped apart by the defense in this case. I will drop the charges unless the explanation convinces me.” Franklin said.
The 2 men returned to the other office.
“Ms. Miller, I am Franklin Shaw, the District Attorney.” Franklin told Ms. Miller.
“Oh, you can call me Gillian, or Jill if you prefer.” Jill said, as she stood up and shook hands with Franklin Shaw.
“Sit down please Jill. Your poor eyesight, and the white cane threw me for a bit of a loop, but Robert explained that you have a special pair of binoculars that you were wearing at the time that you witnessed the crime. Just for my information though, could you give me some insight into your visual problems?” Franklin asked.
“Well, I have severe congenital degenerative myopia. Even with the –36D myodiscs that I am wearing in these glasses, my eyesight is not correctable to a visual acuity of more than 20/200, which is the legal definition for blindness. In short, even with the strongest possible glasses that I can be prescribed, I am still blind. However, I can read, even though I have to hold the material fairly close to my glasses.” Gillian told him.
“Now I understand that you have a special pair of binoculars that allow you to have reasonably good distance vision.” Franklin led her on.
Gillian took out her special binoculars from her purse. Her regular glasses were on a cord, and she let them drop around her neck. She took the binocular type glasses, and put them on.
“With these binocular glasses, I can attain better long distance vision than you have sir.” Jill told him.” Unfortunately, they are so heavy and cumbersome that I cannot wear them all the time. If you want, point something out to me that you can barely see, and I will show you how great they work for me.”
Franklin cast his eyes around the room, and settled on his law school graduation diploma. They were both about the same distance from it, and Franklin definitely couldn’t read it, although he knew it by heart. “ That document on the wall. Can you read it to me?”
Jillian adjusted a dial on her glasses. She began reading. Robert drew close enough to the document so that he could also see it, and he confirmed that Jill had read the whole thing, even the smallest print.
“Well, that is very convincing. And you are sure that you were wearing those glasses the other night when you saw the murder?” Franklin asked.
“Sir,” Gillian replied sarcastically. “20/200 means that I can barely see at 20 feet what someone with normal vision can see at 200 feet. And, if you don’t understand that, I have to get within 2 feet of an object that you can see from 20 feet. If I hadn’t been wearing my special glasses, I probably couldn’t have seen the wall of the apartment building across the street, much less inside the room.”
“Right, right, I understand. Now if you don’t mind, we will go over what you saw.” Franklin told her.
Together they went over what Gillian saw. After what seemed to Jill like hours of idiotic questions, Franklin seemed satisfied.
“One more question Ms. Miller. Where did you get those special binocular glasses?” the DA asked.
“My father made them for me a few years ago. He worked for one of the defense contractors, in their optical division. He always made my glasses for me while he worked there, and I had much better eyesight from the glasses daddy made than I do from the ones I have been getting from the optical stores lately. He even made them so that as my eyes get worse I can change the master lenses to give me the new correction.” Gillian said.
“Could we get your dad to testify as to how well they correct your vision?” Franklin asked.
“Daddy died last year. I am sure that my eye doctor could testify. Do you want his name and address?” Jill asked.
“We are going to need all the help we can get. I must be crazy going into court with a blind eyewitness.” Franklin told her.
Over the next few weeks Gillian was asked to undergo all sorts of testing by a number of vision specialists. They all reported back to Franklin Shaw that Gillian’s binocular glasses did indeed correct her vision to better than 20/10. So the DA felt a bit better about going for trial than he originally had felt.
Finally it was time for the trial. As Franklin had suspected, as soon as the defense team found out about the blind eyewitness, all hell broke loose. Franklin had to produce all of his experts to testify, and even then he felt he was on shaky ground with the jury. They tried to ridicule the binocular glasses, but the witnesses stood their ground. Finally Gillian was called to the stand and sworn in.
Franklin led Gillian through the events in the sequence she had indicated that they happened. All of his expert crime scene investigators had already testified, and what they had discovered fit like a glove with Gillian’s testimony. Gillian did a creditable job of explaining her poor eyesight to the jury, and she proved that she could see extremely well with her special binocular glasses. Finally Franklin had to turn Jill over to the defense lawyers.
As he had thought, the defense lawyers tore Jill’s eyesight to shreds.
“You are trying to tell me Ms. Miller that you could recognize the defendant through an apartment window across a 4 lane street, a distance including sidewalks of around 100 feet with your special glasses,” he said incredulously.
“Yes sir, I could. I could even see the tattoo on his right shoulder. It is of 2 intertwined hearts, and has Richard & Linda written in the hearts.” Jill stated.
Franklin Shaw rose quickly to his feet. Knowing that the defense attorney was going to object that that information had not been revealed to him, the DA had to let the judge know that this was the first he had heard about a tattoo.
“Sidebar your honor.” Franklin asked.
“Both of you into my chambers, and bring the witness Bailiff,” said the judge.
In chambers the first thing the defense attorney said was, “ I demand a mistrial. I was not informed of this fact before the trial.”
“Ms. Miller had never said a word to me either your honor.” Franklin said.
“I just remembered the tattoo when I was looking at the defendant from the stand your honor.” Gillian said.
“And you really could see this tattoo clearly enough to see what it read?” asked the judge.
“Your honor, I have almost superhuman vision with these special glasses. I will prove it to you.” Gillian replied.
“No trickery young lady,” cautioned the judge.
“Of course not your honor. The third juror from the right as I am facing the jury is wearing a watch with a day and date on it. This watch shows the correct day, but the date is 3 days off. This is March your honor, and he has not yet set his date to compensate for the fact that February is 3 days less than 31.” Gillian said.
“I believe you when you tell me that you had not mentioned the tattoo to anyone before, so I will defiantly not grant a mistrial. Lets get back in there, and I will see how accurate this witnesses vision is,” said the judge.
When they returned to the courtroom the judge discovered that indeed the juror’s watch was indeed running 3 days behind. And the defense attorney, after a consultation with his client, and the DA, changed his client’s plea to guilty. In return the DA agreed not to ask for the death penalty.
After the trial was over, the DA came up to Gillian, and thanked her for her assistance. He told her that in the booking forms, the tattoo was listed exactly as she had described.
Gillian left the courthouse feeling very much alone again. She had hoped that she would have a chance to speak with Robert, the assistant DA. She had gotten good vibes from Robert. He hadn’t seemed too turned off by her poor eyesight, and her ugly myodiscs, and he had suggested that he would like to take her out to dinner after the trial. But, she hadn’t seen him anywhere. So, she walked slowly from the courthouse to the subway station. She took the train to the end of the line, and switched to the eastbound train. Finally she reached her stop, and she walked the 2 blocks to her apartment building. She felt safe again, as her doorman Philip opened the door for her.
“Oh, congratulations Ms. Gillian. Your picture is on the front page of the late edition.” Phillip told her.
“Oh, could I see it Phillip?” Gillian asked.
Phillip brought her the front section of the paper. She didn’t even have to get too close to the paper to see the large print headlines that screamed: “Blind Eyewitness Testimony Convicts Murderer.” And, there was also a picture of her wearing her binocular glasses.
“Oh well Phillip, I have had my 20 seconds of fame now.” Gillian said, and she headed towards the elevator. As she was waiting Phillip let someone else into the building, and he headed towards Gillian. As he drew closer, she could see that he was holding something that looked like an arrangement of flowers. Yes, they were flowers, and they really looked pretty.
The man came up to her with the flowers, and asked if she was Gillian Miller. When she told him she was, he gave her the flowers, and told her they were from Robert.
Gillian felt her heart pounding as she rode up to the elevator. This was the first time ever that she had been given flowers by a man friend. Gillian had never really ever had a boyfriend. Her terrible eyesight and her awful glasses turned off all the guys she had ever known. Daddy had said before he died that someone would find her attractive. Oh how she hoped it was Robert.
Once inside her apartment she arranged the flowers in a nice vase. Then she noticed that the message indicator on the phone was blinking. She retrieved the first message. It was from the CEO of a large optical company. They were interested in purchasing the rights to manufacture the binocular glasses that daddy had made for her. This might really help out. It would be so nice if she could get off public assistance.
The second message was from Robert.
“Gillian, I have wanted to call you every day since I first met you. Unfortunately I couldn’t because of the possibility of a conflict with the trial. But now that it is over I would love to see you again. How about this Friday night for that dinner I promised you.
I can pick you up at 7 sharp. Call me if you can’t make it. Oh, call me anyway after 7 tonight. I just want to talk to you. I hope you like the flowers.” Robert said.
Things were looking much better now. And all of this was because she was a blind eyewitness.
Specs4ever, Jan 2005