Trial and Tribulations, Part Two

This is the conclusion of Joanne Cordova's story. For part one, see www. westword.com.

The next time they had sex was after he bought more crack for her. "You got your rocks--now I want to get my rocks off," he'd said.

She described how she'd suggested they go back to the cabin, but he turned off the road long before and demanded sex. "I was not appreciative of that at all," Cordova testified. "However, I knew that the situation was that he wasn't just going to give me free crack. And I knew at some point that I would have to do something and that was, you know, the sex, so I knew I was just going to do it anyway."

Cordova was glad when Easter steered the questioning from sex to running out of gas on the way back to Denver. "I stayed in the van because he demanded that I have these tuna fish sandwiches ready when he came back."

"What did he give you in order to make these sandwiches?"
"He gave me this long, skinny knife...what I would consider a knife to, like, gut fish with...and tuna fish and bread and mayonnaise."

Easter showed her People's Exhibit 48, a fish fillet knife.
"Let me ask you if you remember seeing the defendant in ownership of this knife?"

Cordova shook her head. She hoped she wasn't messing something up for the prosecution, but she had to tell the truth. "I don't."

Easter pulled the knife from the sheath. "Now does it look familiar to you?"
Again Cordova shook her head. "No, that one does not. There's definitely a different knife that I used for tuna fish that was a lot thinner and a little more curved."

Easter moved on to People's Exhibit 35, the lacy maroon panties that had been found intertwined with gray shorts in the cabin. "Do you recognize these?"

This time Cordova nodded. "That's the style of panties bought for me by Bob."

"So they appear similar?"
"Yes, but the ones I had were still on the hanger and still had tags on. I didn't take any of the tags off."

Easter moved on to a plastic bag filled with personal effects. Cordova identified the contents as her check-cashing card, her driver's license and her Social Security card.

Then she paused and for the first time fought back tears. She looked up and smiled at the jury. "And I can see my picture...a little picture under there which I know is a picture of my daughter."

The next morning, the defense got its turn.
"Good morning," Chambers began.
Cordova nodded. "Good morning."

"Yesterday afternoon you testified for close to an hour, I would guess, about events that happened in May of 1997, correct?"

"Yes sir," she answered, turning her head to the jury. "That's correct."
"And so your testimony is about events that are a year and a half ago, almost?"

"That's correct."
"And because of the passage of time, your memory is, in some respect, foggy?"

"No, it's not foggy," she replied, shaking her head.
"You're absolutely clear on all details?" Chambers asked, raising an eyebrow.

"I'm clear on details. However, I'm not...I'm not clear on the chronological order of things."

"And during this period of time in May of 1997, you were addicted to crack cocaine?"

"That's correct."
"And you were using quite a bit of the crack cocaine during that period of time, using it regularly?"

Cordova smiled and nodded to the jury. "Yes, I was using it regularly."
"How were you supporting yourself in May of 1997?"
Cordova smiled again, although she felt sick inside. Just tell the truth. "I was working on the street in prostitution and also off the street in what you might call a call-girl status." There, it's out. She noticed the blond juror had nodded and written something on her pad. She hoped it wasn't something bad; she wanted to hide.

"Okay," Chambers said. "And how long had you been doing that in May 8 of 1997?"

"One month."
"One month?" Chambers repeated. He made a face like he didn't believe her.
"Yes."
"So April of 1997 is when you began...prostitution?"

"Probably close to the end of April," Cordova said, pausing a moment. "Yes, that's correct."

"And you spent several days with Bob in May of 1997, correct?"
"That is correct."
"And you were with him voluntarily?"
"Yes, I was."
"He didn't force you to be with him?"
"No, he did not."
"And Bob gave you the money to buy crack cocaine?"
"That is correct."

Chambers asked several questions about Cordova's first days with Bob, including the shopping trip. "And he got you several pairs of panties?"

"That's correct."
"And you were shown People's Exhibit 35, and you said that these panties were at least of the same design as the kind he bought for you?"

"That's correct."
"These panties, however, were actually too big for you?"
"Yes, as were the rest of the panties that he purchased."
"Now, you knew Ms. Paley, also. Is that correct?"
"Yes, that is correct."
"She was a smaller woman than you?"
"In stature, yes."
"So clothes that were too big for you were way too big for her?"

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