Trial for the Underwear Bomber started this week, on Tuesday. Since neither Kurt or I had been contacted about being witnesses or being sequestered from the courtroom, we decided to head down to the trial in the hopes of being able to observe. Seats were reserved for all victims, and we really wanted to be there as much as possible. When going through security on the first floor of the court, we ran into someone who works for Anthony Chambers, who told us a pre-trial Motion had been filed that morning to exclude Kurt and I from being in the courtroom for the trial as we may be potential witnesses. We decided to head up and see what happened anyway, since the Motion was not ExParte and had not yet been granted.
Headed up to Floor 8, where Judge Edmunds is. Had to go through more security and obtain a pass to wear allowing us in the court. Sat down in the spot indicated for victims and waited for things to start. The trial started with the pre-trial motions, which one was filed by the prosecution and two by the defense. The prosecution actually filed a Motion that listed Kurt and I, by name, asking that we not sit in on trial as we may be witnesses for the defense. Judge Edmunds excluded Kurt from the courtroom, but said she was not excluding me since I was not on the witness list. I had to stand, and she told me that she did not want me to discuss anything with Kurt about the trial, which I agreed to.
Kurt left, and the other pre-trial Motions were heard. One Motion was to exclude an Exhibit which was a picture of Umar's genital area and thigh of his burns, and the other Motion was one to stop the prosecution from describing the device Umar had as a bomb or explosive. Both Motions were denied.
After this, there was a sidebar, and a really long meeting was held in a jury room between Chambers and Umar. No idea what was discussed. I could only guess it was about a plea deal or maybe about letting Chambers finally take on the role of his attorney. When they came back, the Judge asked if another sidebar was needed, and Chambers said no, we can proceed. We were all DYING to know what was discussed.
Trial then started with a VERY LONG opening statement by the prosecution (about 1 hour 10 minutes). The opening statement, while very detailed, completely lacked ALL emotion, and I would have approached it differently, but hey, it was not my case to prosecute. The opening statement used the overhead projector and also audio of the pilot calling into the airport during the emergency. SO eerie to hear that, and again, so weird to live through hearing about the incident, once again. Once the opening statement was done, the defense chose to reserve their right to give an opening statement and we moved on to the first witness at about 12:25 PM.
The first witness was a passenger on the plane whom neither Kurt or I have ever met. He was sitting about a row back from Umar and witnessed everything, and helped stop him from doing more damage than he did to our plane. He is a grandfather and former military (Army). His testimony was pretty straightforward, just what he witnessed in regards to Umar and the fire. Court then stopped at 1:00 PM for the day.
It was VERY draining for me to be down there. Hearing the witness talk about the incident all over again, and hearing the audio of the call for emergency, exhausted me and took me back to that day all over again. And not bein able to talk to Kurt about anything and rehash it all was KILLING me. :).
Day two of trial, I could not attend first thing in the morning, but, I guess I did not miss much. Apparently, as soon as court was called to session, another long meeting happened between Chambers and Umar until around 10:50 AM. Once they came into the court, the Judge was informed that Umar was going to plead guilty to all 8 charges against him. I got there at 10:10 AM and walked into the overflow courtroom. I sat down, ready to take notes and watch, and heard the Judge say something to the effect "How do you plead to count 2......." and hear Umar say "Guilty". I think I almost fell over in shock at this point. I stepped back and sat down on a bench and after deciphering between calling Kurt and watching, I started to watch. I watched as he pled guilty on all 8 counts. I watched as he gave him statement to the court. I watched as he was taken away again by probation. I heard the Judge schedule a sentencing for January.
I was floored.
I really never thought he would plead to anything. Or if he did, I thought it would be way before this.
I did not even know how I felt about this. All I felt at first was, a sense of total and complete relief, like some huge weight had been lifted off my chest.
I had a very stressful couple days, coupled with the fact that Kurt being named as a defense witness was making me fearful of his and my safety...........
I walked in the hall and sat on a bench and looked at my phone, which had a bunch of calls from the media on it, and I dialed Kurt.
Me: "Did you hear what happened with Umar"
Kurt: "No, what?"
Me: "He pled guilty on all 8 counts?"
Kurt: "WHAT?? Did he get a sweet plea deal or something?"
Me: "No idea, I don't know what the sentence is, that's not until January"
I then realized I was almost crying as this was all really overwhemling me, and I asked Kurt to come over to deal with the media since I knew they would want to talk to us. He could not leave his hearing. I hung up and was immediately approached by the associated press wanting to ask me some questions. Talked to them, and headed outside to the rest of the press. I was bombarded as soon as I walked outside the court, asked questions about my reaction, how it felt, etc. Kurt called and said he was heading over, so once he got there, I let him talk to the media.
So, how do I feel now about this? A variety of emotions, really. Relief is the biggest one. I am glad this guy is permanently off the streets and not able to harm anyone else. I am glad I don't have to go to trial every day for the next month plus. I am glad I don't have to worry about Kurt's safety. I'm also disappointed. I really wanted Kurt to get to testify, however, neither one of us actually thought he ever would be allowed to. Curious--as to "why" he pled guilty, what was really going on behind the scenes that we may never know. I'm also saddened that the general public is never going to see as part of this trial the lies the government told, covered up and participated in. I'm saddened that people like Umar are allowed to travel to this country and put our lives at risk in order to allow the government to further their own personal agendas.
Anyway, wanted to post my thoughts on everything while they were still fresh in my memory. It's so odd this is all complete now.