As I sit in the courtroom waiting on the verdict in the Steven Rios case, I’m considering all that’s happened during this grueling week. Jurors pushed to the brink of exhaustion, attorneys passionate to the point of anger, spectators drained from the rollercoaster testimony of key players. Waiting, listening, watching as jurors request evidence, exhibits, photos…the anticipation is like sitting in the dentist chair with the drill hovering over a pried open mouth.
And it occurs to me…no matter the verdict, the victims will still be victims. Linda will still have lost a son. Libby lost her husband. A son lost his father, whether temporary or terminal. And a city lost its virtue. No matter the outcome, Columbians will be divided, torn by the certainty that their opinion is right. But the truth is, only two people on this planet know what happened on the morning of June 5, 2004, and one of them is dead. With all the facts, the opinions, the judgments, the homophobia, one key detail must be kept central. Jesse Valencia died that morning. He paid with his life, for whatever reason, and no matter his sexual orientation, his indiscretions, and his personal habits, he didn’t deserve to be brutally murdered. Focus is often lost in the heat of battle, but one must never forget what started the war.