The News Man

It is a common judge’s admonition: “If you feel you cannot contain your emotions when the sentence is read, please leave the courtroom. Any outburst will be contempt of this court and I will have you incarcerated.”

What is not so common is the raw emotion surrounding a capital murder case. Even less common is a courtroom so full of bare-nerved people…family members of two people who suffered a brutal baseball bat beating…family members of the man who swung that baseball bat 18 times, crushing his two victims’ skulls.

One man got up and started walking out of the courtroom. He was the murderer’s little brother, a burly, bearded man.

“That’s a good idea,” I commented to my fellow news people. I had been watching little brother for five days and knew he was the most volatile in the room.

Little brother couldn’t hear my analysis. Part of the court’s news pool arrangement with the media relegated TV reporters to the hallway, where my recording device gobbled a closed circuit feed.

I should have known little brother would be coming my way. For days, people who had been locked out of the courtroom had been ignoring the rules and watching the trial on my monitor. I didn’t care that much. They couldn’t hear anyway. Part of the news pool arrangement required reporters to listen to the proceedings with head phones.

Within seconds, little brother was beside me. I could smell the tension on his breath as it made its way past his graying, scraggly beard. I could hear his chest clutch and unclutch as he breathed. I could feel him in my gut.


Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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