I spent the next three weeks in a holding cell awaiting trial. I wasn’t allowed to be released while I waited for my court date because I was classed as a danger to the public. I didn’t get much sleep over those three weeks. I tossed and turned all night, every night and ended up spending most of the time staring at the off white walls, counting each and every brick. At 8am every morning, I was bought a sad looking tray of breakfast. There was always a stale bread roll, one rasher of plastic looking bacon and a tiny pot of almost cold beans, but I never touched it. I was never hungry.
At 9am on the 26th November they came for me. They opened the cell and for one split second, I felt like I could make a run for it. Like I could experience freedom for the last time, see the things I’d never seen, explore the world that I had never had the chance to explore.
But instead, they cuffed me up and led me to the cop van. I sat in the back, craning my neck to try and look out of the tiny window. If this was last time I’d see the outside world, I was determined to take in every last inch of it.
It had taken weeks for the court case to come around, but the day was finally here. The day where I’d get to tell my side of the story. How the men I killed threatened me, attacked me and tried to leave me for dead. We arrived at the courtroom at 2:30pm. I was led from the van and into the courthouse and guilt suddenly hit me for the first time. I hadn’t thought about the men I’d killed since I was detained. I sat in the cell every night feeling sorry for myself, but now for the first time, I felt sorry for the victims. I didn’t feel entirely sorry, because I couldn’t forget the fact that they tried to kill me. But they were brothers, sons, and grandsons.
I was led into the docks at 3pm. The three victims’ families were sat in the witness booth. Two of them had children and wives, the other victim’s mother was sat with them. She was old and frail and when she looked in my direction and I mouthed the words “I’m so sorry” but she shook her head and turned away. I can’t exactly say I blame her.
The court proceedings lasted two and a half hours. There was evidence shown; pictures from the scene, clothing they’d found in my house and most importantly the murder weapon which I’d thrown down the grate at the side of the road, hoping that it would dispose of itself. My lawyer spoke on behalf of me because I couldn’t bring myself to. I tried to protest my innocence myself at the beginning of the hearing but I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t form a sentence without choking up.
At 5:30 the jury had heard the evidence and reached their verdict. I waited nervously in the docks. My fingers were crossed and tears rolled down my cheeks. One of the jurors stood up from her seat.
‘Having reviewed all of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances the court finds that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances for the murders of Jonathan Davis, Richard Jones and Anthony Green. We therefore unanimously recommend the sentence of death should be imposed on Michael Grayson.’
‘What?! It was self-defence how can I be guilty?!’ I had finally managed to muster up a sentence, but it fell on deaf ears.
‘You’ve had your time to speak, sit down.’ The judge snapped. I slowly sunk back into my seat and rolled my head back. The judge banged his gavel on the desk.
‘This court finds you, Michael Grayson, guilty of murder on all three counts. It is the judgment of this court that for the murder of Jonathan Davis, Richard Jones and Anthony Green that the defendant is to be put to death in the manner prescribed by law.’
He banged the gavel once again, stood up and calmly walked out. Tears were gushing down my cheeks as I received the sentence. I was to be put to death for my stupid, spur of the moment actions. I was never going to see my friends and family again. I would never be free to do whatever I wanted to do, because I made a mistake. A mistake that will ultimately cost me my life.
I was led out of the docks and put straight back into the police van to be taken to the prison. We arrived at the facility about half an hour later. I was dragged from the back of the van and into the reception. While we were waiting to be buzzed in, I looked over my shoulder at the world that I would be leaving behind. If you’re a criminal, you’re treated like an animal, not a man. The woman behind the desk looked like she’d seen a lot, much like the man in the station. She had black bags hanging underneath her eyes and her dirty blonde hair was tightly pulled back. She didn’t crack a smile once.
They walked me to the wing and we stopped outside the door to be searched once more. Once we were given the all clear, the security guard swung the door open. It crashed to the wall with an almighty bang. Everybody in the surrounding cells showed their faces, pressing their cheeks up against the cool metal bars to see the newest, freshest meat.
They all looked so much different to me. I was a regular guy, I had no tattoos, I didn’t do drugs. I smoked and drunk on occasions but I wasn’t big on it. These guys had tattoos all over their bodies and looked like they were permanently recovering from the hangover of a lifetime. But these were the guys that I’d be spending the rest of my days with, I was determined to not pass judgement on them.