I'm back home now, after attending Martha Ivery's sentencing in Syracuse, New York, on Wednesday, November 29th at 4:00 P.M. in Federal Court for the Northern District of New York.
I had put off buying my ticket until the last possible minute, in case the sentencing was postponed yet again, but finally, there I was, walking into Reagan National Airport, ready for the four hour flight to Albany, changing planes at JFK. Four hours turned into 11 because of fog and weather conditions at JFK. Once we finally took off from Reagan, I wound up scrunched into my seat next to a large foreign lady who not only sat with her arms and knees spread, she took off her SHOES, John Candy style (believe me, I thought of Planes, Trains and Automobiles frequently that day!). When I finally got off the plane at JFK, I walked into an airport filled with people, all experiencing delays, and all grumpy as hell. Discovering that my connecting flight was as delayed as everything else was some comfort, so I bought and nibbled a chicken sandwich. Luckily, I only ate about half...
When we finally were boarded onto the small prop plane headed for Albany, I was seated next to a delightful young English lady with a beautiful baby girl, just old enough to stand up holding on to things, with a headful of golden curls. This child could have modeled, she was so cute. Unfortunately, the day had taken a toll on the kid, and shortly after I'd sat down, she began vomiting...copiously. I have one of those sympathetic stomachs. When my own kid would barf, it never bothered me, but that must be some kind of essential mom-hardwiring, because when the little girl started in, I really, really thought that half a chicken sandwich and I were going to part company.
The flight attendant, seeing my green countenance and gulping attempts to hold back my gorge, hastily moved me. But it was a small plane, and the smell quickly permeated the entire cabin. Right as I was seated in my new seat, we were informed that we'd be on the runway for at least another hour before takeoff...
The things I do for SFWA and Writer Beware, I swan!
At any rate, I did eventually get to Albany, which was the important thing.
The FBI researcher who "made" the Martha Ivery case, whom we'd worked closely with for about six years now, is Paul Silver, and he is the unsung hero of this story. Without Paul taking an interest in the case, Wednesday's sentencing would never have happened. (See some of the first blog posts I ever made in this blog for some of the "history" of the Writer Beware's efforts to get law enforcement to recognize the crimes Martha was committing.)
When I'd learned that the sentencing would actually be held in Syracuse, rather than Albany, Paul very kindly offered me a ride up there. I saved quite a bit of money flying into Albany rather than Syracuse, so I owe Paul yet another debt I can never repay. We had a late breakfast, then hopped into his car for the two-hour drive up. As we drove along beside the Erie Canal, we talked, reviewing the case, reminiscing about the years of working on this case, recalling our interactions with the victims, and hoping they would finally gain some closure from seeing Martha put out of commission. We were hoping she would get at least 51 months in Federal Prison, but we knew that her attorney was trying, even at this last moment, to say that Martha should be given no jail time because she was too mentally ill to realize she'd been committing a crime. Having dealt with Martha for all those years, and been on the receiving end of her threats, I wasn't buying that, and neither was Paul. All we could hope was that the judge would not buy her new "defense."
We arrived in Syracuse with plenty of time to spare, thanks to MapQuest, and the parking gods were kind. It was my first time visiting a Federal courtroom. It was a far cry from my country traffic court! The wall behind the judge's seat was red and white marble, with a huge bronze seal for the Northern District of New York centered there. The observer benches were upholstered in an attractive pale flowered pattern. They floor was carpeted, some shade between turquoise and teal. All of the desks were polished hardwood. The room was 12 stories up, and overlooked the city and the city plaza where the Christmas decorations were shining brightly as the sky darkened.
Paul and I were the first people into the courtroom. We sat down in the observer's area, on the left (prosecution's) side and waited. When the Assistant US Attorney who was prosecuting the case, and the Victim-Witness Coordinator entered, they came over to speak to us and shake hands, and thank us for our work on the case. They seemed prepared to counter the defense's assertions that Martha was not capable of discerning right from wrong. The Victim-Witness Coordinator had brought statements from some of the victims that had requested they be read, but the case had been postponed so many times that none of the victims had shown up...apparently they all thought it would wind up getting postponed yet again. But not this time.
The next person to arrive in the courtroom was Martha Ivery's defense attorney, Mr. Mott. Martha and her husband, Thomas Ivery, came in a few minutes later. Martha sat down on the defense side, next to her attorney. Her husband was the only person who came to be with her.
Unlike her other times in court, Martha did NOT wear a sweatsuit. She wore a black blouse with a tan and rust colored pattern on it, over a black sweater or tee, black slacks, and black running shoes. Her hair was longish and black, brushed back over her shoulders. She's 58 years old. If she was wearing makeup, it was very subtle.
(I was dressed in a pantsuit with a turquoise blouse, and Paul was wearing a suit.) All of the lawyers looked, of course, just like lawyers. One could have picked them out in a crowd.
There were also a couple of US Marshals present, and the usual court reporter type individual who was recording the proceedings. And a gentleman that I suppose was the bailiff.
About fifteen minutes after the hour, the door opened and the judge entered. "All rise," said the bailiff, and we all rose to our feet.
(To be continued...)
-Ann C. Crispin