June 25, 2013
Today it’s my turn to take the stand. To show Esme how much it mattered to me that she was so supportive, I had two dozen red roses delivered to the house from 1800Flowers. She was very pleasantly surprised and gave me a huge hug and kiss for them. She put one bouquet in the living room and one in our master bedroom. I was set to testify at 10 a.m., and had asked a few days before if it was possible for my entire family to be there during the process. Of course the DA made sure to reserve seats for them all behind him. Everyone in my family went that day including all of the Watchers. Talk about a group gathering.
In the first row behind the DA sat: Esme, Rogue, Alexander, Amy, Keith, and Corin. Second row were: Peter, Edward, Bella, Nessie, Emmett, and Rose. Third row were: Jasper, Alice, Leah, Seth, and Jacob. And in the last row were Michelle and her parents.
I was standing outside of the courtroom gathering my thoughts before being called. Esme and Rogue stood outside with me. Esme kept rubbing my back to sooth me while Rogue was trying to keep me calm. And surprisingly, I was. I knew what I had to do, what I had to say up there. The defense could try to discredit me all they wanted, but I wouldn’t let them win. At exactly 10 a.m., the bailiff called me into the courtroom. I took a deep breath and followed him in.
Esme and Rogue walked in behind me and took their seats in the front row. I had one hell of a cheering section. I walked past the DA and defense tables where I knew she was sitting, staring at me. I walked to the stand where I raised my right hand and swore to tell the truth, and then was seated. I was wearing a suit and tie that morning. The DA got up first and walked up to me.
“Please state your full name and occupation for the court,” he said.
“Carlisle Cullen. And I work as a doctor at Hanover Medical Center.”
“Thank you Dr. Cullen. Can you please point out the woman who you knew as Ashley O’Donnell?”
I looked over at where she was sitting and pointed to her without blinking. She was wearing a flower dress with flats. Her hair was done nicely and she had make up on. She, however, was chained to both the floor and the desk. When I pointed at her, she blinked and smiled a hopeful smile at me. I directed my attention back to the DA, which, I could see out of the corner of my eye, made her frown.
“Please tell the court how you became acquainted with Ms. Cunningham?”
“Certainly. The hospital was in the process of hiring new staff, which included nurses. And while I was out for a few days on vacation, Dr. Connolly hired her along with 4 others who have already testified. My first day back from my vacation was when I met her along with the others. Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Clark were both to work for me while the remaining three nurses were taken up to the NICU.”
“It was Ms. Clark who eventually became the object of Ms. Cunningham’s rage and was attacked by her in the parking lot, isn’t that correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Only because she was trying to get between you and me! Don’t you get it?” Ashley boomed from her seat, staring straight at me. Everyone looked at her like she had two heads.
The judge rapped his gavel. “Order! Ms. Cunningham, you are to remain quiet during these proceedings, do I make myself clear?” the judge asked, sternly looking at her.
“Yes, your honor,” she said quietly while her attorney tried to quiet her down. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
“Continuing. Dr. Cullen, when did you notice something was out of the ordinary?”
“I would have to say it had to be around the time when my wife and I ran into her at the grocery store. When my wife and Ashley, or Ms. Cunningham, rather, shook hands, my wife later told me that Ms. Cunningham all but tried to rearrange her knuckles. Like she was showing dominance. My wife having a pretty strong hand shake herself wasn’t fazed, but still said that was beyond bizarre.”
“Yes, that certainly is. What about in the hospital or at any gathering? Wasn’t there a ski party at some point organized by Ms. Clark?”
“Yes, there was. That was another time when I felt Ms. Cunningham was acting inappropriately. She knew how to ski but insisted that I give her pointers, which I was glad to do. However, when we got to a certain point she pretended to fall and purposely pulled me down with her. I can’t really describe the look on her face but it would be that of someone who was ready and looking to be kissed. I was shocked and immediately revolted. She was aware that I am a married man. To still pull a stunt like that was ridiculous. I was feeling pretty uneasy after the fact. My family and I left the party not long afterward.”
“Dr. Cullen, do you believe Ms. Cunningham is mentally ill?”
“No, I do not.”
“Because she poisoned a good chunk of my staff multiple times, she killed patients, and had others code that barely survived, some with life long side effects. She knew the difference between right and wrong. Yes she stalked me and sent me a massive amount of flower arrangements with pretty creepy cards, but I believe that she uses the insanity defense only to suit her needs. She knows perfectly well what she is doing. She attacked Ms. Clark with a butcher knife. She admitted to me that she did it as well as all the other things. I have been a doctor for many years, Mr. Allen, and I know an insane person when I see one; Ms. Cunningham isn’t one of them.”
“But Dr. Cullen, in Ms. Cunningham’s mind, you were in a relationship. Wouldn’t that qualify her for the defense of not guilty by reason of insanity?”
“What goes on in Ms. Cunningham’s mind only Ms. Cunningham knows, but from what I have seen these last several months, Ms. Cunningham used the whole insanity gambit to cover up her actual crimes of poisoning, attempted murder, and murder.”
“If you had to classify your relationship with Ms. Cunningham, what would it be?”
“I didn’t have any relationship with Ms. Cunningham. She was a staff member at the hospital, nothing more, nothing less.”
“A staff member? You—you . . . how could you? I was the most important person in that hospital! Why are you lying?” Ashley sputtered and attempted to stand up but couldn’t due to her restraints. A few officers moved in to make sure she stayed seated.
“Ms. Cunningham! One more outburst from you and you’ll be removed from the court! Now sit down and be quiet!” the judge said coldly, rapping his gavel.
While everyone remained where they were—waiting for the defense and officers to calm Ashley down—I glanced at my family, who were all sitting there like shocked statues, shaking their heads.
Just then I heard a voice in my head; Rogue’s. “Don’t worry Carlisle, it’s almost over. Just remember to remind the jury every chance you get that she’s a killer and not an insane one. She’s using all her yelling to throw the DA off track. Of course she still believes you are in a relationship, but regardless, the most important thing is to keep hammering away at the point that she is a danger to society, has killed before, will kill again and has to receive death.” I nodded. The DA shook his head to clear it and looked away from the defense table to continue.
“Continuing. I hope all of these ridiculous outbursts aren’t hindering your testimony, Dr. Cullen.” The DA looked at me.
“Not at all, we’re all used to drama from her. One of my children called her a drama queen. Because when Ms. Cunningham doesn’t get what she wants, she throws these fits and tantrums. It’s quite childish really, for an adult. It’s also a way she used her supposed insanity to throw people off what’s really happening.”
“So are you saying she’s done this before to take attention away from something she was doing that was harming someone?”
“Correct. Most of the code red’s or poisonings would happen and then she would start acting out, so we would pay more attention to her as opposed to those that were in need of our actual help.”
“Let’s go back to the night that all of this came to a head. Can you please explain to the court what happened?”
“For starters, I arrived at my office to find one flower arrangement without a note. After doing my first rounds, I went back to my office to find 3 more. None of them had notes, and at first I thought that they were sent to me by mistake, but then when I asked the delivery guy who was still on the floor and he said that they were in fact for me. Because they didn’t have notes, I gave them away to some of my patients, who were extremely pleased to have them. Why waste beautiful flowers when you’re in a hospital? Continuing, when I returned home, my living room was nonexistent because of the literally hundreds of flower arrangements that covered it. There were notes this time and they were beyond creepy. I’m sure Agent Kramer has already shared those with all of you.
“After that, I had gotten an emergency call from Dr. Connolly saying that Ms. Clark had been stabbed. One of our patients coded and barely survived but was able to ID the woman who was in his room prior to his code red. I, and Mrs. Melanides, along with her husband and other family members, then rode to the hospital where we all met Agent Kramer and the rest I believe you know.”
“What did you do with all of the flower arrangements?”
“After Mrs. Melanides took several photos of them and sent them to Agent Kramer, we took them out in large garbage bags and burned them.”
Ashley’s eyes grew wide at that last part. She mouthed, “Burned them.”
“Burned them? Isn’t that a bit severe?”
“I don’t think so. After everything that we have been through we didn’t want to wait until the next trash day and look at them.” I shook my head and shuttered at the memory.
“No further questions,” the DA said and nodded toward the defense. “Your witness.”
As the defense attorney was trying to determine whether it was safe to stand up since his client didn’t seem all that stable, the door to the courtroom opened and Agent Kramer walked in. He found himself a seat next to Seth. We nodded at each other. He then looked over at Rogue, who felt his presence and smiled when she saw him. After that, he kept his eyes trained on Ashley. Rogue apparently texted him about Ashley’s outbursts already. He wanted to make sure he was there if anything else happened. Finally the defense sighed softly, stood up, and walked toward where I was sitting.
“Good morning, Dr. Cullen,” he said. This was the same way he opened with Rogue and then proceeded to badger her until the DA spoke up. I knew a lot was on the way but kept my cool.
“Good morning,” I said clearly.
“Tell me Dr. Cullen, isn’t it true that you gave my client a ride home from work her first day at work?”
“Yes, it is true. It was pouring rain and she was standing by the bus stop getting soaked.”
“But Ms. Cunningham had a car.”
“That I didn’t know until much later.”
“You didn’t give any of the other nurses a ride home when most of them don’t have cars. Why single out Ms. Cunningham?”
“I am aware other nurses don’t have cars, however, every nurse and doctor ends on different shifts so it’s not like I could just wait and give everyone a ride. Ms. Cunningham and I happened to end at the same time that day.”
“Isn’t it true that when you drove Ms. Cunningham to her apartment, you sat in the car for another 10 minutes or so, getting to know each other?”
“Yes, that is true. Is there something wrong with trying to get to know the person you’re going to be working closely with?”
“Of course not. But there is something wrong when you give that person hints that you are interested in them.”
“I beg your pardon? What hints?” I asked suspiciously.
“Well for starters, telling my client that you know she’ll find that right person in the future and soon. You can’t see that as being a little too forward?”
“Objection! Council is reaching,” the DA said.
“Sustained. Mr. Woods stay focused,” the judge said.
“My apologies; allow me to rephrase. My client clearly felt that you were coming on to her with that comment.”
“I can’t control how someone will feel based on something I say.”
“Dr. Cullen, you are married, correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Very happily.” What kind of dumb-ass question was that? I thought to myself. Edward and the Watchers smiled after reading my mind.
“So you would never leave your wife for my client, is that correct? Despite making her believe that you would.”
“I would never leave my wife for anyone, especially not your client. And I never said anything regarding leaving my wife for Ms. Cunningham. That is all part of her make-believe world where she pretends to hide from facing the truth about what she has done,” I said.
“What????? Part of my make-believe world????? Are you out of your mind?!? You love me! I know it . . . I feel it! You’ve smiled at me! You drove me home, no one else—EVER! Your wife is ugly! I bet you even sleep in separate bedrooms because of the fact that you can’t look at her! Pathetic! I’m beautiful and perfect for you! I can make you so HAPPY!
Ashley was screeching at the top of her lungs by this point, as the judge rapped his gavel and ordered her to be removed from the court. Agent Kramer and Rogue jumped into the fray to assist the other officers. She was resisting as they were ordering her to stop resisting.
Everyone was looking at her with wide eyes, including the jury. As she was literally being carried away she screamed out again.
“He came here for me today! He came to see me! Because I’m beautiful and he missed me! I love you and you love me, Carlisle! I know it, damn it! I know it! I will KILL as many people as I want. FUCK THEM AND FUCK ALL OF YOU TO HELL!”
That last portion was howled so loudly that I thought the walls would shake. Holy hell . . . what a freak! At that point the defense, who was shaking from head to foot, said, “No further questions,” and the judge dismissed me from the stand. He also called it an end for the day.
From then on, Ashley wouldn’t be allowed to be present at her trial. She would sit in her cell while the others testified. That was a good thing, especially for Charlotte who really was stressing about seeing her again. I’m glad she went ape shit on me and caused herself to be removed from the room so that Charlotte wouldn’t have to deal with her. I couldn’t care less though, granted that performance was something else and a half.
As my family and I left the courtroom and court house, I knew only one thing: I really, really needed a glass of wine, or three.
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