My ultimate goal in politics is to see plea bargaining abolished. Some folks have there own opinions about it and that’s nice, I encourage you to read below and I hope to enlighten you on the reality of plea bargaining. I am a former prison guard and my brother who has has been under the law’s thumb since he was 15 and is serving a life sentence, that he plea bargained for under duress at 19.
There are two documents here for consumption and reflection, one is about the plea bargaining system with references to an actual instance where plea bargaining was used coercively. The other is that person’s story meant for film told through his sister’s eyes. For the lawyer types I suggest the research article, it’s 50 pages but reads how one expects. For the folks hungry for a story read on for “The Holler”
TREY(19) alone in a prison cell, his clothes are soiled from his own vomit and sweat. He throws up in the toilet beside his bed, he doesn’t flush. Sam closes his eyes and he flashes back to the last 96 hours. Mud. A dog barking. Call mom crying. “I want a lawyer.” Questions. “I want a lawyer.” Fingerprints, mug shot, shower. Squat and cough. “I want a lawyer.” The back seat of the cop car. “I want a lawyer.” Face on the side of the door, the clicking of cuffs. Hands up. Get out of the truck. Shorty’s face. Blue lights in the mirror. Shorty’s face. Dinner at Golden Corral. Smoke Crack. Buy crack. Leave Ereka’s house. Fight with Ereka. Fuck Ereka. Ride to Ereka’s house. Smoke crack. Shorty coming out the back room in his boxers. Smoke crack. Shorty is going to the back room. Shorty smiles and grabs his dick. The man in the other room hollers “hey.” “Hey!” A guard yells for Trey to get up for count. There is commotion all around. Trey stumbles to the front of his cell and stands silently. “Time for count.” The call for Count silences the prison, you can hear the click of the counter as it accounts for each prisoner.
Early morning at a suburbia house LUKE(38)grabs the newspaper off the kitchen counter. The front page of the small town paper reads “Luke McKillian under investigation.” Luke kisses his wife goodbye and is off to work. His boss greets him immediately with the newspaper. He tries to explain, the boss doesn’t listen and tells him to fix it. The boss hands him a new case. A penance, court appointed attorney for Treyvan Lee Derseraux. The two decide a plea bargain will be the fastest and easiest route. The boss calls the DA and Luke heads down to county jail. In the car a song from 1992 comes on the radio. Luke stops at the grocery store to pick up a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey. His total comes to $19.92.
$19.92 on the register and MOM(28) with her three children are at the store. The mom’s entire attention is on the register while the youngest, DION (3), trapped in the top seat of the cart is squealing through his wired shut teeth. The other two, one boy and one girl, are embarassed by the toddler. The boy, TREY (10) is staring at some baseball cards. The little girl, KIESHA (7), licks her blistered lips and asks Mom for some chapstick. The mom considers for a moment and tells her that if she would just stop licking her lips they wouldn’t be chapped. Trey slips the baseball cards into his pocket. In the car Trey hands Kiesha the chapstick. Kiesha opens it and rubs it all over her chapped lips as if it were as quenching as a glass of water in the desert. She smiles and hugs Trey. At home Trey places his baseball cards in a shoebox under his bed. Over a period of 5 years the items in the shoebox would grow and change. Baseball cards became video games, video games became CD’s. Knives multiplied, weed appears in different quantities and lastly guns go in and out.
“Mom I’m taking the car!” TREY(15) and his MOM(33) are fighting. KIESHA(12) is making a big pot of ramen, 5 packs are out. “Where’s Dion!” the mother shouts at Kiesha about Dion being gone. “Dion is at Ronny’s house with PeaNut,” Trey finally chimes in as he takes the keys, “that’s where you’re going anyways.” Even though Trey is not old enough to drive and doesn’t have a license, Mom gives in. Mom puts four packs of ramen away and tells Kiesha that they would share one. At the mall Trey steals himself a new outfit and some CD’s.
He meets up with some friends from school, they are the rich kids. While walking around the mall they make fun of a fat girl (Shara-16). Trey steals more CD’s hiding them in his double waistband. As the boys walk around Trey bumps into Shara, but as the two collide Shara hits him right in the gut. Trey’s stolen goods fall around and the other boys shame him and run off. Shara helps him pick his stuff up and puts the CDs in her bag. Shara and Trey have a coke at the food court where Shara asks Trey if he wants to touch her boobs. They go to a parking lot, between two minivans for their trist. Shara tells Trey that he has to kiss her first, before she will let him touch her boobs. So he does. Then Shara grabs his hand and puts it on her fat titty. She grabs his jeans and kisses him hard. Trey returns home smitten. He gets pulled over but is given a warning. Everything is going great now he thought. Trey and Shara heat up quickly, they have sex and are determined to explore every aspect of their new found activity. They fuck in every position possible, they do it in every location they can think of… the table, the car, bathroom, family member’s beds, and they break a recliner.
Mom is teaching Dion how to tie her orange work tie as she slips her shoes off for the first time for the day. “Well if you are going to go, take Kiesha to her friend’s house and pick up a carton of cigarettes for me.” Trey’s mom tells him as he is leaving. Trey takes Kiesha to her friend’s house and meets EREKA(13). Ereka seduces Trey who is more than willing. Trey leaves in a hurry. He is late to pick up. Trey picks up 40 lbs of weed from the weed man and is given directions to take it about 70 miles away. Trey leaves and stops at the gas station and picks up the carton of cigarettes. The cop that pulled him over sees him drive away and goes after. Trey is arrested, they find the weed. He pleas for 2 years in juvie, and he is offered a program that is like a boot camp for juvenile criminals. Kiesha visits him in jail where he tells her that Shara broke up with him but Ereka has been calling him.
Kiesha tells him that she didn’t move with mom to the new place. Kiesha and Mom attend his “graduation,” it was his release day. Trey goes home and meets his probation officer, he signs several papers acknowledging that he has to be in the house at certain hours, must submit to a drug test, and he has to pay the state $500 a month. Trey gets a job. His mom’s friend called in a favor to get Dion hired. He gets his first few checks, $170 one week, $140 the next. The pay depended on the rain, it was construction. After a particularly rainy month Trey decides to take a few tools and pawn them to cover the $500 a month debt. Trey starts stealing again. Trey starts seeing Ereka, he buys her stuff with the money he make from stealing. At the new house, under his bed is full, but now Trey has a shed too.
It’s raining, Mom and Trey are arguing. “If he could walk to get there, then he can walk to get home.” Mom tells Trey to take her car to pick up Dion from a neighbor’s house. Trey honks the horn. He walks up to the porch and opens the door without knocking. “Dion it’s time to go.” DION(8) and his friend PEANUT(8) are glued to the TV. RONNY(59) sits off to the corner with his cane. The place was alive with cockroaches, filth, junk and trash intermingled with collectables and cat shit. Trey steals Dion’s cigarette and watches for a moment the porno playing on the TV. Trey asks Ronny for some money, Ronny gives it to him telling him that it is for his mom.
At work Trey creeps over to the tools again, grabs the trash and throws an electric saw inside. Trey looks up and sees SHORTY(19) standing in the bathroom doorway watching him. Shorty smiles and touches his nose as he walks away. The next day Trey sees Shorty taking money out of the work truck glove box. Shorty sees Trey looking at him, Trey smiles and touches his nose. Trey takes Shorty back to his shed. The two go smoke crack, become friends, and plan to start breaking into houses together.
One inside guy and one outside guy. Only during the day, most people are at work during the day so they can hit up several houses in a row if they are lucky. The inside guy walks around the house first, looking into the windows to see if anyone is home. Once around the back the inside guy gives an owl call to the outside guy who then goes and knocks on the door with a broken vacuum. This is incase someone was out of view, a lesson they learned together when they walked in on a woman taking a shit. After no one comes to the door the outside guy gives a quail call back to the inside guy signaling him to go in. The outside guy waits for the inside guy to wave him off. The outside guy goes back to the car to wait for the inside guy to gather up all the good stuff, they haul it out together.
The stuff has to be in good condition for the pawn guy to accept it. They steal tools, appliances, jewelry, guns, knives, and even once some 4-wheelers. They only kept the 4-wheelers for a few days joyriding on them then crashing them in a ditch, “to easy to track back.” Trey goes and fucks Ereka. He then goes to see Shara, fucks her and asks her to piss in a cup for him. She does, Trey takes it and rolls out to meet his probation officer. He takes his test, delivering Shara’s fresh urine for the sample. Trey starts doing more drugs and seeing Shara regularly to fuck and for her pee. Meanwhile Mom has a new boyfriend, and Kiesha is only around occasionally to smoke weed. Kiesha and Trey trip acid one day. They go for a walk in the woods where they play hide and seek like little kids again. Things are good again for Trey.
At work his boss catches him stealing, and fires him. On the way home his truck over heats, he gets some help from A PASSER BY. When the good samaritan takes his fancy watch off to work under the hood Trey takes it. The man notices but also noticed the hand gun in the passenger’s seat. When Trey arrives home, he storms in and slams the door closed. “What’s Kiesha doing here?” Kiesha is sitting stoned out with Mom, in stark contrast to Dion’s restless foot tapping. The thumping is deafening to Trey.
“Please Trey have a seat, we all need to talk.” Trey and Mom get into an argument, he thinks this is about him. Another intervention, Trey knows how this is going to go, so he sits down and prepares himself. He puts up a wall ready to defend himself from the investigations, alligations, and highlights of all of his shortcomings, as if he didn’t know already. “I have cancer.” Dion’s foot stops. “I am going to die soon.” The mom explains her terminal condition, Kiesha starts crying. Trey gets pissed at his mom. Trey blames her for her own sickness. Trey takes her keys and $20 out of her wallet. The mom asks him where he is going. He says “to the store.” She hands him $20 more and tells him to pick up her a carton too. Kiesha pulls out some weed to smoke with the mom as Trey leaves his mother’s house for the last time as a free man.
TREY(19) in his prison cell sleeping is awakened in the night by the guard. Time for questioning again. Luke greets him and is repulsed by the smell of Trey. This whole case stinks to both Luke and the DA. DLuke does his best to hide his disgust from his client. Luke presents Trey with the case. There is no blood evidence on Trey or anything they found of his. But they got him on video at the store. Trey asks about Shorty, Luke can’t tell him about Shorty. The good cop, TONYA(42), comes in and sits with Trey and Luke to talk about the night in question. She brings him a burger, he eats half of it like he is starving and then puts it down. Trey admits to stealing some guns and knives from Ronny. He tells him that they are at Ereka’s house, but she has nothing to do with it. Tonya tells him that Ronny is dead. The bad cop, JUSTIN(28), comes in, he asks Trey, “what about the blood?” Trey says “what blood?” Trey gives a statement about killing a dog. Luke is looking through the documents and scribbling notes, seemingly not paying attention. Justin eats the rest of Trey’s burger. The cop shows Trey pictures of the gruesome crime scene. He gives details on how the body was decomposed, covered with roaches, and cats were eating away at the body when they found it. Trey throws up all over his lawyer and the cop. They take him away shower him and throw him naked into a room by himself, the room is completely empty except the familiar toilet and water fountain combo.
Trey closes his eyes and he flashes back to the last 96 hours. Blood. A dog barking. Call mom crying. “I want a lawyer.” Questions. Fingerprints, mug shot, shower. Squat and cough. “I want a lawyer.” The back seat of the cop car. Face on the side of the door, the clicking of cuffs. Hands up. Get out of the truck. Shorty’s face. Blue lights in the mirror. Shorty’s face. Dinner at Golden Corral. “Give me a carton of Winston’s now!” Rob a convenience store. No money. Smoke Crack. Buy crack. Leave Ereka’s house. Fight with Ereka. Fuck Ereka. Ride to Ereka’s house. Ride out to nowhere. Smoke crack. Leave mom’s house. Mom is dying. Smoke crack. Buy crack. Steal watch. Truck broke down. Shorty coming out the back room in his boxers. Smoke crack. Shorty is going to the back room, he smiles and grabs his dick. The man in the other room hollers “hey.” Shower. Clothes in the wash. Take off clothes. Scratching name off medicine bottle. Empty room. Cold floor. Cold water. Take off clothes. Face on table. Vomit. Burger.
The bad cop comes in chewing on a toothpick, “We gotcha.” He throws Trey a hospital gown and tells him to get dressed. Trey goes back to the interrogation room. The cop says he doesn’t need a lawyer because the cop is going to be the one talking. The bad cop tells Trey a story: You and Shorty were planning a hit on Ronny because Ronny use to pay your mom for sex and you didn’t like that. So you and Shorty plan to rob and murder him. Things got messy when Ronny put up a fight that’s why he was stabbed 47 times, then to finish the job you shot him twice. We are dragging the lake, so it’s only a matter of time before we pick up the murder weapons. We will have a full confession coming from Shorty saying you did it. Trey asks for his lawyer, Trey is taken back to his empty holding cell in his hospital gown.
Several hours pass, Trey thinks back to his mom. What was the last thing she said on the phone? Blood. A dog barking. “I’m sorry Trey. I can’t help you now, the bail is so high I couldn’t get you out. Did you really do it? Did you kill Ronny? Don’t tell me. Was it because the boys?” Call mom crying. Dinner at Golden Corral. “Give me a carton of Winston’s now!” Rob a convenience store. No money. Smoke Crack. Buy crack. Leaving mom’s house. Mom is going to die? Drive out to nowhere.
Two weeks pass. Then Tonya comes in and tells Trey his mother is here to see him. The mother has been through chemo, her hair is gone but the 10 pounds gone looks good on her. Tonya gives him a cigarette and tells him about the furlough program where they let you out for a short amount of time for extreme circumstances. Luke visits Trey with a plea for him to take life in prison without parole. He tells Trey there will be a chance for him to get out one day, and that if he doesn’t take it the DA will push for the death penalty. Luke then uses the mom’s condition to manipulate Trey, saying his conviction and trial would be his mother’s nail in the coffin. She would die because of him. He refuses. A week goes by, his mother comes to see him again. She is frail, eyes sunken, and she has a colostomy bag now. Trey in contrast has gained weight and is looking bright eyed. His mother is happy to see him in his condition but Trey is sad to see is mother in her’s. The mother comes to plea with him to take the deal. She has arranged that he could come to the funeral, they would make the arrangements that week.
A week later, Trey and Shorty both stand before the judge. This is the first time they have seen each other since they were arrested. Both claim to be the outside guy, both say that the other was the inside guy and was responsible for the murder. Sobbing Shorty accepts the plea for life in prison without parole for the murder of Ronny. Trey stands and looks at his mother and sister in the courtroom and accepts the plea for life without parole as well, for his role in the death of Ronny.
“Let’s go Trey” Trey has been waiting for this moment for weeks now. This is how he would find out about his mother’s death. They cuff his hands. He is chained at the feet. Then they attach a belt around his waist. Tonya is a heavy set woman. Trey could easily over power her but not restrained like this. It’s just Tonya and a buff male driver. “That guy is so full of himself” Trey thought. Trey goes to the funeral home and sees his sister, she embraces him. He wishes he could return the gesture. They walk together with the female guard holding control of his movements. In the coffin mom is skinny and frail somewhere between a skeleton and a raisin. She is wearing a hat and a ruby dress, “mom always looked good in red.” Trey goes back to the awaiting van, the male guard wants to go to the bathroom. He leaves Trey and the female guard alone. As soon as the male guard turns the corner, Trey asks the guard if she wants to fuck. She gets in the back. She pulls Trey’s dick out and pulls her pants down. She says “it’s got to be quick.” Trey fucks her, he was quick, by the time the male guard gets back Trey and the female are deep into post coital silence as if nothing ever happened.