Back to the grind at KBTX. Tuesday was my day up. It was a pretty quiet morning. We had the Noon show wrapped early, not that we had a whole lot to do. Waco fronts most of the show and we cut in locally for the weather and a community guest interview. They tape the interviews the previous week, all on one day. We just edit them down and add them to the list.
I ran some errands at lunch and called my Dad. I foolishly told him how quiet things had been and that I expected something big to happen right before air around 4:45. I get back from lunch and sit through the 2 o’clock meeting, go get an interview for another reporter, post some stories online, and walk the only intern to come in that day through the process of everything. Then my Executive Producer tells me I’m headed to the courthouse. There was a capital punishment trial closing up that day. The closing arguments were that morning. I was told go and hold a mic and ask questions to those leaving the courtroom. That’s when the anxiety hit. KBTX had a reporter down there all week through this trial and now that the jury was going to decide whether the defendant gets death or life in prison I have to go ask questions? Luckily I had been following the live blog that Steve Fullheart (the reporter) had been doing the whole week so I was at least familiar with the trial. There was a good chance I could have gotten there and waited all night. I stood in the back of the courtroom as the jury came back. I stood in the back of the courtroom as the judgement was read. I stood in the back of the courtroom and watched a man be sentenced to death. I could hardly breathe. The small, circular room was rife with emotion, from both families. It was my first trial as a journalist. I took a moment and let it settle, then focused on what I had to do; run tape back to the truck and then help Jordan (the photographer) with anything he or Steve needed. It was a hectic few minutes right after the trial was dismissed but we got all of our interviews.
Something I found interesting was the relationship that developed between Steve and the victim’s family. He knew them all and they knew him by first name. He had been the only link to the courtroom for many of the relatives and friends who couldn’t come for the trial. He had been the only link for most of the world for that matter. I can’t imagine what toll it takes on your psyche sitting in a murder trial and seeing all of the evidence and photos and then having to keep your composure to relay the important stuff.
Overall, a busy end to a long day. I watched Steve’s live shot from the courthouse and headed back to the station. I ended up talking to my Dad about it the whole way back to Huntsville.