The following week, Noah’s trial resumed. Sharlee and her parents weren’t in court for Ton’s testimony. The prosecutor kept harping on Ton’s criminal record. By the end of the questioning by the prosecution, the jury thought of Ton as an unsavory character and discounted his testimony.
The next day, Sharlee and her parents were back in town to attend the trial. The prosecution called their final witness, Monty Clemonts. Sharlee remembered him. He was the one who had tried to kiss her that night. She listened closely to his testimony.
After having him tell his version of the events the night that Mickey died, the prosecutor asked him about his and Noah’s roles in the gang. Mr. Thorne objected, but the judge overruled his objections.
Monty described his own role, and then he described Noah’s. “Noah could strip a car faster than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
“No. We were lures too!”
Mr. Starke asked, “And what is a lure?”
“Well Mick started his own stable.”
Monty answered, “He had his own Hookers pulling in cash.”
“And what did this stable have to do with you and the defendant?”
The prosecutor was still questioning Monty. “Was this against their will?”
“No. They got a cut of the money they pulled in.”
Mr. Thorne jumped up! “Objection, Your Honor!”
“Overruled. You may answer the question Mr. Clemonts.”
Under cross examination, Noah’s attorney, Mr. Thorne brought out the fact that the DA had made a sentencing deal with Monty and Bones in exchange for their testimony. However, Monty still stuck with his version of events.
Dedric Thorne met with his private investigator after court that day. They were still unable to find any of the girls who had worked for Mick.
“You have brought disgrace on our family name. My parents will never again want anything to do with me! MY SON IS A PIMP! How can I ever live this down!”
“So everyone but you is lying? You expect me to believe that!” She was shouting at him. “I thought that getting pregnant was the biggest mistake that I had ever made, but I was wrong! Giving birth to you was the biggest mistake of my life!”
Noah had always wondered if she felt that way, and now she had uttered the words. He didn’t need to hear anymore. He raced out of the house and into the garage. He yanked off his jacket and tie. He intended to get his bike and leave. He was never coming back again. Then in the next instant, he remembered Sharlee.
Sharlee’s parents had given her cellphone privileges back to her. When she answered, Noah said, “Can you come over right now?”
His voice sounded odd, and so Sharlee didn’t hesitate. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
She was still grounded, but she could tell that Noah needed her. It surprised her that his mother was allowing her to visit. She left a note for her parents, explaining why she had broken curfew. Then she rushed to Noah’s home.
She said softly, “Today was a really bad one, wasn’t it?”
There was a tremor in his voice as he answered, “Yeah.”
“No matter what anyone else says or does, you know what kind of a person you are. You know who you are, Noah! You can’t let them change how you see yourself. It’s sad but to me it seems like most people only want to see the bad. I wish that they could see the real you, the way that I do!”
“I need to be close to you, Sharlee.”
Melina looked out the window and saw Noah and Sharlee kissing each other. She was furious and headed for the door. Surprisingly, Will stopped her. He of course had heard everything that she had said to Noah.
Melina stopped. “What are you talking about?”
“When I first met you Melina, you were a broken woman. Your parents had broken your spirit. Slowly, you seemed to get better, and you even seemed happy. Over the years though, you have changed. You’ve become bitter and hard.” He paused.
Then he said, “Is the reason why you’re so opposed to Sharlee because she’s stronger in her resolve not to sleep with Noah than you were with Noah’s father? It’s wrong to hurt them because of your own guilt. I’ve been surprised that Noah has stuck around throughout this trial despite the harsh way that you have treated him. I realize now that it’s because of that girl. He really loves her. That girl is the only thing keeping him fighting. If you keep them apart, you will break him.”
Melina looked out the window again and then she went into the kitchen.
“For loving me, unconditionally.”
Noah kissed her again, and then Sharlee went home.
It said, “I love you today. I’ll love you tomorrow. I’ll love you always.”
The defense’s case took three days. They put both of Noah’s parents on the stand, but their testimony ended up helping the prosecution more than the defense. Then the attorneys for both sides gave their closing statements. After that the jury was taken away to deliberate their verdict. The jury reached a verdict and everyone assembled in the courtroom to hear it.
As he sat in the courtroom waiting to hear the verdict, Noah thought about his mother’s apology for what she had said to him. She told him that she was just upset and that the stress of the trial was getting to her. However, the damage was done. Noah didn’t believe her apology, and he would never forget what she had told him.
Outwardly, Noah was polite to both her and Will, but his mother’s words to Noah and their testimony at the trial had shown Noah how they really felt about him. Knowing the truth about their feelings didn’t hurt as much as he’d thought it would.
In his closing statement, the prosecutor had intimated that Noah was dating Sharlee because her family was wealthy. They realized that the prosecution had been wrong, and it made them wonder what else the prosecution had been wrong about. However, it was too late for doubts now. Their verdict was in.
The judge said that Noah’s sentencing hearing would be the following morning. He instructed the deputies to take Noah into custody. They handcuffed him and led him away.
That evening, Sharlee sat in her room at the rental house, feeling completely dejected. She couldn’t believe that the jury had found Noah guilty! The next morning, the judge would listen to statements from Noah’s family and friends before he sentenced Noah. Sharlee was trying to write her statement. She kept starting over and ripping it up until she had it right. She got very little sleep that night.
Noah’s parents went first and both gave brief statements asking the judge for leniency for Noah. One of his teachers and his former employer in Mesa Valley also spoke for him. Then it was Sharlee’s turn.
“Your honor from the time when we first start school, we are taught that every man woman and child, each citizen is entitled to a fair, impartial trial as an individual. When the jury heard that I was Noah’s girlfriend, they closed their ears and their hearts to my testimony. So today, your honor, I’m asking you to listen to me as a fellow citizen who still believes that Noah Hall can find true justice in your courtroom. Over and over, before, during and after the trial, the prosecution referred to Noah’s case as setting an “example.” That means that they did not see him as an individual. He was an “example.”
She continued, “I as a citizen can understand, but even then each case should be examined as to its own distinct merits. Noah’s teacher and his employer testified about Noah’s intelligence. He can picture the engine schematics for a car in his mind and then find out what is wrong with the car. He is working on a special new engine for his motorcycle. Everyone always looks up to doctors, lawyers, artists, celebrities; but we need people like Noah. We need people with imagination that love to work with their hands and aren’t afraid to get dirty to get the job done.” Sharlee’s voice trembled and she paused.
Then she started back speaking. “Noah’s case was not the one to use as an example, and I’ve seen your efforts to be fair. So I know that you too have to see that, Your Honor. You had access to more information than the jury had. Noah should never have been tried as an adult. The juvenile system of justice was established to handle crimes committed by juveniles. Noah’s case falls within that category. I’m asking you as a citizen and yes, as Noah’s girlfriend, please show mercy in your sentencing! Thank you for allowing me to speak.” Sharlee left the stand with tears in her eyes.
“First of all Mr. Hall, I want to tell you that if I were you, I would do everything that I can to live up to the high opinion that Ms. Stallworth has of you. I’d hang onto her! Now as to your sentence. I have taken into consideration the prosecution’s point of view as well as that of the defense. I also cannot disregard the jury’s verdict. Mr. Hall would you please rise with your attorneys?”
Although it was better than ten years in the adult prison center, Sharlee still couldn’t stop tears from falling down her cheeks. Noah was taken to a room so that he could say goodbye to his family. The judge allowed Sharlee to go as well.
“Babe, it’s okay. I understand. Sharlee promise me that you will have fun sometimes like a normal teenager.” He laughed. “I don’t mean like you did last week though.”
“Don’t worry, I’m never doing that again!”
“If you meet a guy that you really like…”
Sharlee cut him off, “Don’t say that! It’s not going to happen!”
“Sharlee, it might. Even if it’s the way it was with your old boyfriend. You said that wasn’t serious. You just had a good time together. Please don’t hold back because of me. I don’t want you to miss out on anything because of me.”
“Oh, Noah. There won’t be anyone else but you. I don’t want anyone else but you. You might as well accept the fact that I’m going to wait for you. But, just because you asked me, and I don’t want you worrying, I will go out sometimes.”
She knew that she would worry about him, but she didn’t say it. She didn’t have to say it. Noah knew it too.
“Don’t you worry about me either. Like I told you before, I’m always okay. I’ve been in Juvie before too, remember. As long as I mind my own business, I’ll be alright. I took a man’s life and that’s not okay. I do deserve some punishment. I just want to do my time and put all of this behind me. Then I can be with you again.”
Dale didn’t waste any time. “Noah, when you are sixteen, four years is a long time. If you really care about Sharlee, then you need to let her go!”
“Mr. Stallworth, I do love Sharlee. I tried to let her go. I told her not to wait for me, but you know how your daughter is after she makes up her mind. She said that she is waiting for me no matter what I say! I asked her to go out with other people sometimes, and she did agree to do that.”
“Well, it makes me feel better to know that you at least tried.”
“I hate to violate her confidence, but I have to tell you this because it’s very important to her. She will never tell you herself. She loves you just as much as if you were her natural father, and Mr. Littler is just like a friend to her, not a father. She wishes that you would adopt her, so that she will really be your daughter. It will give her a greater feeling of security. Because of my own family situation, I understand how she feels.”
Noah responded. “I will, and you take care of Sharlee.”
At first, Bronson was upset about the idea, but then he seriously thought about it. He knew that Sharlee really considered Dale to be her father. Even though she visited him a few times during the year, Dale was the one raising her. Bronson paid child support, but if he agreed to the adoption he would not have to pay that anymore.
However, he wanted Sharlee to be happy. He wanted her to know that he was only agreeing to the adoption for her sake. After having a heart to heart talk with her and letting her know that he would still always be there for her, Bronson agreed to the adoption. Sharlee’s visits to Bronson would still continue, but she would now legally be Dale’s daughter.
I know everyone is probably upset because Noah lost his case and is going to a Juvenile Detention Center. Please trust me and remember that I love Noah too! He’ll still be in the story.