By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
There on the stand, as on all previous days of the trial, Clint shows no expression on his 43-year-old, clean-shaven face. His countenance doesn't change when Young asks him if he shot Michael and Marisa Hierro.
"No, I did not," Clint says, turning to face the jury. "I have not killed anyone nor have I tried to kill anyone."
Clint coolly answers all of Young's questions, but his demeanor turns noticeably snide and, at times, argumentative when Shook begins to cross-examine him. Shook's goal is to expose Clint as a liar--and it doesn't take him long. Piece by piece, Shook confronts Clint with his alibis and lets him hang himself with his own words.
A little more than an hour into his testimony, Shook challenges Clint with his story about the masks and gloves he claimed to have tossed into the port-a-potty the night before the murder. Isn't it true, Shook asks, that the items could not have been there if the toilet were cleaned the next day?
"If he cleaned it thoroughly," Clint says, suggesting that Charles Lakes lied about his job.
Or you could have left them there after you killed Michael Hierro and shot Marisa?
"Whatever," Clint responds.
Clint stares at the ground as Shook throws Clint's excuses back in his face. The police lie. Marisa is lying. The port-a-potty guy lied. Shook, scanning the jury, announces that everybody in this case is lying except Clint Shelton. Then he turns around and faces Clint.
"You've had a lot of bad coincidences in this case, haven't you?" Shook says.
Clint lifts his eyes from the ground and stares back at Shook.
"I've had bad coincidences all my life; yes, sir."
The next day, the jurors spend a little more than three hours deliberating. At 4:02 p.m., they reach a decision: Clint Shelton, they agree, is a killer. As the word "guilty" pierces the packed courtroom, Clint shows no reaction at all. Seated directly behind him, Marisa bursts into tears for what she will later say is the last time.
Earlier today, Shook argued that they should give Clint, a "cold-blooded assassin," the maximum punishment and send him to prison for life. But because Clint has no prior criminal record, Young pointed out that he is eligible to receive probation. Clint, he argued, is the kind of guy who deserves a second chance.
"They should have no mercy on him for what he's done to our family," Marisa Hierro says.
For the second day in a row, Marisa joins her in-laws in the front row, but at the moment her mind is not on Clint. Instead, Marisa says she is amazed that Catherine Shelton is still on the loose. Nowadays, Marisa is living under "protection" and waiting for the day that Catherine is behind bars. Her wounded arm free of its sling, Marisa leans over the back of the wooden bench and whispers: "The biggest mistake they made was not killing me that night."
Across the aisle, a handful of young district attorneys talk jovially among themselves. Like the home crowd at a basketball game, they sit behind the prosecutor's table. A few are clutching pens and legal pads, which they use to take notes on Shook's presentation. In this case, Shook has amply shown them why he is one of the district attorney's top dogs. In fact, today Shook is celebrating his 17th anniversary as a prosecutor.
When the jurors pass their verdict to the judge, they give Shook the only present he wanted: a life sentence.
In contrast to her reaction to yesterday's verdict, Marisa does not cry. Instead, she rises from the crowd and makes her way across the courtroom. She is not going to pass up this opportunity to make a victim's impact statement.
Marisa gazes down at Clint from the stand. He casts his eyes away.
"I guess I should not be surprised that Clint is not looking this way," she begins. "He shows no remorse--just as he did that night."
Marisa calls Clint a monster. She tells him she will be at his parole hearing 30 years from now to argue that he should not be set free. Finally, she tells him something that some people have been speculating about for months.
"Catherine," she says, "has thrown you away."