Longform

The Dead Zone

Page 6 of 6

Ultimately, it would be in Courtney's Fort Worth laboratory that three types of blood were detected on the boots: that of the killer Hopkins, and his victims, Marbut and Weston.

It is a fact not lost on Melody Smith, the mother of Grandview victim Jennifer Weston. "There's no way I'll ever be able to repay him for all the work he did on the case," she says. "I remember him coming up to me during the trial and introducing himself, telling me that he knew it was hard for me but that things were going to get better, to be strong.

"Listening to him testify about what had happened to my daughter and Sandi was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do," she says, "but at the same time I appreciated every word he said because I knew that he was telling the jury what it needed to know."

Now, almost 10 years after those trying days in the courtroom, it is not the gruesome details of the testimony that stick in Smith's memory. Rather, it is an exchange between Courtney and the attorney defending the man who had murdered her daughter. "He [the defense lawyer] was asking Mr. Courtney how many hours he had put in on the case and how much he had been paid by the prosecution.

"The amount of time he'd spent on the case was incredible, hundreds of hours. But he said that he would not be charging the county for the full amount of time he'd spent on the case. The defense attorney seemed taken aback and asked why.

"Mr. Courtney told him that he didn't think Johnson County could afford such a bill. Then he said, 'A lot of what I've done is simply because those girls and their families deserve it.'"

"I called him recently," Smith says, "just to let him again know how much I appreciate what he did for Jennifer. I know he's busy, and I felt a little guilty for taking his time. But he said he was glad I had called.

"He told me it helped to remind him of the reason he does what he does."

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Carlton Stowers
Contact: Carlton Stowers

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