Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Raw Emotion

Posted April 3, 2008
Updated April 4, 2008

A courtroom is a place where horrible things are talked about in sterile terms. The judicial process requires a certain level of decorum. But when someone is killed, there's no way to completely remove emotions, even from the most formal courtroom setting. I am always amazed at the juxtaposition of the human drama and the sterility of the process.

The case of Victoria Goode was one of those cases that featured disturbing, graphic testimony against a backdrop of courtroom formality. She was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her ex-girlfriend's new partner. Prosecutors and police described how Goode was so enraged by this turn of events that she hit Malone once with her car, then tried to hit her with a hammer, and then finally ran over her, killing her. Goode testified she remembered none of the accident, but tears streamed down her face as she thought about what she had done and told the court she never intended to hurt anyone.

Audience members, many of them relatives and friends of Veronica Malone, the victim, wept and held each other as they were forced to relive her death over and over again. Their pain only added to the drama in the courtroom, a place where audience members are asked to remain quiet at all times.

Probably one of the more emotional moments came when the 911 tape was played repeatedly in open court. A witness called just after Malone was hit the first time. Malone was in the street, injured, but alive. While the witness was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, Goode ran over Malone again with her car, this time killing her. In the background of the call you could hear the screams as Malone was killed, but more poignantly, the caller himself also screamed into the phone after witnessing an unthinkable tragedy.

The bottom line is that no matter how many rules of decorum are in place, there is no taking raw emotion out of the courtroom. It is a stage where human tragedy plays on a regular basis.

About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.