Apr 5, 2016
"Fr. Freed is not waiting for revenge or retribution; he is waiting for justice. Whether there is justice for Fr. Freed is up to you."
"Both sides have been dreading this day," said Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac in his final statement to the jury in the Gary Lee Bullock trial. He mentioned that a lot of people behind the scenes had put in work on this case, he thanked DA Investigators Martin Perrone and John Burke.
Mr Isaac expressed similar sentiments echoed by Mr. Kaleb Cockrum minutes before in his closing, that the case had been with them for over two years and now it was time to turn it over to the jury.
"Families have been waiting, there are people in the room have been waiting, who believe that Fr. Freed is waiting," said Mr. Isaac. "Fr. Freed is not waiting for revenge or retribution; he is waiting for justice. Whether there is justice for Fr. Freed is up to you."
That is what the jury heard before the bailiff was sworn in. Minutes later they were escorted to the jury deliberation room.
Until the gag order is lifted, I cannot tell the jury, Judge John Feeney, the attorneys and the court staff what I feel. I hope I get that chance when this trial has concluded.
Regardless of the verdict in Phase 1; regardless whether this goes to Phase 2 or not; as a St. Bernard's parishioner, as someone close to Fr. Eric, seeing him every day, as someone who has covered more homicide trials in the last two years then I would care to; I am very grateful to all involved in this case, directly or indirectly.
I would like to thank EPD, the DA's office and law enforcement agencies that worked tirelessly and non-stop on the crime scene following the discovery of Fr. Eric's body so we could have our church back.
I would like to thank all the attorneys and investigators who worked on this case, including some who are no longer with the DA's office but have other careers.
I would like to thank Judge Feeney, Mr. Isaac, Ms. Eads, Mr. Perrone, Mr. Burke, Marybeth Bian, the bailiffs, the court staff for the exceptional job and hard work they have put in to this case.
I would like to thank DA Maggie Fleming, more than words can express.
I would like to thank Mr. Kaleb Cockrum for providing Gary Bullock with a good and vigorous defense. Bullock could not have asked for a better lawyer. Mr. Cockrum went to bat for his client and still presented his case with sensitivity and grace.
I don't think anyone understands the emotional and physical toll this takes on those involved, especially the attorneys and the Judge. I have been with them every step of the way.
I have prayed for all of these people, even Bullock and his family. Keep both sides in mind when the verdict is in because the healing has not even begun and it will take a long time.
For me, I chose to remember Fr. Eric how he was when I last saw him and spoke to him. Those five, uninterrupted minutes I was so lucky to have.
Fr. Eric would tell us often, "how do you measure faith?" And then he would strike a pose of someone with folded hands, looking pious and we laughed. That is not the measure of faith, he would say. "Faith can be measured by your capacity for joy."
"When you go out there, I want you to show the joy you feel. I want people to wonder why are those Catholics so happy? "
I think Fr. Eric would be very proud of his family, his friends and his parishioners in the way we have handled and conducted ourselves.
I thank God for Fr. Eric, my faith and all of you.