A Jewel Whodunnit...

Chapter Twelve: Final Verdict

"I think I'm gonna throw up."
Georgia paced up and down the corridor outside the courtroom, her expression troubled and her face pale. At either end of the corridor stood policemen, for though she was not in custody as such she was still very much under police guard. It had not taken long to build a case against the errant teen, for, once she'd made her confession to the police and had been thoroughly examined for evidence to prove her statement, there had been little more for the detectives to do. Georgia had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and not guilty to murder - but even a charge of manslaughter could bring her a prison sentence, and she was more and more apprehensive as the moments ticked by.
It had not taken much debating in court to present both sides of the argument. Though Sadie had been with Jewel on the remainder of their tour whilst much of the preparation was underway, she had been true to her word on every count for, not only had she testified, but she had also provided her sister with good legal backing and had enlisted the help of the motherly Alyssa to take care of the frightened girl whilst the process had been set in motion. Jewel had not yet returned to Los Angeles, though they were due to fly out the next day, and so Georgia found she had the support of both her big sisters as she awaited the verdict. Alyssa had come south at once, leaving her three children in the care of her capable husband, and, being the persuasive soul she was, had convinced Andrew that their home could be Georgia's, if the verdict went in her favour. She had already spoken to the officials about the idea, for it had worked for Sadie, and they had taken note of her words, but Georgia was still very afraid her sentence would include a jail term. As the clock hands began to move between the twelve and the six, Sadie headed off in search of an official who could tell them how long it was likely to be, and Georgia and Alyssa were left to themselves.
"With any luck, they'll call us in soon." Alyssa spoke now, indicating for Georgia to come sit down. "I know it's horrible waiting, but I'm sure it'll be all right, Georgie. And I'm sure too that the judge will let me take you to Birmingham to get your life back on track away from all the trouble down here, too."
"I don't even know if I'm safe." Georgia admitted. "In this area, I mean. What if someone wants to get their own back at me for it all?" She shuddered, coming to sit down. "I wish I'd never left home." She murmured. "I wanted to prove I was grown up and look at me. Running to my big sisters like I'm still some helpless kid."
"You're only eighteen. There's plenty of time to grow up." Alyssa put a gentle arm around her. "But listen, Georgie. Sadie put herself through a lot to testify in court. She even risked a charge of concealing evidence herself, over that poor girl's death. If the judge rules in your favour, I want you to appreciate what she did for you. She came out of there near tears the other day...don't let her have gone through that in vain. She loves you and wants to help you - we both do. But unless you want to help yourself, we're powerless to do anything."
"I won't let either of you down." Georgia murmured. "I'm sick of everything, Alyssa. Totally sick and tired of it all. I've never been so scared as I was when it happened...and now, well, having spent the last week in court and having had my life, and his life, and hell, Sadie's life taken to pieces, I realised how angry I am as well."
"Yeah. Angry that I let him treat me that way." Georgia nodded. "Angry that I wasn't strong enough to stand up to him and say no. Angry that I let myself get dragged into the drug thing, too." She swallowed hard. "I want to get out of it all. I really do. This week...it's made me realise that some things are more important than getting high."
"I'm glad to hear it." Alyssa told her gently. "And we'll do everything we can to help you. My husband is agreeable that you come to us in Birmingham, under the circumstances he could hardly bring himself to say no, but we're both very conscious of the fact we have small children, and, though Sharita is perhaps old enough to be sensible, Megan and Josh are tiny yet. We can't have them being led astray."
"I understand." Georgia nodded. "I...I mean to try not be a bad influence anyhow. If only I can have that chance...I promise I'll take it."
"Mark phoned me this morning." Alyssa continued, mentioning the brother who came between her and Sadie. "He's obviously read about this in the newspapers and he asked me if there was any way he could help out. I know he's not really in touch with what us girls are doing, but he does care, Georgie, and if you want his support then he's game to give it."
"That's sweet of him." Georgia leant up against her sister, closing her eyes briefly. "Aly, did Dad...has Dad said anything?"
"No, he hasn't." Alyssa admitted slowly. "But it might be because he's on military manoeuvre. You know how he is."
"Yes." Georgia sighed. "It's all right. I just wondered."
"What about this friend of yours? Grey? Sadie said you'd become quite attached to him."
"Alyssa, he's not my boyfriend!" Georgia looked startled at this. "Sure, he's my friend, but dammit, you think I'm letting any guy near me for at least the next century? Men suck and that's that!"
"I merely wanted to know if you intended to keep in touch with him." Alyssa looked amused.
"Would you be bothered, if I did?"
"No. Sadie's told me about him." Alyssa shook her head. "She said he's not the kind of guy who'd hold you back or get you into trouble...so I wouldnt mind."
"I like Grey more than I realised." Georgia admitted. "Not love like, Aly, but you know, friend like. He's stuck by me like mad through everything, even when he knew the truth. He's never been quite like the others, somehow. I mean, he doesn't use drugs - never has. He never much liked Neal. I think he got into the setup because he wound up in a rough patch and couldn't pay rent or whatever. I know he's like me and Sadie - Ds and Es at GCSE and nothing else to fall back on. It was a place to stay, that's all. He's said though that he wants to get out...and I know he will. He'll be fine."
"Will you?" Alyssa murmured. Georgia faltered.
"I don't know." She confessed. "I'm a mess of stuff right now."
"Well, then maybe you need to keep in contact with Grey, and let him be an example for you on how to be fine." Alyssa suggested with a smile. Georgia looked sheepish.
"Maybe." She acknowledged. "Oh! Sadie's coming back - and she's not glowering so I guess that means it won't be long."
"They reckon within the next twenty minutes. They're actually setting up for the verdict." Sadie herself put in at that moment. "George, don't look so freaked out. Whatever it is, chin up and take it, okay? We're all on your side, whatever happens."
"I know." Georgia swallowed hard. "But I don't want to go to jail. It's okay for you, you've been, you know what it's like and how it all works. I haven't...and I don't want to begin right now!"
"They'd have to be animals, to incarcerate you after all you've been through." Sadie said quietly. "Besides, your case was compelling enough to touch any jury. Don't panic about it till you know if you've anything to panic about, all right?"
"All right." Georgia paused, then, "Sadie?"
"I...guess thank you." Georgia stumbled over the words, her cheeks going pink as she did so. "I know you arranged my legal aid and my bail, and I know you went through a lot to testify for me, even after I'd been a bitch to you."
"We've never been friends, have we?" Sadie sighed, taking her sister's hands in hers and pulling her gently to her feet. "Maybe if we had, this wouldn't have happened."
"I don't hate you any more." Georgia admitted.
"Why did you hate me in the first place?" Sadie asked softly.
"You always took Mum's attention. She liked you best of all of us." Georgia said slowly. "She was always teaching you to sing or to play guitar or raving to Dad or someone about how good you were for your age and all that. When you did that show at primary school, in the nativity when you sang Silent Night - she was there clapping in the front row like you were, I dunno, some huge movie star or something. When your year four collage was given pride of place in the art room she was glowing that parents evening that that was her girl's work. I might as well not have existed. I'm not artistic, I'm not musical, I can't do a damn thing special. I felt like my whole life I've been trying to live up to what you've done - that's why I ran away from home, and got mixed up with Neal. I wanted to prove I could be better than you...guess I screwed up yet again."
"Oh!" Sadie stared, then, "God, Georgie, Mum loved us all! She'd always say to the neighbours how lucky she was to have five such wonderful children - she even said once she'd have liked more, if the money had been there to support them. We never had a lot as kids, Georgie, but we had Mum - all of us. We were her life, you know that. She even quit her folk singing to be there for us. And she loved you every bit as much as me, whether you were musical or not. Just because you don't want to play guitar or paint, it doesn't mean you're talentless. Mum...she always used to say that you showed signs of being the brightest of us, if only you'd focus your brain to school and not causing trouble. Hell, George, you were reading at two and a half! I didn't read till I was four!"
"She...said that about me?" Georgia looked taken aback.
"She did, Georgie, because I heard her say it too." Alyssa nodded. "And I remember too when you learnt to read so young, Mum was thrilled out of her skin to have a kid at playgroup who could already pick her name out of a list and who was learning to scrawl it everywhere in crayon. Even if you did occasionally choose to graffiti the bathroom wall with it. She often said that you'd grow up to do great things, once you'd outgrown the sillyness."
"It didn't always feel that way." Tears touched Georgia's eyes. "I was only a kid when she died, and I loved her so much. I just wanted to know she loved me as much as I did her."
Sadie bit her lip.
"I'm sorry if I took her away from you." She said finally. "I never realised you felt that way. I know you acted out a lot, even as a small kid - I guess it's not easy when you're one of the youngest to get attention all to yourself, huh?"
"No." Georgia shook her head. "James never cared, he's a weirdo brat and he'll go into the military and be like Dad...fine, who cares about him anyway. But I needed a Mum and I never had one - and when I did I was always competing with my damn big sister who was so damn wonderful at everything she did!"
"Shh, don't be like that." Sadie hugged her sister tightly. "Mum never chose to leave us, you know that. And now, well, she isn't here and all we have is each other - you, me, Alyssa and Mark, I guess, since James isn't interested in any of us and Dad's more into his military business than he is his children. We have to stick together and help each other through things...let the past go."
"Sadie's right." Alyssa nodded. "It wasn't always easy for me being the eldest of you all, either, especially when Mum died and I felt like I was playing mother at fourteen or fifteen when I should have been out at the movies or the mall with my friends...but hey, I'm not holding any grudges." She got to her feet, taking one hand of each of her sister's in hers. "And since I married Andrew and became a mother myself, I know how proud Mum must've been to have all of us." She continued. "I don't doubt for one minute that she loved us all equally, even if Sadie was musical where the rest of us were not."
"Miss Monahue?"
At that moment a burly police officer approached the trio and Georgia swallowed hard, exchanging looks with her sisters.
"Is it time?" Alyssa asked quietly. The officer nodded his head.
"If you'll come this way, Miss." He said to Georgia. "They want you in court now to read the verdict."
"Go on. It'll be okay." Sadie hugged her sister quickly, casting her a smile. "Really. Go on."
Swallowing again, Georgia did as she was bidden, and, Alyssa in tow, Sadie made her way to the gallery, her own heart pounding in her throat. She had done everything she could for her sister's freedom, but it rested with the judge and jury now. Would they decide against her plea of manslaughter and declare it murder? Or would they simply seek to make an example of another drugbound teen?
"I feel like I could have prevented all of this." She murmured to Alyssa as they took their seats. "If Georgia goes down, it's partly because I ignored the fact she was in trouble when Shock came to see me."
"It's not your fault, and even if it was you've more than made up for it in what you've done for her here." Alyssa said gently. "And so long as Georgia walks from this courtroom free, she won't want for family support ever again, I promise you. Somehow, Andrew and I will help her."
"She's worse than I was when you helped me. I had the drug kicked." Sadie pointed out.
"Yes, but I think Georgie will fight." Alyssa replied. "And you know as well as I do that Dad always called her the spitfire when we were small. She's the obstinate, fiery one who will set her mind on something and then do it, no matter what it takes. I think she'll be okay now she wants to sort her life out."
"So long as this goes for her." Sadie sighed, crossing and uncrossing her fingers. "I wish you were allowed to smoke in court rooms. I swear I'm more on edge than George!"
"I doubt it." Alyssa cast her youngest sister a thoughtful look. "I think she's feeling pretty terrible about it all, to be honest."
At that moment the judge entered, with the various legal officials, and silence was called in the court as the presiding justice - one Reginald Durrow -took his seat, eying the quaking Georgia solemnly. At length he spoke.
"Miss Monahue, you have pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter but not guilty to the charge of murder." He observed quietly. "Foreman of the jury, have you reached a verdict?"
 The foreman scrambled to his feet, nodding his head.
"We have, your honour." He responded, a little flushed and embarrassed for having been caught off guard.
"On the charge of murder in the first degree, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?"
A deathly pause, then, "Not guilty."
Sadie bit her lip, saying a silent thank you for this mercy at least.
"Then all that remains is for me to pass sentence."
Reginald fixed Georgia once more with his solemn gaze and she stared back at him with big frightened blue eyes, her complexion pale and her hands gripping the rail as if she was afraid she might fall.
"Georgia Monahue, you have pleaded and been found guilty of the charge of manslaughter, in the case of the death of Neal Ridley." The judge began slowly. "Taking another human life is a grievous crime indeed, and one that reparation must always be made for. The circumstances that have been presented to me so poignantly by your defence has indicated that Mr Ridley was far from a pleasant and law abiding individual. However, it would equally be wrong of me to dismiss you from this court without punishment, for all human life is sacred."
He paused, letting his words sink in. In the dock, Georgia swallowed hard, feeling sick inside.
"You are very young." Now the judge's tone was gentle. "And yet this ordeal will live with you for the rest of your life. I feel that sentencing you to a prison term could not possibly punish you more than your memories and dreams already do, and events like these can mark a turning point in a person's life. You have not always done good things, but now it's time to put those things right. Therefore my sentence is this."
Another pause, which seemed to go on forever, then,
"I am not going to send you to jail. I am imposing a two year sentence for your crime, suspended in light of the events and the terror you have been through. I am also sentencing you to one year's community service, and that you must attend probation and relevant rehabilitation counselling for one year. You are also to stay in the Kent area, and...yes?" As one of the aides approached the bench with a sheet of paper. "Oh, I see. Well, in that case, since your sister has come forward offering to take custody of you, your probation and counselling will be served by relevant authorities in the Birmingham area. That is the sentence of this court."
He lifted his gavel, then banged it down on the desk, and at the sound the last of Georgia's courage gave out. With a little sigh she fell backwards in the dock and slowly the world closed in around her as people hurried to her aid.
When she opened her eyes, it was to the reassuring faces of her sisters, and as she became more aware of her surroundings she realised she was in one of the quieter back rooms of the courthouse. Sadie squeezed her hand gently.
"You're only supposed to do the dramatic fainting bit if you're sent down." The Jewel said lightly. "Not if you're allowed to walk free."
Despite herself, Georgia raised a smile.
"I'm sorry." She murmured. "Noone told me the rules."
"Are you all right?" Alyssa sounded worried. "You fell like a dead weight."
"Yeah...I think it was just all the worrying." Georgia nodded, struggling to sit up properly. "I didn't eat breakfast and I feel like crap anyway." She turned her gaze on the older girl. "Aly, thank you for letting me come to Birmingham. I promise to do my best not to do anything to set your kids a bad example."
"You're welcome." Alyssa told her with a smile. "And I know you will." She hugged her sister. "It's over now. Neal is gone and he can't hurt either of you again. Sadie can go back to the States and you can start to get your life back on track. Everything will be fine."
"I guess so." Georgia nodded. She frowned. "Though I wish you weren't going to America, Sadie. This is the first time you and I have ever had civil conversation, and now you're going again."
"True, but you can email and phone and when your probation is up, come visit." Sadie assured her. "And besides, I'll be in England again. Jewel are doing okay here, despite the odd publicity." She smiled. "And Alyssa is right, you know. Things will be okay for us Monahue kids. So long as we stick together...everything will be fine."

Chapter One: An Uncertain Reputation
Chapter Two: Reaction
Chapter Three: Questions
Chapter Four:  Back Home
Chapter Five: Complications
Chapter Six: The Net Closes
Chapter Seven: Jetta Demands
Chapter Eight: Startling News
Chapter Nine: An Unlikely Suspect
Chapter Ten: The Truth
Chapter Eleven: Amber

Chapter Twelve: Final Verdict
Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
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