Editor’s note: Kim Goldman is the sister of Ron Goldman, who was brutally murdered in 1994. She was in the courtroom during the trial of O.J. Simpson, who was accused of and acquitted of the murder. Goldman is the executive director of Santa Clarita Valley Youth Project and contributing author of “His Name is Ron: Our Search for Justice.”
For nine months I sat in the public galley, never missing a day, hoping that my grief, my loyalty, my loss would somehow impact the jury enough to find him guilty of brutally and viciously stabbing my brother to death on June 12, 1994.
I endured hours and hours of painful recollections of Ron’s last moments; the step-by-step details of how hard he fought to save Nicole Brown’s life and that of his own, and how long he lay slumped over a tree stump, until he took his last breath -- “about a minute,” the coroner said. I saw the graphic, unedited photos of his lifeless, blood-soaked, butchered body, staring back at me; they still haunt me until this day.
I saw the worst and I will never forget it.
This is what every sibling, every parent, and every family member experiences when they pay vigil to their loved one by attending court in search of justice. If they are like me, they believe that nothing we hear could ever come close to what they felt the moment their lives ended. “I just have to push through, I just have to. The jury needs to see us; they need to know their life mattered,” we tell ourselves over and over again.
The empathy I feel toward family members, specifically the brothers and sisters, is overwhelming. I identify with each and every one and know that even though there is no greater loss than having to bury a child, the loss of a sibling is equally devastating.
For Travis Alexander’s family, this is no different. They waited five years before their son/brother’s accused killer was brought to trial, and now they must sit in the same room, breathing the same air, listening to the horror-filled events that led to Travis’ death.
The lies, the deceit, the private and perhaps embarrassing secrets that could taint his memory; the realization that his life as they knew it would be overshadowed by his killer’s recount of the last day of his young life. Listening to people talk as if they knew him best, painting him out to be someone who is a stranger to his family, a sexual deviant, an abuser -- or, in my brother’s case a drug-dealing, club-hopping wanna-be-model who had no future.
“How dare they,” we mutter under our breath.
Being inches away from the person who savagely killed Travis. To be muzzled, when all you want to do is scream from the rooftop “It’s all lies!” To put your faith in 12 people who you have never met and will never speak to -- it is too much to imagine and too much to bear. But they trudge on, because it is important to be present and in plain view so that the victim is more than just a few gruesome photos.
They have to remain stoic, so that the victim is not forgotten.
I don’t know the relationship between Travis and his family, nor is it any of my business, but what I do know (or at least can assume from my own experiences) is the range of emotions (fear, resentment, sorrow, hatred), the loss of control at the hands of the judicial system, the morbid fantasies of wanting to watch the killer, Jodi Arias, die a slow painful death. I get it. I get it all. I, too, have shared those thoughts and a very close encounter, finding myself just a mere few feet away from the beast I believe slaughtered my only brother: Him versus me. A secluded parking lot. I had the chance.
It’s all very real and none of it could ever be adequately portrayed in a victim statement or from the witness stand, as you try to humanize the tragic loss of life at the hands of another. But you keep going, because you don’t know where else to go.
I deeply admire the courage and the loyalty displayed by Travis’s family. I understand firsthand what they are feeling and I wish them strength.
Some people say “I could never do it,” to which I reply: “We could never not do it.”
For more of Kim Goldman's story, watch "Evening Express" tonight at 5:40 p.m. ET on HLN.