I spent the nineteenth anniversary of Polly’s kidnapping and murder in court. Today began the trial of Michelle Le’s accused killer Giselle Esteban. If opening statements were indicative of how this trial will be handled, and in my experience they usually are, then this is one killer who will never again walk in the grass, smell the roses, or vacation on a beach. Instead, she will rot in a physical hell that matches the sick, twisted fantasies that dominate her life and ruin the lives of those who find themselves drawn into her sphere.
The prosecution was unambiguous. Giselle considered her crime for a long time. She planned to kill Michelle, and she telegraphed that information to others.
There is no privacy in 21st Century America. The prosecutor can document events leading up to Michelle’s murder. He has phone a variety of phone records including text message logs, which paint a portrait of a monster. There is an extensive record of phone calls that calculate her obsession with a woman who meant Giselle no harm and never threatened her. Cell tower pings track Giselle’s movements as she stalks Michelle, her work place, her friends and associates. There are pictures and video of Giselle invading Michelle’s space in harrowing and intimate ways. There is the trail of breadcrumbs that ultimately led to Michelle’s remains, days after Giselle was charged with her murder. All in all, a portrait of a twisted woman with hate in her heart and vengeance on her brain is painted in bold brushstrokes, so that all can see her madness, her evil intent.
The defense paints a different picture altogether. But even their pastel portrait is streaked in crimson red: the crimson red of Michelle’s blood. They say that it wasn’t a premeditated crime. That instead it was a crime of passion caused by victim whose loose morals invited scrutiny and ultimately retribution. Despite a potential mountain of evidence the defense claims that Giselle is being portrayed as something that she is not. She is not a monster, instead she is a woman scorned. A woman who watched her family crumble beneath her as a philandering boyfriend betrayed her trust and their family.
But opening arguments are but a preview of things to come. Scott Marasigan, the lover scorned for crimes perceived but never committed, was the first witness. He spent the afternoon reading from text message transcripts and Giselle’s jealous obsession and twisted logic manifested itself before our eyes. The transcripts were vile, slanderous, profanity riddled sound bites designed to belittle, injure, and torment. Several times a day Giselle would stab Scott with her invective. Three hundred pages of insults that repeated the same words time and again: whore, slut, bitch.
It was enough to make seasoned reporters gasp in horror. Unfortunately, it was also enough to make Michelle’s brother Michael and cousin Krystine leave the courtroom shaken and in sobs. And today was only the beginning.