The irony of the Corasanti verdict – one of several dozen, I'm sure — is that Wednesday afternoon as some friends and I discussed potential trial outcomes, an O.J.-type acquittal was mentioned only once. As a virtual impossibility.
Why? Because of the evidence. And because this was Buffalo.
And we all knew exactly what that shorthand meant.
It meant that after 16 days of some of the grisliest, most heartbreaking and outraging testimony in local memory, this case was finally in the hands of a hard-working, plain-speaking people with no tolerance for nonsense, courtroom dazzle or the vast legal privileges available to the wealthy.
We loved O.J. more than anybody and still would have convicted him, probably in record time. Not for nothing are we The City of No Illusions.
It meant that we knew — like we knew our names and our neighbors — there was simply no way Dr. James Corasanti's troika of legal apologists would be able to convince 12 locals that he wasn't directly, recklessly, criminally and appallingly responsible for killing Alix Rice.
Pulling that off would be the equivalent of pulling our collective Western New York identity completely inside out. We would no longer recognize ourselves.
It was surreal just trying to imagine it. Quite literally, it was unthinkable.
But within hours the surreal became real, and the unthinkable became all we could think about.
And, as evidenced by the flood of comments on news websites, it still is — and every juror who comes forward desperate to explain the legal nuances theyhadtoconsideronlyseemstomake it worse.
Have we always been as easily swayed by courtroom razzle-dazzle as the O.J. jury was, and simply never known it?
Or are we actually more finely tuned to the painful realities of legal hairsplitting than we've given our blue-collar selves credit for — in which case why does this verdict nonetheless still feel so bone-deep wrong wrong wrong?
We know something is off. We know it's right before us. We just don't know what it is.
It took witness Mark Rowland a few moments to recognize that it was the crumpledbodyofAlixRice—notaheap of trash bags—he'd found along Heim Road that horrific July night.
If I know nothing else, I know this: Whoever and whatever we thought we were on that same July night, it's going to take us more than few moments to recognize who we are now.
Lauri Githens is a former Buffalo News feature writer and columnist now living in Rochester.