Feminism on Trial
On Trial: Part 1 — The Prosecution Attacks
Jury selection in Ginny's trial began on November 7, 1983 and continued for the next three days. The final group impaneled included six women and six men. On November 10 the trial began with opening arguments, the first of which was delivered by Konrad. He basically summarized Jack's story and tried to paint Ginny as the femme fatale who lured a man from a Bourbon Street bar, rolled and killed him. At the same time he tried to paint Jack as "deeply contrite" and "seeking only to atone for his sins." Ginny wrote. Konrad said Jack bore no malice against Ginny and wasn't trying to get back at her for leaving him.
John Reed's opening statement for the defense portrayed Ginny as the innocent victim of Jack's violence and later of a vendetta he was pursuing against her. He related the story of Ginny's life and upbringing and, for the first time publicly, it was revealed that she had given up her baby. Konrad raised objections to this approach but Judge Burns ruled that it was germane and allowed Reed to continue. Ginny was relieved, knowing that if a jury could hear her tale of suffering its members would be more sympathetic toward her.
Following Reed's opening, the prosecution called its first witnesses. They included the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office watch commander who was in charge of investigating Chayo's murder and the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Chayo. For the prosecution they simply stated what their investigations revealed but, on cross examination, inconsistencies were brought out between what they said and what Jack had said in his confession.
The next witness was Raymond Chayo who identified items found in his father's possession as having belonged to his father. In his cross examination, Glass proceeded gingerly, not wishing to give the appearance of grilling a witness who had lost a loved one to a violent crime. Glass knew that the jury was sympathetic to Raymond Chayo's plight and he didn't want to risk antagonizing them, but he had a job to do and certain facts had to be established. The main one revolved around Moises Chayo's love of card games. On the night of the murder, Jack had told Ginny that an argument ensued over a card game. The defense had to establish that the elder Chayo could, indeed, have been in card game with Jack that night and this would help corroborate Ginny's version of what she learned that evening.
Raymond Chayo admitted that his father was a good bridge player but he couldn't say for certain whether he knew how to play poker or blackjack games in which bets were normally placed. He also admitted that his father had told him he was going to look for bridge games while he was in town and he conceded that his father could have known how to play card games on which the players gambled. (Later in the trial, the defense would field a witness who acknowledged playing gin rummy with Moises Chayo for money at the New Orleans Athletic Club. The club was only a block away from the bar in which Ginny and Jack had worked during their brief stay in New Orleans.)
At the start of the trial's second day, Wasyl was brought to the stand by the D.A.'s office. He described his friendship with Jack and told the court he had never seen Jack beat Ginny up, although under cross examination, he admitted to seeing her eyes puffed up from crying. He conceded that Jack was volatile and could have assaulted her. Wasyl also said Ginny and Jack had gone out together all dressed up, in contradiction to Ginny's story that Jack had gone out alone on the night they ended up leaving New Orleans. He told the court that Jack had given him a hundred dollar bill and told him to drive to Houston while he and Ginny would arrive there on separate flights. Wasyl was unable to identify the hitchhiker who rode with him from New Orleans to Houston.
The most potentially damaging portion of Wasyl's testimony was when, under prompting from Porteous, he said during the trip from Houston to Carson City, Jack had been drunk and shouted out, "You shouldn't have hit him so hard." Under cross examination, Wasyl conceded that Jack could have been babbling to himself rather than addressing Ginny. However, the story that came out in the Times-Picayune left the impression that he was accusing Ginny. The paper later printed a correction, saying that they "regretted the error." Fortunately for Ginny and her defense team the jury was sequestered and probably never saw the article.