CrimeCon 2017 Daily Recap: Day Two

If you thought CrimeCon couldn’t get better, guess what? The overwhelmingly positive and supportive feedback I saw today elevated CrimeCon from a true crime convention to a world-class meeting of minds dedicated to truth and justice. The overwhelming theme of the day supported that vision with real-life accounts driving home the reason we’re all here: 
Justice for victims and their families.
Hope you didn’t pick a fight with any of the VIPs today, because they started the day off bright and early at 8:00 am with a crash course in self defense with The Bulletproof Mission’s Leah Severson. We all know prevention is better than a cure, and Severson helped us all become a little more prepared to avoid becoming a victim. 
I was not prepared to break out the tissues before 10:00 am, but then I found myself in the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist session where survivors and families of victims recounted their experience with the deranged killer. There was not a dry eye in the room as survivor Jane Carson-Sandler recounted her vivid memory of the day she and her three-year-old child were attacked by the Golden State Killer. Follow that with the poignant stories of Michelle Cruz and Debbi Domingo, who lost loved ones to GSK, and sniffles filled the entire room. 
“What I remember is the yellow tape. That damn yellow tape that screams “Don’t go inside!”” -- Debbi Domingo
Because that wasn’t heart-wrenching enough, Jim Clemente and Francey Hakes hosted another tear-jerking session with their live production of Best Case/Worst Case featuring the harrowing stories of Jim Clemente and Bobby Chacon’s experience witnessing and responding to the devasation at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The room was pin-drop quiet as Jim recounted the moment he began sifting through rubble and his subsequent battle with lymphoma.
Bobby Chacon describing his experience when watching the first plane hit the WTC -- from another United Airlines flight. The terror that the normally gruff Chacon expressed left a lump in my throat that’s usually reserved for kitten videos. 
It’s always a good time when James Renner sits in with Tim Pilleri and Lance Reeinstierna to volley their opposing opinions about what happened to UMass student Maura Murray. The live episode recorded today delivered the widely-anticipated friendly banter we've come to expect from the trio. 
“We’ve seen some of the new Maura Murray series, and it’s better than Making a Murderer.” Sign. Me. Up.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so self conscious as I was sitting in the front row tweeting while former Jodi Arias defense attorney Kirk Nurmi (and his fabulous head of hair) laid bare the disrupting effects - good and bad - that social media has had upon the modern justice system. The ubiquitous platforms that provide an outlet for thousands of different also have earth-moving implications for the jury selection process. 
“He became known as the Spokane Spanker.” -- Kirk Nurmi
Which reminds me… 
The Jury Experience. I’ve never been called to jury duty, but when I am, I like to imagine it will be as engaging and fascinating as this session. After hearing witness testimony and opening/closing arguments inspired by a real-life murder trial, our jury deliberated and rendered a unanimous verdict. The case seemed cut-and-dried, airtight, and all the solid cliches we’ve come to know and love. But the audible collective gasp when Beth Karas revealed the real-life verdict reached right into my heart and twisted it around its fist.  
Walking into the jury experience and coming face-to-face with the elaborate courtroom set that served as the mock trial backdrop. Impressed doesn’t begin to describe it.
On a parting note, let me tell you this story: in the course of my normal super-top-secret undercover conversations, one of you asked what my favorite part of CrimeCon has been. Let me say with no reservations that my favorite part has been how respectful, supportive, and engaging all of you have been. Even in sessions about controversial topics. Even in the face of true crime figures you don’t agree with. You’ve been a shining example to all true crime enthusiasts.
It’s bittersweet to think that CrimeCon 2017 is coming to an end tomorrow. But I’ll rest easy tonight - as should you - having witness the caliber of skill and character we have in the world working toward justice and resolution for victims and families.