A whirring mechanical lift raised Davien Graham's wheelchair to the witness stand in Department X on the fourth floor of the Los Angeles County courthouse in Alhambra.
Pain burned at the base of his spine.
His eyes met Jimmy Santana's for the first time since the shooting. He thought Santana seemed much smaller sitting at the defense table than he had with the gun in his hand. In his baggy blue jail uniform, he looked like a child.
Two months earlier, on Jan. 12, 2008, Davien had been gunned down as he rode his bike in front of his church, a bystander in a gang war that had raged in Monrovia for two years.
He recognized Santana as the shooter. They had gone to school together. Still, Davien was afraid to identify him to police. He had been raised by a father and an uncle who were Crips, who taught him that victims don't snitch.
But Davien had shunned gangs for a Christian life, and believed lying was wrong. So when asked by detectives, he had circled Santana's photo in a lineup of mug shots.
Now he was being asked to set aside fears of retaliation and testify.
Staring at Santana, Davien said the first thing he remembered telling his family after the shooting was, "I forgive the person who did this to me."
Santana stared back, appearing unmoved.
Sitting in his wheelchair, legs paralyzed, Davien could see Santana's mother in the gallery, a small woman with a strained face. A group of young people lounged behind her.
Maybe they were in the car with Jimmy that day.
Police never caught the getaway driver.
The prosecutor asked a question, addressing Davien as John Doe, an effort to protect his identity. It didn't matter. Everyone involved in the case knew Davien.
"Do you see the man who shot you here in court today?"
"On the right side of the courtroom, and he's wearing a blue uniform," Davien said.
That was all the judge needed to hear. He ordered Santana to stand trial. Davien was free to go.
But he didn't feel free.
Sheriff's investigators said he wasn't at risk, and his family didn't need protection. But he didn't trust the Sheriff's Department. The sheriff had sent a task force to Monrovia to stop the gang violence. They dropped warnings at gangsters' homes.
His uncle got one. So did Davien.
That upset him. Unlike his uncle, Davien had never joined a gang.