The court appearance was pleasant, according to sources, but Justice Howard Riddle told a scrum of reporters covering the trial that he won’t be giving them any explanations for Maxwell’s appearance in court before sentencing because, he said, it would be “prejudicial” to Maxwell’s “sobriety.” He offered, however, some sensitivity about the way they phrase questions to her during her long and closely scrutinized testimony.
“I don’t know quite why you are so anxious to know what your emotions are,” Justice Riddle said. “The police will get you later, but you are there to give a particular address, which they may choose to give in respect of what they believe to be in the best interests of the public.”
“I need to show you how my heart is racing,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell’s letter to the judge at the start of her hearing on Tuesday reflected that. In it, she wrote that, after her arrest, she had been reduced to rifling through her drawers and “as frightening as that is, I still find myself to the point where I find it extremely difficult to ask the questions I should normally be asking, let alone speak freely.” She wrote that she was “amazed” by what her personal possessions and property had meant to her, and asked for time to work through them.
Maxwell started giving testimony more than a year ago, and her sentencing hearing has been an increasingly trying experience. She gave her account of how DNA analysis of swabs taken from human waste on furniture in her home and the toilet had found traces of both the Italian court chief judge as well as six people in the home, but said her husband, David, had hidden his computer, which investigators had found. She acknowledged that she had acted to stop her husband from returning to Italy to see her or her daughter, but said she was happy about living here in the United States.
“I have received overwhelming kindness, support and forgiveness from the American people,” she wrote.
Maxwell defended herself against suggestions made by prosecutors and some of her neighbors that she acted out of vindictiveness and revenge, saying her response to her husband’s arrival in Italy was just an “embarrassing, emotional reaction,” and that when she committed the crime, she was “hysterical.”
“I was put under enormous emotional stress by domestic violence at the hands of my husband,” she wrote. “I was told not to divorce him, not to talk about him or to be loud, because then he would kill me and the children.”
Prosecutors later appeared before the court to explain why they believed Maxwell did not act out of jealous revenge and rather in a conscious plan. They told the court that they had decided to not put on a full prosecution, owing to the difficulty of proving the plan or the fact that Maxwell has remained unrepentant.
Prosecutors said the motive for the crime, and Maxwell’s actions, were all part of a “long-planned, carefully organized and tailored crime.” They said she had planned to use the proceeds from the house for her husband, but that she had not.
The decision to forego a full prosecution came as a relief to lawyers for Maxwell, who had found the prospect of going straight for a full prosecution of the case unsettling. Defense lawyers said in court that Maxwell was ready to apologize to her former husband, husband and family.
Maxwell also left court on Friday with Ms. Bianchi, sitting next to her.