Arissa and Bruno went to Texas in September. By later October a trial date had been set. Arissa had heard from so many people expressing their concern and questioning what had happened. They all were very supportive and encouraged her actions.
The jury trial was set, 6 men and 6 women would be deciding whether Robert was guilty of the crime he had committed. It was a normal early Fall day in Texas that day. Arissa got dressed in black pants, a purple shirt and bright earrings. She straightened her hair putting it in a side braid.
“Bruno…I’m scared…” she said. “Even if Jen and I went over everything..I’m still scared that I won’t say the right thing…and he’ll just walk out like nothing happened.
“Just look at me if you get nervous, Riss. That’s what I do.”
“You look at yourself?” she questioned him.
“No, silly. I look at you. Every single time.” he said wrapping his arms around her.
“Shut up. You’re so cheesy.” she told him as he started dancing with her.
“It’s true. I found you in Houston. I was so nervous that night…”
“Why?” she asked looking up at him.”
“Because I knew you were there…and you were the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life.” She rolled her eyes at his answer. “I was…nervous that you wouldn’t like..”
“You?” she asked.
“Yeah.” He confessed
“Can I have your name please?” Jenna began her questioning of Arissa.
“Arissa Hernandez.” she answered.
“And how old are you, Mrs. Hernandez?”
“That would have made you 4 in 010, correct?”
“Okay, then. And can you tell me how you met Robert, please?”
She paused slightly embarrassed by the truth. “We met online.”
“It’s okay, Arissa…it’s important information. When did you meet him?”
“July of that year.”
“Can you describe your first date for me?” Jenna asked.
“We went to Starbucks. We drank some coffee…then he got all serious. I remember very clearly that he asked me if I would be his girlfriend before we even walked out of there…and then he decided that he should ‘get to know me better’ which basically meant getting in my pants.”
“And what did he do?” Jenna asked pointedly.
“He basically undressed me, touching me and doing everything I was very uncomfortable with…” Arissa continued to describe all the things he had done.
“Did he stop doing that to you?”
“Several times….” They continued their questioning.
“I rest.” Jenna stated after Arissa detailed their last evening together, the evening she swore she would never be with him again. The defense attorney stood up to ask Arissa a few questions.
“Mrs. Hernandez…on that first date….what was your answer to Rob’s ‘will you be my girlfriend’ question?”
“I said yes.”
“And could you have, after that first night stopped the relationship?”
“That’s all.” the attorney replied.
Two days later and several prosecution witness later (to include Anna, Camille, and Rachel) the defense took the stand. Jenna knew it was coming, they called Bruno first.
“Mr. Hernandez..when did you meet your wife?”
“May of last year.”
“And when did she reveal any of this information to you?”
“June.” Bruno answered bluntly.
“What did you say to her when you found out?”
“I told her I would protect her from him. I would never let him hurt her again.”
“When did you meet Mr. Gutierrez?” the attorney asked.
“I saw him for the first time in July.”
“Can you tell me about the time you saw him?”
“Please, indulge us with that story, Bruno.”
“Riss went to the bathroom with Anna. They were taking a really long time. Diego, Ryan, Eddie and I saw a group of people surrounding Arissa and Anna…I didn’t know what it was. So I went up to see what was going on. He was there. I didn’t say anything to him. I just brought Arissa back to our table. We left after that.”
“And on your way back to the car?” the attorney asked.
“We saw him. He was going to do something to her. I don’t know what…but he was. “
“What happened after that, Mr. Hernandez? Did anything bad happen?”
“Objection! Leading the witness.” Jenna yelled.
“Rephrase your question, counselor.” The judge barked.
“Just tell me what happened when you all were in the parking lot, please.” he responded.
“I hit him.” Bruno answered.
“I rest. “ the attorney responded triumphantly
Jenna stood up brushing her pants.
“Bruno, tell me again what you said when you found out he had raped her?”
“I told her I would protect her.”
“Would you consider the incident at the Ivy a protective act?”
“Yes.” Bruno answered.
“I rest.” Jenna matched the defense’s triumph.
“Do you need to redirect?” the judge asked looking at Robert and his lawyer talking.
“Defense?” the judge asked.
“Permission to approach the bench, your honor?” the attorney asked.
“Yes, please.” she answered.
The attorney leaned into the judge.
“He’s willing to plead guilty and take the pleas deal if Mr. Hernandez pleads guilty to simple assault.”
“Hmm. That’s interesting.” the female judge thought out loud.
“Ms. Evans. Please join us.”
“Defense..state your case.”
“Jenna…he’ll take the plea deal if Bruno will plead guilty to assault charges associated with the events at the Ivy.”
“We have to talk about it.” Jenna answered not sure what to say. She knew the two of them, but not well enough to make the decision for them..
“We’ll recess until tomorrow at 1. I’ve got a judges meeting that I’d like to go to.” the judge answered.
Jenna sat down next to Arissa after the court room began to clear. “Bruno..” Jenna motioned for him to come over to the table.
“What happened?” Arissa asked.
Bruno wrapped his arm around Arissa standing to listen to what her lawyer was going to say.
“He’ll plead guilty, do the year in a jail, register as a sex offender, the whole shebang…if Bruno accepts the charges against him from July.”
“No! No! No he won’t!” Arissa exclaimed.
“Yes, yes I will.” Bruno answered quietly.
“No! You are not doing that, Bruno.” Arissa yelled taking his hand to go talk to him outside.
“We’ll be right back.” Arissa told Jenna dragging him through the hallway out the door to a bench on the backside of the courthouse.
“You are not doing this, Peter! No. I won’t let you. Do you know what will happen if you do this?” she yelled.
“I know what will happen, Arissa. I know what will happen.” he said quietly careful not to yell.
“You already suffer from what happened in Vegas…and now you are willingly accepting assault charges? You are fucking crazy.” Arissa said throwing her hands in the air. “I am not letting you do this. I will not let you do this, Peter.”
He sat down on the bench with his head down.
“Arissa…I am doing this. This isn’t up for discussion. He goes to jail for what you did. I pay some ridiculous fine for protecting you and we move on.”
“No! We don’t move on, Bruno. We don’t. I don’t care what happens to him. I care about you. “
“I care about you, Arissa. And this is going to..”
“Going to what, Bruno?”
“It’s going to make things better for you. You don’t have to hide anymore. He’ll be gone.”
She shook her head contemplating what he said. He made sense.
“If you do this….I won’t be happy about it. I will be so upset.” she responded sitting next to him. “I just…I just…Bruno. I don’t know.”
“I know, Riss. It’s not something that should happen. But it is going to happen. And…then you can be happy.”
“Bruno…people are going to talk about this. You’re going to be a bad guy. You know you aren’t.” Arissa told him.
“The only opinion that matters is yours, Riss.” he replied.
“I know what you’re doing, Bruno. I understand it. It doesn’t make it right.” she said looking into his eyes. He took her hands from her waist holding them.
“Arissa Hernandez. I promised to protect you. And that’s what I’m doing.”
“I’m still angry at you.” she answered pulling her hands away from him standing up to walk back to the court room.
“You better hurry, up, Bruno. Someone’s going to see you.” she said turning around to see him still sitting on the bench. He ran up to walk with her.
“You always get what you want…” she told him.
“I know I do.” He said squeezing her hand.
They walked back into the courtroom where Jenna was seen flipping through he iphone.
Arissa paused before taking the seat next to her lawyer. She couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen after Bruno told her that he would do whatever it took to ensure Robert was in jail. “Jenna?” Arissa asked.
”Oh, y’all are back… “ Jenna said caught off guard.
Arissa looked at her husband trying to read his reaction. She knew he was nervous, but it was more of a calm nervousness…it was the same types of nerves he had before performing. She smiled at him trying to comfort him. He didn’t take his eyes off her. That’s kind of creepy. He never should have told me he looks at me when he’s nervous. Now all I will see is him looking at me weird…”Yeah…Bruno….” Arissa paused trying to think how she was going to feel after she said what he had decided. He’ll do it.” No, it feels horrible. He shouldn’t be doing this. ”Bruno…don’t you think he’s winning if you accept the charges she asked her husband.
”No, no. He isn’t winning….Riss…no. No he isn’t. Just please, try to understand.”
”I am trying..but it’s still hard.”
Arissa…we were going to lose the case. He admitted to doing this to you. It’s honestly, the only way for this to work out…” Jenna told her.
”I know we were going to lose. It still doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.” Arissa told her friend.
I know, hun. But let’s just….just do this and things will get better….okay?”
”Bruno? Arissa asked as she drove on the highway home.
”Yeah?” he answered her.
”How do you not melt wearing leather and a long sleeve shirt?7 It’s like 90 degrees…”
”What?” he asked her back.
”Seriously!” she poked at the jacket he had thrown on over his button up white shirt he had on at court.
You gotta protect yourself from the sun. You don’t want cancer…” he told her.
”I’m serious!” she told him.
”How do you wear dresses like the one you’re wearing right now without having hoards of men hitting on you?” He asked her.
”Shut up! I hate it when you’re vague like that.” she rolled her eyes at him.
”Riss….it’s really to cover up my arms. ”
Really?” she asked. Actually…I can see that. He wears the jackets when he wants people *to *take him seriously…”I guess I see it.” she responded touching his arm. ”But you don’t have to do that around me, boo.” she said sweetly.
”I wear them around you because *I know it drives you crazy” he told her pinching her cheek.
After going to a small Indian restaurant for dinner, the couple went over to Anna and Ryan’s house to catch up. They stayed there well after in the morning. When they arrived at Arissa’s parents’ house they opened the door slowly to make sure they didn’t wake them up.
”Shhhh….” she told him as he closed the door behind them.
”I am being quiet! You be quiet, missy. ” he told her grabbing her waist.
”Stoooppp!” she quietly said to him as they made their way into her bedroom. It hadn’t changed much since she left 9 years earlier for college.
”*Riss…you really had a thing for Hanson…” he said sitting on her bed grabbing an old Taylor Hanson biography.”
”I would leave you for him.” she told him. ”But he has too many kids…” Arissa thought out loud. He rolled his eyes at her throwing himself on the bed next to her.
”Arissa, that makes me cry.” he said sniffing.
”Don’t worry. It’s only a dream.” she told him turning off the lights curling up next to him as he wrapped his arms around her like he always did.
In the middle of the night Arissa felt Bruno toss and turn from side to side. It wasn’t like him to sleep like that. Oh…I know he’s stressing about this…she thought to herself unable to fall back asleep.
Bruno found himself walking down a street with Phil and Ryan on a sunny day. He had a bag in his hand from Fred Segal. Suddenly he caught a glimpse of Arissa walking onthe other side of the street. ”I’ll be right back…” he told his friends crossing the quiet street *get to her. He yelled her name several times. ”Riss!” he screamed. She turned around looking at him perplexed. She was walking with Tatiana.
”Did you hear someone call me?” Arissa asked her friend.
”Yeah…I heard it…” Tatiana said turning her head. ”Oh my…” Tatiana responded.
”What?” Arissa responded.
”Bruno Mars is calling your name…”
Arissa looked at Tatiana with a confused look.
”Who? What?” she asked turning around.
Arissa! Wait!” he said coming up to her touching her hand. She pulled her hand away from him quickly.
”Umm….hello.” Arissa answered.
”Riss…why didn’t you come out with us?” he asked.
Excuse me?” she continued to be utterly confused. Why is she acting this way? It’s like she doesn’t know me. ”How do you remember my name?” she asked him.
”Umm what?” Bruno matched her confusion. He glanced down at her hands to see no ring on her finger.
”You met me for five seconds in Houston…I’m flattered you remember me..but…umm..why the urgency?” she asked him.
”Arissa…I need to save you…” he told her.
From what?” she asked him.
”From everything, Arissa…” he said grabbing her hand.
”Umm…I’m fine right here…” Arissa said turning back to her friend who was equally as confused.
”Arissa! You’re my wife…I need to save you from him!” he yelled.
*Bruno! Wake up!” Arissa said softly to him.
”Huh? What?” he said with his eyes closed. ”I had the weirdest dream…”
Arissa sat next to Jenna the next day, early in the morning in the courtroom. Bruno knew she was nervous. He could tell by the way she sat that she was really nervous. There wasn’t anything he could do to make things better for her at that moment. He was nervous though, too. While he thought about all of this his phone buzzed. It was his lawyer.
I’ll be there in 10 minutes. I’m parking. What the hell is going on?
I will tell you when you get here. Just calm down, bro.
Fifteen minutes later he felt someone sit down next to him.
“Bruno…what is going on? I got a call from Brandon telling me you needed me, like yesterday.” his lawyer Brad said in a hushed tone.
“I had to do it, Brad. I had to say yes.”
“Yes to what?”
“Yes to the assault charges. I had to.” Bruno continued to say.
Jenna walked back to the courtroom where Bruno and Brad were sitting.
“So here’s the deal Mr. Reid…” Jenna paused to collect herself as Arissa came up behind her sliding into the seat neat to Bruno. She grabbed his hand to ease his anxieties. “We were going to lose the case…straight up….”
“I punched him a while ago.” Bruno interrupted. “He said that if I plead guilty to it that he would plead guilty to this…” Bruno went on to tell his lawyer about the incident.
Brad sighed heavily in reaction to the events. “I guess….okay…”
“The papers will be filed today. I don’t know who…if anyone knows. But that’s what is going on.” Jenna responded. Jenna finished her statement motioning for Arissa to come sit down in the front of the court room.
“Jenna…ABC and FOX are here…” Arissa said quietly sitting down.
“It’s okay. We’ll figure it out….Oh. She’s here…” Jenna said quickly standing up. Arissa glanced at Robert who smiled at her. She rolled her eyes for effect as they all took their seats.
The jury sat down looking very confused.
“Okay, so we have come to an agreement, counselors?” the judge asked.
“Yes you’re honor…” the defense attorney stated.
“And that is?” she asked them.
“Mr. Gutierrez will accept the plea deal of 1 year probation, anger management and counseling sessions as well as registering as a sex offender. In return Mr. Hernandez will plead guilty to simple assault charges stemming from a recorded incident on July 1, 011.”
The jury was shocked. There were several audible gasps from the audience sitting in the back of the courtroom.
“And you accept this, Mrs. Hernandez?” the judge asked. She nodded her head. No, no I don’t.
“Okay then, we will hear this case....” she looked over at the court reporter who was flipping through a large calendar. He got up whispering in the judge’s ear. “October 8, 01… 4 pm. Everyone have a nice day. Stay dry, I heard it was going to rain today.” Arissa didn’t move from her chair. She watched the police officer take Robert’s hands to place them in handcuffs. Oh my god. He’s going to jail. He’s going to jail. Oh my god..She felt tears coming down her cheek.
“Arissa?” Jenna asked her. “Are you coming?”
“Oh, yeah. Yeah. I’m coming.”
Both of the reporters remained in the room as Jenna gathered her things. She took Arissa by the hand followed by Brad who walked next to Bruno.
“Can I ask you some questions, Ms. Evans?” the first reporter asked. Arissa recognized the reporter. She started to shake.
“There will be no comments.” Jenna answered.
“But, what about Mr. Mars?” the other reporter asked. Brad looked at them both dead in the eyes.
“This is a personal matter which will be handled personally. Ms. Evans was correct in saying there will be no comments. “ Brad said leading them out the door.
“Riss…hold my hand. You’re shaking.” Bruno said taking her hand tightly walking out the door. They were in the middle followed by Jenna. Instead of seeing the hustle and bustle of the normal court house, police officers, probation officers, potential jurors…they were welcomed by several TV crews and reporters wanting their questions answered.
Jenna stopped in the middle of them as Brad led Bruno and Arissa out of the shot. There were camera phones recording the event and people gasping because Bruno Mars was in the courthouse. Arissa squeezed his hand tightly as Jenna began to speak. “There will be no comments on the Hernandez-Gutierrez case. This is a personal matter which will be handled personally. Both Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez would appreciate their privacy during this time.” Jenna said walking away from the crowd.
“I don’t think that will work, Jenna.” Arissa leaned over to talk to tell her quietly.
“I’m sorry, baby…” Arissa said putting on her seatbelt on.
“Sorry for what?” he asked her settling into the passenger seat of the car.
“For this and on your birthday?” she responded.
“Shit happens, Arissa. It’ll get better.” he replied handing her $5 to pay the parking garage attendant.
“Thanks…” she responded to him handing her the money. She handed the attendant the money quickly to ensure she didn’t see Bruno.
“Riss…” Bruno started as she turned onto the busy downtown street.
“Yeah?” she asked.
“There is a reason for everything. You just have to let it go at some point. He’s in jail. He won’t be able to do what he did to you to anyone else again.” he tried to comfort her.
“I know..but it’s just…I still…feel bad for doing it to him and now you…you’re going to have to deal with all of this. And there is no telling what people are going to say to you.”
“Fuck ‘em, Riss. For real. I’m going to live my life and if people don’t like it, they can go fuck themselves. Haters gonna hate….” he smiled at her dancing a little in his seat.
“Bruno…it’s scary!” she told him getting onto the highway.
“I know it is, sweetheart. But it will be okay. Everything is okay now. Everything is perfect. You’re here with me, I’m here with you. Robert is out of your life…”
“Bruno!” she yelled grabbing the volume button of the radio. “I love this song!” she started singing Like a G6 loudly, out of tune and off beat. She moved her right hand in a wave motion holding onto the steering wheel with the other.
“What are you doing? Rolling with the homies?” he asked her.
“Yeah. We are kind of in the ghetto…” she pointed to the small old houses with graffiti on them off to the side of the highway.
“Rollin’ with the hommmmieeeessss.” he started singing dancing with her. The song ended going into a more recent Top 40 song. She turned it down after finishing the dancing.
“What, you didn’t want to dance to that one?” he asked her.
“Naw. That one will mess with my swag.” she answered laughing at him.
Rissssss….” Bruno said with urgency. “Slooowwww dowwwwnnnnn.” he saw the slowing traffic in front of them before she did. She slammed on her brakes as she came up behind a big truck.
“Oh shit.” she gasped.