There are no courtrooms at the Hillside Cemetery in rural Chester County. No jails, either, at the county-owned cemetery for the indigent on Darby Road.
It is near nowhere.
That means it is the old “Potter’s Field,” the biblical burial site for strangers and the poor, the indigent, those who can’t afford burials and headstones.
A woman from York who tends the grave of a former homeless man buried there describes the cemetery as “the saddest place I have ever seen.”
The county-owned cemetery has just a few dozen graves, most without headstones. Some of the sites without stones have tiny metal and glass funeral home markers, about the size of an envelope.
When the sun rises, the face behind the glass on the markers is charged by the sun and turns a light blue. The letters that come out are a darker blue.
One tiny spot has one of those markers. Dandelions grow around it.
Tavaris Jordan died when his mother, Brittney Jordan, seven months pregnant a year ago, was attacked with a knife. She lay bleeding for hours, the placenta that connects mother to baby damaged.
The boy’s father, Aris Nichols, is accused of both killing the unborn child and attempted murder in the death of Brittney Jordan. Prosecutors say Nichols left Jordan bleeding for hours before his cousin called 911 for help.
Brittney Jordan could not be at that funeral a year ago because she was fighting for her own life in a hospital. She needed a wheelchair for months because she was initially paralyzed.
There is nothing permanent at that cemetery to show that a child who never was born, who did not have a chance to be hugged and loved, to smile and learn to walk and talk and dream, ever existed.
After the stabbing and a rushed helicopter ride to a hospital, Tavaris died.
He never had a chance for anything fleeting – a breath, a wiggle, a burp – let alone anything more permanent. Having no marker is not the fault of his mother, who was left maimed for life by the mauling and can barely walk, let alone work.
Still, all that is permanent right now in the death of this child is the coming court dates this summer for his father, who police and prosecutors say killed him.
The charge “killing a child in utero” faced by Nichols, a lifelong felon who has spent long stretches in prison for drugs and violence, could carry 65 years in prison if he is convicted of that and other charges. Nichols, 39, has been in jail since hours after the stabbing.
Nichols claimed – in a March court hearing in which Circuit Court Judge Brooks Goldsmith made it clear there was no chance in the world that he would release Nichols on bond pending trial – that somebody else stabbed his girlfriend, with whom he has two other children.
Prosecutors called that claim preposterous. The victim of the stabbing, Brittney Jordan herself, told police after she came out of a coma that Nichols was her attacker.
Sixth Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield said Wednesday he plans to bring Nichols to trial by this summer.
It will be the first local court test of the relatively new state law making killing an unborn child a separate crime from an attack against a pregnant mother.
Nichols’ lawyer, Sixth Circuit Chief Public Defender Mike Lifsey, declined to comment on the upcoming trial.
Brittney Jordan could not be reached Wednesday, although family members, including her grandfather, said they wished Tavaris’ grave was marked by a permanent headstone.
Johnny Frye, who lives next-door to the mobile home on Pinckney Street where the stabbing happened, said a permanent stone is needed.
“That baby never had a chance,” Frye said.
A year ago, the proud and strong Jordan family, a family of humble means, had to bury an unborn baby in a county plot. They placed a beautiful flower arrangement on the grave after the burial – the words “Heaven’s Little Angel” on the floral sash.
The flowers did not last. The sash is gone, too.
All that is left is that tiny metal and glass nameplate.
The unborn baby, who had no chance at life, has nothing permanent to remind all of the promise of being alive, until evil carrying a knife came and took it all away.