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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two jurors realize that they had been near the scene of a thirty-six year-old cold murder case that has been resurrected using DNA.
Now the two wonder if they should tell the judge or wait for the testimony of a man who could finger them as being on site.

Submitted: September 08, 2016

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Submitted: September 08, 2016




A Short Story in Chapter

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Five


After the lunch hour, the judge told me—as well as everyone else, including the jury—that Mr. Washington had been called away for a special circumstance halfway through the lunch hour.

The two attorneys and the judge decided to call another witness and resume Mr. Washington’s testimony when he returned to the courtroom, either later in the day or in the next morning.

Hilo made a quick call to Doctor Stulac, the county pathologist who was the chief—I think that’s the term—of the County Coroner’s Office.

Anyway, he postponed some other exam he was to do and came to court around two fifteen.

I could tell that the jurors—except for those two—were extremely disappointed not to have Mr. Washington continue to mesmerize them with his continuing testimony.

The jurors, as well as the attorneys, the court personnel—and especially the defendant, Mr. Sanderson, were so much looking forward to hearing Mr. Washington name names. 

I know I was very disappointed; as if a special performance you had bought tickets to had been postponed.

I had vaguely heard of Perry Mason, but Sally’s husband, a lawyer, had told her that Mason would find the real murderer in the audience, often someone who had testified; even pointing to someone in the audience.

This crazy notion flitted into my mind: maybe Mr. Washington would point to someone on the jury.

Right from the beginning of the trial, I got the impression that all the jurors had been wondering about how Jemma Jeffersonwas murdered.

I think they were all surprised that this very important point wasn’t presented earlier.

However, they didn’t know that Doctor Stulac had been testifying in another case for almost the last five court days and couldn’t get away until today. 

He was ready to come to court this morning but had been called away on an emergency.

All this bouncing around and changing witnesses happens all the time; mainly because it’s impossible to predict how long any witness will remain under questioning—and then our morning and afternoon breaks, as well as the lunch hour, knocks things around so that very often the testimony of a witness, like Mr. Washington, is chopped up, and he might not complete his testimony for a few days while other witnesses are called because the time is the only one they have available in the short term.

It really annoys the jurors, I know, but even the judge can’t predict with any degree of certainty how long a witness’ testimony will take.

 And then witnesses can be called back. 

Well, as you can see it's not a perfect system but everyone is trying to make the jury comfortable and to recognize that their time is valuable and that the court is doing everything possible to move the case along so that the jurors can get back to their lives.

Anyway, here was Doctor Stulac now, to tell us how Jemma was killed.

“Although she had been penetrated in sexual intercourse several times shortly before her death, this fact had nothing to do with her death.

“She was in excellent physical condition. There were no signs of smoking or drug use of any kind.

“Her weight was excellent; her body mass perfect, and all her organs were functioning at the top of any scale of measurement.”


“Please tell the jury, Doctor Stulac, what in your opinion caused the death of Jemma Jefferson.”


Once again, a strange stillness fell over the whole courtroom.

“Very simply, Ms. Falange, she died from a blow to the head with a blunt instrument; a rock.”


We all waited for the doctor to elaborate, hoping, I guess, that there was something more dramatic about Jemma’s death.

Terrible of us to think like that, I know, but we were; at least I was, and from the looks on the faces of all the jurors who I could look at while still typing, they had looks of disappointment on their faces as well.


“Now, Doctor Stulac, what evidence did you find to lead you to the conclusion that Jemma Jefferson had been killed with a rock?”


“The Chief Homicide Inspector, Inspector Raines, brought over a rock to me after they had examined it.

“By the way, he didn’t tell me anything that he and their lab may have found. He simply brought it over in a baggie and left it at the front desk.

“It had a label that read . . . let’s see,” and he put on horn rimmed glasses and looked at a label on an empty baggie, “rock near head of Jemma Jefferson . . . and then there are dates and times of examination and such.”

The doctor removed his glasses and waited for Hilo’s next question.


“What, if anything, did you find on the rock to lead you to conclude that it was the rock that killed Jemma Jefferson.”


“Blood on the rock matched her blood type. Hair on the rock was similar to her hair color. The hair itself, on the rock, was not dissimilar to her hair, and the indentation made by a blunt instrument fit the contours of the rock exactly.”


“Thank you Doctor Stulac.” Hilo sat down.


Gail rose. “Was there anything on the label on the baggie containing the rock that mentioned any tests for fingerprints on the rock, Doctor Stulac?”




“Did you find sufficient blood on the rock to record fingerprints if fingers held or touched the bloodied portion of the rock?”


“That is not within my area of expertise, counsel. All I can testify to is that there was a great deal of blood on that rock.”


“Do you have an opinion as to why there was so much blood on the rock, Doctor?”


“Yes. Because it was used repeatedly to fracture the victim’s skull.

“In my professional opinion, one blow would not have yielded that much blood—and perhaps no blood at all.”


“Thank you Doctor Stulac. I have no further questions.”


The Doctor was excused by the Judge and we took our afternoon break.


Peter Davies made a point of speaking with Allan Hamilton the moment they were outside the courtroom.

“Allan; I don’t think this is discussing the merits of the case,” pausing, “at least I feel that way. So here it is.

“As an investigator—an ex-homicide detective, don’t repeated blows with a rock to a woman make you think of great anger . . . maybe revenge . . . some guy pissed off because she dumped him—or wouldn’t allow him to screw her that night?”

Doctor Peter Davies was wound up, and, at the same time blurting out whatever came into his head because he knew that whatever he may have done that night—if he was even near or around Jemma at all—he definitely knew in his subconscious that he had not struck anyone several times with a rock . . . and certainly not a woman.


Allan Hamilton smiled broadly at his new friend and was genuinely happy that Peter had found within himself a basic dignity that told him that he would never strike a woman—ever. 

And that he could not repeatedly strike any human being repeatedly with a rock, regardless—even in self defense. He would have found some other means or weapon to fend off any attackers.

“I am so happy for you Peter . . . and you should be so happy for me.

“I feel exactly the same as you do on this. Whatever I have done in my past, I have never struck a woman; not even a girl when we were kids; ever.”

He stopped for a few moments while he gazed at the distant waves as their white tops broke and scattered upon the long sun-drenched beach.

“And so I know myself, that again, like you, whatever I may have done that night—and I could have been in both those groups as well—I did not; could not; repeatedly strike a young woman on the head and break her skull in a fury.”

He smiled at Peter in a sympathetic manner and put an arm around his shoulder.

“Let’s go tell the judge our story and see what she decides.

"I haven’t a clue as to how she will treat this, but that’s why they  . . . I can’t say it, because the pay for a judge of the Superior Court is appallingly low.

"They really earn their money—and they aren’t paid for overtime. Ridiculous.

"A shame and an embarrassment, in this country, in this, the ‘Golden State’, we can’t find adequate money for these amazing people,” sighing heavily while shaking his head, “let’s go in and try and make it as easy for her as we can.”

They both laughed short, shallow, and phony laughs and made for the courtroom doors.


The judge listened to Allan and Peter and then asked them a number of questions before she spoke.


End of Chapter Five

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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