JUSTICE DELAYED: SS; SIX

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A thirty-six year-old murder case is resurrected with DNA.
A jury has been selected and two of the jurors come to understand that they were near the crime scene back then.
Although the defendant, Mr. Sanderson is the only suspect, a number of facts from thirty-six years ago begin to cloud the issues and suggest other answers to the root question of guilt or innocence.

Submitted: September 09, 2016

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Submitted: September 09, 2016

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JUSTICE DELAYED

A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Six

 

“Well, first of all, I want to thank you both for bringing this to my attention. I have no idea who Mr. Washington has in mind and I’m not going to ask counsel if they know because at this point it is irrelevant. So far, I see no reason for you to leave the jury.

“You were around the area on the date in question. From listening to Mr. Washington, so were a few thousand others.” She released a soft tinkling laugh.

“No. I wouldn’t worry about it at all . . . unless your fingerprints show up in that blood on the rock”

This time she did not laugh. However, neither did Hamilton or  Dr. Davies.

“Just one last thing here, gentlemen, I must hear if either counsel has any objections to you both remaining on the jury,” turning to the two attorneys, “either of you object to them continuing as jurors?”

Both attorneys asked for some time to consider the possible ramifications.

“I just don’t know, your honor . . . what if he is called as a witness—or if I want to call him as a witness?” 

“But they have both told me that they can’t . . . well, I can see you possibly wanting to do that.

“Tell you both what. Doctor Stulac is through, correct?” Both attorneys nodded in the affirmative. “Subject to recall of course. Do you have any other witnesses Hilo that you can call beforeMr. Washington returns?”

Her manner was calm and very accommodating.

“Yes, Your Honor. Chief Inspector Daniels is here and ready — in fact, I was going to call him anyway even if Mr. Washington is here. 

"  He is the logical person to go first in this trial but has been testifying in the same matter as Doctor Stulac. 

"Now I can have both of them in  a row and the jury can begin to see and hear the major outline of our case. So this would be the best time to call him.”

“All right, let’s do that,” turning back to Allan and Peter, “We’ll kick the can down the road about you two gentlemen until Mr. Washington is here and ready to take the stand again.

“In the meantime, all of you think of any reasons why the jury should not remain as is.” She got up abruptly. “We’ll start right away with Chief Inspector Daniels.”

 

Hilo began her examination of Chief Inspector Daniels with questions about his background, his education and his experience as a homicide detective.

The man was middle height with a darkness that surrounded his face. His hair was very black. He wore a black sweater over a black shirt. The undone button at the top of his shirt revealed the only bit of color . Even his face had a dark ashy look about it. He wore his hair long, covering his ears with side swoops. He reminded me of a classical music or opera conductor. His face was short and wide. 

When he smiled at Allan Hamilton, the rest of his face almost disappeared. His eyes were also black but very round and alive.

They remained large and vigilant even when he smiled, particularly when he spied Allan Hamilton on the jury. His eyes became very attentive once he learned that Allan Hamilton was actually on the jury. Allan had been his mentor for over eight years.

Mr. Hamilton acknowledged his former protégé with a wide grin and a positive nod.

It became clear very quickly that the Chief Inspector was thoroughly qualified.

What I found peculiar was the fact that he had not been born at the time of the murder.

When he was asked what other factors he knew about this case, he smiled and looked at Allan Hamilton, before he answered.

“Well, I see my old friend and mentor Mr. Hamilton is on the jury. We would sure like to have his help on this case.” He laughed softly. The jurors smiled but that was all.

For some reason—just the way he phrased it, made me feel like there was a real bond between the two men.

Suddenly the case took on a new feeling for me. Now it was like we were definitely back in time and hearing this case as though it had occurred a couple of months ago.

When Chief Inspector Daniels gave his testimony, that feeling of being back thirty-six years ago became even stronger.

The Chief Inspector told us that Jemma had been killed by that rock; fractured skull and its consequences. He also testified that the evidence told him that the crime was one of anger—possibly passion, but with anger none the less, because of repeated blows with the rock.

 

“When the lab returned their results of examining the rock, what conclusions had they reached?”

 

Gail could have objected and asked that the lab tech come in but she didn’t.

“There were fingerprints in the blood on the rock.”

“Have you been able to identify those prints; do you have a match?”

“No; not yet; even after all these years. But we are continuing to search every data base available as new ones come up."

 

“Was the blood type that of the victim?”

“Yes . . . well, it was the same as the victim’s but it was O type, the most common type.”

“Have any suspects, including Mr. Sanderson, been checked for their blood type?”

“Yes. Everyone we—they, could round up back then gave blood and there were approximately twenty-two with blood type O; including Mr. Sanderson.”

“Were there any other items found on or near the body of the victim?”

“Yes.  A few items like a bracelet and a necklace, both belonging to the victim were found.”

“Anything else Chief Inspector?”

“Yes, we found a pair of Foster Grant sunglasses near the body.”

“How near?”

“Approximately six feet.”

“Anything else?”

“Well not far from the body, approximately twenty feet away, we found an old button. It was partially covered by some leaves. Dead leaves,” looking at his notes, “ some reddish and one a faded gold color.”

“Do you still have that button?”

“Yes.”

“Did you conduct a search of the defendant, Mr. Sanderson’s room after the homicide?”

“Yes, they did.”

“And did they find anything with a button that was missing?”

“Yes; and the button matched the buttons on the jacket.”

“Thank you Chief Inspector, I have no more . . .”

“We also found a . .”

“There is no question pending Chief Inspector,” Judge Tan admonished the witness,

“Ms. Bernal, do you have questions of this witness?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

Gail got up and went up very close to the witness box.

“What else did you find at the scene of the homicide, Chief Inspector?”
 

Suddenly the whole courtroom chilled again.

This was becoming a habit. 

My fingers were poised over the keys of my machine while we all waited for the answer.

The Chief Inspector’s face seemed to come alive; as though he considered whatever he –they had found, to be very important to the case. The grim quality of his presentation appeared to lighten considerably.

Slowly, with a sense of drama, “Off in the bushes about twenty-five yards from the body there was a piece of material about half an inch square on the end of a broken fern in the undergrowth of the woods that start about fifteen yards from where the victim was found.”

“And has this material been examined?”

“Yes. By the Sherriff’s lab. And they . .”

Hilo was on her feet, objecting to the question, “Here, I submit Your Honor, that the Lab tech would be the best evidence.

"I know that I had no objection to the testimony of the witness regarding  the blood, but here is an area of microscopic analysis and such and I submit that the best evidence will come form the lab tech.”

“Sustained.”

Gail continued.“Based simply upon the finding of this material—please don’t describe or give any conclusions about its character or origin—did you conduct any type of search to look for any item missing this piece of material?”

“No.”

The jury gave a collective sigh containing disappointment and perhaps some frustration—even some hints of anger. I sympathized. So often things in a jury trial get tangled or unclear—and sometimes completely overlooked. This was one of them, obviously.

“This isn’t in any reports I have.” Gail looked surprised and looked from Hilo to the Judge while she gave a very slight lift to her shoulders. “Is there some other report that was not given to the defense?” and she looked squarely at Hilo.

Hilo got up. “I have no such report, Your Honor,” looking at the witness,” is this in some report Chief Inspector?”

“No; it was in the evidence locker from the case, along with the DNA samples. I hate to say it, but nobody mentioned it in their report. I guess they thought it was too far away; well into the woods, and wasn’t related. I don’t know.”

“May we approach the bench your honor?” Hilo huffed while she looked at Gail.

“Yes, come along.” Judge Tan was obviously as frustrated about this happening as the attorneys were.

 

The jury smiled and wore looks of anticipation. I gave them all a good look while the attorneys were talking with the Judge at the side of her bench.

 

When I got to juror number—well; later, because the judge is talking.

End of Chapter Six


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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