JUSTICE DELAYED: SS; SEVEN

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A jury begins hearing the evidence in a thirty-six year-old murder case that has been cold, until DNA testing puts the defendant on trial.
As the evidence unfolds against the now fifty-three year-old Mr. Sanderson, the jury is taken back into the past where the case against Mr.Sanderson appears to weaken and some jurors become extremely worried about their possible involvement.

Submitted: September 10, 2016

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Submitted: September 10, 2016

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 JUSTICE DELAYED

A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Seven

 

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we just had a short conference as you could plainly see.

"This is not uncommon in a trial. It is an opportunity to speed the trial along and get you all back to your lives as quickly as possible.

“This discussion was about whether or not this witness is the best witness to testify about this material. That’s all.

“We want to make sure that we have the best witness about any piece of evidence for all the reasons that I know you are more than clever enough to figure out, not the least of which is to protect the record in case there is an appeal of any verdict that you might reach once you have the entire case before you and are deliberating in the jury room about what your verdict should be.

“In this case, I believe that the very best evidence about this material would come from the lab that analyzed it, in theSherriff’s Office.”

 

By now, both attorneys had returned to the counsel table and remained standing while they waited for the judge’s decision.

“Although the objection was made by the attorney who called this witness, I think that in light of the circumstances surrounding this piece of material, that I will allow the objection by the prosecution. So, please move on to another subject Ms.Bernal.”

“Well, Chief Inspector, are there any other pieces of evidence either marked or unmarked that you have to tell us about?”

“No counselor, that’s it.”

Judge Tan looked at the witness, “You are excused, Chief Inspector, but subject to recall, you  understand?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

 

“We'll take our afternoon recess now.

"Please remember the admonition ladies and gentlemen.  Do not talk with anyone about this case until it has finally been submitted to you for your deliberations. Please be back in fifteen minutes."

Judge Tan got up and looked at the two attorneys.

“Do you have a witness, Hilo?”

“Yes Your Honor, I can get the lab tech here in ten minutes.”

“Good.” She turned and disappeared down the steps at the back of her bench and entered her chambers.

I happened to look up just after the Chief Inspector was leaving through the double set of courtroom doors. It looked like that juror was giving a huge sigh of relief, flushed face and all.

Doctor Davies approached Allan Hamilton with a worried look. “Now we’ll have to have all our clothing checked,” The whites of his eyes looked as though they were compressing his pupils, “this is really becoming a nightmare, Allan.”

Allan eyed the Doctor with a sympathetic look, “Aaah, don’t worry Pete, even if it was your jacket, it doesn’t prove anything . . .  but why are we talking this way? I doubt if you have a jacket from thirty-six years ago. I sure as hell don’t.”

Doctor Davies could feel the relief flooding his face. He gave a deep sigh. “Wow. You’re right. Allan; I don’t have any jackets or, well—anything from even twenty years ago.”

He gave a nervous laugh of relief.

Allan gazed up at the mountains and a hawk while he surmised: “But, if they could determine the type—even the maker of the jacket, they could start there with all the known people still around who were at that party or around the area, the scene of the murder.

“It would take time, unless they lucked out; but they could. But hey, that’s a real reach”

The blood had once more drained from the face of Doctor PeterDavies.

Hamilton continued.”Very odd. Nobody asked if they checked Sanderson’s jacket; you know, the one missing the button. Hmm.”

Doctor Davies stared out the window at the beach and felt as though his life might be washed away on the next tide.

 

After the break Hilo called the Lab Tech, Cory Ballmer, who had examined the rock.

“Were you able to distinguish any fingerprints on the rock in question?”

“Well, the rock itself had a lot of blood in it. I made moulds of all surfaces on the rock and then examined them with all our modern equipment.”

“Like “Forensic Files” Hilo offered.

“Exactly. We did every available test to try and bring out an identifiable print or prints."

“And were you able to do that?”

“Well, partially, and by that I mean that we we able to remove partial prints.

'The problem was that there were different layers of blood because of the repeated use of the rock and a new layer of blood covered the previous one so that we only had the last layer to work with. 

"As you can imagine, by that time, the bloody area of the rock was not only very slippery but also thinner.

'And so, again, in answer to your question we have only partial prints with not enough points of similarity to satisfy the requirements for an opinion.”

The jury once again, slumped back into their chairs—well almost all of them did. Those two, and especially that one, remained riveted to the witness .

“Were the fingerprints of the defendant submitted to you for comparison?”

“Yes they were.”

“And were you able to match his prints to the partials on the rock?”

“Well, we did get four points of similarity on three prints. That was it.”

“Thank you. Your witness.”

Gail got up and went close to the witness box to ask her questions.

“What is the minimum number of similar points required for identification, Mr. Ballmer?”

“Well, it varies. But the minimum that we use is six.”

“And it is true, is it not, that Australia requires twelve and France requires sixteen?”

Hilo objected and Judge Tan overruled the objection.

Mr. Ballmer answered. “Yes."

“And in fact, all the fingerprints submitted to you from everyone around the crime scene had three and some had five, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And so you are testifying that there were, in fact, no fingerprints of my client found on that rock, correct?”

“Yes; only the . .”

“You’ve answered the question. That’s all Mr. Ballmer.”

 

“Any redirect Ms. Falange? Asked Judge Tan.

“No, your Honor.”

“You’re excused.” The judge added politely to the witness and turned to Hilo.

“Do you have another witness, Ms. Falange? We still have almost another hour.”

“Yes Your Honor. I know we’re jumping around here and it must be quite confusing for the jury.

"I have the woman who took the 911 call on the early morning of the murder of Jemma Jefferson.” 

“Oh, I think the jury is completely aware of the sequence of this case; it’s just a matter of getting everyone on as soon as possible.” 

Judge Tan looked over at the jury with her comforting smile.

She is really so nice to work for . . . or with.

Most jurors nodded while a few looked unhappy—even disgusted with the patchwork nature of the presentation of the case.

Nevertheless, as I said before, the attorneys and the judge have to wait if a witness is in another trial that has precedence over this one.

 

Amy Clark was sworn in and stated her name. She is fifty-seven and had been twenty when she started with the 911 program.  She had the night shift the late evening and early morning of the murder.

She explained how 911 works and the script she had to use.

Other than the record of a call around one forty-five on Sunday morning, there was no other written record.

The ledger with the call was entered into evidence.

“Do you have, after all these thirty-six years—nineteen seventy-nine it was; do you have any recollection of this call?”

“Yes I do.”

I looked at the jury, expecting them to once again move to the edge of their seats and hang on every word of the witness.  But only a couple did.

“And why is that?”

“Well, it was an odd call in many ways. First of all it was not a call from a land line.”

Most of the other ten jurors began to stir.

“Oh? And how would you know that?”

“Well the mobile calls were going through the marine radio network and such at the time and all the different switching noises and booster—of the signal—noise was clearly identifiable and not anything like a call from a booth or someone’s house.”

Now every juror was fully awake and those two, particularly, were on full alert.

“And are there records of these kind of calls somewhere?”

“I don’t know; but I’m sure whatever network enabled the call would have a record.”

“I see," making a note, “so please tell the jury what you remember about this call.”

“Let’s see. I had started my shift about five hours earlier than this recorded time; the call, as I remember it, was not very urgent; I mean it was more a matter of fact—a statement; like that.”

“Do you remember what was said?”

Thinking very hard, “No; no I don’t.”

“Was it a man or a woman?”

Suddenly those two jurors almost came out of their seats.

I think I was the only one to notice this because the rest of the jury was zeroed in on the witness and oblivious to anything else.

“I’m positive it was a woman.”

 

End of Chapter Seven


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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