JUSTICE DELAYED: SS; NINE

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Thirty-six years after a murder, DNA resurrects the case for a jury trial.
As the case progresses in real time, members of the jury as well as the Court Reporter are conducting their own mental investigation back thirty-six years ago, with the result that they are becoming very skeptical about the guilt of the accused.

Submitted: September 13, 2016

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Submitted: September 13, 2016

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JUSTICE DELAYED

A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Nine

 

I felt a tickle in my spine.

The jury was motionless. Stunned. Now we had a woman saying good riddance to a murder victim.

I read into the jury’s stony stillness the fact that they were beginning to realize there was more to this case than just a simple homicide.

I knew right then that there were more skins to be peeled away before getting to the core of this murder.

The jurors were nodding their heads in silent acceptance of that fact: that there were more questions lurking below what was now only the surface—merely an outline—of the events occurring on that killing night. And these questions had to be answered before they would be able to reach a verdict.

However, the strongest vibe that I was receiving from the jurors was that there would be no rush to judgment in this case.

Those two jurors now wore fear on their faces.

I looked at Mister Sanderson. 

He was staring at the witness with a look of surprise . . . and confusion.

Then, reflexively, he began to rub his chin.

I think we were all doing that mentally. My immediate thoughts were: now what: and was Mrs. Barnstable’s death a coincidence?

 

I looked over at Allan Hamilton. 

He wore the expression of a detective who understands that there were many leads to follow; questions to be answered; memories to be tested; lies to be uncovered.

“Thank you Mrs. Clark. I have no further questions. Counsel?”

Gail walked back toward her table while looking at Hilo.

Hilo was clearly shocked, as we all were. 

She looked down at her legal pad as though there was some magic question written on it to make that last answer go away.

I was wondering what more she could ask Mrs. Clark without having Mrs. Clark repeat her last answer.

Judge Tan was eyeing the witness very closely, thinking.

Then she blinked and drew back her head while she turned toHilo.

“Any redirect, Ms. Falange?”

“No Your Honor.”

“Any other witnesses, Ms, Falange?”

Hilo breathed in deeply.

“Yes Your Honor; I have two waiting in the hall.”

Judge Tan turned to the jury.

“Well, we’ll take a fifteen minute recess now and then go through to the lunch break.

“Please remember the admonition.”

She stated it and then quickly left her bench.

 

Allan approached Doctor Davies.

The latter’s posture and mien emitted a bundle of contradictory concerns.

His brow was sweaty; his hands were almost red from wringing; his shoulders were sagging and his eyes were blinking furiously.

“Well, Jesus Christ, Allan, what do you make of all that?” 

Peter’s tone was more that of a patient than a doctor.

Allan was determined to cheer up his new friend, conclusively.

“Peter, had you ever been to Lake Balfort before this incident?”

The doctor managed a feeble, “no.”

“Do you own a boat; any kind; a sail boat, runabout, whatever?”

This time answers were flooding into the doctor’s face and the creases disappeared from his brow and a smile threatened to appear.

“No; I see what you’re doing. Yes. Of course.”

Now he flashed his bedside smile revealing  almost all thirty-two teeth.

“Own a Marine radio; VHF radio?”

“No—yes; well, not really.

A very close friend has one on her sailboat that I sail a lot. But it’s moored on the city waterfront.?

“Is it portable?”

Doctor Davies thought for a moment, “I don’t know. But I think it is.”

Now a cloud of doubt rushed across his face. “Jesus, Allan . . . now I’m back in it. Christ.”

Allan smiled and tapped the doctor on his shoulder.

“Does your friend, the owner, go to Lake Balfort and try to sound like a man while she

makes strange calls?”

Now Hamilton couldn’t help laughing.

“Your face Peter; you must be a very poor liar.

"I can’t remember anyone I’ve questioned having their emotions and their thoughts so clearly on their mugs.”

And he laughed harder. 

Several people in the corridor were stopping to listen, and to find out who was laughing so loudly.

In a low tone while he moved a step closer to Allan, “Jesus,Allan, you don’t think they’d . . . well, go that far do you?”

“Peter, they’ll go as far as they have to. But don’t worry,” inhaling though his nose and lifting his shoulders, “what’s your motive—you’re not even sure you had the opportunity . . . to kill her that is.”

Allan looked at the doctor with a mixture of respect and curiosity.

“But you might have screwed her earlier in the evening, at Nevvy’s, right?”

Doctor Peter Davies stopped all movement while he looked at the floor. 

Allan couldn’t be sure he was even breathing.

“You okay Peter?” putting a hand on the doctor’s shoulder, “I think I might have too,” reflecting, “so might a lot of other guys.

“If they start checking DNA of everyone, who knows who will pop up,” digging out a deep sigh, “then the whole paradigm shifts and Mr. Sanderson might begin to look like the least culpable of all,” standing back and breathing calmly, “but; neither of us was packing a VHF Marine radio or even talking in a way that an experienced 911 operator would think we were a woman trying to sound like ourselves.” 

He just had to laugh.

And he did.

And the number of turning heads increased five fold.

He continued to laugh while he slapped poor Peter on the back, “let’s go have lunch together at noon and I’ll bring you up to date on what really happened and why you and MisterSanderson—and I—are in the clear.”

Hamilton loomed up over the slumping doctor and lifted him in a bear hug.

“C’mon now. These next two witnesses are zip—I predict; otherwise they would have put them on first, once Stulac and Daniels were freed up out of that other trial. Let’s go.”

He wheeled Peter Davies around and pointed him up the hallway toward their jury seats and more witnesses.

I made a point of looking very closely at the jurors as they took their seats after the morning break.

A certain sadness; or perhaps a look of grimness, was locked onto their faces.

 

Doctor Davies became even more impressed with AlanHamilton’s knowledge of his field. 

True to his prediction, neither of the two witnesses remembered giving any statements to the local police thirty-six years ago, and not what the officer had written down as their replies to his questions.

 Both were eleven back then.

Neither of the statements was signed.

 

Lucy Amos was now a forty-seven year-old  married mother of three. 

Time had added pounds on her that were excess to requirements.

She was a bottle blonde, jolly and clearly a loving mother and devoted wife.

She worked as a convention consultant in the city.

Rosemary Ball was gay and married.

She and her partner were raising two young boys. 

Rosemary had remained slim and was very attractive with long dark hair and wide dark-brown eyes.

That night, thirty-six years ago, around midnight, a friend of a mother of one of the girl’s had dropped them off in front of the family cottage of Lucy Amos.

Rosemary Ball was staying with Lucy and her family for the summer holidays.

Both now remembered only being together throughout the summer.

Lucy testified that she might have seen the defendant that night but now was completely unsure; but even if it was MisterSanderson, he had been walking in the opposite direction of Jemma, who was alone at that time. They stopped and talked for a moment and then continued walking away from each other.

Hilo gave each woman the statement that they had made back then.

 Both women shook their head as they struggled to recall the occasion—or even the place—where they had been interviewed by the local police and told what they had seen.

Gail objected to the introduction of the statements of the girls on several grounds.

However, the judge ruled that the statements were taken immediately following the discovery of the body and that despite the girls being without either parent at the time of their statements, that they could come in as a business record of the police department.

Nevertheless, the judge ruled that the jury should give the statements only the weight they deserved in light of the age of the girls and the absence of parents when the statements were copied down by the police.

While the two women were testifying it was clear to me that neither one was harmful to the case against Mister Sanderson.

Now I realized that I was framing my thoughts in a way that was favorable to Mister Sanderson.

Apparently, I had become a silent advocate for his innocence.

 

End of Chapter Nine


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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