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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

When DNA revives a 36-year-old murder case, the difficulties of finding witnesses, presenting reports, and introducing evidence, lay buried beneath 36 years of the lives and deaths of many potential witnesses.
Two excused jurors—a retired Chief of Homicide Detectives and a doctor— delve into the cold case.
36 years ago becomes the present. There are endless layers to peel back in order to reveal the shocking details behind the murder as well as the identity of the killer.

Submitted: September 16, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 15, 2016




A Novel

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Ten


All the objections and arguments over the introduction of the girls’ statements took us up to the lunch hour.


Allan continued to chew, what he described between bites, as the best pasta puttanesca he had ever tasted. Peter remarked that they should meet for luncheon there occasionally, once the trial was over. The quality as well as the quantity of the food continued to impress them. Both of them emphasized how inexpensive the food was and voiced different ideas as to why—or how—anyone could offer such superb cuisine at such ridiculously low prices.

Peter was feeling much better today and made a point of telling Allan that the sole reason for his cheerfulness was due to Allan’s expert analysis of their positions as well as his encouraging words.

“So: Al; tell me: Who has it all right and who has it all wrong?” Peter took in a healthy forkful of his pasta.

“First of all, Pete, I want you to agree that we are not violating the judge’s admonition about discussing the case. I do not think we are. I think we are speculating about a set of cold hard facts; like a parlor game; even “Clue. What do you think?”

Peter chewed and mulled, then wiped his lips, “I completely agree Allan. As long as we stay away from the scene—I remember the judge warning us against going there and trying to solve any theory we might have—I think we’re okay. We’re just theorizing generally about a general set of circumstances. Hell, we don’t even have identifying fingerprints, or blood samples; in fact the whole damn issue seems to be floating around out there without any particular landing spot identified as yet,” pausing, “and those two this morning, “shaking his head, “very nice women but we learned nothing . . . well, nothing incriminating about Sanderson.”

Allan was amazed and delighted with Peter’s revelation of his logical medical training. ‘He would make a good detective.’

“Pete, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I absolutely agree. For us, it is a theoretical game with participants who we can leave as S or B or whoever.

"We don’t know so many other names, like all the party people at Nevvy’s; or even the all-weekenders across the lake. Interesting, though, that the lake is that wide, isn’t it? A large boat would not feel cramped scooting around—I think it’s about four or five miles across.

“We—they, should start looking to see who had the largest boats on the lake, or at least a boat with very high masts and high antennae up from those masts. That would increase the distance that the mysterious woman could be away from the scene and still be clear. That means she had a patch into the local trunk lines and the 911 call.”

Peter was nodding agreement.


I noticed that Allan Hamilton and Doctor Davies have left together and returned together most of the time over the last four days. They seem to be good friends by now. I wonder what a Private Detective has so much to talk about with a sports medicine surgeon. I’ll have to think about that.

During the lunch break, I had to report the conversations between Judge Tan, Gail and Hilo.

The judge was very curious about what other witnesses Hilo might have and also if Gail was ready to begin putting on her case. Judge Tan hates to waste time and especially the jurors’ time. She said that she always finds that jurors are less likely to follow the judge’s instructions that she reads at the end of all the evidence in the case before the jury retires to the jury room to deliberate.

And in this case, she says that from what she has heard so far, Hilo’s case is not watertight yet, and the jurors are becoming frustrated.

"Frustration leads to anger and anger leads to stubbornness, especially when it comes to the courts Instructions to the jury before they retire to deliberate the guilt or innocence of Mr. Sanderson," said the Judge.

Curiously, Judge Tan said—and I typed it, so it’s part of the record now—that this was exactly the type of case where jurors would begin to speculate about different theories of how the murder occurred, who did it, who was this mysterious woman—all these factors, she stated, would lead to people going to the scene on the weekend, starting tomorrow, Saturday, and nosing around Lake Balfort, hoping to gain some insight into a case where there were so many loose ends. Hilo then put on the record that she thought Judge Tan was being unfavorable to the D. A.’s case and that she, Hilo, wanted to be sure that the judge would not make any remarks or even hints to that effect.

Judge Tan became quite angry, but because I was there typing every word, she waited a few moments, and cooled off before replying to Hilo’s thinly veiled accusation that the judge was favoring the defense.

“I want the record to show that I am shocked by Ms. Falange’s insinuations that the court is biased in favor of the defense on this case. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

"The comments that I made previous to Ms. Falange’s remarks were simply that, in my experience, jurors in these types of cases, often take it upon themselves to try and investigate, theorize, visit the scene of the crime—all these ideas, which are very difficult for the court to control.”

The judge then stated that she would slowly and forcefully read the general admonition at every break and that she would especially emphasize the admonition for the jury not to go to the scene, not to speculate, not to try and investigate, and not to read newspapers or watch television or computer news programs having anything to do with the case.

Hilo apologized on the record and stated that she understood the judge’s concern and would even make occasional remarks that would fortify the judge’s warnings not to undertake any investigations or speculations, but listen only to the evidence and testimony of  the witnesses presented in court in the witness box, and to consider only those objects or reports which had been entered into evidence.


Allan was continuing. “I have a gut feeing that a number of partygoers came to Nevvy’s party from either one or both of the all-weekenders across the lake. I think that’s where the initial investigation faltered. This crime has a ‘full-lake’ feel to it.”

Allan dove back into his puttanesca while Peter took up the thread. 

“What gets me is the fury part; the repeated blows. The anger. Assuming that it was anger, then over what? I don’t think one of us would hit a woman over and over on the head with a rock just because she refused to have sex. I just don’t.”

Allan’s fork suddenly fell and clattered against the side of his pasta bowl.

That’s it Pete! That’s it! You’re a genius. You’re a hell of a detective, man; you are.”

Peter began to feel like Doctor Watson.

It was a feeling he enjoyed.

A flash of the future rippled before his inward eye and on those ripples he saw himself and Allan Hamilton as the latter day incarnations of the fabulous duo: Holmes and Watson: Hamilton and Davies.‘Hmmmm.’

“Pete, I’ll tell you who has it wrong. Everyone. 

"Now the question is how to get the answer to the Public Defender, Ms. Bernal, without identifying ourselves or doing something to cause a mistrial. Can we talk after court today? Do you have patients?”

“Only a few; but I can have Debbie give them a call and see what’s best for them.”

This was another aspect of Doctor Peter Davies that impressed Allan. His first thought was the care and convenience of his patients. Somehow his own life would find a way to absorb the lost time; and later make up for it.

“Great. Now I wish I---or even, we—had this case. It’s a beauty. And so little about it has come out. The thirty-six years is a hell of a long time, but somehow murders linger long after the crime itself has been committed. He drew in a deep breath and fell into thought.

Peter interrupted Hamilton’s thoughts.

“What was it; what did I say that was the answer; the clue?”

Allan blinked a few times and finished chewing.

“Oh . . . when you said that no guy would keep hitting a woman with a rock just because she turned him down. We—everyone, has assumed that it was a guy; a man who killed Jemma."

“It wasn’t. It was a woman.”


End of Chapter Ten

© Copyright 2020 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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