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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
When DNA revives a 36 year-old murder case, the difficulties of finding witnesses, presenting reports, introducing evidence, are all buried under 36 years of the lives and deaths of so many of the potential witnesses.
Some of the the people on the jury realize they were around the area back then; even on the day and night of the crime.
A juror who is a retired homicide detective and now a Private Investigator begins to try and solve this baffling mystery that requires the peeling back of many layers before the core of the case can be discovered.

Submitted: September 17, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 17, 2016




A Novel

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Eleven


Peter sat motionless, while he absorbed this astonishing conclusion of his new friend.

“This is the perfect example, Peter, of how cases are often buggered up right out of the gate.

“My best friend is a Criminal Defense Attorney. She is probably the best private one out there.

“Her first complaint about any case she defends is that she learns so little about the real guts of the D.A.’s  case before the trial begins.

“More importantly, she says that all potential jurors, not just the final twelve are given so little information about the case, that the juries start out with the impression that the case is an open and shut one.

"After the first witness gets on the stand, hundreds of questions appear”

He was silent for a moment. “Just think about this one we’re on.

“We weren’t even asked if we’d ever been to Lake Balfort, for crissakes, right?

“Anyway, we’ll talk more about that when we meet after finishing up here for the day.”

Peter nodded. His head was filled with so many uncertainties and questions that he wore the look of a physics professor trying figure out an Einstein theory of one kind or another while walking along the Delta, without a blackboard and chalk.


We went through and well over the lunch hour, which made the judge even more fearful of ‘losing’ the jury’s attention and dedication to their sworn responsibility.

When we finally got into court, Judge Tan immediately went through all the admonitions as well as strongly stating the activities that were off limits for the jurors.  Most of them appeared to accept the judge’s remarks very well.

However, Doctor Davies and Allan Hamilton wore the blank expressions of propriety but I could tell even then, that they were up to something.

Hilo looked very uncomfortable when Judge Tan asked her to proceed. 

Hilo stood up and took some time before she began.

“The District Attorney has completed the presentation of our case but reserves the right to call further witnesses.”

“You mean witnesses on rebuttal, counsel, not for your case in chief? As you well know, that door is closed when you state that you have presented your case; your case in chief.”

“Well, no.” She seemed very uncertain.

I think she realized that the case against Mr. Sanderson was not as conclusive as she would have liked. There was also an air of mystery surrounding both her manner of speech and her words.

Judge Tan sat up straight and gazed down on Hilo.

“Do you have any more witnesses or evidence to produce at this time, Ms. Falange?”

Once more, Hilo hesitated, as though she had a witness but was unsure about whether or not to put the witness on the stand now or save him or her as a rebuttal witness after Gail put on her case. The silence became deeper; like those previous times when the whole courtroom fell so quiet.

“I have Mr. Washington, Your Honor. Yes, I’ll call back Mr.Washington to complete his testimony.”

There was an instant murmur among the jurors.

The judge looked over at them with a hard look.

They were obviously looking forward to hearing more from Mr.Washington, particularly because he would now name names of the people on the jury who he recognized from thirty-six years ago.

Bob, the Bailiff went out into the corridor to find Mr. Washington.

At first, I had been positive who the jurors were who he remembered from back then. However, when Hilo was hesitating, I had a flash of seeing those other two jurors talking near the end of the corridor, at the farthest spot from our courtroom.

Mr. Washington came in followed by Bob. Mr. Washington almost waved at the jury like they were his friends. He took his seat in the witness chair and turned to smile and nod at Judge Tan.

She smiled back at him in a friendly fashion.

Hilo began. “Now Mr. Washington, how are you?”

“Very well thank you counselor." and he delivered a broad smile.

“You are still under oath, Mr. Washington, you understand?”

“Yes ma’am.” Polite but businesslike.

“We had been talking about the day and the evening of the murder of Jemma Jefferson.”


“You told us about all the people who were in and out of your store around and during that Labor Day weekend.”


‘Then I asked you if you recognized any  jurors who you believe you saw during that time period.”

“Yes. You did.”

“And today, are any of those people here today?”

“Yes.” He looked at the jury.

Suddenly, while his eyes were swinging around toward Hilo, he abruptly stopped and stared. Then he leaned forward as far as he could . . . toward the audience.

While Mr. Washington stared, both Gail and Hilo turned around.

All the jurors shifted their gaze from Mr. Washington to the audience. Even the judge stared over the tops of her glasses at the rough position where she believed Mr. Washington was looking.

After a dead silent few moments, Mr. Washington whispered,softly, “ But there are two more here today; in the audience.” A curious look crossed his face as though he was remembering something or trying to remember something.

Now all eyes in the courtroom turned toward the audience and waited for Hilo’s obvious questions.

“Okay, Mr. Washington, let's start with the first two that you spoke about when you were here last time. Who are they?”

Mr. Washington was silent, like a trance; or his mind was some place where his memory was fighting to deliver a clear recollection that he could articulate.

Hilo, louder, “Mr. Washington.”

Mr. Washington started.

“What?  . . . yes: ma’am?”

“Alright, let’s start with the ones you recognize in the audience.”

Mr. Washington slowly turned his head and again leaned far out over the witness box as he narrowed his eyes and squinted into the twelve rows of seats holding the audience on that side, the left side. Almost at the same time, I had the thought that there might be even more people who he recognized in the right half of audience seats.

Mr. Washington turned and carefully looked over that area on the right.

His gaze froze there as well.

I began to feel just a bit frightened. 

I don’t know why, but if either of the attorneys—and especially the judge—had asked me what was wrong; what I was afraid of, I would have told them that I felt that the real murderer of Jemma Jefferson was here. Right now. Watching the trial from the audience—or the jury box.

“Well Mr. Washington,” turning back from looking at the audience to address the witness, “please point out who you see in the audience who was there in your store thirty-six years ago.”

Before Mr. Washington could answer, Judge Tan stated.

“When the witness points to you, please rise and state your name for the record, spell your last name and tell us where you live,” pausing, “ and please be prepared to answer some basic questions from both attorneys and myself.

“But just wait here a second, while the District Attorney and Mr.Washington identify you.”

Allan Hamilton and Doctor Davies were smiling and leaning over as far as they could, to get their best position to see the spotted members of the audience.

Hilo, “All right Mr. Washington, please identify those persons who you recognize beginning with the left side of the audience.”

“Yes. Well, row four . . . from the front, the woman in the beige jacket; with the beige scarf. “About, let’s see, five seats in.”

Judge Tan, “Would you please stand and state your full name and spell the last name. Then tell us where you live.”

The woman in beige with grey hair looked to be about in her fifties; maybe sixties. She had long grey hair, almost past her waist, with a rubber band about half way down that held her hair somewhat back from her face. Her face was wrinkled like that of someone who had been in the sun a lot; or smoked; or both.

“My name is Catherine Farmer, F-A-R-M-E-R. I live at 25 Thurston Road off the lake road, Lake Balfort.”

She remained standing while the attorneys turned to the judge for direction as to how to proceed.

Judge Tan had been thinking and planning while Mr.Washington and Ms. Farmer were talking.

“Thank you Ms. Farmer. What we’re going to do here is this. When you are identified, please remain in your seats. Then I will clear the courtroom and we’ll have some questioning on the record before we start back with the main trial.

"Unfortunately,this may mean that you will be answering questions twice but this is obviously something new to all of us as the result of this matter occurring  thirty-six years ago.

"Thank you. You may proceed counsel and Mr. Washington.”

Hilo turned her attention to the witness. 

“Next, Mr. Washington.”

He had been peering very keenly at the audience while the judge had been talking and was prepared.

“Yes. There in row six, about eight seats in, that man with the denim shirt and grey hair.”

“Please stand and tell us your name sir, and spell your last name and then give us your current address.”

A very large man stood up.

“My name is Paul James, J-A-M-E-S, and I live at 405 Western Way in Jensen.”

Mr. James was huge. He looked like he was well over six feet and close to three hundred pounds. But he wasn’t fat; just really large. His hair was in a crew cut and he appeared to be solid beneath his denim shirt. I guessed his age at around fifty; maybe a well-preserved sixty.

Hilo, “Next Mr. Washington.”

The witness looked very closely at the left side of the audience for some time before pointing.

“There in the last row; about six or seven seats in. The woman with the brownish hair, and I think it’s a green sweater; it’s hard to tell the exact color from here.”

The woman stood up. She was very obviously reluctant to get up and I got the strong impression that if she was closer to the doors she would have tried to get out.

As it was, she was beginning to edge in front of the other people in the row and was only two chairs away from the entrance when the judge commanded her to stop.

“Right there, Ms. Please. Bailiff, “turning to Bob, “please make sure she stays here in the courtroom.”

Bob moved quickly while a few of the people in the audience barred her way. She was now looking frantic.

Let me out. she screamed while she swung her arm and fists at those barring her way, “Let me out."

Bob arrived to hold her while the rest of the courtroom stared and drew back. Most looked both startled and curious.

I guessed that some were thinking that maybe she was a key witness. Maybe even Mr. Sanderson’s mother. I didn’t think she looked that old. She was rather tall and relatively slim.

Allan and Peter: Hamilton and Davies, looked on with faces that reflected curiosity but not surprise.  

Bob held her gently as she began to cry. A sympathetic silence draped over the courtroom.

Judge Tan let a few quiet moments pass before she asked her,“Are you all right now, ma’am?”

The woman nodded in the affirmative.

“Can you tell us who you are?”

A very long breathless silence crept by before she answered.

“I’m Rachel Caine. I’m  Jemma Jefferson’s mother.”

End of Chapter Eleven

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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