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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Mr. Sanderson is now on trial for a murder that occurred 36 years ago because of his DNA.
However, Juror Number One, Allan Hamilton, ex-Chief of Homicide, believes the secret of the killing lies buried in the past along with the identity of the real killer.

Submitted: October 31, 2016

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Submitted: October 31, 2016




  A Short Story in Chapters

  Nicholas Cochran

Chapter  Fourteen


Peter was having more fun that he could remember. Being away form broken bones, torn ligaments, and demanding athletes improved his temperament and, consequently, sharpened his wits.

Allan’s respect for Peter increased every day—almost every hour.

“Are we just scrapping the idea of the killer being someone from one of those parties on the far side of the lake; you know, Al, across the lake from the Jensen area?”

“On the contrary, my dear Watson. I’m convinced that this is a crime from the other side of the lake. It’s over five miles wide. With medium height aerials, the female caller could have been on the other side of the lake when she made the call.

“Although I’m convinced that Jemma was at Wallman’s party, I believe that the murderer came from one of the two parties across the lake; Evans and Stevens I think.”

 “Yes,” mused Peter, “but why would the killer—she—come all the way over to this side, kill Jemma and than boat back?” 

“Maybe someone tipped her off that Jemma was on the other side—in or around Jensen.”

Hey, Allan; yes; could even be someone who knew that Jemma would be at Nevvy’s party.”

“And, Watson, most importantly, Jemma’s family had a cottage on the shores of Lake Balfort—with a dock,” thinking out loud, “then too, everyone along the shore has a dock, so she could have used one of those and then walked to wait for and kill Jemma.

“There’s definitely a connection with the far side of the lake, but at the moment I think that the influence on the case is tied up with the guests of those parties and who was absent for a while.”


The two sleuths checked the time, stopped talking, and—finally—experienced yet another fine feast from the invisible master chef of the courthouse.

At one-twenty-five, they made a spirited move back to their courtroom and waited with mounting contentment for the judge to spring them.

*  *  *

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: We have a unique situation in the history of this county and, as best my research clerks can find—in the State. 

“And this is what it is: Two jurors, Mr. Hamilton and Doctor Davies have been identified by Mr. Washington as persons in or about his market on the weekend of the murder.

“Both counsel, Ms. Falange and Ms. Bernal, intend to have both men submit to various types of testing. In addition, both counsel and their staff, including their investigators, will be questioning them as witnesses. 

“Both men must be dismissed from the jury panel,” pausing to look each juror in the eye, while nodding her head, “and I see in all your eyes that you know what that means. 

“However,” with an ingratiating smile to all, “you would be wrong. We do not have to declare a mistrial. And I will not declare a mistrial. There is a very simple way to resolve this peculiar problem.

“I have ordered a new panel of prospective jurors, about thirty,” looking at her watch, “that will be here in about ten minutes.

“The attorneys will then conduct voir dire—ask their questions—of those prospective jurors while the ten of you remain downstairs in the jury assembly room or in the cafeteria; but not the halls, please—and not here in the courtroom.

“We will impanel two more jurors as well as two alternates and, unfortunately, start again.”

Judge Tan read disappointment on the ten faces, as well as some frustration—even anger.

“I can appreciate how you must feel; and how angry many of you feel with both me and the system, but here is why we must continue. 

“At this point, Mr. Sanderson is in this position: If I declare a mistrial and send you all home for good, then Mr. Sandersonmust be released. He is already in what we call jeopardy

“This state of his case was reached when you were impaneled and sworn in by the Court Clerk.

“Mr. Sanderson could not be tried by another completely new jury because that would be double jeopardy; and he would be set free.

“I’m sure you all understand the situation now. However, under the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 233, the court may do just what I intend to do; get four more jurors and begin again. 

“I should stress this fact. 

“All of us in this courtroom realize that you need to know much more about this very old cold case before we can begin the new trial. I will tell you all I am permitted under the law to tell you, together with your new fellow jurors and the two new alternates.

“Thirty-six years has cast a very long and extremely dark shadow across this case, and because of this fact, we will now have to provide you as well as the new jurors with many more facts—that I and the two attorneys—have stipulated to be true; sorry, agreed to be true. 

“These agreements between the attorneys will speed up the trial immeasurably and I do not see the case going much past the first date of completion that I gave to you before we began choosing you as jurors.

“It is the weekend. I want all of you to enjoy yourselves and try not be too upset with me or the attorneys or the court personnel. It is the thirty-six year-old cold case curse,” smiling, “I wasn’t sure I’d get all that out in the correct sequence.

“That is where we stand. 

“We’ll now take a break; let’s say one hour, Please be in the Jury Assembly Room or give the clerk a number where you can be reached if the voir dire of the new panel is either shorter or longer than one hour. 

“Once the four new jurors are sworn, you will reassemble here and I will discuss anything of importance with you. Then, I’ll let you all go early to enjoy your weekend and to cool off from the distressing and bizarre events that seem to occur in this case, in this courtroom on a daily basis.

“Mr. Hamilton; Doctor Davies, you are excused. 

“Thank you both very much for your service. Please let the Jury Commissioner’s Office know that you have been excused and they will give you any papers you require for work, sick leave, pay deductions and such.”

Judge Tan gave her warmest smile to the two men.

The men rose and nodded, smiled at the judge and the rest of us, and then they both did something very odd.

Once out of the jury box, they both smiled and nodded at the remaining jurors while their heads and eyes appeared to pause when they reached those two who I thought Mr. Washington was going to identify.

And then they left.

Judge Tan looked at Mr. Washington. He was in the witness box, looking thoroughly confused and I certainly didn’t blame him. 

I think all our heads were buzzing, not just his. But, somehow, Mr. Washington looked more defeated than the rest of us. I’m sure he realized that his presence might be required off and on for another week or two.

“Mr. Washington, thank you for your patience as well. You heard what I told the jury. "And this means that you will need to be available on call until you are dismissed as a witness. 

“Please talk with Ms. Falange or her staff and let them know where they can reach you; all right?”

Mr. Washington now looked petrified; as though he had been drawn back into the jaws of some beast.

His look was that of a man who thought he was going to be free and just now learned that he had to return to some type of prison; a very personal prison; just for him.

He only nodded his agreement to be available, rose, and walked very slowly toward the courtroom doors.  

He scuttled past the packed audience and forcefully pushed open the first set of courtroom doors. All eyes followed him and it was though he was towing something in his wake as he left; some dreadful secret, or perhaps a frightening revelation. 

He was certainly not the same Mr. Washington who had nodded and more or less waved to the jury and the court personnel when he was recalled to the witness stand a couple of hours ago.

*  *  *

“Allan; can you believe it?” Doctor Peter Davies was ecstatic; giggling like a schoolboy, “We’re free, man; free.”

He thumped Allan on the shoulder and skipped his feet in some version of a medical jig. 

“Don’t get too happy, Watson. They will want some saliva for DNA and their investigators will question us forever; both of them; for both attorneys.

" And, if we give them anything at all, we will be called as witnesses; maybe even if we haven’t given them anything. 

“Hilo and Gail could call us just to give background, distances, descriptions, and—maybe—our opinions.”

Watson had stopped giggling. His face wore a mantle of rosy good cheer, like a miniature Santa Claus.

“But now we can investigate and talk and, well, catch her—the murderer.”

Allan smiled at Watson’s enthusiasm, while he continued to appreciate the new position they were in.

“Let’s have a nosh in the cafeteria and talk—or do you have patients?”

“None; pretty much a full load tomorrow but I”ll postpone the minor ones and make room for our new partnership to get going; either together or alone. What do you think, Allan?”

“Excellent; I love your enthusiasm, Watson. Can you get way tomorrow or Sunday and we can drive up to the lake and sniff around?”

Peter continued to bubble with enthusiasm. “I certainly can. Sunday would be just fine.”

“Very good, Watson. I’ll meet you in the cafeteria in five minutes or so. I want to give my staff the questions we have about this case so far.

"And I need to have my secretary Barbara tell me again how to use that voice-changer app.”


End of Chapter Fourteen

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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