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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A 36 year old cold murder case is revived by DNA testing.
Two of the original jury are bounced once they are identified as being in the area of the crime.
However, one is an ex-Chief of Homicide turned PI and he and his other 'bounced' jury member team up to find the real killer.

Submitted: November 03, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 03, 2016




A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

 Chapter Fifteen


When I saw the members of the new panel of thirty people, I had this strange feeding that somehow, Judge Tan’s idea for keeping Mr. Sanderson out of double jeopardy was not going to work.

Something about the ages of the potential jurors gave me the funny feeling that some—if not a lot—were either cottage owners from the lake area, had read the recent article about the case in the local paper, or were around the murder scene on that Labor Day weekend.

For any number of logical reasons, jury panels are usually filled with older, retired people.

Judge Tan gave the new panel a welcome and then told them much more about the case than she had told the original panel. 

Most of this new information was in the form of the agreements between the attorneys, the stipulations.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the attorneys have agreed to tell you the following agreements which they and I have decided to tell you before asking any further questions. I’ll read them to you.
One: the case involves a homicide, a killing of a human being.

Two: Both attorneys now agree that this was a murder; an intentional killing of a human being.”

Judge Tan continued  to read off the stipulations that really told the prospective jurors  where, when and how, the murder was committed.

She essentially reduced the entire trial question to one; Did David Sanderson kill Jemma Jefferson or not.

I could not remember any other murder case that  I had reported where the issue was reduced to one question. And, in an odd way, I thought this was the real way to brief a jury panel; get it out there and have the attorneys agree to as many questions as possible, read these agreements to the prospective jurors, and go from there.

Well, all these unusual steps taken by both the attorneys and Judge Tan soon came to naught.

Following the reading of the stipulations to the new panel, Judge Tan was brimming with confidence; absolutely buoyant.

“Now you have all heard and understood all the agreements that have been made by the attorneys, I will ask you the following questions. And, seeing that it is still early afternoon, I think we can swear in four jurors and begin our jury trial.

“All right, here is the first question: do any of you live in the Jensen area?”

Five hands went up. The judge then asked them to stand and tell her any other details about how long they had lived there and whether they lived there at the time of the murder.

Three of the four were still living in the area and their parents and some other relatives continued to live in the area. Three lived there thirty-six years ago. Those three were teenagers at the time.

“All right, my second question is this: Were any of you living in the Jensen area on or about the Labor Day weekend thirty-six years ago?”

I almost fell off my chair. Twelve hands went up. 

Suddenly, our panel of thirty prospective jurors fell to only fourteen—and the Judge hadn’t asked her remaining five questions yet.

I looked up at Judge Tan. Her glasses were almost slipping completely off her nose. Her face—from my angle—was creased and seemed to be drooping a little.

It was then when I knew we were in serious trouble. However, I continued to believe that we could get just four from the remainder of the panel.

Although it was plain that Judge Tan was rattled, I knew that she was tough and determined. She continued.

“Do any of you know anything about the Jemma Jeffersonmurder case?”

Well; that was about it—at least for this panel; all but one raised their hand. 

So; now there was only one person left untouched in some way or another by our case.

Judge Tan took a long pause as she looked over the entire panel to make sure that there was only one.

She drew in a very deep breath and then set her jaw.

“We’ll take a ten minute break now. Please return at that time.”

*  *  *

Once outside the courthouse, Allan shook hands with Peter, found a sunny bench in the park opposite the city hall, and called his office.

He had all three assistants as well as his secretary, Caroline, on speakerphone.

“Listen up guys, I’m sprung as a juror but for any number of reasons we have until Monday to try and solve this case.

"It looks like a mistrial is brewing in the courtroom and then double jeopardy comes knocking and the defendant goes walking.

“So: First: Nick; find the name of the newspaper for the Jensen area and flick through until Labor Day, thirty-six years ago. Then dig around and get anything printed, digital, or photographic about the murder of Jemma Jefferson.”

“Gotcha, Allan,” and he hurried away while tapping his iPad.

“Jenny: find out everything about a family named Ransome; with an e; could have lived around Lake Balfort thirty-six years ago—may still be around.”

“Got it.” She rushed away to chase all the ancestry sites, but only after exhausting telephone directories, Zabasearch, and high school alumni sites,

“Howard: try and find out if Neville Wallman is still around Lake Balfort and get a number for me. If not, find him. Then chase down numbers for Lucy Amos and Rosemary Ball. They live about twenty miles from Lake Balfort.

“Caroline: track down the largest and most reliable boat works that existed on Lake Balfort thirty-six years ago.”

“Got it, chief. When will you be back; before five?”

“Only a maybe, Sweet, I have some things I can do here.

"Call me and if I’m tied up, call again.”

While he was disconnecting, he had an idea and immediately called back Sweet Caroline.

“Get me all you can on a woman named Susan Taylor. She testified here; but gave no address; only that she lived in the Lake B. area back then. Okay? Thanks SC.”


Al hailed a cab, got out at his old work building, hit the fifth floor, and walked into the homicide division where he collared Captain Hal Jacobs.

“Al; well Jesus Christ, man; great to see you. Come back to restart your career?”

Laughing appropriately, “No, my friend, I love not having to answer to authorities—like you; and Daniels have to now I’m gone.” more laughter, "Is he around by any chance?”

“For you, dude, he is. I just saw him carting a coffee to the back office—your old office. "Want some coffee?”

“Yeah. Thanks Hal,” pausing, “before I cross-examine Lenny, tell me; is there anything wild going on about that Jefferson murder at Lake Balfort way back in the day?”

Jacobs had already turned and was leading Al back to hook up with Daniels. Abruptly, he stopped. He hesitated before turning to face his old boss and Allan thought that Hal was a whisper too long in giving his answer.

“Well, now that you ask, yeah. A hell of a whole lot. Daniels has even drafted meter maids.

“Suddenly this case has sprung back to life faster than Lazarus. Personally, I don’t know why . . . but it has also become very secretive all of a sudden.”

It was obvious that the Captain wanted to say more but purposely pulled up the drawbridge and silently led Hamilton to his former quarters.

“Thanks, Hal. After I grill Daniels, maybe I can ply you with some Ripple or cheap Muscatel; and winkle some answers out of you. The ones you just slammed the door on.”

Jacobs was silent, looking grim; then couldn’t help laughing.

“I prefer Ripple, Al; but, truly, there’s no information to winkle out of me.”

He forced a laugh as he propelled Hamilton forward up to Daniels’ door with a smart rap on the shoulder.

“However, let me know after you’ve bloodied Daniels if you still want me to share some cheap wine with you.”

Before Hamilton could deliver a suitable reply, Captain Jacobs quickly turned and smartly moved away.

Allan paused his knocking while he attempted to make some sense of Hal’s words and off-center actions.

What had begun as a vague vibe that something about Jemma’s murder case was the talk of the Detective Bureau town at the moment, now appeared to him to be a dead certainty. He knocked. 



There was a scraping of chairs, a few moments passed, and Leonard Daniels slowly opened the door. Hamilton immediately saw the backs of four other men with their chairs placed in a semi-circle in front of Daniels’ large littered desk.

Almost at once, Daniels broke a wide smile, while he grabbed Hamilton’s arm and pulled him into the room. 

“Hey, Al,” overacting, “what the hell brings you here; and back to your old office?” His question suffered from a sweet tooth bullshit tone that he was unable to alter before Hamilton answered.

“To get your help, young fellah; on the Jemma Jefferson case.” 

All four heads turned to the right as Hamilton edged along the glass wall and stopped at the point where he had all four faces lined up, and ready to lie.


End of Chapter Fifteen

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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