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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two jurors are kicked off the jury because they were around the scene of a murder that happened 36 years ago.
DNA evidence has revived the cold case.
The two jurors, for many reasons, need to find the real killer in a hurry or risk imprisonment themselves.

Submitted: November 03, 2016

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Submitted: November 03, 2016




 A Short Story in Chapters

 Nicholas Cochran

 Chapter Sixteen


I had never seen Judge Tan as indecisive. 

“Well, ladies; it seems to me that we have three choices.

“The first one is to let the defendant walk. The second is to wait until Monday and order up another panel; sixty this time. Or, third, continue with the ten we have left.”

The attorneys mulled the pluses and minuses of all three available choices.

Gail Bernal quickly agreed to the first but with a light tone. 

I appreciated Gail trying to cheer us all up.

Hilo knew that she should wait until Monday, get another, larger panel and then restart her case.

This was something she had fallen asleep wishing for over the past week and a half; to start over, present a better opening statement, present her witnesses in the proper and most effective order, and to catapult Mr. Sanderson into the prison community.  

Despite trying everything on her self-motivation list, she remained unable to command herself to state this position to the Judge and Gail.

Something, somewhere embedded in the essential elements of her character, prevented her from mouthing the words. Instead, she progressed to the last suggestion of simply proceeding with the remaining ten jurors. 

Once she had built up a head of moral and ethical steam, she reflected on the reaction of the District Attorney, himself, and how she would answer his questions if the ten-person jury acquitted Sanderson. 

And what would be her reasons for agreeing to a choice that all the other DAs would surely regard as no more than an easy and quick way to get out of a sticky situation and go on to the next jury trial on her calendar?

Gail broke the deepening silence.

“I think there is one way we can do this.

"Let's bring in the three who were teenagers living there at the time and the one person who knows nothing about the case and see if we can agree to keep all of them, or, in the alternative maybe just two and cross our fingers that  we wouldn’t have a situation where we needed to use alternates.”

Both Judge Tan and Hilo immediately warmed to the idea.

Hilo sparked first. “I certainly like the idea of the teenagers who were around at the time. I bet they could tell us all the back-story; I mean; really . . .” Hilo was swiftly transported by visions of former teenagers giving them all the exclusive look behind the scenes of all three parties; the guests, the parents—the real skinny on what happened on that night so long ago.

Judge Tan was next to pounce on the idea.

“Of course, they may have their idea of who did what with whom and where—and all the smutty stuff.” 

I had never heard the Judge speak in such bourgeois terms before. Smutty?

Well, we three young women knew exactly what she was saying in such a stilted manner:

Who was getting it on with whom, where, and—the thought just dropped into my brain—with how many?

Apparently, Gail and I are on the same wavelength; almost ESP.

“They could probably tell us who most of the guys were who raped Jemma.”

That remark pushed a sour and mean mood under the door; and it oozed and expanded to fill the Judge’s chambers.

I could tell at once that both Judge Tan and Hilo had been thinking about this fact every since that first DNA tech told us about the multiple semen stains found on Jemma’s dress and that they were all comprised of different DNA. 

“Is that something we can ask these people about without them becoming witnesses?” asked Hilo.

Judge Tan took another deep breath; as though she was about to dive off a fifty-foot platform with the intention of landing in the middle of a life preserver. A perfect bulls-eye—and a life saving device, all in one.

“The question is simple. If we can get them to tell us all of their ideas, preconceptions, and gossip in here; one at a time; we can then decide if their information would prejudice one side or the other once they began their deliberations. 

“But the only way we can decide that, is to have them come in one at a time and empty their memory banks. After listening to each one, all three of us would have a veto we could use; and only one veto would be necessary to disqualify that person as a potential juror. 

“Because, even if we all approve of even one of these potential jurors, there are all the other standard voir dire question to ask him or her.

“Either one of you might want to bounce that person for some other excellent reason and not simply because they were around at the time and may have heard or seen some things that by themselves, would not be enough for either of you to reject them at this stage.”

“Have I managed ti muddy the waters sufficiently?” laughing, “I hope not. In fact, the more I think about your suggestion, Gail, the more I believe it might work. But even if it doesn’t and that person is vetoed, I’m sure all three of us will have a much broader sense of this case.

“You know, not only could these people describe the entire scene for us but also they could describe the mood around the lake, late on that night and into the early morning when that poor young girl was smashed over and over with a rock. 

“What must the killer have been so angry about? What had the young woman done to enrage someone to do this?”

I thought the Judge might cry. No one spoke for a number of moments.

I thought that fact was very telling. Hilo did not jump up or speak up or do anything at all to push her point—her position—that Mr. Sanderson had done such a sickening thing.

I also remembered that in her Opening Statement to the jury that she had not even paused on—let alone dwelt on—the viciousness and rage necessary to do such a thing and that Mr.Sanderson was the one. 

Very  interesting, I thought. It certainly explained Hilo’s silence following the Judge’s remarks.

“All right. Are we agreed?” The judge had he old verve back.

The two attorneys did agree and she asked Bob to bring in the first of the three who were teenagers around the scene of the murder so many years ago. 

Once again, time appeared to have folded into a thin line that required no effort to step over.

Now we would enter a starry night on the shores of Lake Balfort where a murderer was waiting for the opportunity to vent their fury upon a beautiful young woman.


The four faces wore grim grimaces. Hamilton felt as though he had interrupted his trial for first-degree murder—or that the faces had already reached a verdict and were simply waiting for his body to throw into the gas chamber.

“Hey, guys; how’s it going? Just looking at the four of you—and Daniels—someone must have royally pissed you off. Wow. What’s up?” By now, Allan had reached the side of his old desk, drawn up a chair, and sat down.

Walt Matthews from Internal Affairs broke an uneasy silence.

“You’re up, Hamilton. Jones came up with a DNA match on Jemma Jefferson’s dress.” He left it there as though he expected one of the other four to add to his remark.

“Well, all right, Walt; so what?”

Brian Wainright, head of the rape and assault team hissed out the next remarks. “How well do you know this Doc, PeterDavies? We’re discussing when and where to pick him up for agg rape. Turns out Jefferson was screwed by a number of guys and so there’s no Statute of Limitations. And your buddy’s semen is all over Jefferson’s dress.”

Hamilton waited for the next shoe to drop—his own, as it were—but he waited while the silence thickened. His mind was flicking the afterburner switch and aiming for a plan to save Watson by solving the case and then calling in all his markers. He never considered his own peril; one that could land him in prison alongside his new friend.

“Well, guys. We just met; as jurors.”

Randoph Cramer, Daniels’ first assistant, gave Hamilton the breathing space he needed.

“We understand that you have been trying to solve the Jefferson case yourself and approached Davies for information. Correct?” 

Allan took in a deep breath that he knew would be interpreted as a prelude to his telling the guys everything he knew about the Doctor, whereas in fact, it was a breath of relief; relief that they had not tagged his semen on Jemma’s dress, if indeed there was any.

Releasing his breath in a controlled manner, “Not really; not allowed to. So our conversations have been nothing but speculation about the overall happenings around the lake that weekend; most of which he can’t remember given the thirty-six years that have passed.”

Allan again waited for the other shoe to drop.

Mason Turnbull, the youngest of the new homicide investigation team, calmly waited for his turn.

“Mr. Hamilton; do you have any theories about the murder of Ms. Jefferson?”

Allan was impressed. The question was so innocuous and broad that Turnbull was hoping for any insight of Allan’s that would then become the starting point for Turnbull’s investigation.

Allan realized that his best course was to keep any departmental searchlights on Sanderson while he, his staff, and Peter attempted to wrap up the case with the discovery and delivery of the killer to the court system a well as all the investigating agencies.

“Not really. Everyone is still locked onto Sanderson as the prime suspect. And for good reason. DNA, witnesses seeing the two together, a pair of Foster Grants at the scene; same brand as his,” summoning his most persuasive and most misleading powers, “and, most of all, a button torn from his jacket found near the body.”

Allan looked down as one should when one is absolutely confident that what they have said is the naked truth.

Allan’s remarks were more than sufficient to placate the older officers. They had handled and helped many a DA get a conviction based on a hell of a lot less than Hilo Falange had going for her.

However, as Allan had suspected, Turnbull was not put off so easily as the others.

“Well, that’s certainly a great starting point for any prosecution case, Mr. Hamilton; but I was really more interested in what you had come up with at this point.”

“You just heard it,” shrugging, “facts are facts. I’m only here because I wanted to find out if you guys had anything other than the DA. Just curious.”

He flashed them his best sincere smile while managing to make his eyes look inquiringly at each of the five.

Even Turnbull believed Allan.  Allan read this in his face immediately and he played on that advantage by saying.

“Look, guys. If I were still where Lenny is, I’d be in court busting my ass to help her put this jerk in stir. But you all know me and I always want to be sure that I am—was—giving my prosecutor every detail I could scratch up. That’s your job, Leonard. All of you.”

 After a short silence.

“Well, Allan,” began Daniels, “we are finding some more stuff to help Hilo. And , “No,” we haven’t any fancy new ideas about some woman caller on a ship-to-shore saying Jefferson’s death was good riddance.” He stopped, turned and stared straight into Allan’s eyes. “Do you?”

They say that to become a great actor you have to be able to flawlessly fake sincerity.

Allan Hamilton was Lawrence Olivier in PI’s clothing.


Allan made this his exit word and managed to keep from breaking into a cold sweat until he reached the elevator. 


End of Chapter Sixteen 

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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