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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A thirty-six year-old murder case is resurrected by DNA testing.
David Sanderson is charged, but two jurors who are removed from his jury conduct their own investigation, believing that the real killer remains in the shadows of forgotten memories and dark souls, mired in the fog of life in the day.

Submitted: December 13, 2016

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Submitted: December 13, 2016




A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Twenty-Six


“Hello, Bob?; yes I’m still thinking but I need coffee and something to eat; please ask Sally to get me my favorite sandwich from the cafeteria and I’ll also be happy to eat any of the remains from the witnesses’ breakfast . . . thanks Bob.”


There; well, all right, back to Goodsall. Well, I can’t order him to do anything . . . and certainly not to do anything. Hmmm. I’ll ask Allan what to do. He’s had suspects and others in the same place before; he’s a very kind guy; yes, he’ll know what would be best for Harry. 

I could feel really sorry for him it weren’t for getting Jemma drunk. Oh, that’s right. The original plan was for Harry to get Jemma drunk and arrange for Mrs. Langmuir to come over the year before; on that Labor Day Weekend, but Jemma couldn’t make it; never came up to the lake.

Sighing and nodding her head. But the next year she is already up there for a month or so and Goodsall tells Mrs. Langmuir. Susan Taylor has no idea what Goodsall has in mind by feeding Jemma large drinks. 

Diana Corrigan says she saw the two of them loading up Jemma’s glass. Well it didn‘t take much.

I guess Jemma thought her condition was okay. The doctor; the neurologist gave her some medicine, Antabuse, I think, to take before drinking anything alcoholic; it obviously didn’t work; there are tons of reports on the net from people saying it doesn’t work . . . or maybe the amount  she drank overrode any effects of the medicine; should have made her vomit; but she walked more or less okay according to witnesses; it was more the amped up libido that the witnesses would talk about.  

Okay; she starts home and gives the come-on sign to some guys. They go past Mr. Washington’s market; he’s out back; thinks he sees Jemma; but not Sanderson.

Also, apparently, Jemma had stopped along the way before the market and had sex with a few of the guys; and then carried on. 

God, how awful. And a number of witnesses are ready to say that without alcohol, Jemma Jefferson was the most proper of proper young women; not at all promiscuous; in fact a  couple of the witnesses would testify that these two occasions were the only ones anyone know about. 

Mrs. Caine; Rachel; Jemma’s mother, would testify to that as well; but then, of course, Rachel is her mother; like all mothers; ‘no, not my baby’; hmmm.

Sighing and nodding her head, still with eyes closed, well; Sanderson has sex with Jemma early on; maybe even before leaving the cottage area; in fact, the tech noted several different semen stains on Jemma’s dress. Why do I feel that with all these people around—those who were there thirty-six years ago—that many more of the men may have had sex with Jemma than we know about; names; even DNA tests. I’ll look into that. I’ll think about it later.

Anyway Jemma and the guys go by the market and on down toward her place were she’s staying with her family.

Then Mrs. Langmuir arrives with her daughter, Nell and Nell’s boyfriend, Neil Summers. 

Meantime, Sanderson is fighting with Chandler, who rips Sanderson’s jacket and a button comes off. The guys decide to leave. Sanderson helps Jemma up and begins to take her home. Jemma says she’s okay and insists that Sanderson leave her alone. He does. Susan Taylor sees them leaving each other. Susan continues on as does Sanderson. 

Jemma then either falls or is pushed to the ground by Summers and Mrs.Langmuir.

I can’t imagine Nell doing anything but be there at her mother’s command.Then Jemma struggles.

Summers holds her down while Mrs.Langmuir smashes Jemma with the rock; which has only partial prints on it.

At some point either Summers lets go of Jemma; or stopped Mrs. Langmuir from hitting Jemma anymore. Or maybe Nell grabbed her mother’s arm; or . . . or what? What else? Hmm?

So now  back to the boat, and across the lake. Agnes Langmuir; Sloane; whatever—what a cold bitch—calls and more or less gloats about Jemma’s death; and even says “good riddance.”

Nell is underage and so Summers fades into the woodwork; leaves the area; another part of the county. Police investigate; question; recognize semen. But no DNA tests then. And with a number of different men having sex with Jemma, how to choose?

The Foster Grants are in fact Sanderson’s and his button. But that piece of material on the branch away from the body; in the woods. Sherlock says it came from Summers’ Eddie Bauer jacket that Mr. Washington sold him almost four years earlier. Means just about everyone would have seen that jacket every summer –or winter; snowmobiling across the frozen lake is a big deal up there, apparently.

And so Summers is seen in that jacket and I would adjourn the trial to allow Gail to have a full CSI, FBI; whatever; examination done, to tie it into the type sold by Mr. Washington, but I don’t have to; really. 

Breathing in very deeply and raising her head off her chest,

So; where are we. We’re minus two jurors but we have the alternates. Yes, but . . . I don’t know; somehow keeping these people here after what’s happened seems very unfair .But Sanderson walks if we don’t proceed. 

Hmmm. I don’t think Hilo has enough for ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ as it stands now; and after Gail gets up with all her artillery supplied by Holmes and Watson, it just wouldn’t  happen; not a chance. 

Gail could even subpoena Nell, if she’s all right mentally; compos mentis; but that’s problematic at best. She could subpoena—well she has, Agnes Sloane who would take the Fifth; and Nell would too, now that I think about it. And what does that leave.

A rock, no fingerprints, Foster Grants, a button and Susan Taylor seeing Sanderson near Jemma but walking away form her. 

Judge Tan paused to drop her arms once more but was interrupted by a buzz from Bob. It was her lunch as well as some rather exotic remains of the breakfast feast next door. When Bob left, the Judge thought as she ate and drank. 

I could just dismiss the action under PC 1385 in the interests of justice. That would get Hilo off the hook—maybe.

Without Goodsall and Nell testifying, they’d never get Mrs. Sloane. And she would take the Fifth. And that works for any charge against Nell too; and she’d take the Fifth.

And certainty nothing on Goodsall. Until today, he thought that Jemma killed his best friend—in so many words. Words; that’s all there is in any case against any of the three.

Let’s face it, Summers; ha; I shouldn’t think like that. Matthew would be appalled . . . or would he? I’ll have to ask him.

Anyway, Summers took the fall for the remaining three. Not the gas chamber, but dead all the same.

Breathing in again and hitting her intercom.

“Sally; please round up everyone; with Bob, if he’s available. Anyway, get the two attorneys in here as well as Mr. Hamilton and Doctor Davies. Thanks, Sally.”

Ten minutes later, both attorneys, as well as Holmes and Watson, were sitting in their old semi-circle about Judge Tan’s desk. 

She smiled at each one and thanked them for coming by so quickly. She was now keenly aware of the hour; almost thirty minutes past the time when she had asked the jurors to return.

“Thank you all again. First, please tell me any additional evidence, information, or witness that I haven’t heard about yet.

They all silently pursed.their lips while nodding slightly in the negative.

“All right, here’s what I want to do.” 

Judge Tan then told the four everything that she had considered.

“All right. Based on the totality of the evidence thus far, as well as all the evidence you have told me will be produced in the future; in addition to the totality of the circumstances surrounding this case, including the traumatizing experience of each juror being on a murder case added to Summers’ suicide—everything; I intend to dismiss the case against Mr. Sanderson in the interests of justice under Penal Code Section 1385.” 

She waited for any response. 

Hilo took in a deep breath as though she was about to speak but released her breath gently through her nose as she accepted the Judge’s wisdom. 

Gail, of course, was silently ecstatic. 

Judge Tan’s courage impressed Holmes and Watson. They had agreed between themselves that a dismissal was the only way in which to rebury the recently resurrected murder of Jemma Jefferson.

Each one of the four strongly agreed with the Judge’s decision and told her so. 

Judge Tan rose and urged all of them to go into the courtroom. She asked Bob to round up the remaining jurors, as well as all the subpoenaed witnesses.

Once all were present or accounted for, Judge Tan announced her decision: a dismissal by the court in the interests of justice. 

She thanked each one of them individually for their service; their courtesy; as well as their patience, “Yes, particularly your patience. I thank all of you.”

Ms. Fountain raised her hand.

“Yes, ma’am?” inquired the Judge.

“Well, we were; I mean, I was wondering . . . what’s going on?  Like, why did Mr. Summers jump out the window for God’s sake?”

Judge Tan took a moment. “If the attorneys wish to speak with you, they may do so. Of course, all of you may talk with each other about any aspect of the case. It’s over. 

“There are a number of witnesses who you see sitting in the audience. If any of them want to talk with you, you are free to do so. And, lastly, as far as people to talk with about this entire matter, former jurors Allan Hamilton and Doctor Peter Davies are also available—if they wish to talk with you.

“So thank each and every one of you again for everything from being on time to carefully listening to and taking notes about witnesses or evidence. You have been a superlative jury. Best wishes to you all. And, I almost forgot: you do not have to serve on another jury for at least another year.”

This was the perfect note to strike upon separating the jury from the law; the people from the Judge; the jurors from themselves.

However, as they filed out, Allan Hamilton and Doctor Peter Davies told each person that they would get an invitation to a weekend at Lake Balfort in late August where the two of them would explain what happened thirty-six years ago and why Neil Summers dove through the window. They added that there might also be others connected with the case including witnesses, doctors, and forensic specialists to answer their questions.

This was something that Susan had suggested to Allan: that she, or rather—if it was okay—she and he, host a weekend at her compound for all the witnesses, the jurors, the police, the lab techs—everyone associated in any way with the case back then or now; maybe even Mr. Sanderson.

She figured with the four immense houses, the three boathouses, a gazebo, three yachts and some cots, that she could get probably sixty or more a bed. Everyone smiled at the invitation and Susan told him or her she would get the invite to them within the week.

The courtroom was now completely empty. 

The corridor outside the courtroom was bare. 

Through the broken window, the world wandered by. 

Occasionally someone studying the architecture of the Hall of Justice, seeking the designs and sculptural relief beneath the edge of the roof, would find their eyes stopping and wondering what caused that broken-out window on the seventh floor.


End of Chapter Twenty-Six

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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