Vic was missing for four days before anyone noticed it, but amazingly enough, we had a witness who saw him get into the perps truck, and at lineup could ID the driver and the passenger. He shrugged. Eyewitnesses, you know . . .
Yeah. I know. In five and a half years as an investigator for the Anchorage district attorneys office, Kate knew that you could have five witnesses to a crime and come up with five different descriptions of the perp.
But we found blood and hair matching the vic in the trucks cab.
Excellent. And the gun?
No such luck, and of course the perp and his best bud denied everything. And then we caught a break, a bear rooting around in the dump uncovered what was left of the body when some guy was pitching out his old dishwasher. Plus, the best buds girlfriend was mightily pissed off that we were suspecting her bright angel of anything as heinous as murder. It was all the perps fault, she said, why were we even looking at his best bud, as the best bud got out of the car after the perp picked up the vic.
Kate silence was eloquent.
Yeah, I know, Jim said, nobody ever said jails are filled with smart people, and why should anybody they hang out with be any smarter? Ipersuadedthe best bud to turn states evidence.
Excellent, Kate said again.
But. Jim sighed. He wasnt real convincing, and he had a rap sheet it took a whole ream of paper to print out. Jury didnt believe a word he said. Hell, I didnt believe a word he said, and I knew it was all true. Well. Mostly true.
And the perp?
The perp says he was out of town at the time. Real sincere on the stand, as I recall, young and clean-cut and all his family in the courtroom, including his Miss Alaska fiancée.
Please tell me youre kidding.
I would if I could. She spent the whole trial trying to hold hands with him over the divider.
The third time the judge told her to stop holding hands with the defendant, he raised his voice, and she burst into tears. You should have seen the jury, youd have thought hed just shot their pet cat.
Not guilty. He sighed again. The case was mostly circumstantial anyway. As I recall it, Brendan
Brendan McCord was prosecuting?
Yeah. One of his first cases. He was good, even fresh out of law school. Brendan said a member of the jury came up to him after the verdict and scolded him for harassing that nice young man and putting his fiancée through such a terrible ordeal.
Kate had also seen the inside of her share of courtrooms, and she had very few illusions left about the wheels of justice. What happened to the perp?
Jim brightened a little. Six months later, he accompanied his fiancée to the Miss America pageant in Dallas and shot a cabdriver during a robbery. He is currently enjoying the hospitality of the state of Texas at Huntsville. One of four hundred and ten on death row, last time I checked.
Kate wondered what had happened to the fiancée, and the perps family. She always wondered what happened to the rest of the victims. It was one of the reasons shed left the DAs office.
So, Jim said, I dont predict verdicts. The game is rigged, all right, but in this case the house doesnt win often enough. Its discouraging enough without letting your hopes ride on it, too.
Copyright © 2007 by Dana Stabenow. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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