The State of Connecticut will prove that Molly Carpenter Lasch, with the intent to cause the death of her husband, Dr. Gary Lasch, did in fact cause his death; that as he sat at his desk, his back to her, she shattered his skull with a heavy bronze sculpture; that she then left him to bleed to death as she went upstairs to their bedroom and fell asleep....
The reporters seated behind the defendant scribbled furiously, roughing out the articles they would have to file in just a couple of hours if they were to meet their deadlines. The veteran columnist from Women's News Weekly began inking her usual gushing prose: "The trial of Molly Carpenter Lasch, charged with the murder of her husband, Gary, opened this morning in the mellow dignity of the courtroom in historic Stamford, Connecticut."
Media from all over the country were covering the trial. The New York Post reporter was jotting down a description of Molly's appearance, noting in particular how she had dressed for her first day in court. What a knockout, he thought, a remarkable blend of classy and gorgeous. It was not a combination that he often saw -- especially at the defense table. He noticed how she sat, tall, almost regal. No doubt some would say "defiant." He knew she was twenty-six. He could see that she was slender. Had collar-length, dark blond hair. That she wore a blue suit and small gold earrings. He craned his neck until he could see that she was still wearing her wedding band. He made note of it.
As he watched, Molly Lasch turned and looked around the courtroom as though searching for familiar faces. For a moment their eyes met, and he noted that hers were blue; and her lashes, long and dark.
The Observer reporter was writing down his impressions of the defendant and the proceedings. Since his paper was a weekly, he could take more time in actually composing his article. "Molly Carpenter Lasch would look more at home in a country club than in a courtroom," he wrote. He glanced across the aisle at Gary Lasch's family.
Molly's mother-in-law, the widow of the legendary Dr. Jonathan Lasch, was sitting with her sister and brother. A thin woman in her sixties, she had an expression that was stony and unforgiving. Clearly, if given the chance, she'd gladly plunge the needle with the lethal dose into Molly, the Observer reporter thought.
He turned and peered around. Molly's parents, a handsome couple in their late fifties, looked strained, anxious, and heartsick. He noted those words on his pad.
At 10:30 the defense began its opening statement.
"The Prosecutor has just told you that he will prove Molly Lasch guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you that the evidence will show that Molly Lasch is not a murderer. She is, in fact, as much a victim of this terrible tragedy as was her husband.
"When you have heard all of the evidence in this case, you will conclude that Molly Carpenter Lasch returned on Sunday evening last April 8th, shortly after 8 p.m., from a week in her Cape Cod home; that she found her husband, Gary, sprawled over his desk; that she put her mouth to his to try to resuscitate him, heard his final gasps, then, realizing he was dead, went upstairs and, totally traumatized, fell unconscious on the bed."
Quiet and attentive, Molly sat at the defense table. They're only words, she thought, they can't hurt me. She was aware of the eyes on her, curious and judgmental. Some of the people she had known best and longest had come up to her in the corridor, kissing her cheek, squeezing her hand. Jenna Whitehall, her best friend since their high school years at Cranden Academy, was one of them. Jenna was a corporate lawyer now. Her husband, Cal, was chairman of the board of Lasch Hospital and of the HMO Gary had founded with Dr. Peter Black.
Copyright © 1999 by Mary Higgins Clark. Published with permission of the publishers, Simon & Schuster
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