[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
For 1-55 (Chapters 1-13), see here.
56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 Chap 14 056-063 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 Chap 15 064-074 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 Chap 16 075-084 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 Chap 17 85-95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 110
Chapter 18 (15 of 15): Arrest
“In effect,” Natalie states, “she claims that you are out of control. In fact, she characterizes you pretty much in terms similar to those you used about her when we talked about this back in January.”
“That’s crazy,” Mazarine said, her voice rising. “Specifically, what did she say?”
Natalie flipped through the pages of the deposition.
“Well, let’s see. She did admit the two of you had an affair. But she said you were the one who threatened to kill her. That you were insanely jealous of her because of Fabian, that you introduced her to Trinh and not the other way around, that you became extremely critical of her as your affair wore on, that she told you very little about her time in Osaka, that you bullied her.”
Mazarine’s mouth was open in disbelief.
“I … I just can’t believe it,” she said.
“So you’re sticking to your story of last January.”
“Yes, of course I am. That’s the way it was. The way she was.” She shook her head. “This is, uh, bizarre.”
“I have to tell you, she is very convincing. When we took the deposition she was relaxed and entirely accommodating, but as the session wore on she cried, had to take a break to gather herself together, but toughed it out. I have to admit that if I hadn’t heard your version first, I would have believed her totally.”
“And now? Do you believe her totally?”
“Again, Mazarine, it’s not what I or Danny believe that counts. It’s what the jury is going to believe. You can rest assured Kerzy is going to put her on the stand and milk every drop of venom from her. And if she is anywhere as compelling as she was when we talked to her, we’re going to be in trouble.”
“But what can we do?”
“I don’t suppose you had the foresight to make any tapes of these outburst and odd behaviors you allege she engaged in?”
“Alleged?” Mazarine was outraged.
“I’m trying to look at this dispassionately. I’m not saying I believe her.”
“But you’re not sure which one of us is telling the truth?”
“Instead of getting mad at me, look at it from the jury’s point of view. That’s all we should be concerned with at this point. It’s one of those classic cases where the only witnesses are the two people involved. In this one, it’s a she-said-she-said situation. How can you prove one is lying and the other telling the truth?” She paused for emphasis. “From an evidentiary point of view, you can’t. It’ll come down to whom the jury believes. And they will believe her.”
“Because we can’t put you on the stand to defend yourself.”
“What do you mean you can’t put me on the stand? I can be at least as convincing as she is. At least I could neutralize her position.”
“We can’t put you on the stand. Once we do, you are open to cross-examination by Kerzy and his team, and they’ll go straight to the heart of your prostitution and make you look like the slimiest person who ever walked the earth. That kind of prejudicial character assassination would be fatal to our case, and you’d get a guilty verdict for sure. Do you see what I’m saying?”
Mazarine was stunned. She was nodding her head, but she wasn’t really believing what she was hearing.
“So this woman can sit up there and tell all the lies about me she wants and I can’t even defend myself? That’s insane!”
“Yes, probably so. But if you refute her, everything else comes out, and even if the jury believes you over her they’ll hear everything about you that you don’t want them to. A Pyrrhic victory, and in the end you lose.”
Mazarine looked from Natalie to Danny and back to Natalie.
“So what are you suggesting?”
“Nothing at this point. This is a real problem for your defense, and we’ll be working on it. But for now …” Natalie threw her hands in the air. “You two are the only ones who witnessed these encounters, right?”
“Well, Trinh did, a few times, but of course that’s no help at all.”
Danny spoke up for the first time. “We considered the possibility that if Yukiko was lying about all of this, maybe she was somehow involved in Trinh’s murder. We sent several investigators with a photo of Trinh to ask the doormen on duty the ninth of January if any of them had maybe seen Trinh go back into the hotel to see Yukiko after you and she parted company. But,” he concluded unhappily, “no such luck.”
They sat silently in the office.
After a while Mazarine asks, “What about the experts thing?”
“We know the prosecution is relying heavily on the hair found on the body that did not belong to Trinh or Fabian. Their expert will say it was yours.”
“How is that possible?”
“I don’t know, but the lab report does state that this hair is consistent with yours.”
“Their expert will back this up?”
“Yes, the lab tech.”
“Can’t we get an expert to say the opposite?”
Danny and Natalie give each other one of those lawyer looks.
“We certainly can’t suborn perjury. And we won’t. As it turns out, hair is very slippery evidence, in ways that are both good and bad for us. We may be able to get around it. We’ve got several attorneys doing research on this question.
“As for our own expert? Yes, we could hire one, at considerable expense. But my experience is that the defense expert and the prosecution expert simply cancel each other out in the minds of the jury. They know each is being paid to say what they say. What are the jurors supposed to believe when one so-called expert says A is black and the other one says A is white. It’s obvious they can’t both be right. So the jury is likely to ignore that testimony entirely.
“But,” Natalie goes on, “what is truly powerful refutation of expert prosecution testimony is if we can get that expert to reverse himself – or herself. That is, the prosecution’s own expert ends up blunting or outright contradicting the point the prosecution is making. That, I can guarantee you, is something jurors put in the bank and let it grow interest.”
“And you can do this?”
“It’s a strategy Danny and I have been thinking seriously about. But it is obviously risky, and we want to run it by you before we proceed. If you are uncomfortable with that, we’ll go the traditional route and hire our own gun.”
“No,” Mazarine said slowly, thinking it through, “it makes a lot of sense. I like it, and I think you should go for it.”
But she couldn’t help appreciating the idiocy of the system. Of course a highly paid ‘expert’ would say what the paymaster wanted said. It was kind of like the practice in the courts in ancient Athens of torturing slaves who were witnesses to make sure they told the truth: they’d say anything if tortured. Just as idiotic, if infinitely more cruel!
“Great,” Natalie says. “We’re on it.” She and Danny are both delighted. “I do believe we are going to be ready in another three weeks, people!”
* * * * *
The fourth of July belongs to no politician. It is one of many days in the calendar on which the people own them. They must be seen, seen to eat hot dogs and baked beans at public barbecues; they must be heard, heard to give patriotic speeches in public parks. Especially is this true if they are running for office, or reëlection.
Roy Rany is trying to unwind inside the air-conditioned coolness of his limousine as he and Abernathy are shuttled from one tedious event to another, at all of which Rany must appear at ease, smiling, enjoying himself. A man of the people on the people’s day.
“God, I hate it, Bob,” he said.
“Goes with the territory, and you know it,” Abernathy consoles him.
“And that Trinh trial starts two weeks from tomorrow. I tell you, Bob, it makes me plenty nervous.”
“About what? You’re covered.”
“If even a hint came out that I was ever involved with that woman, with that Mazarine, it would be the end of me politically,” he said. “And marriage-wise too, for that matter,” he added glumly.
“Won’t happen. Can’t happen,” Bob assured him.
“How can you be so sure?”
“As I’ve already explained to you, Roy, the woman will never take the stand, never in a million years. It would guarantee her a guilty verdict. Citizens don’t like whores.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly my point. Not the men who go with them, either.”
“Well, you know Kerzy’s not going near it.”
“What about that defense lawyer? My people say she’s real sharp.”
“She is. And that’s why she would never bring it up either. Believe me, Roy,” Bob says soothingly, putting his hand on the mayor’s bare forearm, “the last thing she wants to remind those jurors of is that her client is a practicing prostitute. I predict she’ll mention it in her opening statement, just to take the wind out of any dirt Kerzy may try to throw in that direction, but after that she’s going to let it lie. Just like our esteemed D.A. She’s definitely not going to want to make a big deal out of it and skewer her own client.”
“I hope you’re right,” Rany mumbles. “Do we know if the Mazarine woman did it?”
“Doesn’t matter if she did or not,” Bob dismisses the question. “Kerzy’s bet she did, and he’s going for broke on this one.”
“And he can prove this?”
“So he tells me. Has a persuasive witness who’ll say she was insanely jealous of the murdered woman. A jealously thing. And he’s got hard evidence to back him up. He’s assured me this is not a circumstantial case He says he’s got the “i’s” dotted and the “t’s” crossed.”
“But he’s not going to go after any records at Aspasia’s, is he?” The strain in Rany’s voice caused a surprising ripple of Schadenfreude streak through Abernathy’s sensitive limbic system.
“No way,” he answered calmly. “He knows that would hurt a lot of people he doesn’t want to hurt. Believe me, Roy.”
“I suppose it would be best if she got convicted. I mean, for us.”
“No question about it,” Abernathy affirms.
“And if she doesn’t?”
“Well, that’s always possible, of course. Who ever knows with a jury? But I think she will be. And even if she isn’t? How does that involve you?”
Roy thought about that for a minute. “Yeah, I guess it doesn’t. Maybe I should just stop worrying about it.” But there wasn’t much conviction in his voice.
“Definitely,” Bob concurred.
The limo was slowing down as they approached the entrance to a large park festooned with red-white-and-blue bunting, crowds lining the driveway in, and everywhere waving flags and cheering crowds.
“Shit, here we go again,” Roy says as the limousine comes to a full halt. He steps out of the car, waving, shaking hands, and puts his capped teeth on dazzling display.
Fourth of July, the people’s day and the people’s mayor.
TO BE CONTINUED