Tell me your dreams, p.16
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.16

           Sidney Sheldon
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Chapter Sixteen

  EARLY ON the morning the trial of Ashley Patterson was to begin, David went to see Ashley at the detention center. She was near hysteria.

  "I can't go through with this. I can't! Tell them to leave me alone. "

  "Ashley, it's going to be all right. We're going to face them, and we're going to win. "

  "You don't know - You don't know what this is like. I feel as though I'm in some kind of hell. "

  "We're going to get you out of it. This is the first step. "

  She was trembling. "I'm afraid they're - they're going to do something terrible to me. "

  "I won't let them," David said firmly. "I want you to believe in me. Just remember, you're not responsible for what happened. You haven't done anything wrong. They're waiting for us. "

  She took a deep breath. "All right. I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be fine. "

  Seated in the spectators' section was Dr. Steven Patter-son. He had responded to the barrage of reporters' questions outside the courtroom with one answer: "My daughter is innocent. "

  Several rows away were Jesse and Emily Quiller, there for moral support.

  At the prosecutor's table were Mickey Brennan and two associates, Susan Freeman and Eleanor Tucker.

  Sandra and Ashley were seated at the defendant's table, with David between them. The two women had met the previous week.

  "David, you can look at Ashley and know she's innocent. "

  "Sandra, you can look at the evidence she left on her victims and know she killed them. But killing them and being guilty are two different things. Now all I have to do is convince the jury. "

  Judge Williams entered the courtroom and moved to the bench. The court clerk announced, "All rise. Court is now in session. The Honorable Judge Tessa Williams presiding. "

  Judge Williams said, "You may be seated. This is the case of The People of the State of California Versus Ashley Patterson. Let's get started. " Judge Williams looked at Brennan. "Would the prosecutor like to make an opening statement?"

  Mickey Brennan rose. "Yes, Your Honor. " He turned to the jury and moved toward them. "Good morning. As you know, ladies and gentlemen, the defendant is on trial, accused of committing three bloody murders. Murderers come in many disguises. " He nodded toward Ashley. "Her disguise is that of an innocent, vulnerable young woman. But the state will prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant willfully and knowingly murdered and mutilated three innocent men.

  "She used an alias to commit one of these murders, hoping not to get caught. She knew exactly what she was doing. We're talking calculated, cold-blooded murder. As the trial goes on, I will show you all the strands, one by one, that tie this case to the defendant sitting there. Thank you. " He returned to his seat.

  Judge Williams looked at David. "Does the defense have an opening statement?"

  "Yes, Your Honor. " David stood and faced the jury. He took a deep breath. "Ladies and gentlemen, in the course of this trial, I will prove to you that Ashley Patterson is not responsible for what happened. She had no motive for any of the murders, nor any knowledge of them. My client is a victim. She is a victim of MPD - multiple personality disorder, which in the course of this trial will be explained to you. "

  He glanced at Judge Williams and said firmly, "MPD is an established medical fact. It means that there are other personalities, or alters, that take over their hosts and control their actions. MPD has a long history. Benjamin Rush, a physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, discussed case histories of MPD in his lectures. Many incidents of MPD were reported through-out the nineteenth century and in this century of people taken over by alters. "

  Brennan was listening to David, a cynical smile on his face.

  "We will prove to you that it was an alter who took command and committed the murders that Ashley Patterson had absolutely no reason to commit None. She had no control over what happened, and therefore is not responsible for what happened. During the course of the trial, I will bring in eminent doctors who will explain in greater detail about MPD. Fortunately, it is curable. "

  He looked into the faces of the jurors. "Ashley Patterson had no control over what she did, and in the name of justice, we ask that Ashley Patterson not be convicted of crimes for which she is not responsible. "

  David took his seat.

  Judge Williams looked at Brennan. "Is the state ready to proceed?"

  Brennan rose. "Yes, Your Honor. " He flashed a smile at his associates and moved in front of the jury box. Brennan stood there a moment and deliberately let out a loud burp. The jurors were staring at him, surprised.

  Brennan looked at them a moment as though puzzled and then his face cleared. "Oh, I see. You were waiting for me to say 'excuse me. ' Well, I didn't say it because I didn't do that. My alter ego, Pete, did it. "

  David was on his feet, furious. "Objection. Your Honor, this is the most outrageous - "

  "Sustained. "

  But the damage had already been done.

  Brennan gave David a patronizing smile and then turned back to the jury. "Well, I guess there hasn't been a defense like this since the Salem witch trials three hundred years ago. " He turned to look at Ashley. "I didn't do it. No, sir. The devil made me do it. "

  David was on his feet again. "Objection. The - "

  "Overruled. "

  David slammed back into his seat.

  Brennan stepped closer to the jury box. "I promised you that I was going to prove that the defendant willfully and cold-bloodedly murdered and mutilated three men - Dennis Tibble, Richard Melton and deputy Samuel Blake. Three men! In spite of what the defense says" - he turned and pointed to Ashley again - "there's only one defendant sitting there, and she's the one who committed the murders. What did Mr. Singer call it? Multiple personality disorder? Well, I'm going to bring some prominent doctors here who will tell you, under oath, that there is no such thing! But first, let's hear from some experts who are going to tie the defendant to the crimes. "

  Brennan turned to Judge Williams. "I would like to call my first witness. Special Agent Vincent Jordan. "

  A short bald man stood up and moved toward the witness box.

  The clerk said, "Please state your full name and spell it for the record. "

  "Special Agent Vincent Jordan, J-o-r-d-a-n. "

  Brennan waited until he was sworn in and took a seat.

  "You are with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D. C. ?"

  "Yes, sir. "

  "And what do you do with the FBI, Special Agent Jordan?"

  "I'm in charge of the fingerprints section. "

  "How long have you had that job?"

  "Fifteen years. "

  "Fifteen years. In all that time have you ever come across a duplicate set of fingerprints from different people?"

  "No, sir. "

  "How many sets of fingerprints are currently on file with the FBI?"

  "At last count, just over two hundred and fifty million, but we receive over thirty-four thousand fingerprint cards a day. "

  "And none of them matches any others?"

  "No, sir. "

  "How do you identify a fingerprint?"

  "We use seven different fingerprint patterns for identification purposes. Fingerprints are unique. They're formed before birth and last throughout one's life. Barring accidental or intentional mutilation, no two patterns are alike. "

  "Special Agent Jordan, you were sent the fingerprints found at the scenes of the three victims who the defendant is accused of murdering?"

  "Yes, sir. We were. "

  "And you were also sent the fingerprints of the defendant, Ashley Patterson?"

  "Yes, sir. "

  "Did you personally examine those prints?"

  "I did. "

  "And what was your conclusion?"

  "That the prints left at the murder scenes and the prints that were taken from Ashley Pa
tterson were identical. "

  There was a loud buzz in the courtroom.

  "Order! Order!"

  Brennan waited until the courtroom quieted down. "They were identical? Is there any doubt in your mind, Agent Jordan? Could there be any mistake?"

  "No, sir. All the prints were clear and easily identifiable. "

  "Just to clarify this. . . we're talking about the fingerprints left at the murder scenes of Dennis Tibble, Richard Melton and deputy Samuel Blake?"

  "Yes, sir. "

  "And the fingerprints of the defendant, Ashley Patterson, were found at all the scenes of the murders?"

  "That is correct. "

  "And what would you say was the margin of error?"

  "None. "

  "Thank you. Agent Jordan. " Brennan turned to David Singer. "Your witness. "

  David sat there a moment, then rose and walked over to the witness box. "Agent Jordan, when you examine fingerprints, do you ever find that some have been deliberately smudged, or damaged in some way, in order for the felon to conceal his crime?"

  "Yes, but we're usually able to correct them with high-intensity laser techniques. "

  "Did you have to do that in the case of Ashley Patterson?"

  "No, sir. "

  "Why was that?"

  "Well, like I said. . . the fingerprints were all clear. " David glanced at the jury. "So what you're saying is that the defendant made no attempt to erase or disguise her fingerprints?"

  "That is correct. "

  "Thank you. No further questions. " He turned to the jury. "Ashley Patterson made no attempt to conceal her prints because she was innocent and - "

  Judge Williams snapped, "That's enough. Counselor! You'll have your chance to plead your case later. "

  David resumed his seat.

  Judge Williams turned to Special Agent Jordan. "You're excused. " The FBI agent stepped down.

  Brennan said, "I would like to call as my next witness, Stanley Clarke. "

  A young man with long hair was ushered into the courtroom. He walked toward the witness stand. The courtroom was still as he was sworn in and took his seat.

  Brennan said, "What is your occupation, Mr. Clarke?"

  "I'm with National Biotech Laboratory work with deoxyribonucleic acid. "

  "More commonly known to us simple nonscientists as DNA?"

  "Yes, sir. "

  "How long have you worked at National Biotech Laboratory?"

  "Seven years. "

  "And what is your position?"

  "I'm a supervisor. "

  "So, in that seven years, I assume that you've had a lot of experience with testing DNA?"

  "Sure. I do it every day. "

  Brennan glanced at the jury. "I think we're all familiar with the importance of DNA. " He pointed to the spectators. "Would you say that perhaps half a dozen people in this courtroom have identical DNA?"

  "Hell no, sir. If we took a profile of DNA strands and assigned it a frequency based on collected databases, only one in five hundred billion unrelated Caucasians would have the same DNA profile. "

  Brennan looked impressed. "One in five hundred billion. Mr. Clarke, how do you obtain DNA from a crime scene?"

  "Lots of ways. We find DNA in saliva or semen or vaginal discharge, blood, a strand of hair, teeth, bone marrow. . . "

  "And from any one of those things you can match it to a specific person?"

  "That's correct. "

  "Did you personally compare the DNA evidence in the murders of Dennis Tibble, Richard Melton and Samuel Blake?"

  "I did. "

  "And were you later given several strands of hair from the defendant, Ashley Patterson?"

  "I was. "

  "When you compared the DNA evidence from the various murder scenes with the strands of hair from the defendant, what was your conclusion?"

  "They were identical. "

  This time the reaction from the spectators was even noisier.

  Judge Williams slammed down her gavel. "Order! Be quiet, or I'll have the courtroom cleared. "

  Brennan waited until the room was still. "Mr. Clarke, did you say that the DNA taken from every one of the three murder scenes and the DNA of the accused were identical?" Brennan leaned on the word.

  "Yes, sir. "

  Brennan glanced over at the table where Ashley was sitting, then turned back to the witness. "What about contamination? We're all aware of a famous criminal trial where the DNA evidence was supposedly contaminated. Could the evidence in this case have been mishandled so that it was no longer valid or - ?"

  "No, sir. The DNA evidence in these murder cases was very carefully handled and sealed. "

  "So there's no doubt about it. The defendant murdered the three - ?"

  David was on his feet. "Objection, Your Honor. The prosecutor is leading the witness and - "

  "Sustained. "

  David took his seat.

  "Thank you, Mr. Clarke. " Brennan turned to David. "Nothing further. "

  Judge Williams said, "Your witness, Mr. Singer. "

  "No questions. "

  The jurors were staring at David. Brennan acted surprised. "No questions?"

  Brennan looked at the jurors and said, "I'm amazed that the defense is not questioning the evidence, because it proves beyond a doubt that the defendant murdered and castrated three innocent men and - "

  David was on his feet. "Your Honor - "

  "Sustained. You're stepping over the boundaries, Mr. Brennan!"

  "Sorry, Your Honor. No more questions. "

  Ashley was looking at David, frightened.

  He whispered, "Don't worry. It will be our turn soon. "

  The afternoon consisted of more witnesses for the prosecution, and their testimony was devastating.

  "The building superintendent summoned you to Dennis Tibble's apartment. Detective Light man?"

  "Yes. "

  "Would you tell as what you found there?"

  "It was a mess. There was blood all over the place. "

  "What was the condition of the victim?"

  "He had been stabbed to death and castrated. "

  Brennan glanced at the jury, a look of horror on his face. "Stabbed to death and castrated. Did you find any evidence at the scene of the crime?"

  "Oh, yes. The victim had had sex before he died. We found some vaginal discharge and fingerprints. "

  "Why didn't you arrest someone immediately?"

  "The fingerprints we found didn't match any that we had on record. We were waiting for a match on the prints we had. "

  "But when you finally got Ashley Patterson's fingerprints and her DNA, it all came together?"

  "It sure did. It all came together. "

  Dr. Steven Patterson was at the trial every day. He sat in the spectators' section just behind the defendant's table. Whenever he entered or left the courtroom, he was besieged by reporters.

  "Dr. Patterson, how do you think the trial is going?"

  "It's going very well. "

  "What do you think is going to happen?"

  "My daughter is going to be found innocent. "

  Late one afternoon when David and Sandra got back to the hotel, there was a message waiting for them. "Please call Mr. Kong at your bank. "

  David and Sandra looked at each other. "Is it time for another payment already?" Sandra asked.

  "Yes. Time flies when you're having fan," he said dryly. David was thoughtful for a moment. "The trial's going to be over soon, honey. We have enough left in our bank account to give them this month's payment. "

  Sandra looked at him, worried. "David, if we can't make all the payments. . . do we lose everything we've put in?"

  "We do. But don't worry. Good things happen to good people. "

  And he thought about Helen Woodman.

  * * *

  Brian Hill was sitting in the witness box after being sworn in. Mickey Brennan gave hi
m a friendly smile.

  "Would you tell us what you do, Mr. Hill?"

  "Yes, sir. I'm a guard at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. "

  "That must be an interesting job. "

  "It is, if you like art. I'm a frustrated painter. "

  "How long have you worked there?"

  "Four years. "

  "Do a lot of the same people visit the museum? That is, do people come again and again?"

  "Oh, yes. Some people do. "

  "So I suppose that over a period of time, they would become familiar to you, or at least they would be familiar faces?"

  "That's true. "

  "And I'm told that artists are permitted to come in to copy some of the museum's paintings?"

  "Oh, yes. We have a lot of artists. "

  "Did you ever meet any of them, Mr. Hill?"

  "Yes, we - You kind of become friendly after a while. "

  "Did you ever meet a man named Richard Melton?"

  Brian Hill sighed. "Yes. He was very talented. "

  "So talented, in fact that you asked him to teach you to paint?"

  "That's right. "

  David got to his feet. "Your Honor, this is fascinating, but I don't see what it has to do with the trial. If Mr. Brennan - "

  "It's relevant, Your Honor. I'm establishing that Mr. Hill could identify the victim by sight and by name and tell us who the victim associated with. "

  "Objection overruled. You may go ahead. "

  "And did he teach you to paint?"

  "Yes, he did, when he had time. "

  "When Mr. Melton was at the museum, did you ever see him with any young ladies?"

  "Well, not in the beginning. But then he met somebody he was kind of interested in, and I used to see him with her. "

  "What was her name?"

  "Alette Peters. "

  Brennan looked puzzled. "Alette Peters? Are you sure you have the right name?"

  "Yes, sir. That's the way he introduced her. "

  "You don't happen to see her in this courtroom right now, do you, Mr. Hill?"

  "Yes, sir. " He pointed to Ashley. "That's her sitting there. "

  Brennan said, "But that's not Alette Peters. That's the defendant, Ashley Patterson. "

  David was on his feet. "Your Honor, we have already said that Alette Peters is a part of this trial. She is one of the alters who controls Ashley Patterson and - "

  "You're getting ahead of yourself, Mr. Singer. Mr. Brennan, please continue. "

  "Now, Mr. Hill, you're sure that the defendant, who's here under the name of Ashley Patterson, was known to Richard Melton as Alette Peters?"

  "That's right. "

  "And there's no doubt that this is the same woman?" Brian Hill hesitated. "Well. . . Yeah, it's the same woman. "

  "And you saw her with Richard Melton the day that Melton was murdered?"

  "Yes, sir. "

  "Thank you. " Brennan turned to David. "Your witness. "

  David got up and slowly walked over to the witness box. "Mr. Hill, I would think it's a big responsibility being a guard in a place where so many hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of art was being exhibited. "

  "Yes, sir. It is. "

  "And to be a good guard, you have to be on the alert all the time. "

  "That's right. "

  "You have to be aware of what's going on all the me. "

  "You bet. "

  "Would you say that you're a trained observer, Mr. Hill?"

  "Yes, I would. "

  "I ask that because I noticed when Mr. Brennan asked you if you had any doubts about whether Ashley Patterson was the woman who was with Richard Melton, you hesitated. Weren't you sure?"

  There was a momentary pause. "Well, she looks a lot like the same woman, but in a way she seems different. "

  "In what way, Mr. Hill?"

  "Alette Peters was more Italian, and she had an Italian accent. . . and she seemed younger than the defendant. "

  "That's exactly right, Mr. Hill. The person you saw in San Francisco was an alter of Ashley Patterson. She was born in Rome, she was eight years younger - "

  Brennan was on his feet, furious. "Objection. "

  David turned to Judge Williams. "Your Honor, was - "

  "Will counsel approach the bench, please?" David and Brennan walked over to Judge Williams. "I don't want to have to tell you this again, Mr. Singer. The defense will have its chance when the prosecution rests. Until then, stop pleading your case. "

  Bernice Jenkins was on the stand.

  "Would you tell us your occupation. Miss Jenkins?"

  "I'm a waitress. "

  "And where do you work?"

  "The cafe at the De Young Museum. "

  "What was your relationship with Richard Melton?"

  "We were good friends. "

  "Could you elaborate on that?"

  "Well, at one time we had a romantic relationship and then things kind of cooled off. Those things happen. "

  "I'm sure they do. And then what?"

  "Then we became like brother and sister. I mean, I - I told him about all my problems, and he told me about all his problems. "

  "Did he ever discuss the defendant with you?"

  "Well, yeah, but she called herself by a different name. "

  "And that name was?"

  "Alette Peters. "

  "But he knew her name was really Ashley Patterson?"

  "No. He thought her name was Alette Peters. "

  "You mean she deceived him?"

  David sprang to his feet, furious. "Objection. "

  "Sustained. You will stop leading the witness, Mr. Brennan. "

  "Sorry, Your Honor. " Brennan turned back to the witness box. "He spoke to you about this Alette Peters, but did you ever see the two of them together?"

  "Yes, I did. He brought her into the restaurant one day and introduced us. "

  "And you're speaking of the defendant, Ashley Patterson?"

  "Yeah. Only she called herself Alette Peters. "

  Gary King was on the stand.

  Brennan asked, "You were Richard Melton's roommate?"

  "Yes. "

  "Were you also friends? Did you go out with him socially?"

  "Sure. We double-dated a lot together. "

  "Was Mr. Melton interested in any young lady in particular?"

  "Yeah. "

  "Do you know her name?"

  "She called herself Alette Peters. "

  "Do you see her in this courtroom?"

  "Yeah. She's sitting over there. "

  "For the record, you are pointing to the defendant, Ashley Patterson?"

  "Right. "

  "When you came home on the night of the murder, you found Richard Melton's body in the apartment?"

  "I sure did. "

  "What was the condition of the body?"

  "Bloody. "

  "The body had been castrated?"

  A shudder. "Yeah. Man, it was awful. "

  Brennan looked over at the jury for their reaction. It was exactly what he hoped for.

  "What did you do next, Mr. King?"

  "I called the police. "

  "Thank you. " Brennan turned to David. "Your witness. "

  David rose and walked over to Gary King.

  "Tell us about Richard Melton. What kind of man was he?"

  "He was great. "

  "Was he argumentative? Did he like to get into fights?"

  "Richard? No. Just the opposite. He was very quiet, laid back. "

  "But he liked to be around women who were tough and kind of physical?"

  Gary was looking at him strangely. "Not at all. Richard liked nice, quiet women. "

  "Did he and Alette have a lot of fights? Did she yell at him a lot?"

  Gary was puzzled. "You've got it all wrong. They never yelled at each other. They were great together. "

  "Did you ever see anything that wou
ld lead you to believe that Alette Peters would do anything to harm - ?"

  "Objection. He's leading the witness. "

  "Sustained. "

  "No more questions," David said.

  When David sat down, he said to Ashley, "Don't worry. They're building up our case for us. "

  He sounded more confident than he felt.

  David and Sandra were having dinner at San Fresco, the restaurant in the Wyndham Hotel, when the maitre d' came up to David and said, "There's an urgent telephone call for you, Mr. Singer. "

  "Thank you. " David said to Sandra, "I'll be right back. "

  He followed the maitre d' to a telephone. "This is David Singer. "

  "David - Jesse. Go up to your room and call me back. The goddamn roof is falling in!"

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