Tell me your dreams, p.17
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.17
 

           Sidney Sheldon
Chapter Seventeen

 

  JESSE - ?"

  "David, I know I'm not supposed to interfere, but I think you should ask for a mistrial. "

  "What's happened?"

  "Have you been on the Internet in the past few days?"

  "No. I've been a little busy. "

  "Well, the trial is all over the damned Internet. That's all they're talking about in the chat rooms. "

  "That figures," David said. "But what's the - ?"

  "It's all negative, David. They're saying that Ashley is guilty and that she should be executed. And they're saying it in very colorful ways. You can't believe how vicious they are. "

  David, suddenly realizing, said, "Oh, my God! If any of the jurors are on the Internet - "

  "The odds are pretty good that some of them are, and they'll be influenced. I would ask for a mistrial, or at the very least, to have the jurors sequestered. "

  "Thanks, Jesse. Will do. " David replaced the receiver. When he returned to the restaurant where Sandra was waiting, she asked, "Bad?"

  "Bad. "

  Before court convened the following morning, David asked to see Judge Williams. He was ushered into her chambers, along with Mickey Brennan. "You asked to see me?"

  "Yes, Your Honor. I learned last night that this trial is the number one subject on the Internet. It's what all the chat rooms are discussing, and they've already convicted the defendant. It's very prejudicial. And since I'm sure that some of the jurors have computers with on-line access, or talk to friends who have on-line access, it could seriously damage the defense. Therefore, I'm making a motion for a mistrial. "

  She was thoughtful for a moment. "Motion denied. "

  David sat there, fighting to control himself. "Then I make a motion to immediately sequester the jury so that - "

  "Mr. Singer, every day the press is at this courtroom in full force. This trial is the number one topic on television, on radio and in the newspapers all over the world. I waned you that this was going to turn into a circus, and you wouldn't listen. " She leaned forward. "Well, it's your circus, if you wanted the jury sequestered, you should have made that motion before the trial. And I probably would not have granted it. Is there anything else?"

  David sat there, his stomach churning. "No, Your Honor. "

  "Then let's get into the courtroom. "

  Mickey Brennan was questioning Sheriff Dowling.

  "Deputy Sam Blake called to tell you that he was going to spend the night at the defendant's apartment in order to protect her? She told him that someone was threatening her life?"

  "That is correct. "

  "When did you hear from deputy Blake again?"

  "I - I didn't. I got a call in the morning that his - his body had been found in the alley in back of Miss Patterson's apartment building. "

  "And of course you went there immediately?"

  "Of course. "

  "And what did you find?"

  He swallowed. "Sam's body was wrapped in a bloody sheet. He had been stabbed to death and castrated like the other two victims. "

  "Like the other two victims. So all those murders were carried out in a similar fashion?"

  "Yes, sir. "

  "As though they were killed by the same person?" David was on his feet. "Objection!"

  "Sustained. "

  "I'll withdraw that. What did you do next. Sheriff?"

  "Well, up until that time, Ashley Patterson wasn't a suspect. But after this happened, we took her in and had her fingerprints taken. "

  "And then?"

  "We sent them to the FBI, and we got a positive make on her. "

  "Would you explain to the jury what you mean by a positive make?"

  Sheriff Dowling turned to the jury. "Her fingerprints matched other fingerprints on file that they were trying to identify from the previous murders. "

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

  David got up and walked over to the witness box. "Sheriff, we've heard testimony in this courtroom that a bloody knife was found in Miss Patterson's kitchen. "

  "That's right. "

  "How was it hidden? Wrapped up in something? Stashed away where it couldn't be found?"

  "No. It was right out in the open. "

  "Right out in the open. Left there by someone who had nothing to hide. Someone who was innocent because - "

  "Objection!"

  "Sustained. "

  "No more questions. "

  "The witness is dismissed. " Brennan said, "If it pleases the court. . . " He signaled someone at the back of the courtroom, and a man in overalls came in, carrying the mirror from Ashley Patterson's medicine cabinet. On it, in red lipstick, was written YOU WILL DIE.

  David rose. "What is this?" Judge Williams turned to Mickey Brennan. "Mr. Brennan?"

  "This is the bait the defendant used to get deputy Blake to come to her apartment so she could murder him. I would like this marked as exhibit D. It came from the medicine chest of the defendant. "

  "Objection, Your Honor. It has no relevance. "

  "I will prove that there is a relevance. "

  "We'll see. In the meantime, you may proceed. " Brennan placed the mirror in full view of the jury. "This minor was taken from the defendant's bathroom. " He looked at the jurors. "As you can see, scrawled across it is 'You Will Die. ' This was the defendant's pretext for having deputy Blake come to her apartment that night to protect her. " He turned to Judge Williams. "I would like to call my next witness. Miss Laura Niven. "

  A middle-aged woman walking with a cane approached the witness box and was sworn in.

  "Where do you work. Miss Niven?"

  "I'm a consultant for the County of San Jose. "

  "And what do you do?"

  "I'm a handwriting expert. "

  "How long have you worked for the county. Miss Niven?"

  "Twenty-two years. "

  Brennan nodded toward the mirror. "You have been shown this mirror before?"

  "Yes. "

  "And you've examined it?"

  "I have. "

  "And you've been shown an example of the defendant's handwriting?"

  "Yes. "

  "And had a chance to examine that?"

  "Yes. "

  "And you've compared the two?"

  "I have. "

  "And what is your conclusion?"

  "They were written by the same person. " There was a collective gasp from the courtroom. "So what you're saying is that Ashley Patterson wrote this threat to herself?"

  "That is correct. "

  Mickey Brennan looked over at David. "Your witness. "

  David hesitated. He glanced at Ashley. She was staring down at the table, shaking her head. "No questions. "

  Judge Williams was studying David. "No questions, Mr. Singer?"

  David rose to his feet. "No. All this testimony is meaningless. " He turned to the jury. "The prosecution will have to prove that Ashley Patterson knew the victims and had a motive to - "

  Judge Williams said angrily, "I've warned you before. It is not your place to instruct the jury on the law. If - "

  "Someone has to," David exploded. "You're letting him get away with - "

  "That's enough, Mr. Singer. Approach the bench. "

  David walked to the bench.

  "I'm citing you for contempt of court and sentencing you to a night here in our nice jail the day this trial is over. "

  "Wait, Your Honor. You can't - " She said grimly, "I've sentenced you to one night. Would you like to try for two?"

  David stood there, glaring at her, taking deep breaths. "For the sake of my client, I'll - I'll keep my feelings to myself. "

  "A wise decision," Judge Williams said curtly. "Court is adjourned. " She turned to a bailiff. "When this trial is ended, I want Mr. Singer taken into custody. "

  "Yes, Your Honor. "

  Ashley turned to Sandra. "Oh, my God
! What's happening?"

  Sandra squeezed her arm. "Don't worry. You have to trust David. "

  Sandra telephoned Jesse Quiller.

  "I heard," he said. "It's all over the news, Sandra. I don't blame David for losing his temper. She's been goading him from the beginning. What did David do to get her so down on him?"

  "I don't know, Jesse. It's been horrible. You should see the faces of the jurors. They hate Ashley. They can't wait to convict her. Well, it's the defense's turn next. David will change their minds. "

  "Hold the thought. "

  "Judge Williams hates me, Sandra, and it's banning Ashley. If I don't do something about this, Ashley is going to die. I can't let that happen. "

  "What can you do?" Sandra asked. David took a deep breath. "Resign from the case. " Both of them knew what that meant. The media would be full of his failure.

  "I never should have agreed to take on the trial," David said bitterly. "Dr. Patterson trusted me to save his daughter's life, and I've - " He could not go on.

  Sandra put her arms around him and held him close. "Don't worry, darling. Everything's going to turn out fine. "

  I've let everyone down, David thought. Ashley, Sandra. . . I'm going to be kicked out of the firm, I won't have a job and the baby is due soon. "Everything's going to turn out fine. "

  Right.

  In the morning, David asked to see Judge Williams in her chambers. Mickey Brenman was there.

  Judge Williams said, "You asked to see me, Mr. Singer?"

  "Yes, Your Honor. I want to resign from the case. " Judge Williams said, "On what grounds?" David spoke carefully. "I don't believe I'm the right lawyer for this trial. I think I'm hurting my client I would like to be replaced. "

  Judge Williams said quietly, "Mr. Singer, if you think I'm going to let you walk away from this and then have to start this trial all over again and waste even more time and money, you're quite mistaken. The answer is no. Do you understand me?"

  David closed his eyes for an instant, forcing himself to stay calm. He looked up and said, "Yes, Your Honor. I understand you. " He was trapped.

 
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