Tell me your dreams, p.20
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.20

           Sidney Sheldon
 
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Chapter Twenty

  When David returned to the courthouse, he visited Ashley in her cell. She was seated on the little cot, staring at the floor.

  "Ashley. "

  She looked up, her eyes filled with despair.

  David sat next to her. "We have to talk. "

  She watched him, silent.

  "These terrible things they're saying about you. . . none of them are true. But the jurors don't know that. They don't know you. We've got to let them see what you're really like. "

  Ashley looked at him and said dully, "What am I really like?"

  "You're a decent human being who has an illness. They'll sympathize with that. "

  "What do you want me to do?"

  "I want you to get on the witness stand and testify. "

  She was staring at him, horrified. "I - I can't. I don't know anything. I can't tell them anything. "

  "Let me handle that. All you have to do is answer my questions. "

  A guard came up to the cell. "Court's coming into session. "

  David rose and squeezed Ashley's hand. "It's going to work. You'll see. "

  "All rise. Court is now in session. The Honorable Judge Tessa Williams presiding in the case of The People of the State of California Versus Ashley Patterson. "

  Judge Williams took her seat on the bench. David said, "May I approach the bench?"

  "You may. "

  Mickey Brennan walked to the bench with David.

  "What is it, Mr. Singer?"

  "I'd like to call a witness who's not on the discovery list. "

  Brennan said, "It's awfully late in the trial to introduce new witnesses. "

  "I would like to call Ashley Patterson as my next witness. "

  Judge Williams said, "I don't - "

  Mickey Brennan said quickly, "The state has no objection, Your Honor. "

  Judge Williams looked at the two attorneys. "Very well. You may call your witness, Mr. Singer. "

  "Thank you. Your Honor. " He walked over to Ashley and held out his hand. "Ashley. . . "

  She sat there in a panic.

  "You must. "

  She rose, her heart palpitating, and slowly made her way to the witness stand.

  Mickey Brennan whispered to Eleanor, "I was praying that he'd call her. "

  Eleanor nodded. "It's over. "

  Ashley Patterson was being sworn in by the court cleric. "You do solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

  "I do. " Her voice was a whisper. Ashley took her seat in the witness box.

  David walked over to her. He said gently, "I know this is very difficult for you. You've been accused of horrible crimes that you did not commit. All I want is for the jury to know the truth. Do you have any memory of committing any of those crimes?"

  Ashley shook her head. "No. "

  David glanced at the jury, and then went on. "Did you know Dennis Tibble?"

  "Yes. We worked together at Global Computer Graphics Corporation. "

  "Did you have any reason to kill Dennis Tibble?"

  "No. " It was difficult for her to speak. "I - I went to his apartment to give him some advice that he had asked me for, and that was the last time I saw him. "

  "Did you know Richard Melton?"

  "No. . . "

  "He was an artist. He was murdered in San Francisco. The police found evidence of your DNA and fingerprints there. "

  Ashley was shaking her head from side to side. "I - I don't know what to say. I didn't know him!"

  "You knew deputy Sam Blake?"

  "Yes. He was helping me. I didn't kill him!"

  "Are you aware that you have two other personalities, alters, within you, Ashley?"

  "Yes. " Her voice was strained. "When did you learn this?"

  "Before the trial. Dr. Salem told me about it. I couldn't believe it. I - I still can't believe it. It's - it's to awful. "

  "You had no previous knowledge of these alters. "

  "No. "

  "You had never heard of Toni Prescott or Alette Peters?"

  "No!"

  "Do you believe now that they exist within you?"

  "Yes. . . I have to believe it. They must have done all these - these horrible things. . . . "

  "So you have no recollection of ever having met Richard Melton, you had no motive for killing Dennis Tibble or for killing deputy Sam Blake, who was at your apartment to protect you?"

  "That's right. " Her eyes swept over the crowded courtroom, and she felt a sense of panic.

  "One last question," David said. "Have you ever been in trouble with the law?"

  "Never. "

  David put his hand on hers. "That's all for now. " He tamed to Mickey Brennan. "Your witness. "

  Brennan rose, a big smile on his face. "Well, Miss Patterson, we finally get to talk to all of you. Did you ever, at any time, have sexual intercourse with Dennis Tibble?"

  "No. "

  "Did you ever have sexual intercourse with Richard Melton?"

  "No. "

  "Did you ever, at any time, have sexual intercourse; with deputy Samuel Blake?"

  "No. "

  "That's very interesting. " Brennan glanced at the jury. "Because traces of a vaginal discharge were found on the bodies of all three men. The DNA tests matched your DNA. "

  "I. . . don't know anything about that. "

  "Maybe you've been framed. Maybe some fiend got hold of it - "

  "Objection! It's argumentative. "

  "Overruled. "

  " - and planted it on those three mutilated bodies. Do you have any enemies who would do such a thing to you?"

  "I. . . don't know. "

  "The FBI's fingerprint lab checked the fingerprints the police found at the scenes of the crimes. And I'm sure this will surprise you - "

  "Objection. "

  "Sustained. Be careful, Mr. Brennan. "

  "Yes, Your Honor. "

  Satisfied, David slowly sat down.

  Ashley was on the verge of hysteria. "The alters must have - "

  "The fingerprints at the scenes of the three murders were yours, and yours alone. " Ashley sat there, silent.

  Brennan walked over to a table, picked up a butcher knife wrapped in cellophane and held it up. "Do you recognize this?"

  "It - it could be one of. . . one of my - "

  "One of your knives? It is. It has already been admitted into evidence. The stains on it match the blood of deputy Blake. Your fingerprints are on this murder weapon. " Ashley was mindlessly shaking her head from side to side.

  "I've never seen a clearer case of cold-blooded murder or a more feeble defense. Hiding behind two nonexistent, imaginary characters is the most - "

  David was on his feet again. "Objection. "

  "Sustained. I've already warned you, Mr. Brennan. "

  "Sorry, Your Honor. "

  Brennan went on. "I'm sure that the jury would like to meet the characters you're talking about. You are Ashley Patterson, correct?"

  "Yes. . . "

  "Fine. I would like to talk to Toni Prescott. "

  "I. . . I can't bring her out. "

  Brennan looked at her in surprise. "You can't? Really? Well, then, how about Alette Peters?"

  Ashley shook her head despairingly. "I. . . don't control them. "

  "Miss Patterson, I'm trying to help you," Brennan said. "I want to show the jury your alters who killed and mutilated three innocent men. Bring them out!"

  "I. . . I can't. " She was sobbing.

  "You can't because they don't exist! You're hiding behind phantoms. You're the only one sitting in that box, and you're the only one who's guilty. They don't exist, but you do, and I'll tell you what else exists - irrefutable, undeniable proof that you murdered three men and cold-bloodedly emasculated them. " He turned to Judge Williams. "Your Honor, the state rests. "

  David turned to look at the jury. They we
re all staring at Ashley and their faces were filled with repulsion. Judge Williams turned to David. "Mr. Singer?" David rose. "Your Honor, I would like permission to have the defendant hypnotized so that - "

  Judge Williams said curtly, "Mr. Singer, I warned you before that I will not have this trial turned into a sideshow. You can't hypnotize her in my courtroom. The answer is no. "

  David said fiercely, "You have to let me do this. You don't know how important. "

  "That's enough, Mr. Singer. " Her voice was ice. "I'm citing you a second time for contempt. Do you want to reexamine the witness or don't you?"

  David stood there, frustrated. "Yes, Your Honor. " He walked over to the witness box. "Ashley, you know you're under oath?"

  "Yes. " She was taking deep breaths, fighting to control herself.

  "And everything you've said is the truth as you know it?"

  "Yes. "

  "You know that there are two alters in your mind and body and soul who you have no control over?"

  "Yes. "

  "Toni and Alette?"

  "Yes. "

  "You didn't commit any of those terrible murders?"

  "No. "

  "One of them did, and you're not responsible. " Eleanor looked at Brennan questioningly, but he smiled and shook his head. "Let him hang himself," he whispered.

  "Helen - " David stopped, white-faced at his slip. "I mean, Ashley. . . want you to have Toni come out. "

  Ashley looked at David and shook her head helplessly. "I - I can't," she whispered.

  David said, "Yes, you can. Toni is listening to us right now. She's enjoying herself, and why shouldn't she? She got away with three murders. " He raised his voice. "You're very clever, Toni. Come on out and take a bow. No one can touch you. They can't punish you because Ashley is innocent, and they'd have to punish her to get at you. "

  Everyone in the courtroom was staring at David. Ashley sat there, frozen.

  David moved closer to her. "Toni! Toni, can you hear me? I want you to come out. Now!"

  He waited a moment. Nothing happened. He raised his voice. "Toni! Alette! Come out! Come on out. We all know you're in there!"

  There was not a sound in the courtroom.

  David lost control. He was yelling, "Come out Show your faces. . . . Damn it! Now! Now!"

  Ashley dissolved in tears.

  Judge Williams said furiously, "Approach the bench, Mr. Singer. "

  Slowly, David walked over to the bench. "Are you through badgering your client, Mr. Singer? I'm going to send a report of your behavior to the state bar association. You're a disgrace to your profession, and I'm going to recommend that you're disbarred. "

  David had no answer.

  "Do you have any more witnesses to call?"

  David shook his head defeated. "No, Your Honor. "

  It was over. He had lost Ashley was going to die.

  "The defense rests. "

  Joseph Kincaid was seated in the last row of the courtroom, watching, his face grim. He turned to Harvey Udell. "Get rid of him. " Kincaid got up and left.

  Udell stopped David as he was leaving the courtroom.

  "David. . . "

  "Hello, Harvey. "

  "Sorry about the way this turned out. "

  "It's not - "

  "Mr. Kincaid hates to do this, but, well, he thinks it would be better if you didn't come back to the firm. Good luck. "

  The moment David stepped outside the courtroom, he was surrounded by television cameras and shouting reporters.

  "Do you have a statement, Mr. Singer. . . ?"

  "We hear Judge Williams says you're going to be disbarred. . . . "

  "Judge Williams says she's going to hold you for contempt of court. Do you think you - ?"

  "The experts feel you've lost this case. Do you plan to appeal. . . ?"

  "Our network legal experts say that your client will get the death penalty. . . . "

  "Have you made any plans for the future. . . ?" David got into his car without a word and drove away.

 
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