by Rogue Writer
(PART 2 of Chapter One) Witness testimony begins.
Day One of The Trial
Still with a blush in her cheeks and reddened eyes; Katharine sits beside her lawyer with her hands clasped in her lap. Waiting for the court to come back into session; Matt senses Katharine's nervousness; she's tense and sitting very stiff.
But in her mind, a flood of suppressed and frightening memories are surfacing.
Memories and experiences are influences that help to form personalities. In Katharine's case, her past experiences are unfolding on an erased blank mind. Things her most recent self; would never have admitted doing... For along with her memory, her true personality and attitude is reforming.
Matt notices her staunch edginess. He brushes his elbow against hers to break her blank stare. He can almost hear the silent crack as she suddenly takes a deep breathe and twists her head in his direction. He whispers, “Are you Okay?” He interprets her sudden shocked look and her nervous smile as a normal reaction to her situation, he tries to ease her tensions, “Stop worrying, it'll be fine, we'll get through this... “
She mumbles, “Humph, yea right...” She thinks, 'if you only knew. I ain't the girl you think I am...' She's about to sit back and cross her legs but remembers what Matt had instructed and returns to her prior position.
She gazes up at the judges bench and watches him conferring with his secretary and the bailiff. Finishing their business, he taps his gavel and looks toward the prosecutors table, he utters, “Mr. Kynde, you may begin.”
Kynde rises saying, “Thank you your honor” he looks to the bailiff. “Please call Lillian Garnett to the stand.”
A short rotund woman in her late fifties ambles to the stand. She’s in a flowered dress and has short curly white hair, a pair of glasses rest on her ample bosom from a necklace around her neck; she takes the oath and sits in the witness box.
Katharine remembers seeing her; scooting from cabin to cabin in her golf cart loaded with linens. The judgmental look she received every time she signed into the resort.
“Mrs. Garnet, where do you work?”
“Well, right now I’m unemployed… I quit… But…” She speaks with a slow rolling banter and a high pitched voice.
“Sorry, where did you work, on or around the date of August 12th of this year?”
“Oh… at the Mirror Lake estates and rental office.”
“What was your job there?”
“Oh, I did almost everything… from taking reservations to cleaning the rooms... and taken out the garbage…” She looks over at the jury box and emphatically adds, “That’s why I quit.”
Marvin picks a document up from the desk and hands it to the witness. “Do you recognize this form?”
She brings the pair of glasses that are hanging around her neck to the bridge of her nose, “Why yes, that’s a guest register sheet from the office.”
“Please tell us the date of the document and who's name is at the top of the list?”
She looks to the top of the page and says “Friday August 12th” She holds the page closer and reads, “K. March, 7:30 am, cabin number 7. Three hundred and fifty dollars for one day and night; she paid cash,” she looks up over the page. “nobody pays cash anymore.”
“Mrs. Garnett; is the K. March who signed this register in this courtroom?”
Lillian turns her head toward the defense table and points. “That’s her…”
“Are you certain, that the woman you remember is Miss Katharine March… the defendant?”
“Oh yes, she visited quite often… at least four times while I was working there…”
“To remind the jury, August 12th is the day of the murder.” He looks back at the jury box. “If you look further down the page…” He stops and waves his hand in the air, “withdraw the question…”
He returns to his desk and looks through five similar pages, “I don’t see her checking out on any of the following sheets? When did she check out?”
“Well that’s the funny part, she didn’t… Ya see…”
“Where did she go…?”
“I was about to say… They found her all the way over on the south side of the lake. She was in that ravine beside the spillway.” Emphatically she adds, “we thought she was dead… just like that other one… “
He holds up his hand to the witness, “That’s fine; we’ll talk about… the other one later.” He approaches the witness box. “You said you also cleaned the cabins. Is that correct?”
“Yep, just the first thirty four cabins, the rest are privately owned…” She glances up at the judge and repeats, “that’s why I quit…”
“Did you clean Miss March’s cabin the following Saturday?’
She thoughtfully looks down into her lap for a moment, and then says, “Yep I did, but she wasn’t anywhere to be found. All her clothes were lay’n about. Her soiled breakfast dishes were on the table… messy… a messy woman is a lazy woman… that’s why… “
“Yes we know Mrs. Garnett… you quit…” There's a low rumble of laughter across the courtroom. “Proceed Mrs. Garnett.”
“I thought she must have gone swimming. She didn’t have any luggage, just the clothes on her back.”
Matt raises his hand, “Objection, Calls for an assumption, move to strike the answer…”
Marvin challenges, “Goes to the defendants’ location on Saturday morning, your honor.”
“I’ll allow it…”
“Lillian, may I call you Lillian?’
“Lillian, just saying she went swimming is an assumption, what brings you to that conclusion?”
“Well, the morning before, I watched her get out of the cab. All she was carrying was a shoulder bag and that wallet. All she was wearing was a halter top, tight shorts and sneakers. We only provide robes in the cabins. I found all that stuff and a wet bikini layin on the sofa. Her robe was outside, layin on the rock jetty. So I guessed she went skinny dippin’.”
“She could have drowned, did you notify anyone?”
“Not just then, if she was swimmin, it would’a been a false alarm. But they found her, that afternoon.” she turns her head to the jury box. “Old Ned Winters was doing his afternoon constitutional. He walks that path by the stream and saw her hanging in a tree. He likely, almost had a heart attack.” She snickers.
That Friday night is clear in Katharine's mind. The air was warm and very humid. It had been a strange day; bright sun in the morning; then a fast moving thunder storm. It was still overcast. There was no twilight, no stars; night suddenly fell like a blanket over the lake. She can still feel the warm stones of the jetty under my bare feet. She remembers cool breeze on her body when she dropped the robe and how cold the water was as she stepped into the lake.
Kynde takes the guest register from Lillian and asks, “Your honor, I’d like to submit this as exhibit ‘F’.” He hands it to the judge.
The judge examines it and passes it to the court clerk.
“Thank you Lillian, you were very kind.” He looks at the judge, “I have no further questions right now.”
The judge looks over his glasses at Matt, “Defense, cross?”
Matt stands and moves to a spot in front of Lillian, smiling at her. “Hello, my name is Matt Cohn, or call me Matt… May I call you Lillian also?”
“Don’t see why not?”
“You mentioned the other one… what other one?”
Kynde rises from his seat, “Objection, immaterial.”
Matt pivots on one heel and speaks to the judge, “Pertains to the circumstances of a similar case and the defendants’ condition when found.”
“I’ll allow, only if I see it leads somewhere.”
“Lillian, please answer the question?”
“Oh that was two months before, but she was found dead. It was terrible…”
“Could you tell us about that person?”
“Objection, Draws a conclusion and a narrative from the witness.”
Not waiting for a ruling Matt quickly persists, “Why was she found dead?”
“Objection, Draws a conclusion and a narrative from the witness.”
Directing his question to the witness but Matt's staring at Marvin, “Lillian. Do you know where the first girl was found.…?”
Lillian answers, “Yes”
“At the base of the waterfall under the spillway; I was told that she was a real mess…”
“Move to strike… hearsay.”
There's a sudden image of Liz in Katharine's mind. She closes her eyes; the image is so crystal clear... she feels a sudden ache in her chest. She can see her beautiful dark skin... The marks of his whip all over her body. Her ankles and wrists with rope burns; her face smashed, broken and distorted. She can feel tears welling up and her nose begin to fill.
“Strike Mrs. Garnett's reference to the victims physical condition.”
“Your honor… may I finish my thought?”
“Make it short…” he taps his gavel lightly…
Matt approaches the witness box and rests a hand on the rail. “Are you familiar with the area in question… do you know that ravine?”
“Certainly, grew up there…Played there as a child.”
“Then you should know how far apart… where my client and that dead girl were found?”
“Everybody knows, You can see the tree from the base of the falls. Maybe forty or fifty feet.”
Matt tuns to the jury and asks, “Lillian, in relation to the spillway where the first woman was found and the tree where my client was found; where is Mr. Heller's cabin?”
“About how far away is his cabin?”
“Don't know exactly, there's a stand of trees and... I guess... about... maybe a hundred or so feet.
Matt returns to the defense table and picks up two sheets of paper, “These are photocopies of the most recent assessors surveys of that property... Dated April 15th 1965... ” He approaches the bailiff depositing one copy on his desk and hands the other to Lillian. “Does this look familiar to you.”
She turns the page around in her hands a couple of times and then says, “Yea, that looks like the south side of the lake.” Pressing her glasses up the ridge of her nose, she examines the page closely. She holds up the page so everyone can see and points to a spot on the page, “Yep, that's his cabin there, circled in red and the other two circles are where those girls were found.”
“May the court be aware that the scale of the map indicates that there is only one hundred and twenty feet between the victims cabin and where my client and the other body was discovered.” He retrieves the map from Lillian and hands it to the judge. “I'd like this survey to be put into evidence and allow the jury to examine it your honor...?”
While the jurors pass the two copies around, Matt comes back to reassure Katharine. He finds her looking bored and doodling on one of Matt's yellow pads. A little concerned about her sudden composure, he turns back to his witness.
“Okay, let’s go back to her cabin. You say she left the cabin a mess…?”
“There was a bikini, you didn’t mention you saw any luggage… “
“I suppose it was in her shoulder bag. It was tiny... I could a’ hid that swim suit in the palm of my hand and nobody would ever be the wiser, and that bag was big enough to carry…”
“Yes Lillian, thank you.” He walks over to the clerks desk and looks down at the visitors register sheet. “Were there a lot of visitors or guests that day?”
“It’s normally pretty busy on a Saturday morning.”
“Excuse me, but, Miss March checked in Friday morning and was found Saturday afternoon.” Picking up the register from the evidence table; he glances down the list of signatures.
“See.” He points to the top of the page, “Friday August 12th.” He holds up the page up to the jury. “I see…” He counts down the page from Kay’s signature. “Fifty four people listed here… Can you tell us about anyone on this list?”
“Guests, visitors, maintenance men; that’s why I quit. I couldn’t keep up with all that traffic and do my work.”
He closely examines the list and points to one name, “I see that the murder victim; Mr. Heller came in at five fifteen.”
He sees Lillian start to speak, then stops. A look of confusion crosses her face. “Do you remember Mr. Heller signing in at that time?”
She looks at Matt and then the register. “I don’t know… There was a terrible thunderstorm that afternoon and we had a flood in the main building; I was busy mopping up.”
“So you weren’t there to see him sign in?”
“Was there anyone there to see who signed the register?”
She shakes her head, “Everyone was out, the manager was away...” Now with a little sharpness in her attitude, she responds, “I can't be everywhere all the time... The residents normally don’t sign in… they don’t have ta… and…”
Lillian sparks Matt’s interest. “And What?”
“I saw a pink car leaving the parking lot and Mr. Heller… He has a red car.”
Marvin stands up, “Objection… in so many ways, Assuming facts not in evidence, Narrative, Hearsay… She’s telling a story your honor…”
Matt steps up to the judge. “Your honor, I believe there’s a third party involved here. This testimony…” He’s stopped by the sound of the judges’ gavel.
“I’m sorry councilor but you need to follow the basic litigation protocols. I’ll give you one more question in this line, then change it…”
Matt looks at the register sheet in front of him, staring at Heller’s signature. “My apologies your honor. I’m done with this line of questioning and would like to add Mrs. Garnett to my witness list and call her later.”
“So approved…” The judge taps his gavel and looks at his watch, “Mr. Kynde, do you have any witness for this afternoon?”
“Just one. Your honor.”
“You may call your witness…”
“Call Homer Wilson to the stand.”
Wilson is a tall lanky, gray haired gentleman. He’s wearing stiff denim pants and a checkered flannel shirt with loafers. “Mr. Wilson, thank you for coming forward.”
“Quite alright son.”
“I understand you do a lot of fishing on Mirror Lake. Is that true?”
“Every day when it’s warm enough… Don’t go out when it’s cold.” He flexes his fingers and winces, “rheumatism.” A chuckle rumbles across the court.
“So were you fishing the day before Miss March was found?”
“Yep, that was one o’ the good days…” He has a wide grin on his face; sneaking a quick glance at the defense table..
Marvin smiles back at him, “Caught a lot of fish that day?”
“Irrelevant and immaterial… Where is the prosecution going with this?”
Marvin looks at the judge, “Deals with the actions of the defendant on that day.”
“I’ll allow, proceed…”
“So, you were on the lake that day; how many fish?”
“Not too many.”
“So what made that day so special?”
Wilson looks over at Katharine. “She was givin’ all of us a show…”
“Are you indicating Miss March?”
“What was she doing to entertain you...?”
“She was layin’ there, not twenty feet away wearing practically nothin’.” He looks back at the prosecutor, “Movin’ around on that lounge, takin her top down, sunnin her self…. Putting on a real show…”
Marvin approaches the evidence table and lifts a plastic bag with a bikini in it. “Is this similar to the garment she was wearing?” He hands the bag to the old man.
“It was string and three patches o’ cloth.” He take a set of reading glasses from his shirt pocket and examines the contents of the bag. “Same color… Yep that looks like it.”
“How long did she stay out there… sunning herself?”
“Don’t exactly know. Maybe a couple a’ hours. We were hav'in more fun watchin her than finshin.” There’s a rumble of laughter; silenced by the loud clap of the gavel. “Then we saw storm clouds brewin over Salter’s ridge and high tailed it back to the dock. She was still layin there when we left. Think she fell asleep. It poured cats and dogs for a couple o’ hours that afternoon.”
Damn fools, I gave them a real show that day. It's ridiculous, they're all old enough to be my great grand father and they still ogled me like they never saw a woman before... half of them probably can't perform anyway... I fell asleep long before they left.
“And you’re sure that this was Friday the 12th of August?”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Cause the following day my friend Ned found her hangin in a tree; all naked and white like a sheet, dryin on the line…” He glances over at the defense table, “Sorry mam.”
Matt stands up, “Your honor, just what was that all about. We know she was there. What was this testimony for… I move to strike it…”
Marvin turns to the jury, “It’s to show the nature of the defendants immoral and anti social behavior.”
Matt moves to the side of his table, “Sidebar your honor?”
Pritchard waves both attorneys’ to the bench. Matt starts with, “Judge, there’s more involved than just my client; there’s her murdered friend, two months before this incident.”
Marvin answers, “The defense is just trying to muddy the waters with another unsolved case.”
“That case just happens to involve my client and the deceased. Within two month, both girls were found in proximity of his cabin and both girls were nude.”
The judge raises his hands, “Shush, both of you. Let Mr. Kynde finish his questioning and then you may cross…” He glares at Matt and says, “I’ll review the other case in question and give you my ruling later, until then its not to be mentioned…. Clear!” They both nod, “Now continue.”
Matt walks back to his table tapping Kay reassuringly on her shoulder as he sits down. He notices what she's drawn on the pad. A rather clear image of a woman, her arms and legs splayed out. Ropes tied to her wrists and ankles extending off the page; she's suspended in mid air; she's drawn marks crisscrossing every inch of the woman's back, butt and legs. His gaze turns to Katharine; seeing a woman cool, calm and unmoved; she's coldly staring as she continues to draw marks on woman in her drawing.
Marvin continues, “Now to continue, were you alone in your boat?”
“Nope, my friend Calvin and I, we always fish together…”
“So Calvin also saw Miss March…?”
He hocks out a chuckle, “Ha, a yea, we all did.”
“All, who else was there?”
“There was Ellis, Marcum…” He pauses to think a second, “oh hell, there was three or four boats fished that cove that afternoon… Well not exactly fished, if ya know what I mean…” He shows a broad toothy grin to the prosecutor.
“So everyone was watching Miss March?”
He smiles, “Like hungry hawks… We’re all old guys and don’t get ta see nothin’ like that every day. She's a real looker... ya had ta be blind or dead not ta look. The only dud in the bunch was Buttermann; the old grouch… He turned his back and kept fishin’.”
“Thank you.” He turns and looks at Matt, “your witness councilor.”
Matt approaches the witness box. “Homer, may I call you Homer?”
“You like to look at young women sun bathing?”
He squirms a little in his seat. “Well not normally, but she wasn’t wearin’ nothin’… That ain’t a normal sight. Sure wasn't right but she made me come alive...”
“You said she was wearing a bathing suit.”
Homer picks up the bag with the suit from the railing in front of him. He holds it up so everyone in the court can see, “But this ain’t a decent suit, it don’t cover nothin’.”
“So all you peeping-tom perverts were there ogling a woman… on a private resort beach on a Friday afternoon…and judging her… I’m through with this witness your honor…”
Marvin stands, holding his hand in the air. “Object, move to strike…”
“Strike the councilor’s remark from the testimony… Mr. Cohn, you will not do that again…”
“I’m sorry your honor, my apologies. I’m through with this witness.” Matt turns back to his seat as Homer looks around and begins to sit back in the chair.
The judge glances at Homer over his reading glasses, “Mr. Wilson, you may go…” He looks down at his watch again; realizing there’s too much time left… “Does the prosecution have another witness for today?’
Marvin scans the room and points at a man in the back row. “Yes your honor, Dr. Robert Levi, the Medical Examiner.”
He looks at his watch again. A little annoyed the judge waves his hand saying, “Call your witness.”
A short wisp of a man in a dark rumpled suit approaches the witness box. He has a drawn and lined face, thinning gray hair with a mustache and bushy eye brows; he carries a well worn thick binder under his left arm. He’s sworn and seated.
Two court officers set up a small cork board with photos of Martin Heller’s wounds and a generic form drawing of a male anatomy marked with the locations of the wounds.
“Doctor Levi, you are the Erie County Medical Examiner?”
“And you did the autopsy on the victim, Mr. Martin Heller?”
Levi begins to open his binder. “Yes I did.”
“Please explain to the court your findings in this case.”
He opens the binder to a page near the back of the thick book and begins to read. “He was a white male, approximately age 53 to 58, five foot seven and one hundred and eighty five pounds. The body of Heller had been stabbed in the torso three times and his throat cut. The wounds in his torso were clustered in a group at the upper left quadrant of his abdomen. One of these penetrations was deep enough to nick his descending aorta. But the killing wound was a deep slice across his throat from his right to his left. The incision was deep, severing his right carotid artery, his wind pipe and trachea and left carotid. All indications are that the murderer was right handed. I’ve examined the knife that was recovered from the scene and it was a match to the wounds in his abdomen.” He puts the book down, leaving it open and resting it in his lap.
Marvin lifts the plastic bag with the knife and hands it to the doctor. “Is this the knife in question?”
He holds it up and looks at the tag attached to the bag. “Yes,” he holds the tag up, “these are my initials on the chain of evidence tag. This is the knife.”
Marvin retrieves the evidence bag and returns it to the evidence table saying, “no more questions.”
Staring at the knife, I can remember the coarseness of the canvas garrison belt around my bare waist and that damn blade hanging at my hip as I entered the lake that night.
“Mr. Cohn, you may cross this witness.”
Matt remains seated, “Dr. Levi, you say the wound to the victims’ throat was pretty severe. Is that true?”
He looks down at his notes, “Yes, it was almost half way to his spine.”
“Were there marks indicating more than one cut… was it like multiple cuts?”
“No, it was one stroke from the victims’ right to left ear.” He raises his right hand holding his fist, as if holding a knife and moving his hand from his left to right. “Like that…”
“So his head was almost severed. It would take a lot of strength to do that in one stroke; don’t you think?”
He stares at his notes for a few seconds and then looks up. “Yes… It would be difficult for most people…”
“Thank you doctor, I will call you again later…no more questions for now…”
The judge immediately slams his gavel, “Court is adjourned until nine am tomorrow morning.”
Matt looks over at Katharine and she’s in a stone cold stare. He reaches over and puts his hand on her shoulder; she doesn’t seem to notice. “It’s okay, it’ll be fine… this is only the preliminaries.” The matron approaches the table and patiently waits; standing beside Katharine.
Kay looks up at the uniformed matron and rises from her chair. She looks down at Matt; she leans over and whispers in his ear. “We have to talk... soon!”
Matt watches as they exit the room; he knows it’s not going well and he’s really beginning to feel for his client. He sits looking but not seeing. All the evidence, witness lists and forensics reports flow through his mind. Not knowing how long he was there, Matt suddenly realizes that the room is dead quiet and he’s alone. He comes to the conclusion that he needs to talk with Kay’s psychologist and the police forensics unit again. If he can find the time, he’ll need to revisit the site and New York City.
The other thought ringing in his head is the judge. “Will he allow Lizabeths murder into the testimony?”
* * *
Katharine's guided back to the jury room to get changed. She feels a throbbing in her head with every beat of her heart.
There's a musty old cluster of lockers along one wall and her orange jump suit is hanging from on of the open locker doors. She pulls a couple of wire hangers from the short rod and lays them on the table.
The matron takes her seat beside the door, and watches as Katharine begins to change. “You know your screwed...”
Looping Matt's scarf around the hook of one hangar, Kay looks at her guard, “I seem to be screwed a lot lately... it seems...”
“I seen a lot of you go through here in my day. But none as good lookin or well spoken as you. “ With a bit of concern in her voice she adds, “Why'd you get yourself into this shit. You have a education... You're all fucked up now...”
Realizing she can't respond without giving away her secret, Katharine answers with a shrug and an, “I can't remember...”
She's removed all her clothes; hanging everything neatly on the hangers and in the locker. Katharine looks at the lace thong and begins to put it on when the matron stands up and stops her. “You know the routine, no thong, it's not regulation. And sorry but I gotta do this, bend over...”
The throbbing in her head is turning into a headache and bending over causes her to become a little dizzy. The cavity search only takes a few moments and then Katharine finishes dressing. She slips her bare feet into the rubber shower thongs that the prison provided. “Ready!”
The matron cuffs her hands behind her and they begin the march out toward back of the courthouse. Her headache is gradually getting worse. As they proceed down the hall her sight is beginning to blur.
She feels the cold outside air rushing in through the open outside door and the wire gate. The thin cotton jump suit is no prosecution and Katharine's instantly chilled to the bone. She hears the buzz of the gate lock. It swings open; she and two guards rush out onto the rear loading dock.
There’s a prison van is waiting with its rear doors open and two other prisoners are waiting inside. Half way to the van her knees buckle under her and the last thing she sees is the concrete ground hurtling up into her face.