Today I thought I might take a break from all things Scientology and Taryn Teutsch and just do something light.
I hope you enjoy it.
The accused stood motionless, nothing on his face betrayed any emotion. It was this same lack of expression that had worried the attorney assigned to represent the man throughout the case. Charged with robbing an elderly woman and beating her to death, the defendant had shown nothing, even when faced with the crime photos.
The lawyer knew his client’s demeanor made the jury uncomfortable. Hell, it made him uncomfortable, faced with such a blank stare every day. Everyone in the courtroom, from the jury members to the press watched the defendant for some sign of guilt or remorse. Something would have been better than this complete lack of…anything.
Professionally, Hal knew that there was a marked lack of hard evidence against his client. The crime scene had been cleaned up by whoever the murderer was. No fingerprints, no DNA, no telltale calling card like other serial killers left. The police had been stymied and there were no leads even when a substantial reward had been offered. The most damning thing during the whole proceeding had been a witness from a nearby bar who identified David Rawlins as fleeing the scene.
Hal had been able to cast doubt on the witness’s testimony by pointing out that the witness could not be certain of anything after spending hours on a barstool.
Whoever committed this crime had been smart enough to leave no physical evidence behind. It was the same M.O. as in four other crimes that plagued the community in recent months. Hal felt confident that his client would be found not guilty. In his closing arguments, he pointed out the similarities between the serial murders, stressing the fact that anything the police had was merely circumstantial, not enough to convict.
“Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, while we sit here today arguing this case against David Rawlins, the real criminal is still out there waiting to attack again.”
That last had caused the lead detective on the case to shift uncomfortably in his seat.
As Hal walked back to his seat he glanced at David Rawlins hoping again to see some glimmer of humanity on the man’s face. There was nothing. Not once during the proceedings had the man’s expression changed.
During a break in the case Hal tried to talk to Rawlins. He explained that sitting like a lump with no emotion was not going to win him any points with the jury. Juries liked to see fear, remorse or sorrow. Anything to make them more human to them. During the entire conversation Rawlins just looked calmly at him and said nothing. Exasperated, Hal gave up. He was a lawyer, not a shrink. He wasn’t paid enough by the state to try that hard to reach the man. He had advised him on what he should be doing. If Rawlins didn’t listen there was nothing Hal could do about it.
Some clients followed his advice to the letter and others ignored him. That was the way of things.
This crime, like the others, had terrorized and brought the town together. No one walked alone anymore. Joggers and bikers organized teams, parents took turns supervising the children walking to and from school. Church services were way up, whether from fear of being alone on a Sunday morning or to pray that the murderer would be caught, the town was spending more time together.
With quiet respect, Hal had attended the memorial service for the victim along with most of the community.
In the front of the church stood a large photo of the woman. The attack had been so violent that there was no way the coffin could be left open. It showed everyone’s grandmother, small and frail with a sweet face. Alva Spence had been graced with an abundance of thick, grey hair that she wore in a coiled braid on top of her head fixed by a butterfly-shaped hairpin. She looked as though she were ready for Bingo.
Now the trial was over. The jury had only deliberated for 3 hours before notifying the judge they were ready with a verdict. During that time Hal had gone to the coffee shop next door to the courthouse where he reviewed his notes for the next case.
A young court intern found Hal and informed him that they were ready.
The jury filed in and took their seats.
The big room was totally silent but for the ticking of the clock on the wall in the back. Hal glanced behind him at Alva Spence’s granddaughter. She was pale and holding the back of the chair in front of her. Her eyes, swollen from crying, met his then she looked away.
Hal’s attention returned to the front of the courtroom. The jury foreman stood and handed over the verdict.
The bailiff approached the bench with the small slip of paper containing his client’s future.
“We the jury find the defendant… Not guilty.”
An anguished wail erupted from the back of the courtroom. Hal barely listened to the judge’s instructions as he placed his paperwork into the briefcase on the table in front of him. He knew this part by heart from long experience.
David Rawlins walked steadily from the courtroom, ignoring the victim’s sobbing granddaughter.
The sun was bright and hot after the dim coolness of the courtroom. The sounds of the traffic a calming counterpoint to the drama behind them.
They started down the stairs, and then Rawlins paused. Hal felt his mouth go dry as David’s face was suddenly lit with a huge smile and he patted Hal on the shoulder. It was the feral grin of a predator. Then Rawlins was gone.
Shaken by that horrible smile after weeks of no emotion at all, Hal looked down at himself.
His briefcase slid slowly from his trembling, numbed fingers and down the steps.
There in his lapel, glistening in the late afternoon sunlight, was a hairpin shaped like a butterfly