Murder Has Two Faces
For Disclaimers: See part 1
The courtroom was empty of spectators and reporters. After the fiasco of the previous two days, Judge OConnell ordered that the courtroom be closed. Johnnie sat in her seat, keeping her emotions in check as a noted psychologist gave testimony about the murder scene and what state of mind the murderer had to have been in.
"In case studies, an attack that vicious had to have been perpetrated by someone who knew the victim. Someone who was incensed beyond reasonable and all rational thought." Dr. Samantha Alui explained.
Abbott smiled at her. "Thank you, Dr. Alui." He turned his attention to the judge. "No more questions for this witness, Your Honor."
The judge turned his seat to face Bob. "Your witness, Mr. Wooten."
"Thank you, Your Honor." Bob stood up and walked toward the witness stand. "Dr. Alui, you have testified to the state of mind that the murder had to have been in. You, as a profiler, are able to conclude that the murderer had some sort of connection to the deceased?"
"That is correct." Dr. Alui flatly stated as she pushed her glasses up from the tip of her nose. "A crime that heinous had to be conceived out of pure hatred."
"So, Dr. Alui, it had to have been done by someone who despised Mayor Ballantine? Is that a fair assessment?" Bob asked.
"Then it could have been anyone? Mayor Ballantine was not the well respected man that he portrayed himself to be, as the evidence clearly states." He countered.
Dr. Alui shifted in her seat. "That could be a possibility."
Bob could sense the air of confidence slipping from the good doctor. "The evidence clearly states that Mayor Ballantine not only had underworld connections, but was also a pedophile." He paused. "So, is it fair to say that anyone that the mayor had crossed could have committed this act?"
"Yes." The doctor reluctantly admitted.
Bob smiled. "In one of your previous cases, there was an instance of a pedophile victim taking revenge on her molester."
"Objection." Abbott yelled. "Relevance, Your honor."
"Overruled." OConnell was still incensed at the actions that Abbott had taken two days before. "You may answer the question, Doctor."
Dr. Alui shifted uncomfortable in her seat. She had been paid handsomely by the people, and did not want to give the defense a way out. "Yes."
Bob waited for a moment. "Would you describe the scene of the murder in question?"
Alui cleared her throat. "The victim in question was found beaten beyond recognition. Blood was everywhere."
Bob paced in front of the jury. "Had the accused in that case had any public displays of emotion before the killing took place?"
"Had the accused made any contact with the deceased in that case previous to the murder?"
"How long had the victim been out of contact with the accused in that case, Doctor?" Bob skillfully asked.
"Three years." Alui regrettably admitted.
"So unspeakable acts of revenge do not have to be played out immediately?" Bob asked. "They can boil and fester like puss from an infected wound?"
Bob smiled. "No further questions for this witness."
Abbott seethed in his chair. Lets see how you handle this witness, Counselor. "The people call Detective Alphonse Petrillo to the stand."
Pizo stood up and walked over the witness stand to be sworn in. He looked at Johnnie and gave her a half-hearted smile.
Abbott walked over to Pizo, pacing back and forth in front of him like a predator stalking his prey. "Detective Petrillo, how long have you been with the Wilmington Police Department?"
"Seventeen years." Pizo curtly stated.
"How long were you partnered with the accused before she retired?" He asked.
"Ms. Green and I were partners for eight years before she retired from the force." Pizo answered.
"Could you give us some insight on the type of person Ms. Green is, please?" Abbott requested.
Pizo looked at Abbott with contempt. "What is it exactly you would like to know?"
Johnnie chuckled quietly at her former partners arrogance. You get him Pizo.
Abbott sneered at him. "Does the defendant have a temper?"
"When provoked, I would say that she does. I dont know anyone who doesnt." Pizo said.
"Move to strike the witnesss last statement, Your Honor." Abbott vehemently said.
"Motion granted." The judge sighed. "Only answer the questions that counsel poses to you, Detective, and refrain from adding commentary."
"Sorry, Your Honor." Pizo quietly said.
"Getting back to the matter at hand, Detective, do you agree that Ms. Green has a temper?" Abbott asked, again. Dont play with me, boy.
"Could you tell the jury what happened at the cemetery following the Martinez boys funeral?"
"Ballantine came with reporters and it made Johnnie furious. She attacked him." Pizo told them. He looked apologetically at Johnnie. Sorry Bud.
Abbott moved in for the kill. "How did she attack him? Did she say anything?"
"Johnnie roared, and then grabbed Ballantine by this throat causing him to fall to the ground. She told him that she would kill him."
Abbott feigned surprise. "She did? Hmm, interesting." He paused. "Do you think she would have succeeded if she had not been pulled from him?"
Abbott smirked. "Lets move forward, shall we?" He continued to pace in front of Pizo. "Later that day, Ms. Green left her home. Is that correct?"
Pizo straightened himself in his chair. "Yes."
"What time was it when you saw her before she left?"
"I would guess it was around 3 pm."
"Did you know that she had left?"
"Who discovered that she had left?"
"Was she gone for a long time?"
"She had been gone for a long while and Ms. Martinez began to worry. Is that correct?"
"Did anyone go looking for her?"
"Yes. Victoria Krisp and I went out looking for her."
"What time did you find her?"
"Around 1 am."
"Where did you find Ms. Green, and what condition was she in?"
"Tori and I found her wandering the streets downtown. She was very drunk."
"Not only was she drunk, Detective, but she looked as if she had been in a struggle. Is that correct?"
"Yes." Damn you Abbott to hell, you son of a bitch. "Her clothing was in disheveled."
Abbott walked over to the table that held the evidence. He picked up two items encased in plastic and walked back over to Pizo. "These are Peoples exhibits 2 and 3. Could you read the labels for the jury, please?"
Pizo took the evidence. "Greens blouse, and Greens jacket."
"These are the articles of clothing that Ms. Green was wearing the night in question, are they not?"
"In Forensic reports submitted by the police crime lab technician, the clothing has blood on them. Not only the blood of Ms. Green, but the blood of Mayor Ballantine as well." He paused. "When you found Ms. Green, she was very drunk and looked like she had been in a fight of some sort, correct?"
"Objection, Your Honor." Bob said. "Asked and answered."
Abbott smirked. "Withdrawn." Gotcha. "No further questions."
Bob leaned over to Johnnie. "Dont worry about this. Im going to do damage control." He patted Johnnies shoulder and stood up. He walked casually over to Pizo. "Detective Petrillo, could you tell us why, my client was so furious with Mayor Ballantine?"
Pizo straightened in his seat. "Of course I will, Counselor." He paused and looked directly at the jury. "Mayor Ballantine had been making false allegations against Ms. Green. He had been giving press conferences spouting lies about her and her job performance. The reporters began hounding her, and she dealt with it. Then her son was killed when they accosted her family. Ballantine showed up at the funeral with what she believed was the very cause of her sons death. He had no right to be there, and then to show up with reporters was just too much. I dont much blame her, because I wanted to slug him myself. I dont think I know of anyone who wouldnt have reacted the same way."
"I couldnt agree with you more, Detective." Bob somberly said. "Mayor Ballantine brought the very reason for the death of young Phillip to his funeral. You stated in earlier testimony that she attacked him. Did she immediately attack him, or did the Mayor say anything to her?"
"He said that he had come on behalf of the city to extend sympathies."
"Were photographers present or just reporter?"
"Photographers were present, also."
"What were they doing?"
"Taking pictures left and right. You could hear the flashes go off."
"Similar to what Ms. Martinez stated that was going on at the home on the day of Phillips death?"
"Emotions were running high, and he showed up with the press?"
"Exactly. Johnnie just snapped. She was crying the entire time." Pizo paused. "They had just buried Phillip "
Johnnie sat and listened to Pizos testimony. She berated herself for losing control the way she did. If I had only walked away, I wouldnt be in this mess. If I had only stayed home, they wouldnt be able to connect me with Ballantines murder. I could be at home with Alma, talking about the baby. Tears formed and fell from her eyes. She pulled her handkerchief from her pocket. If it werent for Ballantine, my son would be here preparing to be a good big brother. I hope Ballantine rots in hell for what he has done.
Bob noticed Johnnies tears and decided to move on. "When you and Ms. Krisp found my client, you found her in a drunken state, yes?"
"Did she seem agitated in any way?"
"No. She was just staggering in the street."
"Did she try to fight you or Ms. Krisp?"
"No, she was glad to see us."
"Glad to see you? I would expect someone who had just committed murder to be belligerent, even furious."
Abbott leaped from his seat. "Objection!"
The judge looked at Bob. "Counselor, please refrain from making comments until closing arguments."
"Yes, Your Honor. I apologize." Bob said. "Detective, you were at the crime scene, were you not?"
"You saw the condition that the body was in, and how the office looked?"
"Do you agree that it was gruesome?"
Pizo had no idea where Bob was going, but he trusted him. "Yes, it was indeed gruesome."
"Would you say that the murderer had to be absolutely furious?"
"Did my clients demeanor fit that of someone who had committed such a violent act?"
"My client was glad to see you and Ms. Krisp?"
"Yes she was. She was a very happy drunk. She did not seem angry in the least."
Bob smiled. "No further questions."
Johnnie sat in the bathtub with her arms draped along the sides. She held a beer in one hand. She noticed that music had started playing in the background. Ahh, Cassandra Wilson, very lovely. The door to that bathroom slowly and quietly opened. She looked up and saw Alma standing in the doorway with her silk robe open. Johnnies mouth went dry.
"Any room in there for me?" Alma purred.
Johnnie opened her legs. "Plenty."
Alma slowly walked over to the tub, letting her robe fall from her body as a drop of water from a rose petal. She could hear Johnnie groan, and could see her leering at her. She knew from previous experience that the bigger her belly got, the more turned on Johnnie became. She never felt embarrassed by the changes her body made during her first pregnancy, and knew she could feel that same confidence with this one. Johnnie offered her hand to assist Alma into the tub. Alma settled between Johnnies thighs as Johnnie wrapped her arms around her expanding belly, pulling Alma close. It was at that moment in time Johnnie felt closest to Alma. It was also at that moment the last time she would feel that safe in a long while.
A month has passed since Tracys accident. Although his body was slowly recovering from its trauma, Tracy remained in a coma. His lover and his business associates were his constant companions. Each one of them shared their feelings with their comatose friend, hoping to speed his return to them.
Alma was none too pleased with her inability to be at the proceedings. Her nerves were on edge. With the additional stress from Tracys accident and then the trial, Johnnies nerves were edge as well. They began to take it out on each other. They were snapping at each other a little too frequently. So much in fact their guests had noticed the strain.
As Johnnie dressed, she couldnt help but remember the argument that had taken place between her and Alma the night before.
Dinner had taken place as it had many nights since Tracys accident, quietly. Tori had decided that the silence was just too much for her.
"You know, guys, Ive noticed some tension around here. Is it just me, or is there a problem?" Tori asked.
Johnnie sighed heavily. "I just have a lot of things I need to sort out, Tori. Im sorry if Ive made you guys uncomfortable."
"Maybe you need to talk, Johnnie. Its not good to keep things bottled up." Ceecee advised.
Alma scoffed at her statement. "Maybe the problem is the bottle."
Johnnies gaze fell on Alma. Anger reared its ugly head as the gaze turned into an angry glare. "And just what in the hell is that supposed to mean, Alma?"
"You know exactly what it means." Alma hissed.
Rage had taken over Johnnies reasoning. Almas insinuation made old memories that Johnnie was trying to sort and forgive herself for push her over the edge. She slammed her fist down against the table, making everything bounce before settling back down. Everyone jumped at the sudden explosion of temper.
"Just spit it out. You think Im drinking. If I hadnt been so stupid as to drink that night, none of this would have happened. If I had stayed home that night, then we wouldnt be going through all this bullshit. Is that it, Alma?" Johnnie growled, standing up so quickly that her chair was knocked over. She leaned down until she was in Almas face. She was furious. Her eyes turned from their normal deep, rich dark brown to what seemed to be a stormy black. "If I didnt run to the bottle every time I was upset, then we wouldnt be in this mess?"
Once Alma got over her initial shock of Johnnies outburst, she stood toe to toe with her, glaring up into her eyes with as much venom as Johnnie had in hers. Johnnie didnt intimidate her in the least. "You spend more time in that basement than you do with our guests or me. You come to bed well after Im asleep. You wont talk to me or let me help you. Yes, that is exactly what Im saying." She hissed.
Johnnie leaned closer to Almas face. "Maybe I dont need your fucking help. For your information, I havent been drinking. Do you think Im such an emotional cripple that I have to drink to get through a problem?" She demanded.
Ceecee had stood and backed away from the exchange. Tori eased around the table to stand behind Johnnie. She had never seen Johnnie so angry with Alma, and didnt know what she would do.
Johnnie continued. "Why are you even still with me, Alma? Why do you continue to stay with me?"
"I have no idea. You obviously dont need me." Alma spat.
"Then leave. Youre free to go." Johnnie told her, suddenly wishing with everything she had that she could take those words back.
"How dare you try to dismiss me?" Before Alma realized it, she had attempted to slap Johnnie.
Johnnie grabbed her wrist. "No, Alma."
Alma attempted to slap her with her other hand. Tears were streaming down her face, as well as Johnnies.
"I said no, Alma." Johnnie whispered. She was holding both of Almas wrists. Her body was trembling as her anger ebbed.
Tori placed her hand on Johnnies shoulder. "Come on guys. Enough."
Johnnie looked into Almas eyes, and all she could see was the pain that her words had caused her. She released Alma, and walked toward the basement. She looked back, seeing her lovely wife being consoled by Ceecee. "Im so sorry, Alma." She whispered as she went downstairs. She fell onto the sofa, and cried into a fitful sleep.
Johnnie buttoned her blouse, and then turned to look at her wife. She noticed the dark lines that were appearing on Almas face. She shouldnt be going through this. She walked back over to the dresser to put on her cologne. When she turned around again, she saw Alma looking at her. Johnnie, ashamed at what transpired the night before, lowered her gaze to a more interesting floor.
Alma rose from their bed. She walked over to Johnnie and placed her hand on Johnnies shoulder. "We need to talk." She whispered.
Johnnie braced herself for the inevitable. Alma was going to leave her. She couldnt blame her, all this drama was too much to bear. Her heart sank. "Alright." Her legs became weak, so she sat down on the chair in front of the dresser.
"Look at me, Johnnie." Alma told her, lifting her chin. She could see the anguish and pain in Johnnies eyes; a pain that she had seen only once before, when their son died. Oh, beloved, what has this man done to us? She asked herself.
Johnnie tried to speak, but she couldnt. She wanted to beg Alma for forgiveness, but fear had constricted her vocal cords. Tears streamed down her face. Her body was trembling.
"We, beloved, have had a hard road to travel. My crazy brother almost killed you, and almost raped me. A woman from your past tried to take you away from me. Ballantine tried to destroy you, and in the process caused the death of our son. A lifetime of misery in a span of just a few years." Alma softly said.
This is it. Johnnie thought. Shes going to leave me.
Alma continued. "All of this has taken a toll on the both of us. I hope that you wont let him win."
Johnnies eyebrow arched. "What are you saying, Alma?" She rasped.
"Im saying if we let this beat us, then he wins. I, for one, have no intention on allowing Ballantine to totally destroy our family. He has done enough damage." Alma said, kneeling in front of Johnnie.
"You youre not going to leave me?" Johnnie hopefully asked.
"Never, Querida. You are not getting rid of me. We are going to get through this." Alma whispered, tears threatening to fall.
Johnnie entwined their fingers. "Alma, I have been a selfish bitch, wallowing in self-pity. Nearly losing the single most important person in my life. Please forgive me; forgive all the terrible things I said to you. Forgive me for shutting you out."
"I would die if I couldnt be with you. I could never walk away from you, Johnnie. You are my wife, my life." Alma told her.
Johnnie stood, pulling Alma to her as close as Almas protruding belly would allow. "I love you with all my heart and soul, Alma. When I thought you were going to leave me, I wanted to die. Forgive me."
Johnnie embraced her, and could feel Alma mold herself into her body. With everything going on, Johnnie realized that she and Alma hadnt made love since right after Tracys accident. She involuntarily shuddered at the closeness of their bodies.
Alma could feel the tension release from her body. She could feel Johnnies heartbeat quicken as well as her own.
"We need some quality time, baby." Alma said, huskily. "Its been a while."
Johnnie could feel the fire in her belly come to life. "I know, love. Weve neglected each other." Johnnie added. "Were going to have to do something about that."
Alma pulled back a little. "What do you have in mind, my wife?"
"I need a little time to plan. By the time I get home, everything should be in motion." Johnnie told her, pulling her back into the embrace.
"Alma and I have worked out our problems. Last night made me realize how close I was to losing her." Johnnie said.
"Yeah, weve noticed the tension, Johnnie." Tori told her as she drove Johnnie to the courthouse. "Ceecee was beginning to think we had worn out our welcome."
"No, thats not it, Tori. With everything going on, Alma and I are both a little edgy." Johnnie said. "You know, we havent made love since Tracys accident."
"Kinda figured that, old girl." Tori said, looking at her friend. "Its been quiet around the house."
Johnnie chuckled. "Well, at least from our bedroom. I dont think you and Ceecee have had any problems."
Tori shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Uh, yeah. Sorry about that. We do tend to get carried away sometimes."
"Dont worry about it." Johnnie told her, laughing and patting her shoulder. "You guys have a healthy appetite. No need for apologies."
Tori sighed, and hoped her friend wouldnt carry the ribbing any further. "So, what are you gonna do about your situation with Alma?"
"Ive given this a lot of thought since breakfast." Johnnie confided. "Since its Friday, Im going to reserve a suite at the Marriott for the weekend. This will all be under an assumed name, of course. I dont need any more drama." She paused. "Yep, this is just what my wife and I need, quality time."
"Tell you what, buddy. Why dont I reserve the room for you? Ill stop by and take care of it after I drop you off. That way, you and Alma can head out when you get home." Tori suggested.
"Good looking out, Tori. I appreciate it." Johnnie told her smiling.
It was late in the day when Abbott rested his case. Judge OConnell recessed court until Monday morning, when Bob would present his case for the defense. As usual, the press was waiting in the corridor for Johnnie and Bob, trying to get a comment. Of course they said nothing. Abbott, on the other hand, had plenty to say.
"The prosecution has rested an airtight case against Ms. Green. Her freedom is now gauged by how long her attorney can drag out his case. Shell be behind bars soon enough, and will no longer be a menace to society." He told the reporters.
"Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty, Counselor?" A lone voice asked. The reporters turned to the source.
"Madelyn Marshall." Abbott smugly acknowledged. "How good of you to join us. Although, the governor did remove you from this case." He paused. "I forget why you were replaced. Care to enlighten us?"
Maddie glared at him. "That has no consequence on why youre so blatantly disregarding your boundaries as prosecutor. What are you doing, trying to influence the jury? You know they are not sequestered." She began to smile. "I wonder what the governor would think of they way you are handling the press? Hell find out soon enough when he reads your statement in the papers. Even better, he may see you in action. Im sure this interview will be telecast all the way to Raleigh, with this being such a high profile case."
Abbott became flustered. His arrogance and over zealousness may have gotten him into some trouble. He wondered what he would look like in the event that he lost. His face began to redden as he mentally kicked himself. He also wondered how the governor would react to his statements. Realizing that he had just been one-upped by Maddie, he turned and left. Accomplishing the task of putting the cocky prosecutor in his place, she left with no further comment to the press.
One report asked another, "Why is she back?"
The other reporter responded, "Her former lover is on trial. Wouldnt you want to know the outcome?" She paused. "Could be an interesting sidepiece. Think Ill find out exactly whats going on." With her colleague not knowing her true purpose for wanting to talk with Maddie, she took off in the direction Maddie headed in. Racing to catch up with her, she found her on the stairs.
"Ms. Marshall, I have a couple of questions for you. Please talk to me." She requested.
"Look, I have no comment." Maddie sighed.
"Off the record. I know we are family." She told her. "I was at the restaurant when you had the confrontation with Ms. Green. The one where you and she got into your former relationship."
Maddie leaned her head sideways, surprised at what she was told. "What is it you want to know?" She asked, assessing the shorter brunette.
The reporter smiled. "Actually, I just wanted to know how long you are going to be in town? Ive been an admirer of yours for a couple of years." Noticing the blush from the blonde former prosecutor, she moved a little closer. "Maybe we can discuss it over dinner."
"My, my, we move fast." Maddie told her, and then she relented. "I will be hungry. I guess I can share a meal with you, Miss ?"
"Karen, Karen Grace." She smiled.
"Nice to meet you, Karen." Maddie said, extending her hand. Karen willingly took it, and was reluctant to let it go. "Im staying at the Marriott, room 719. Come by around seven pm."
Tori pulled away from the curb, and asked Johnnie how the day went. Johnnie told her that Abbott had rested his case, and Bob would begin on Monday.
"Did you reserve the suite?" Johnnie asked.
Tori smiled. "Of course I did. You two have suite 721 reserved. Heres the card key. All you have to do is go directly to the room."
"Thanks, Tori. I owe you." Johnnie told her.
"I just want you guys to get back on track." Tori said. "Dont worry about Ceecee and me. I think we can find something to occupy our time."
Johnnie teased, "Im sure you will." In a serious moment she asked, "Did you guys check on Tracy today?"
"Yeah, we went this morning." She told her. "Hes the same. I told Alma that Id take you by there before wed get home."
"Thanks." Johnnie said. They remained comfortably quiet while Tori drove to the hospital.
Johnnie talked with Mark and Glenda after she had spent time with Tracy. Mark looked exhausted, he had been trying to rest, but spent a lot of time talking to Tracy, hoping that he would soon come out of the coma. His lung was recovering, but his lone left kidney was beginning to have problems. He was still critical, but he was beginning to show that he was fighting. Mark returned to Tracys room for his fifteen minutes.
"Hows Mark holding up, Glen?" Johnnie asked her friend.
Glenda shook her head. "I dont know how he does it, Johnnie. He never leaves this hospital. The staff is nice enough to allow him to shower. We bring his food, but he barely touches it. If hes not careful, hell be in a bed beside Tracy."
"I can understand how he feels. If it wasnt for Alma talking to me everyday, I may not have tried as hard as I did to come back to her." Johnnie said. She paused to assess the friend standing before her. "What about you, Glen? Laura and Mike have told me that you hardly ever leave, either."
Glenda gave her a half-hearted smile. "You know Tracy cant be out of my sight for too long. Marks love will give him the strength to fight. Tracy also needs my TLC." She and Tracy were as close as siblings. They fought like cats and dogs, but that is what siblings do.
"I can imagine the TLC you give him. How many times have you called him a lazy bastard today?" Johnnie asked, laughing. "Did you accuse him of pilfering your Pepsi?"
"Yeah," Glenda told her laughing heartily, "I told him I saw one of my bottles roll from under his bed." Suddenly she started crying. "Johnnie what if we lose him? What will we do?"
Johnnie, seeing Glenda shift from one mood to another, embraced her friend. "Hell be fine, Glen. Youll see. He will pay you back for the hard time youve given him. You do know that, right?"
"Im counting on it." Glenda told her.
Mark caressed Tracys forehead. He smiled at the small amount of color that was returning to Tracy.
"You look good, honey. I see you are getting stronger every day. Come back to us, my love. We all need you." Mark softly told Tracy. "Everyone is so concerned about you." He leaned over, and placed a light kiss on Tracys lips.
"How sweet." The voice said. "They really care about us, dont they?"
"Its me they care about, goon. They dont even know about you." Tracy said, weakly.
"Well, you cant say that about everyone, fag. Or have you forgotten about that romantic night I had with Mark?" The voice sneered.
"Fuck you asshole." Tracy whispered. "I hate you."
"Huh, thats what you say now. What about when the old man was kicking your ass?" The voice angrily demanded. " He was fucking you more than he fucked your sorry ass mom. You wouldnt have survived if it wasnt for me, and dont you ever forget it."
To be continued in Part 13
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