MICHAEL LYNN GABRIEL
MICHAEL LYNN GABRIEL
At 11:34 P.M. on a sweltering August Thursday, the phone was answered on its first ring. "Willits Emergency." The dispatcher intoned in a flat, dead, unemotive and sexless voice while shifting her seat to receive the full force of a small fan.
"They're dead! You must come quick! They're all dead!" A woman's voice screamed over the phone. Hysterical, she could be heard hyperventilating and gasping for air on the line. "There's blood all over the place! I.." It sounded to the dispatcher as though the woman had become violently ill.
"Who's dead? Madam, speak to me, you must try to control yourself and tell me slowly what happened and where you are." As the dispatcher was speaking, she flipped a toggle switch in front of her which activated an emergency alarm in the police station. "Are you sure they're dead? Have you checked for breathing?"
"Julie and her kids, my neighbors, are dead..." the woman sobbed. "He killed them. They're all laying in their own blood."
"Who killed them? Is he still there? Are you safe?" The dispatcher asked while trying to force herself to remain calm. "Where are you? Tell me, where you are?"
Into the room, the Police Chief, a sergeant and two deputies of Willits came running. "What the hell's happening, Ruth?" the Chief bellowed. "What's the alarm for?"
"I have a hysterical woman on the line. She says that her neighbors have been killed. I can't get her to tell me where she's at. I'm trying to have the line traced."
"Damn, I'll be glad when we'll be able to automatically trace incoming phone calls." The Chief picked up the phone extension. "This is Police Chief Crandall. Who are you and where are you? We'll come and protect you."
The woman took a deep gasp of air that was audible over the phone. While crying constantly, she said, "I'm Audrey Holmes. I live in Brookwind at 49871 Locust. My neighbors, Julie Wester and her kids are dead. Their handyman, Carl Mattox, killed them."
"How do you know he did it?" The Chief turned to his deputies, "Harry, take Jim and get over there. Seal the place up and don't let anyone in until the state forensics lab gets there. Put out an order to pick Carl Mattox up for questioning."
"Right," the sergeant said as he wheeled around and ran from the room followed by a deputy.
Swinging back to face the desk, the Chief checked to make sure that the tape recorder was getting the entire conversation down. "Mrs. Holmes, why do you say that Mattox killed them? Did you see him do it?"
"It had to be him!" she wailed. "I saw him over there not an hour ago. No one else came over. He's a drug addict. I told Julie not to trust him." The woman became hysterical again and hung up.
"Goddam it," the Chief shouted and slammed the phone down. "Ruth, send the ambulances, then call Sheriff Crier. Check DMV records for Mattox's address and description of his car. Tom, see if there is a file on Carl Mattox. I'm going over there," he said running from the room. Brookwind was the high-class ritzy area of Willits in Mendocino County. Located 140 miles straight north of San Francisco in the middle of wine country. It is a new residential development created for Bay Area residents wishing to relocate or have a summer home in the mountains. Placed in the small mountains surrounding Willits, it has its own dam and sewer system. The residents of Brookwind formed their own home association and, in essence, their own government. The average income for a Brookwind resident is $300,000 per year and the average house costs $500,000.
The Chief sped through town with his siren blaring. Being a small town of 6,000 people, not counting the Brookwind residents, there was little traffic with which he had to contend. "Damn, roads," he said. The roads through Brookwind were winding and lined with huge Redwoods. At this time of night, the trees cut out the moonlight and made travel down the dark lanes seem like traveling down a long winding cave. Slowing down on the dark, unlit roads and impatient to get to the crime scene, he ran the facts over as he knew them. "I wonder who this Mattox is?" Finally, he arrived at the Holmes' house. Racing into the driveway, he stopped short in front of an aged oak tree whose limbs were waving slowly in the high oceanside breeze. Before he could get out of the car, the Chief was inundated by a throng of people, some press and other just nosy neighbors.
"What's going on Chief?" Bert Hopkins, the Willits' reporter for the Ukiah Tribune asked, "How many were killed?"
"How did you get here so fast, Bert? Been listening to police communications? That's against the law. Who said anyone died?"
"Chief, I just happen to be passing. It's my job to follow all police cars racing hell bent in Brookwind. Why are you here?"
"Just doing my job too." The Chief pushed his way through the crowd and walked toward the house leaving Hopkins behind. The house was an immense sprawling affair in a Gothic style that reminded him of a castle. In fact, a small attractive stream ran across the front yard of the house and a large imposing bridge made of steel, wood and concrete was deliberately constructed to give the impression of a moat. Recalling his early years as a construction worker, he thought, "It would have cheaper to either redirect the stream around the house or put in an underground culvert than to build such a imposing bridge. But it would not have been so esthetically pleasing. Nice work."
"A nice house, huh?"
Stopping abruptly, the Chief swung around and saw Jim Hawser one of his deputies. "Why aren't you next door, Jim?"
"The sarge sent me out here to direct traffic. We're going to need it. The ambulances are waiting in the back to remove the bodies when we're ready. Bill and Joe are next door at the scene guarding it."
"Stay here and keep the crowd back, Jim."
"Right," the deputy said to the Chief's back as he started again for the house.
Entering the house, the Chief was immediately approached by the sergeant in the alcove. "What's the story, Harry?"
With a look of disgust, the sergeant angrily opened his notebook. "Three dead. Julie Wester, age 32, and her two kids
Mandy age five, and Tara age three. Whereabouts of father unknown. We're checking to see if he's dead elsewhere. Burglary doesn't appear to be the motive. The woman may have been raped but probably not. All of the victims were tortured and mutilated. Deaths were caused by a medium caliber gun. Mrs. Holmes is in no condition to question. I have officers placed in the front and rear of the house. No one has entered the house except me. The county is sending its forensic unit and the state forensic team will be here in the morning. We're keeping everything together for them."
"Ok, let's see Mrs. Holmes. I want know why she says Mattox did it." Walking into the house, he stopped when he heard a woman sobbing loudly. "Where is she?" the Chief asked in a low aside.
"In the den, on your right." The sergeant pointed to an ornate solid oak door with large bright brass fixtures.
Stopping at the door, he knocked. "Mrs. Holmes, this is Police Chief Crandall. I must see you."
"Yes, Chief come in." A woman answered in a wavering voice.
Slowly opening the door, the Chief immediately took, with a practiced eye an inventory of the room before entering. "What a nice room," he thought. The den was a huge room with solid oak planking on the walls. In the middle of the opposite wall was a magnificent fireplace with a marble mantle. Carved in the mantle were assorted angels and cherubs surrounded by flowers. Beautiful built in walnut bookcases, with stained glass doors, lined the north wall. The south wall had the largest black walnut desk that he had ever seen. In front of the fireplace were chairs and small serving tables. The floor, in front of the fireplace was a large semicircle of ceramic tile with a designer pattern. The carpet was a deep woolen pile with an earthen tone that matched the wooden decor of the room. A sob drew his attention to the woman almost hidden in an overstuffed chair before the fireplace.
"Chief, I think I can speak with you now." A woman stood and walked to him. Standing about five feet and ten inches, the Chief appraised her at one hundred and twenty-five pounds. Her yellowish blond hair and green eyes complimented her astounding figure which he estimated at 38-23-35 while wondering if it was real. She looked about twenty-five but he also wondered if that was true.
"Please tell me what happened."
The woman sat down on the edge of the chair and leaned forward with her back stiff. "About 10 o'clock, I saw Carl Mattox's car drive into Julie's driveway. I know the time because the news was starting and I was letting the dog in. Our living room window overlooks Julie's driveway. Sometime around 10:30 I heard noises that didn't register then. Now," she sobbed, "I realize it was gun firing."
"Are you sure it was Carl Mattox's car?"
"It had to be. It was the only white car that ever went there. He was their handyman."
"What happened next?"
"I heard their dog, Joker, barking and he wouldn't stop. I called Julie to tell her to stop him. When she didn't answer, I went over and I... I found them. It was horrible. The monster!
Why did he have to do it? Couldn't he just kill them?"
"What do you know of Carl Mattox?"
"I met him only a few times. He was a former drug addict. He admitted it and said he was cured and glad for the job. Julie was like that always giving the less fortunate a helping hand."
"What about her husband?"
"They were separated. I told Julie she was a fool to leave Chad, her husband. They have been separated for six months."
"Why did they separate?"
"Her husband was having an affair. Instead of working it out, she left and took the kids. For the last six months she been trying to date, but it's hard to find a man that wants a ready-made family when you're in your 30's. Chad wanted to reconcile and I think she was ready for it. After six months of fighting off losers, she was beginning to realize what she walked out on."
"How many men do you think she was going out with?"
Indignantly, Audrey flared, "What difference does it make? She wasn't a whore and there's no harm in going on dates. She's dead and I won't drag her name through the mud."
"Mrs. Holmes, it is possible that one of her former lovers was driving a white car and killed her and her family. If we don't find out their names, we might not catch the murderer. So what can you tell me about them."
Reluctantly, Audrey started in a confidential tone, "On the weekends, when Chad took the girls, Julie would get dolled up and go to the local bars. She only let nice looking decent looking men hit on her. If they were nice, she brought them home. After six months, she probably had nine or ten different guys. Julie became very discouraged. Most of the men she dated were either animals or losers. Some, she said, didn't even stay the night. Julie told me that the most she ever saw any of the men was three times."
"What about her husband?"
"Chad is a successful broker and strongly handsome. I always believed that the only reason that he stepped out on Julie was her nagging. Julie was rich from her deceased parents. She was always bringing up how much her father made and comparing Chad to him. I think he was simply looking for some understanding. When she found out about his affair, it was already over. Instead of forgetting it, she threw him out. Chad landed on his feet and started dating eighteen year old models. Julie entered a major depression and gained twenty pounds. Finally, she pulled herself out of it and started therapy. Julie told me that she realized what a fool she had been and was planning to try to get Chad back. She always said that Chad was the best lover she ever had."
"What made her think he would come back? The kids?"
"Partly, Chad wanted a son. Julie had refused to have any more kids. She told me if he would come back, she would agree to give him a son."
"You think he would do it?"
"Chad is the perfect father. He doted on his daughters and plays with my sons. Julie had him by the ba..., I'm sorry my husband always says that and I get carried away. By staying with Julie, Chad would keep his family intact and get a son. Yeah, he'd do it in a second."
"When you went over there what did you see?"
"I went over to the back door because it closest to me. Joker was at back door barking to get into. I knocked on the door calling, "Julie, it's me, Audrey." When I heard nothing I tried the door which was unlocked. We often entered each others home. We used to be like family." She started to cry but with a shudder controlled herself. "Then I saw them in the living room. They were all dead. I ran from the house and threw up in the yard. Sickened, I staggered home and called the police."
"How long have you known the Westers?"
"Four years. They moved in right after we did." They built
their house the same time we did but moved in later. They had another house in the Bay area but Chad felt that he wanted a quieter and safer place to live."
"His job is in San Francisco isn't it?"
"Yes, he had an apartment there and commuted every couple of days. That commute caused Julie to fume. She hated to be alone while Chad was in Frisco. The affair just verified what she felt. I think that is why she tried to get even after they split. She was attractive, but with two kids in her 30's, its hard to compete with pert barbie dolls. That's why she decided to go back to Chad but he would have to give up the apartment and come home every night."
"Were you alone, here?"
"I was here with my two sons. Timothy and Tyler."
"Could they have seen anything?"
"No, they're three years and six months."
"You were alone here, then?"
"Yes, Julie was separated not me. My husband is in New York on business. I don't cheat." In a quiet tone, "Chief Crandall, I would want not my husband to know what I told you. He would not approve of Julie's bar hopping with strange men and would not approve of my associating with her. He is a bit of a prude and old fashioned as demonstrated by how he decorated this room to reflect his taste. I wanted a floral pattern with French Provincial furniture but he insisted on strong sturdy and stable furniture. I love him but he can be such a trial, the dear."
"Where is you husband staying?"
"The Carlton in New York City. You're not going to call him are you? You'll just worry him and he's on a big deal."
"We must verify that he is in New York. We can speak with him when he gets back. In answer to your earlier question, we never disclose the sources of our information. Now Mrs. Holmes, would you mind if I spoke with the sergeant alone?"
"No, I'll go," daubing her eyes with a handkerchief she left the room.
"Harry, did you check on her husband?"
"We can't find Mr. Wester. I told you that."
"No, I mean Mr. Holmes. Is he in New York?"
"I don't know."
"Call the police in New York City and ask if they'll verify that he's at the Carlton. If he did it he wouldn't be able to get back there for another couple of hours."
"They'll do that?"
"Probably not but no harm in asking."
"Ok, I'll get on it."
"I'm going to the scene."
"You won't like it."
"I never do. When I retired from the Sacramento Police, I wanted a nice job. I never thought I would see another murder and certainly not here." As he walked out of the room, he heard the grandmother's clock chime for 12:30 A.M.
The sergeant was calling New York as the front door slammed shut with a solid thud. "N.Y.P.D., this is the Willits Police..."
Outside the Holmes' house, the Chief saw the Westers' house through the tall redwoods that lined their driveway. Trudging over to the Westers' house, he soon realized, "It's farther than I thought because the house is so big." Coming to the house, he saw that it was a large modern three story affair. Pushing his way through the shrubbery, he heard something approach.
"Stay where you are," a voice demanded.
"Its me Matt, Chief Crandall."
"Sorry sir. I couldn't see who you were."
"No need to apologize. You were on the ball. I could have been the murderer. Keep a lookout for snoops. They may disturb evidence while trying to get a look see."
Smiling to himself, he thought, "Was I ever that much an eager beaver? He's a good cop and will get better as he develops his instincts." He then said, "Matt, has any of the crime people showed up? They should be here soon, if they're not here already."
"Yes, the crime people just arrived along with the county Sheriff. They're in there waiting for you."
"Good, I'll go show our flag."
Walking up to the house the county deputy sheriffs waved at
him. Returning their waves, he went in and saw the county Sheriff Jason Crier speaking with the pathologist, Denis Buker. As he approached them, Crier said, "What do you make of this, Tom? You took the call."
The neighbor thinks the handyman, Carl Mattox did it. He is or was a drug addict and drives a white car which may have been the one she saw around 10 o'clock. The whereabouts of the estranged husband is unknown."
"The murders were done around 10:30 does that check with her statement?" Denis asked.
"To a tee. Who got it first?"
"The mother, then the kids who probably came in to see what the noise was all about. Apparently, he beat them all with a poker either before shooting them or right after. I can't tell which."
"How did he get in, Jason?" the Chief asked looking around the room. "I don't see anything out of the ordinary."
"No sign of forced entry," Sheriff Crier answered. "She either left a door unlocked or let the person in. What do you know about the woman?"
Flipping open his notebook, the Chief started, "Married but separated for 6 months. Very active sexually. Possible that a man she picked up killed her. She may have been intending to get back together with husband."
"Sounds strange. She intends to get back together with her husband but is still sleeping around. What kind of husband wants that type, Tom?"
"Apparently, she was sweetening the pot by offering to give him a son if they remarry, I mean get back together, they still are married. Impliedly, there is the threat that if he didn't go back, she would prevent him from seeing his kids."
"A threat like that could be motive for murder. What do we know of the husband?"
Chief Crandall closed the notebook. "He's a broker in
Frisco. Apparently, he's quite well off and doesn't need his
wife's money. We'll check that out, of course. Extremely good looking and sexually active. Therefore, no motive to kill her for denying him sex. A devoted father, therefore, no reason to kill the kids."
A paramedic came over to the Sheriff. "Can we bag the bodies, Sheriff? Are you done with them?"
"Denis, what do you say?" the Sheriff asked.
"We're done here. They can take the bodies. Forensics is searching the house but they're through with the bodies."
"Ok, bag them and take them to the morgue. Keep your mouth shut as to what you see."
"Yes, Sheriff," the paramedic waved to the other paramedics and they started bagging the bodies.
Turning to the Chief, the Sheriff said, "Tom, let's wait in the den for Mattox's record. I want him picked up as soon as possible. He and her husband are our prime suspects. We don't know where Mattox lives. His DMV information is old."
They then walked down the hall to the den. The forensic people were just leaving. "Are you done in that room?" the Chief asked as he eyed the technicians marking numerous plastic bags.
"Yeah, Chief. We found a lot of ordinary stuff. Chances are good that the killer never entered this room. We've dusted for prints. Appears only four sets, the victims' and probably the husband's prints. We'll check when we find him."
A plain clothes officer came up beside them. "We found the husband. He's in Sacramento with his parents. He's on his way back. He'll be here in a couple of hours."
"How did you track him down?" the Sheriff asked.
The technician smiled, "I checked with the phone company and found that a long distance call to Sacramento at 8:30 P.M. was made I compared that number with the private phone list by the kitchen phone. It was number for the husband's parents. I called them and he was there and been there for two days. The victim was to bring the children over for the weekend. The purpose of the call was to confirm the trip. There was a cookout there tonight and several neighbors besides the parents can apparently testify that the husband was there till at least 10:00."
"That clears the husband because if he's there now at 12:30 A.M., he couldn't have been here at 10:30. I've driven to Sacramento and it takes nearly three hours to get there. If he left here at 10:30 he couldn't reasonably be back before 1:30. To get there in two hours is virtually impossible." The Chief stroked his hair. "That rules out the husband. That leaves Mattox."
The Chief and the Sheriff waited in the den for the reports. "This den was decorated by a woman. There are no hints of a man present in the room," the Chief said. Both men knew instinctively, that this represented something wrong with the marriage. Policemen acquire during their years in the field the ability to intuitively understand the relationship of a couple by their furniture. The den or office in the home are usually the man's territory while the other rooms are usually under feminine control. A den or office that has no masculine influence usually translated into a death of the relationship. "It may mean," the Sheriff said, "that the woman no longer cares about the man's taste and his presence in the room, and thus the house, is not expected or appreciated." Sitting before a replica of a Louis XIV desk, the Sheriff said, "This room is definitely for a woman. I would divorce my wife if she ever made my den look like this."
The Chief chuckled, "Maybe this is what caused them to separate. It certainly is effeminate in here. A man that can't control his own den certainly can't control his wife."
The Sheriff said seriously, "It means that she didn't expect him to use this room. That may mean she never intended to get back together. Which makes the children the motive to kill her."
"That doesn't make sense Jason. Killing the wife to get the kids is one thing but then why kill the kids? Besides, we've already decided that he couldn't have done it since he's in Sacramento right now. He couldn't have traveled here, killed them and returned in time to speak with us on the phone."
"He could have hired it done. The killer could have panicked and killed the kids." The Sheriff nodded his head thoughtfully.
"Anything is possible Jason but I don't think so. You're making it too complicated before we exhaust the simplest and most plausible explanations."
A deputy came up to the Sheriff and handed him a file which he scanned. "It looks more and more like Mattox did it. His record is scary." Jason handed the file to Tom. "Look at those arrests. Drug dealing in Arizona, California and Nevada. Rape reduced to assault and battery probably because victim wouldn't testify. Burglary. These stupid bleeding hearts take trash like this into their homes to give them a chance and instead are butchered. When I get him, I'll make sure he doesn't do it again."
"Looks bad for him, Jason. I still don't know why he did it, but it doesn't matter. We'll get him. A statewide dragnet is up. Its only a matter of time. Do you want some more coffee? I'm going to have a new pot made." The Sheriff nodded his head and the Chief shuffled out of the room.
As the Chief reached the door, a deputy running into the room crashed into him. "Sorry Chief, Sheriff we got him."
"Where?" both the Sheriff and Chief said together in a shout. Both men came together to stand before the deputy.
"He was passed out in his car at Bluejay Lane only a few miles from here. A resident saw him passed out and reported him to a passing patrol. They found a gun in his car which is a felony because he can't own a gun. When arrested, he resisted."
"Anyone hurt?" the Chief asked.
"Only him," the deputy chuckled. "Mike and Phil flattened his nose. They waiting for you at the car."
"Let's go Tom," the Sheriff motioned to the Chief to follow him. Together got into the Sheriff's patrol car. Tom drove the car while Jason worked the radio. "This is Sheriff Crier to all units, suspect Carl Mattox in custody all units return to bases. Inform state police to call off all points bulletin. I and Chief Crandall are going to Bluejay Lane to pick up suspect. Over.
They drove in silence for the next 10 minutes. Brookwind was a large sprawling development throughout the mountains. The roads were narrow, winding and unlit. Chief Crandall was tired and sleepy so he drove slower than usual to avoid an accident. Tension was increasing as they got closer. "Well Jason, we'll soon know what is going on."
The sky ahead was lit by the uneven blinking of the colored strobe lights from a deputy sheriff's patrol car. In front of the patrol car was parked a white Mazda sedan. Tom deftly steered and parked his car behind the patrol car. Both men got out of the car and walked forward while bathed in the eerie yellow light of the patrol car. There was an officer in the car that got out upon seeing Jason and Tom approach. "Good work Lassiter. Where's Phil?" the Sheriff asked while scanning the area.
The deputy turned and pointed his flashlight up the road. "He's laying flares on the road for the tow truck. We haven't gone in the trunk. We figured that forensics would not want us mucking about. We called the police tow."
"Good thinking," Tom said. "Come here Jason."
The Sheriff walked over to stand next to the Police Chief. "What's the matter?"
"This is the man we were looking for. We better do this by the book. We don't want him getting off on a technicality."
"No problem there Tom." Looking down, he saw a slight stream of blood on the back seat. Turning to the deputy, "Lassiter, whose blood is this?"
"It's his Sheriff. He resisted and hit me. I hit him back. He had a slight nose bleed that stopped almost immediately."
"Did you read him his rights?"
"No, Sheriff. We never spoke with him or asked him a thing.
We told him to shut up until you got here. We weren't taking a chance of being accused of forcing a confession that taints the arrest. We found a .32 caliber gun with a box of bullets under the seat. I bagged it and have it in the trunk of our car."
"You can be too careful," the Chief mused, "but no harm done. He certainly can't accuse us of tricking a confession from him."
The noise of a heavy truck filled the air. All of the police officers turned and saw a large tow truck. Pulling in front of the white Mazda, it backed up and stopped a few feet in front of the car. A slim young driver got out and came back to speak with them. "Where do you want me to take the car, Sheriff?"
"Take it to the garage. I want it housed inside and kept segregated from everything else. I want it clearly marked and posted off limits. This is important evidence. Be careful to avoid tampering with evidence while towing it."
"Yes sir." The driver walked back to his tow truck and jerked a lever forward. Next to him, the towing boom released a cable
with a hook on it. Crawling under the car, he placed the hook around the car frame and then stood up. Pushing another lever, he retracted the cable and lifted the front wheels off the ground. Getting down on his knees, the driver then placed safety chainsfrom the truck to the car's frame. Rising stiffly, he brushed the knees of his overalls. As the car hung suspended in the air, he said, somewhat apologetically, to the Sheriff, "I'm going to have to tie the steering wheel to the door to keep the wheels straight. That may wipe off some prints."
"Can't be helped. We don't have a flat bed available."
"Also, I'm going to have to have towing lights." The Sheriff pensively nodded as the driver pulled out several towing lights from the back of the truck. Walking to the car he stuck them to the roof using suction cups. When done, he got into the truck and waved, "See you back at base," and drove off.
After watching the tow truck leave, the Sheriff turned to his deputies and said, "Let's go and take him in." The deputies got into their car and left. The Sheriff went over to the Police Chief. "What do you want to do, Tom?" You can come with me or I'll take you back to your car."
"I'll go with you, Jason. I can get my car later. I want to be in on the interrogation, if any."
"Ok, let's go," the Sheriff got behind the wheel and the Chief got in the other side and they left with lights flashing.
Twenty five minutes later, they arrived at the Sheriff's Department. Parking in the space marked, CORONER, they quickly marched through the double full length glass doors. In the halls were numerous reporters from the four local radio stations and the 2 community newspapers. Chief Crandall thought wryly, "Thank God, we don't have a local television station." The annoyed officers were soon surrounded and bombarded with questions.
"Sheriff, do you have the murderer?"
"Who is he? What evidence do you have against the man?"
"Gentlemen, I am not going to jeopardize any case we have by making premature statements. When I can tell something, I will."
"Have you checked the ballistics of the gun you found?" What
else do you have on him besides possessing a gun as a convicted felon? What do you think was the motive?"
The Sheriff was startled, "How did you find out about the
gun?" When he got no answer, he stormed into his office and slammed his door on the throng of reporters after Tom came in."
"Damn, Someone spilled confidential information. It had to be one of the deputies. If I find out who did it, I will suspend him." Smashing his fist on the desk, he yelled, "The bastard may jeopardize our case by tipping our evidence."
"Easy, Jason, Mattox knows what we have. No harm done. We have more than enough to get a conviction. So don't worry. Let's interview him and find out where we stand."
"OK," pushing a button on the intercom he said, "This is Sheriff Crier, I want Mattox taken to the interview room along with a tape recorder and stenographer.
Getting up without a further word, the Sheriff and Police Chief walked out the side door of the office and down a corridor to a room marked INTERVIEW. Entering the room, they sat at a table facing the door. "We'll soon see if he talks," the Sheriff said as the Chief nodded slowly.
In a few minutes, Carl Mattox entered the room in the midst of four guards. Hands handcuffed together with both of his legs connected together by a chain he shuffled into the room. The deputies roughly steered him to the seat in front of the Sheriff. The stenographer then entered carrying both her notepad and a tape recorder.
After the stenographer got settled in a seat, the Sheriff turned on the tape recorder. "The time is 1:15 A.M. August 23. I am about to question Carl Mattox regarding the death of Julie Wester and her children. Before I begin, I must read Mr. Mattox his rights. Mr. Mattox, do you understand that you have the right to an attorney and if you can't afford one will be appointed for you without cost. You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say may and will be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand these rights?" There was no answer, so the Sheriff repeated, "Do you understand these rights?
Mattox looked up in a vacant stare and nodded, "Yes."
"Do you waive these rights?" There was no answer. "Do you waive these rights?"
Mattox dropped his head and rolled it upward in a wide arc. The Sheriff looked on in shock as Mattox said, "Yes."
"Did you kill Julie Wester and her children?" There was no answer by Mattox.
"Did you shoot them in the faces?" Mattox did not respond.
"Did you beat them with a poker before shooting them?" no response by Mattox.
"Were you robbing the Wester home when they surprised you? Is that why you killed them?"
"Where did you get the gun?" Mattox merely rolled his head.
"How did you get into the house? Were you let in the house?
"House," was all Mattox said in a soft detached voice.
"Were you drunk or on drugs?"
Mattox nodded his head with his eyes wide open but said nothing. The questioning went on for several hours. Eventually, Mattox gave a taped confession that concluded with him saying, "I entered the house through an unlocked door for robbery. Surprised by Julie Wester, I killed her. The children came into the room because of the noise and I also killed them." No explanation was given to explain why he smashed their faces. He stated that he was drunk and passed out in the car while trying to escape.
After the confession was recorded, Mattox was charged with three counts of murder, burglary, and a felon carrying a concealed weapon. The gun found in his car was identified as the murder weapon by a ballistics test. Copies of the portion of his tape confession wherein Mattox described the murders were released to the press. Within days, the confession was played throughout the United States. The murders took on political overtones both for gun control and prison reform.
An editorial in the Ukiah Tribune stated,
"The murders were all the more heinous because they occurred in a small rural community. A triple murder in Los Angeles is commonplace but it is an Earth shaking event in an otherwise placid and serene Willits. The savagery of the attacks on the children has made Mattox one of the most despised persons in the America. As a result of the notoriety of the crime all lesser crimes were pushed aside by the news media even, for example, the otherwise newsworthy disappearance of a nine year old boy, Roger Hamlin on that very same night..."
Two days after the arrest, the arraignment of Carl Mattox was held in the Willits Division of the Municipal Court for the Mt. Sanhedrin Judicial District of Mendocino County. Judge Herbert Kline was one of two Municipal Court Judges in that Court. Recently appointed to the bench by the governor, he had spent many years as a criminal defense attorney. A past president of the Mendocino Central Committee and staunch Republican, he soon created a reputation for law and order and harsh sentences.
The bailiff stood up at his desk in corner of the court room across from the defense table. "All stand and come to order, the court of Judge Herbert Kline for the Mt. Sanhendrin Judicial District is now in session."
Judge Kline entered the courtroom while everyone was standing. Trying to pay no attention to the large audience in the gallery behind the behind the rails, he stamped his gavel on the wood block before him, "Be seated." Looking to his far left, his stomach momentary tightened as he saw two T.V. cameras pointed at him. He hated T.V. cameras because they always added 20 pounds to his appearance and accentuated his wrinkles and receding hairline.
The Judge recalled his wife asking him to ban cameras in his courtroom. "Or at least," she said sweetly, "order them not to film you head on. Your right profile is the best. After all you are the Judge."
After silently clearing his throat, the Judge announced in a strong, clear baritone, "Now is the time and place for the arraignment of Carl Mattox in the case People vs. Carl Mattox case number W 76238. Is the prosecution ready?"
A thin wiry man with a short thick mustache stood up at the prosecution table. "George Glip for the People, your honor,
we are ready to proceed."
"Mr. Mattox, do you have an attorney?" The Judge turned to face the defendant.
Mattox was sitting with several other prisoners in the jury box. Guards were stationed at both ends of the jury box. Mattox stood up with difficulty. Both of his hands were chained to his side with a waist chain. Additional chains ran from the waist to his legs to restrict his motion. "No, your honor."
"Do you want an attorney?"
"Yes, you honor."
"Can you afford an attorney?"
"No your honor."
"Very well, I'll order the Public Defender to represent you. You understand Mr. Mattox that you will have to complete a financial declaration to verify your inability to pay for an attorney. If it later turns out you had the ability to pay for the attorney, the county may seek reimbursement from you."
"Yes, your honor."
"Very well, the arraignment is continued one week for you to get an attorney."
After the morning arraignments, Judge Kline called a recess and went to his office. The Judicial Secretary, Beth Hallis, was placing various orders on his desk for his signature. As Kline entered the office, Beth stood up and said, "The P.D.'s office said they have a conflict with the Mattox case. They are handling a case where they'll have to call Mattox as a hostile witness."
"Ok, then we'll use the court appointed list for private attorneys. How many are on it?"
"We have 50 attorneys on it. Four in Willits and the rest, primarily in Ukiah."
"Let's use the local attorneys first. The Ukiah attorneys
usually get all the work," Judge Kline said as he picked up a
file. "Call them up and find someone to handle the case."
"What about Lynn Driskell? She practices civil law. Is this a case for her?" Beth asked while looking at the list.
"She's probably one of the best overall attorney in the county. I remember that she argued a DWI before me, when I filled in for Judge Cramer in Lake County last December, and was quite good. I particularly remember that she made novel constitutional arguments regarding whether the prosecution must prove, through a transcript, that a defendant waived all his rights before a prior plea of guilty could be used for an enhancement. I ruled against her but it appears that Federal Courts are leaning in that direction. In that case, the D.A. played games with discovery thinking that they would roll over her. Instead, she documented everything and demanded the charges be dismissed because of failure to provide discovery. The D.A. was caught flatfooted. I didn't think much of way they handled the case over there. They absolutely disregarded my discovery orders. I told the D.A. to work the case out, which they did. Driskell got the DWI charge reduced to a reckless and no prior allegation."
"That's nice but is that the same as a murder case? After all she still is a civil attorney."
"Don't malign civil attorneys, they are some of the best attorneys. You have to do the same work to win a civil trial as you do a criminal trial. The law of evidence and trial procedure is the same. The criminal attorney only has to know the Penal and Evidence Codes. That's only about 15 volumes out of the 118 volumes of the California Annotated Codes. The civil attorney must know the same Evidence Code and most of the Penal Codes to advise his client but he also must know the remaining 103 volumes of California Codes that are civil not criminal in nature. I worked for the D.A.'s office for 12 years before going into private practice. I went to the D.A.'s office right out of law school. During all the years that I was with them, I never drafted a civil complaint. It wasn't until I entered private practice that I had to do civil work. It was then that I acquired a deep appreciation for civil attorneys and the depth of their legal knowledge. I don't think anyone should be a Judge without some civil experience. On that issue, I disagree with the governor's policy of just appointing criminal attorneys judges. The governor is ignoring, in my opinion, the best attorneys in the state."
"Do you think Driskell could handle this case. That is the question? If she can't, then any conviction will be overturned for incompetency of counsel."
Kline laughed, "Judge Taylor would be the first to testify that Driskell is not incompetent. Confidentially, Taylor really screwed up a civil case dealing with the value of stock that company was repurchasing in an involuntary corporate dissolution action. He ordered stock worth over $100,000 to be turned over to the other parties for nothing. Driskell appealed and got him reversed. When her client tried to dismiss and keep his stock, Taylor wouldn't let him. So, she had him reversed again. I doubt," he chuckled, "the Appellate Court would find her incompetent."
"Okay, I'll call around." Beth took the list and walked from the room.
Twenty minutes later, Beth entered the office. Walking up to the Judge's desk, she started, "None of the criminal attorneys on the list want the appointment. In fact, George Blare told me that he wasn't interested because he didn't want the bad publicity of representing such a client."
"Right, I understand. This is a court appointed case as such they won't much money from it, fifty dollars per hour with a $10,000.00 maximum. Yet, if they become perceived as a hired gun representing such despicable monsters, as Mattox, no one will hire them privately. I've seen it happen . Who else is on the list?"
"On the Willits list, just Driskell. I haven't called the attorneys on the Ukiah list."
"Give me her number. I'll call her." She handed him the list. Putting the list before him, he dialed Driskell's phone number while reading the number.
The phone rang three times before it was answered, "Law Office." A female voice answered in a firm but pleasant tone.
"This is Judge Kline. Is Ms. Driskell in please?"
"Speaking your honor. What's up?"
"Would you be interested in representing Carl Mattox in his murder trial? The P.D. can't do it and we're going down the appointment list."
There was a momentary silence on the line then, "Yes, your honor I'll do it. I'll explain my credentials to Mattox. If he wants me, I'll do it."
"Good, I'll prepare the order, goodbye," hanging up he turned to look up at Beth.
"I'll run off the order. Do you think the D.A. will object to the appointment?"
"Why should she? This case is a career maker. Properly handled, she might use this as a stepping stone to the legislature. The woman is the most ambitious person I ever met. Only an idiot could lose this case no matter who tries it."
"Aren't you a little prejudiced," Beth smiled.
Shaking his head. "It doesn't matter. I'm not trying the case. I'm just doing the arraignment and conducting the preliminary hearing. After the prelim, Mattox will be bound over for trial in the Superior Court and my involvement ends at that point. With the evidence they have against him, Mattox's conviction is virtually certain. The only issue, as I see it, is whether or not he is insane so as to avoid a death sentence."
The phone rang at the desk of Kristin Morgan. She reached over and answered it without lifting her head from a brief that she was reading. "Hello," she said in a soft melodic voice.
"Kristin, this is your uncle Richard. I want to meet you for lunch at the Carrison Club. There are several people that I want you to meet and discuss your political future."
The call got her immediate attention. She sat bolt straight on the edge of her chair. "Yes, uncle. I'll be there at noon. It's now 11:00. I'll be there, bye." Standing up, she grabbed her purse and left her office.
Turning she entered the Women's Rest Room and placed her purse on the sink's table top. Reaching into the purse, she withdrew her brush and perfume. Daubing perfume behind her ears, she then brushed her hair. "That should do it," she said to herself. Standing back from the mirror, she appraised her appearance. An unbiased eye would have seen a beautiful woman standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 120 pounds. Long wavy blond hair framed her thin oval face with high cheek bones. Green eyes, a short upturned nose and full sensuous lips completed the picture. She was wearing a light blue business suit with contrast trimmed lapels and cuffs. The suit had a double breasted jacket with 3/4-sleeves oversized buttons and patch pockets. The skirt started just below the knee and was a darker blue with short back slit. Her purse was the same color as her skirt and her shoes were the same color as the jacket with the toes of the shoes being in a flower pattern and in the same color as the skirt. "That's the best I can do for the Carrison Club." With that, she swung the strap of her purse over her shoulder and left the rest room.
A large grandfather clock, in the lobby, was striking 12 o'clock as Kristin entered the Carrison Club, the most exclusive club in Northern California. Membership was only open to the most powerful politicians and the richest people of the state. Gliding through the opulent lobby with the demeanor of one accustomed to these surroundings, she moved with the lithe grace of a cat. No noise was made from her high heels as she crossed the floor. Several men, in the lobby stopped to watch her as she moved across their field of vision. "Uncle Richard, really likes this club."
Kristin stopped in front of the large wooden bar that was the desk for the club. A distinguished man stood up from the chair behind the desk. Impeccably dressed in a three piece blue pin stripe suit, he asked, "May I help you Miss?"
"Yes, I have an appointment with Senator Richard Morgan for lunch. I am his niece Kristin Morgan."
"One minute please." The man walked around the corner of the desk and picked up a private in-house phone. Dialing a four digit code, he waited while standing perfectly still. After a few moments he said, "There is a young lady here who says she is Kristin Morgan, the Senator's niece. Yes, sir." Hanging up the phone, he returned to Kristin. "The Senator is in the Wilson Room. Miss Morgan, take the elevator around the corner up to the fifth floor and follow the signs."
"Thank you." Kristin walked to the elevator. While waiting, she scanned the lobby. As an art major in college, she appreciated original works of art, both statues and paintings that decorated the lobby. "The art work in this building would shame most museums," she said approvingly. "This really is an exclusive club no wonder Uncle Richard belongs." When the elevator arrived, she remarked, "This is a gorgeous elevator." It had plush red carpeting, a wide brass bench for sitting and was paneled with rich cherry wood. After pushing the button for the fifth floor, she primly and a bit nervously sat down on the bench. "I wonder what Uncle wants?" The car moved upward without the slightest jerk. Only a slight tug on the stomach signified that she was moving. The door opened silently, she got up and took a deep breath before leaving. Walking to a large ornate double doored room, she firmly rapped on a large brass knocker. While waiting impatiently, she looked down the hall. The huge door had opened so quietly that when she turned back she was surprised by a man standing before her.
"I'm Kristin Morgan. I'm looking for Senator Morgan."
From behind the door, a familiar voice said, "Come in Krissy, I'm back here."
Kristin walked in past the man at the door and saw her uncle and two men sitting at the table. For a moment she was stunned. The men were her boss, the California Attorney General and the head of the California Democratic Party. Steadying herself, she walked to her uncle who stood up. Kissing him on the cheek, she said, "How are you uncle? Mother said you weren't feeling well."
"I had a cold a few days ago but I'm over it. You know your boss, the Attorney General and this is Evan Clip, the head of the state's democratic party. We've been discussing you."
"You have?" she said tentatively.
"Yes," said Evan. "you can do the party a great deal of good if you get elected. We want to run you for the new congressional seat that is being created in Northern California."
Kristin was shocked. "I can't get elected. I have no political experience. No one knows me."
Her uncle laughed, "Krissy, every person in America knows you. You're a Morgan. You are related to a past vice-president, a U.S. Senators, me, one representative in Congress and two in the Vermont legislature. When you announce your candidacy, they'll embrace you, Northern California is liberal. As a Morgan and as an attractive intelligent woman, all you have to do is get some credibility and the election is yours."
"I don't know if I'm ready," she said thoughtfully.
"Kriss, this is what the family has been working towards for you. That is why we urged you to come to California. Vermont has too many of us in public life. Any more and there will be a public backlash at the polls. That's why we had you come to California where we arranged your job with the Attorney General's Office. Now you are ready for the next step."
"What exactly is that next step?"
Evan asked, "Have you followed the Mattox murders?"
"Yes, who hasn't? It's all over the news."
"Exactly, that's why we want you to prosecute the case. A conviction will prove you are a tough no nonsense woman. It is a popular case and will establish your credentials." Evan smiled while appraising her.
"I have never had a trial, civil or criminal. I am an appellate attorney. I argue the law after the case has been tried and won by someone else."
"You have the same experience as the last woman appointed to the California Supreme Court. Justice Mary Ferguson also had no trial experience but it didn't stop her appointment. Like you, she was just a research and appellate attorney until appointed to the Superior Court and from there the appellate court and finally to the Supreme Court," the attorney general said while pouring himself a cup of coffee from the ornate coffee urn on the table.
"What about jurisdiction? The D.A. is the proper person to try the case." Kristin asked while sitting down at the table.
Evan replied, "That's not a problem. The D.A. in Mendocino County is a woman that is highly ambitious. She'll officially ask that the Attorney General assist in the prosecution."
"Then, I as the Attorney General," Clip said with a wave of his hand, "will assign the case to you." Kristin spun to face the Attorney General who was smiling.
"Why would the D.A. simply give away such a good case? She could do it herself and get the glory. It doesn't make sense." Kristin picked up a piece of toast and buttered it. "I didn't eat lunch and I'm starving."
"I'll have a menu sent up," her uncle said.
"No time. I have to be in the Appellate Court for a routine motion at 1:00. Let's continue."
"Right," Evan started. "Kristin, the D.A., Margaret Hancock, is a big wheel in a very small county. Mendocino County only has 80,000 people. She's in a dead end job and has gone as far as she can. The party is considering running her for the Assembly. But if she doesn't help us, the party, sure as hell, isn't going to help her and she knows this. Its in your interest and as well as hers that we do it this way."
Her uncle interjected, "Everyone wins. You become a congresswoman. She becomes an Assemblywoman. The party gets two new representatives. The Attorney General gets credit for the wisdom in assigning you to this very important case. The Morgan family acquires more clout."
"What if I lose the case? That can happen, can't it?"
"No way," laughed the Attorney General. "We have a witness putting him on the scene. He is a career criminal with a pattern of violence. He had the murder weapon on him and as a convicted felon, he shouldn't have had one. Finally, when caught, he resisted arrest a sign of guilt. In addition, he has an attorney with no criminal experience."
"Can't they claim incompetency of counsel when we get the conviction?" Kristin asked.
Uncle Richard responded, "Of course, but with this evidence it won't matter. A conviction is assured. Our only concern is that he gets Mattox declared insane and thus limits our victory. We want the death penalty. It will make you the woman to watch in California. A tough woman willing to fight for justice can write her own ticket here. Any appeal after you win won't matter because you'll be elected to Congress before it is heard."
"You won't be doing this alone," Evan said. "The D.A.'s office will assign you all the assistants and support staff that you'll need. In fact all trial preparation will be done by experienced attorneys. All you will have to do is ask the questions that they prepare."
The Attorney General added, "If that's not enough, then I will assign senior prosecutors to assist you. I don't want you to lose this case either."
Sitting back in the chair, she smiled and said, "I'll do it. Mother will be so happy. She'd love to have me in Congress. It's too bad, Daddy died last year. It would have been wonderful to work with him in the House."
Evan declared, "Your father, Derek Morgan, was one of the greatest Representatives ever to serve in the Congress. He spent 30 years in the Congress. Your cousin, William, is doing a good job filling his shoes. It's only right that his daughter also be given the chance to serve.
Standing up, Kristin brushed a tear from her eye and said, "Good bye gentlemen. I'm ready to go." She then left the room.
After accepting the appointment to the Mattox case, Lynn got up from her desk and went to the small oak veneer book case and picked out a book entitled, Criminal Procedure. As she began to review it, he muttered, "It has been several years since I did any major criminal work. When I started as an attorney five years ago with Belden, Frye and Whistler, I assisted in several major felony cases. Since then, I've tried several major civil trials but not major felonies." She returned to her seat.
Both nervous and restless, she stood up and walked over to the mirror on the far wall. Taking silent appraisal, she thought, "Thank God, I'm the health nut." With deliberate attention to detail she noted her shape and vital statistics, 5 feet 7 inches, 115 pounds, measurements 37-20-36. "I've got to constantly jog, swim or do aerobics. Otherwise, with my genetics, I would balloon up to the size of a house. Damn, I envy those women that eat like horses and not have it show. I've fought the diet wars all my life and can barely keep even." With a smile her green eyes appeared to twinkle as she lightly ran her fingers through her full, wavy yellow hair. That night she was wearing her favorite blue and black linen weave business suit. Her blouse was a subdued red satin with blue edging on around the collar and cuffs. After taking a deep breath, she said, "Well back to work," and returned to the desk.
Opening the law book, she sat back in the chair and said, "The only reason that I took this case was that I need the money." She moved to Mendocino County, two and a half years ago because her husband had gotten a training position with the health department as an environmental health officer. "We both," she sighed, "knew that because of the small population here, I would not have a very viable practice." Pausing she sneered, "In fact for the last 2 years, "I've only earned less than $25,000 per year."
After several hours of reading about criminal procedure, Lynn stood up and stretched her arms over her head. "Time to go." As she walked over to the coat rack, the phone rang. "Law Office," she intoned while putting on her cost with her free arm.
"Honey, it's me Luke. Are you coming over tonight? Do you have anything planned?"
"Luke, I have a lot planned." There was a slight emphasis in her sultry voice. "There's a party at the Carters' tonight. We can attend and then go to my place."
"Well," Luke said tentatively. "We'll see when you get here. When are you leaving?"
"Right now, I be at Jeffie's soon."
"Okay, see you soon, hon." Luke hurriedly hung up, which was his habit, and which always annoyed Lynn.
Lynn went down to her car and headed to the Highway 101. Turning south, she drove four miles in a lazy manner to the Talmadge Street exit. Jeffie's Restaurant's parking lot was across from the exit ramp. Driving straight into the parking lot, she steered the car in a space marked compact. Jeffie's was a family style restaurant and part of a large nation wide chain. Not fancy or elegant, it was clean, spacious and served good food. Luke had recently purchased the franchise and was striving to build it up.
Entering the restaurant, Lynn stopped and looked around the potted fern at the entrance for Luke. "Where's he at?" she said to herself inwardly aware that she was attracting attention. Then in the corner, she saw him leading a middle-aged couple to their table and signaling Bobbi, the waitress, to come and take their order. While watching Luke, Lynn broke into a wide grin as she eyed him with approval. "Oh, that tie has to go," she thought as he turned towards her. "That tan from the beach last week looks good on him," she murmured.
Seeing Lynn, Luke squared his broad shoulders and straightened his large frame and hurried over while saying, "Hi, Honey. Are we going anywhere?"
"Some of the bar are having a dinner party tonight. I think we'll drop in."
"Do we have to? Those affairs are death warmed over," Luke pretended to frown and Lynn almost laughed as she looked up into his green eyes.
"We'll stay only a little bit, then we'll go to my place, OK?"
"OK," Luke said in mock resignation. As Lynn turned, he patted her on her backside.
"Watch it," she turned and hissed. Luke merely stared with an innocent smile on his face.
They got in the car and drove a few blocks to State Street. There they turned left and drove, in a lazy manner, southward for two miles. Finally, they stopped in front of a large, ranch style home that had cars overflowing the driveway and into the street. "A large crowd," Lynn said while parking the car on a dirt strip before the house. "Watch out for the mud, we're in a puddle."
Carefully trying to avoid mud, they picked their way to the door Just as Luke was about to knock, Lynn said, "Wait, your hair is a mess." Standing on her tip toes, she brushed his blond hair in place with her fingers. "That tie is atrocious." she sighed as she straightened it. "That's the best I can do, you're hopeless."
"Oh, I think you'll do better than that tonight," he said while pulling her close for a kiss.
Blushing, Lynn pushed him back and gave a quick rap on the door knocker. Their knock was answered by a woman in her mid 40's. "Why it's Lynn and Luke. We just about gave up on you. You're both in time for drinks before dinner." The woman was well groomed and seemed poured into an expensive dress. Although middle-aged, she was trying terribly to look younger. Just 5 feet 7 inches, she looked taller in her high heels. A strapless gown of gold lame was cut low to show off the curve of her full breasts. Blond hair, cut in a modern wedge style, was the same color as her dress.
Lynn recalled the catty remark she once overheard, a mousy brunette whisper to another, "Michelle, can finally wear a decent dress with the right curves. Her breast job really filled her out, she was so uneven before. Although, I think she may have overdone it. While she did need to fill out she didn't need to look like a balloon in the Macy's day parade. She must be a 42 D, at least." Michelle was standing sideways so as to give a good profile.
Luke while eyeing Michelle thought, "They are definitely industrial sized breasts but they work for me."
"Let me take your coats. I'll put them in the hall closet, the woman said while reaching for them.
"Michelle, is Howard still playing bartender?, Luke asked as he kissed her on the cheek. Thinking of her breasts made him a little more intent with the kiss than normally.
Michelle was a little surprised by the force of Luke's kiss. Somewhat nervous, she turned to Lynn. "He's better at mixing metaphors in court than drinks in a bar. This drink is terrible. To be safe mix your own, but don't say I warned you." Turning, she disappeared in the throng of people sweeping the room.
From behind Luke came a voice, "Hi, Lynn, Luke. I'm glad you could come. These bar parties are a real bore. You'll know just how much when you get married and then get out into the circuit. What do you want to drink?"
Both Luke and Lynn turned together. Luke replied, "Hi, Howard. I'm not drinking. I've got to leave early. Lynn do want anything?" Taking her by the hand, he gently pulled her forward as if he were a collector showing the most prized item in a collection.
"No thanks, Howard, I'll just mingle with the guests." Lynn then turned to scan the room.
Howard then moved closer to Lynn and said in a confidential and conspiratorial tone, "Watch out for Boxler and Quid. They are up to something. Why did you take the Mattox case? I rejected it when they offered it to us at the P.D.'s office. Its a thankless job. You're defending someone that everyone knows is guilty. You're perceived as a legal prostitute without integrity. I think you made a bad decision to take the case. I know several attorneys rejected it before you took it. To defend him properly, you are going to have to attack the sheriff's office and how it handled the case.
All you will do is make enemies in a case that we all know you will lose. That evidence is so strong in this case, the jury will probably not even deliberate. These cases are a D.A.'s dream."
"What can Boxler and Quid do? They aren't affected by the Mattox case."
"You've been around enough to know they represent the political forces, primarily Democratic, in this county. They virtually own the D.A. For some reason, they've taken an interest in the outcome of your case. Before my office refused it, they tried to pump me for information as to how we would approach it."
"Thanks for the warning, Howard. I'll keep on my guard. Anything happening in the P.D.'s office that I should know about."
"Nothing particularly new. In Mendocino County, hardly anything ever happens. We have the normal misdemeanors but few felonies. The occasional DWI and the infrequent burglary. Our biggest felony is, as you know, drug dealing or possession. The Mattox triple murder is the biggest crime to face this county since 1911, when we had our last triple murder. This case is going to viewed under a magnifying glass. It won't be treated the same as if it happened in L.A. where they get triple murders every other week. If you can, you should drop the case."
"I appreciate the advice but having taken the case, I must see it through. If I back out now, no one will ever trust me again. So no matter what, I'm going to handle the case. Excuse me, I have to say hello to some people."
"Howard," Luke asked softly, " you seem a little off key. Is anything wrong?"
"I don't know, Luke. I need to speak with someone. I like my job but Michelle isn't happy. She's been moody ever since she had that damn breast job. I don't know."
"The breast job looks alright to me. She fills that dress."
"She has so much silicon in those breasts, they don't feel like her anymore. On top of that, she's having PMS and it drives me batty. I can look but I can't touch." Taking a deep drink, Howard looked over his shoulder to Lynn and said softly, "Lynn reminds me of Michelle at her age. If she doesn't come around, I'm going to get someone to fill her void permanently not temporarily as with Alice." Howard had been getting louder as he spoke a sign that the alcohol was taking effect. Suddenly straightening himself and with exaggerated propriety, he walked out of the room.
Meanwhile, Lynn had been cornered by Michelle in the alcove.
"Are you enjoying yourself, Lynn?" Michelle was looking her over as if appraising her for a butcher.
"Yes, fine." Feeling a bit apprehensive at the one of Michelle's voice, Lynn eyed her warily.
Taking a drink from the glass in her hand, Michelle with a slight slur asked, "How old are you 27, 28? When I was 28, I had two kids and a third coming any minute. I had to fight to keep Howard off. Now, we barely speak. Men only want young women."
"Luke's not like that," Lynn said sheepishly while avoiding Michelle's eyes.
"Oh no? What about when he introduced you to Howard? I saw how he took you hand and presented you to him. It was as if he said, 'This is my broad what do you have?'" Michelle's voice was fluctuating up and down unevenly. She began to sway on her heels.
"You're drunk, Michelle. Go sleep it off it before you make a spectacle of yourself."
"You may think the world is great now but what happens when you're older and don't have your looks," Michelle said angrily.
"Well, I won't need a huge breast job to get Luke to notice me," she snapped and then angrily walked away.
Luke was standing alone in the middle of the room when Lynn found him. Seeing her, he said, "Let's go, everybody is drunk and the mood is nasty."
"Yeah, honey, this is a strange party. I just have to talk to those three guys over there for a minute and then we can go."
"OK, but hurry up."
Steering Luke to a group of three men deeply engaged in discussion, Lynn heard some one say, "The court owes a duty to the taxpayers to use alternative sentencing whenever possible to reduce jail overcrowding and reduce the need to build new jails.
"I'll agree with that," interjected Lynn. "Hi, Matthew, Darrell." Nodding their greetings, she shook their hands. Turning to Luke, she said, "Matthew Boxler and Darrell Quid here are on the board of the bar association. We worked together when developing a lawyers' referral services committee." Scanning them, she saw that they were in their late fifties. Left unsaid was the fact that the bar association had assumed the position of prime importance in each of their lives.
Boxler continued speaking. "As I was saying, mine is one of the founding families of Mendocino and we should handle the jail problems as they did back then."
Quid laughed, "The old braggart lives to talk about himself, his family and the bar association in that order."
As Lynn grabbed a taco from a tray on the table, she heard Boxler's cheery bragging, "My family built and donated the first jail in the county. Our family fortune was made in the timber business at a time before the State regulated the cutting of redwood trees. Naturally, we built it out of redwood.
Turning, Lynn looked closely at the man. As a fat, short, balding man given to ill-timed and off the cuff remarks, he was often ridiculed as a big mouthed clod. Nevertheless, she knew that he wielded a great deal of political influence in the county. She nodded sympathetically, when Boxler said, "I retired after the death of my wife from cancer and since then have thrown myself into improving the bar.
Darrell cleared his throat and Luke noticed for the first time that he was both similar and dissimilar to Boxler in both appearance and demeanor.
As if in response to Luke's observation, Darrell interjected good-naturedly, "Like Matthew, I too, as you can see, am a short, fat balding and a successful real estate developer." With a loud chortle, he took a sip of his drink. "Of course, there the similarity ends. I did not inherit money and made my fortune myself. My wife is alive and the queen bee of Mendocino society."
Boxler then came forward and said, "It just occurred to me that I haven't introduced everyone. That's unforgivably rude. Let me start with this distinguished man at my side." Pointing to the man next to Quid, "Kevin Harter, this is Lynn Driskell and Luke Elbet. Lynn is the attorney that will be handling the Mattox case."
"Luke is a new arrival to Ukiah and the owner of the Jeffie franchise in town. You've been here for three years and in another ten years, you may might become a native," Darrell laughed.
A bit irked by Darrell's comment, Luke said, "I've been here long enough to build a dying franchise into the best in county. This might be a small county but the days of it being closed to new ideas or business is over."
Mathew interjected, "Kevin, is the investigative reporter for the new crime show Crime Time. He's here to cover the Mattox case." Turning to Harter, "Are you also here to cover the Hamlin disappearance, Kevin?"
"Not at this time," Harter said tentatively. "Soon we will be doing a segment on missing children and will include the Hamlin case if its still open at that time. Mattox is the current news of the moment. The Hamlin case is not ready for national exposure. He hasn't been missing long enough and there isn't any evidence of foul play which would sensationalize his disappearance."
Harter appeared to be about 35 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches, about 180 pounds, with short styled, brown hair and brown eyes. Intriguing to Lynn was his ready and disarming smile.
"That's an interesting pocket watch."
"Yes, Lynn. It was my grandfather's. It's 60 years old." Taking the watch from his vest pocket he showed it to her.
It is a beautiful Waltham watch. The case is made of platinum."
"You don't see many men nowadays wearing pocket watches because few men wear vests nowadays. I never like them," Matthew slurred while pouring himself a large bourbon from a portable bar.
Slightly annoyed at Boxler, interruption, Harter continued, "In my profession, it is an excellent choice of apparel. It allows the investigative reporter to take off his coat and therefore appear somewhat casual and non-threatening and yet at the same time maintain the image of a professional journalist. The latest fad of wearing suspenders in public is not for me."
"Are you a native of Mendocino County, Lynn?" Harter asked.
"No, I've been here for about three years. My exhusband and myself moved here so he could complete his training as an environmental health officer. We agreed that after he was registered, we would move to Sacramento. However, we ended up getting a divorce." What she did not say was that after her husband became registered he was offered a job in Idaho. Since she was not licensed to practice law in Idaho, Lynn did not wish to move there. With a note of bitterness and regret, she thought, "As a result of his insistence on moving to Idaho, we got a divorce, sold our small house in Willits and split the proceeds. Since we had no children, the divorce was very amicable and as painless as possible."
"How is a law practice in a small town?" Harter asked.
Luke recalled the layout of her office as he stood there. In one room, she had her desk file cabinet, bookcase, computer and laser jet printer. In the other room was kept an oval table and several chairs for meeting with clients and taking depositions. There wasn't enough business to need a secretary. An answering machine was used to collect messages, when she was out.
"I have quite an efficient operation, here," Lynn said aloud with pride as she looked around the room. "I make a fair living."
"We are a small county," Darrell piped, "Therefore, Kevin, we have to be efficient in order to survive. An attorney here has to be able to handle any and all legal problems. We must be specialists in everything," Quid cheerfully gulped down his drink.
Lynn then spoke over the rising din in the room. "I hope that you can find what you need Kevin. However, this is nothing more than your typical murder. I haven't spoken with my client yet. I was just appointed today. Still, I don't see the interest on a national scale to this case."
"You're wrong there, Lynn. This case is interesting. A convicted felon killing a family with a gun in a small peaceful community. That raises the issue of gun control and its effectiveness. The savagery of the attack points out how unsafe we all are even in our own homes and even in small rural areas. The public will want to see that Mattox is punished. There's even money that you will plead insanity or diminished capacity. It will be interesting to see how those defenses play out. Murder in a big city is common, in a small town it's major news."
"I haven't spoken with my client. Therefore, I do not know what my trial strategy. I will bear in mind though how the betting goes. Who knows, I might bet a few dollars myself," Lynn laughed.
"Honey, it's getting late. We should go," Luke said from behind Lynn as he put his left hand on her right shoulder.
Turning to acknowledge Luke, she looked at her watch, "We're going to have to go. I have an early meeting with the Planning Department regarding a client's proposed subdivision." Turning, she continued, "Its been interesting meeting you Kevin. Bye Matthew, Darrell. I don't see Howard or Michele, tell them goodbye for us." With a wave, Lynn and Luke turned together and left.
"How did you like the party?" Lynn asked as they walked.
"It was a bust. I also don't appreciate being ignored at parties. These were your friends not mine." Luke hurled the words at her unexpectedly.
"You're blowing this all out of proportion. It was a bad party that's all. Don't make it more than it was." As they reached the car, she sighed lowly, "I think there's something wrong with our relationship. We don't communicate like we used to do."
Taking a deep breath, Luke said while slowly shaking his head, "Lynn, there times when I don't understand you."
"Men," she barked as she flung the door of the car open.
"Women," Luke said while hoping that settled the matter.
"I think Michele and Howard are having problems. She was drinking heavily and dropping hints."
"I know," Luke agreed. "She and her husband are almost strangers. I don't know why they stay together with so little in common. Howard is having an affair with a court paralegal.
"Just how do you know that?" she said snidely.
"I caught them kissing office in the law library. It was embarrassing to me. Howard took me aside and explained although I didn't want to hear any details. Howard told me that they have an open marriage and lead their own separate lives. It looks like everyone is content to let things go as they are. For all I know she has a lover on the side as well."
"No, if she did she would not have had that breast job. She did it to keep Howard. I feel sorry for her."
"I don't know, Lynn. Everyone must do the best they can to get through life," Luke said quietly.
Lynn moved close said in a low soft murmur, "It's getting late. I can make us a nice dinner at my place."
Turning over in the bed, Luke awoke. The sun was streaming through the window and striking fully upon his face. Holding his hand over his eyes, he squinted to shield them from the sun. He did not wish to get up yet, however the sunlight in his eyes made staying in bed annoying. Slowly sitting up in bed, he swung his legs over on the floor and reached for the robe on the chair across from him all in one movement. Looking about the room, he wondered where Lynn has gone. Seeing her dress hanging over the arm of the chair, he yelled, "Hon, where are you?"
"I'm in the living room, honey."
Laying back on the bed, he looked up at the ceiling and admired the filigree work in the plaster. Lynn had purchased the house two months before and was in the process or remodeling it. It was an old Victorian that had lapsed into decades of disrepair. In the fifties, an owner had attempted to modernize it and installed dropped ceilings while boarding over beautiful stained glass transoms. Smiling, he thought, "Lynn was delighted to find the stained glass in the transoms when I removed the boards." Walking to the door, he looked up with appreciation at the fine and intricate detail in the stained glass.
Looking around the room, Luke saw the effects of Lynn's remodeling efforts. She had not been able to get a large enough loan to pay for all the work that had to be done. As such, only the most pressing work was being done first and the rest would be obviously have to be done later when she could afford it.
Located on five acres, the house was ten miles south of Ukiah on Highway 101 on a small round hill and surrounded by majestic redwoods. When Lynn first showed the property to Luke, she told him, "Because of its dilapidated condition, I was able to buy the house for just the value of the land. I'm going to keep the house as close to the original as possible with some concessions made to convenience." A wall between two small rooms had been removed to make a large master bedroom. However, the bedroom was unfinished needing plaster and paint.
Standing up and stretching, he felt stiff and awkward as he lumbered to the kitchen. A strong craving for caffeine hit him. "I've been trying to cut down my coffee intake but its been hopeless." Stumbling towards the kitchen, he heard Lynn exercising along with an aerobics exercise program on the T.V.
In the kitchen, he swung open an old painted cabinet while looking at the new cabinet, to be installed, standing in the corner. After grabbing a big mug, he filled it with coffee. Over the counter partition, he watched Lynn, in the living room, doing her morning exercises in time with a woman dressed in a floral exercise suit. "That instructor is built almost as well as Lynn,"
he thought. They were bending in positions that he thought were impossible. Lynn was wearing a skin tight striped exercise suit. "Man, she's something," he murmured while gulping his coffee.
Walking up behind Lynn, he heard the woman on the TV say, "Come on ladies this is good to firm up those problem areas we all have. Stretch till feel it and keep your back straight."
Lynn groaned softly as she stretched and closed her eyes. Luke slid up behind her and casually swatted her buttocks that was pointed high in the air. Letting out an immediate high pitched girlish squeal, she rolled over on her back. "Honey, that wasn't nice! I want to finish the show!"
"You're going have to cut it short. I have to get to Jeffie's early. So, you take a shower while I fix the breakfast.
"You can use the guest bathroom and I'll take a bath in mine. I'll make some ham and eggs first."
"I t hink I'll take oatmeal instead." Coming over to Lynn and gently stroking her side with his finger tips, he said, "Kiddo, looking the way do maybe we should skip breakfast and ..."
"Not if you're going to be on time," smirking she ducked under his arm and went to the kitchen.
Placing his coffee mug on the table, he walked towards the bathroom. As he passed Lynn, he pinched the cheeks of her buttocks and she squealed. "Stop it," she squealed. "I mean it."
"Forget my breakfast. I'll eat at Jeffie's."
"In that case, I'll skip it too." Replacing the eggs, she went into her bathroom.
Not liking showers, Lynn had installed a large bathtub although she had the shower accessory. As the water in the tub was running, she went to see Luke. Poking her head in Lynn saw him sharpening a straight edge razor on a honing block. In a shocked tone, she asked, "You're not going to use that razor? It's dangerous. Where did you get it?"
"Last year mother gave me this antique straight edge razor as a conversation piece. To her surprise and dismay, I liked it. From that point on, she's been expecting me to cut my throat. I brought it over last night." Making lather from a bar of shaving soap, he
put it on his face.
"I don't blame her. It's stupid to use a straight edge," Lynn said warily while watching him start to shave. "Why do you make lather rather than buy it in a can? It's easier."
"I like making my own lather. It smells better, is foamier and works better than that from a can."
Returning to her bathroom, her bath water was drawn and she settled herself slowly into the tub. Laying back into the tub, the warm water covered her chest and she began to gently doze. Suddenly brought to full consciousness by the ringing of the telephone she leaned forward hitting her knee against the side of the tub. A phone was in the bathroom on the wall behind the toilet. Reaching for the phone, Lynn murmured, slowly, "Hello,"
"Lynn, is that you? This is Neil Farnum."
"This is me, Neil. What's up?" The warm water in the tub was soothing and comfortable so she splashed cold water on herself to wake up quickly.
"If this is a bad time, I'm sorry. I want to know if we could see you this morning. The board has several meetings planned this morning and wants to get an early start," the tone of Farnum's voice made Lynn uneasy.
"I can be there in about 2 hours, Neil. Is there anything wrong? Is there a problem?"
"Yes, we have a big a problem. We just heard that you are representing that murderer Carl Mattox. Lynn, our company is a family oriented business that makes kitchen supplies for the family. Having our outside attorney representing the murderer of an entire family is publicity we can't afford. The economy is bad enough without us antagonizing our customers. We want you to reconsider representing Mattox. We can throw more business your way, if its a matter of money."
"I appreciate your offer. But I can't resign before I start. Besides, I don't think that your customers will hold it against you if represent a man accused of a crime. That's what attorneys are for, to provide legal protection for everyone."
"You are naive, if you believe that. Since, you won't resign, then we have no choice but to replace you as our outside attorney. We won't need that appointment this morning. Goodbye, Lynn." The line went silent and Lynn slammed the receiver into its cradle.
Angrily grabbing a bar of soap, she began to roughly scour herself and barely noticed that she was rubbing her skin red with the wash rag and soap. Abruptly, she finished and dried herself with the large bath towel on the rod next to the tub. Furious, she reached for the hair dryer and used the highest temperature on it. It dried her hair quickly but made it unmanageable. Lynn cried, "Damn" when the hair wouldn't stay put.
As Luke left the bathroom, he felt a sharp swat on his rear. Turning he saw Lynn who was laughing. "Don't turn that fast, you could injure yourself."
"Very funny," smiling he reached over to grab her.
"A man is really vulnerable after coming from the bathtub," Lynn giggled as she swatted Lynn across the legs. "That got your attention, as mama says."
Leaping across the distance between them, he grabbed Lynn's shoulders and they fell together into the bed. Tenderly, he began to run his hands along Lynn's body, as she lay there giggling. Suddenly, she threw Luke off her and jumped from the bed saying, "No dessert until after breakfast. It's ready in the kitchen. So if you have to go early to the office you better get started."
"Forget the breakfast, Come here," Luke said getting up from the bed.
"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day," Lynn said coyly while rolling her shoulders with her hands behind her back. As he neared her, she pretended to run away. Luke grabbed her and again they fell onto the bed. This time Lynn did not get up.
A hour and half later, Lynn was dropping Luke at Jeffie's. As they pulled into the driveway, she mumbled, "I'll pick you up for dinner at six." After stopping the car, Lynn slid over on the seat to kiss Luke goodbye. Luke held her tight and squeezed her breast.
Pushing him back forcefully, she said indignantly, "Honey, do you ever get enough? Not here. Behave yourself, I will not be pawed whenever you want a feel.
"Ok, Lynn if you don't want to be touched. I won't do it," Luke retorted in exasperation.
"Well, I didn't say that." She slid close to him. "I just don't want it done where anyone can see." Seeing no one around, she took his hands and laid them on her breasts. "Their mine, not silicon like Michelle's."
"Lynn, I'm meeting the cement contractor in twenty minutes. Don't tempt me. I'll see you for tonight." Pulling her to him for a kiss, he ran his fingers along her breasts and squeezed them.
Hearing a barely audible moan from her, he smiled and pulled back slowly. As he got out of the car he asked, "How about lunch?"
"Not today, I have to prepare for the Mattox arraignment. It will take all day."
"Okay, it's just as well. I'll probably be tied up all day with the architect and contractors. We're getting behind schedule and I want to get caught up." Luke closed the car door and then walked spryly towards his car. Every muscle in his body moved lithely and Lynn just sat and watched him. There was not an ounce of unnecessary fat on him and he glided just like a cat.
Looking at her watch, at Luke and then back to her watch, "Damn, I'm definitely going be back at 6."Swinging the car out of the driveway she headed down the street.
When Lynn pulled into the parking lot of her office, she saw a van with the logo of television station KMLG painted on the side. KMLG was an independent station located in Santa Rosa and carried as Cable 13 on the Diamond Cable Service. "I wonder what they
want?" Carefully parking several spaces down from the van, she got out and reached into the back seat to retrieve her suit coat.
"Ms. Driskell, I'm Annette Frome from KMLG. I would like to interview you regarding the Mattox case."
Straightening up, Lynn looked down on a thin woman with a perm hairdo and wearing a light gray coatdress with a modified shawl collar. The coatdress had covered buttons and shoulder pads to conceal that the woman had very narrow shoulders. Lynn thought, "On T.V., she looks 20 pounds heavier and built to stop a freight train. In person, she looks anorexic."
"Ms. Driskell, may I have the interview?"
Lynn's attention was once again catapulted to the woman.
"I'm afraid that isn't quite possible. Any interview that I give would be construed as an attempt to influence potential jurors. I would be in violation of several canons of professional responsibility and jeopardizing my client's right to a fairtrial. For that reason, I must respectfully decline out of an abundance of caution on my part." Turning, she started towards her office.
"How do you feel about the District Attorney calling in a special prosecutor from the Attorney General's Office?" she rapidly fired the words at Lynn's back.
Immediately, Lynn realized that she had been set up to appear as though she was slinking away. To combat the negative effect this would have on her client, she had to say something. Swinging around with a dignified smile on her face she said, "Are you sure of your information, Miss Frome? That is entirely news to me. I always thought the District Attorney's Office eminently qualified to handle a case like this. If the District Attorney feels that special assistance is needed to afford proper presentation of the people's case, I certainly have no objection. After all, the primarily function of a trial is to get to the truth not just to get a conviction."
"Are you concerned that they are ganging up on your client?"
"It makes no difference how many attorneys sit at the D.A.'s table. Only one can speak at a time. Besides, under California's discovery law, the defendant is given all relevant information and exculpatory information. So it makes no difference to any defendant who prosecutes the action. You must excuse me, I have to prepare a case for trial." With a smile she turned and walked to the building with her head high.
The cameraman came over to the Frome, "You didn't get much. Just the same highbrowed rhetoric all defense attorneys spew out when they know they're going to lose."
"I don't know Maggie. I feel they're underestimating Driskell. She's not going to fall to pieces or be bullied by out of town muscle. You saw how she recovered from my surprise question. That's class. The woman has style. I remember when I did that to the D.A., she became so flustered that she could hardly speak."
With a short laugh, the man added, "She's got more than style. Annie, if you didn't notice she's gorgeous. She's not like any attorney I ever saw."
"What's to notice? Height 5 feet 7 or 8 inches, Weight 115, Eyes Green, Hair Auburn, Well-built, Beautiful, Intelligent, Erudite, Steady, Calm, Self-possessed, Well-dressed just the girl next door," she chuckled while writing something in her notebook.
"Where do you live? I want to move. What are you writing. Annie? Personal questions such as where she gets her clothes, perhaps?"
"Funny, this is a note to the tape editor. I want him to show my bestprofile with Driskell. My agent said that being on T.V. with intelligent and influential people increases my credibility with the audience and especially advertisers. Let's go, I want to hit that toxic spill in Cloverdale."
Opening her office, Lynn was stunned to see a person sitting
in one of the two chairs before her desk. An elderly man of about 65 years of age stood up with the use of a cane. "Ms. Driskell, I apologize for waiting in your office for you but I didn't know where else to wait for you."
"That's ok. Have a seat and tell me why you're here." The man slumped again into the chair and let out a low wheeze as he shifted in the chair.
"Ms. Driskell, I am Ambrose Wester, Chad's father." The man was on the verge of tears but contained himself with great difficulty. "I came here to tell you that my son was with me and my husband when Julie and my grandchildren were killed. I know that you will have to verify my son's whereabouts." Taking a piece of paper from his pocket, he placed it on the desk. "On that paper are the names and addresses of the people that were with my son, me and my husband while the murders were happening. I'm giving it to you in the hope you won't try to blame my son for the murders."
"Mr. Wester, I will be getting the list of witnesses of your son's whereabouts from the D.A., I will compare your list with
them and verify Chad's whereabouts. If it was impossible for him to personally commit the murder, then he has nothing to worry or be concerned about."
Angrily, the old man stood up shaking in rage, he yelled at the top of his voice, "If not, you're going to hound my son, even though you have the confessed murderer. You are the worse kind of human being. You know the truthbut are ignoring it just to make a buck. You'd let a murderer of innocent children escape just to win a case. You're worse than Mattox. He just killed their bodies, you will kill my son's, my husband's and my soul. I never wished a man harm before but I wish that you someday suffer as you causing my son to suffer." Wheeling around, Mr. Wester shuffled out of the office while Lynn looked on from her seat in a stunned and dumbfounded amazement.
For several minutes after Mr. Wester left, Lynn sat unmoving at her desk.Trying to deliberately not think or dwell upon Mr. Wester's words, she slowly got a hold of her emotions and began to force herself into activity. Picking up the phone, she pulled over the phone book and looked up the number for the county jail. Finding it, she quickly dialed the number.
"Mendocino Jail," a woman's voice answered.
"This is Lynn Driskell, the attorney for Carl Mattox. When will he be available for an interview."
"Breakfast will be over in 20 minutes and lunch starts
from 11:30 to 1:30. Dinner starts..."
That's ok. I'll be there in 30 minutes to see Mattox."
"Ok, I'll pass that along. He'll be kept at the interview cell. Do you know how to check in?"
"Yes, no problem."
"Okay, bye, Ms. Driskell."
Half an hour later, Lynn entered into the County Jail. The County Jail was a squat five story facility. Entering the jail was an assault on the senses. All the walls and ceilings, even in the cells were painted an industrial glossy green. The air had a distinct smell of disinfectant even in the lobby. The chairs in the waiting area had plastic seats and backs on narrow chrome frames. The legs of the chairs had been so abused over the years that they were rusted.
Behind a bullet proof partition sat several guards. Walking over to the partition, she announced, "I'm Lynn Driskell, Carl Mattox's attorney."
A fat guard put both of his hands on the desk before him and pushed himself to his feet. Then widely swinging his legs before him, he wattled over to the partition. "Please put some I.D. and your bar card in the tray." Pulling a handle, by the window, the guard extended a metal drawer from the wall.
Lynn opened her wallet and took out her driver's license and bar card. Dropping them into the drawer, they disappeared as the drawer receded into the wall. The guard retrieved the license and
bar card. After comparing the picture of the license to Lynn, he wrote on a name tag numbered 135, "ATTORNEY DRISKELL". Looking up, he said, "I'll buzz you through. Go through the metal detector." A loud shrilling buzz filled the air. Lynn opened a solid metal door and entered a narrow aisle. At the end of the aisle was a metal detector and two armed guards. Behind them was another metal door. Walking up to the gurads, she emptied her purse and placed her wallet, pen and pencil set in a plastic dish and laid her notebook down. Then, she walked through the metal detector. Once through the metal detector, she turned back and retrieve her goods. While repacking her purse, one of the guards turned to face a video camera mounted over the door and said, "OK, let her in." Another loud buzz filled the air as Lynn entered the next room.
In the next room, a young, fat female guard gave Lynn her tag which the guard in the reception room prepared. As she clipped the tag to her coat lapel, the guard ordered, "Follow me." Without a word, she fell in behind the guard as she threaded her way through the maze of cells. Abruptly, turning a corner, they stopped before an elevator. Looking up at a camera, she waved her hands and the door opened. Getting into the elevator, she said, "Five." Without pushing a button, the door closed and they rode silently to the fifth floor.
On the fifth floor, an older male guard met them. "Follow me, he said and turned. Lynn followed him as the woman guard walked in the other direction. Through another maze of cells, and cleaning wagons, Lynn was led to a room marked, "INTERVIEW."
Entering the room, she saw her client, for the first time. Mattox was sitting at a table with his hands cuffed to his sides and his feet were bound together with two feet of chain. The guard said, "I'll look in through the window in the door to keep an eye on him." Lynn merely nodded.
As the guard left, Lynn got her first good look at her client - chunky, about two hundred and twenty, medium height, about five feet ten inches, tattoos of snakes on both arms. A black man, with light brown skin and long straight hair probably, she noted, a mulatto. Dirty, oily and smelly, that was him. Standing, she looked squarely into his eyes and said, "I'm your attorney, Lynn Driskell. In case we're bugged, I want you write down your answers."
"Woman, I'm dead and youse knows it," Mattox screamed. "I does nothin but they'll goin kill me."
"They found the murder gun in your car. Is it yours? Don't answer, write." She slid him the notebook with a pen.
Mattox struggled with his handcuffs but scrawled, "Yes."
"I don't know. The last time, I used it was target practicing at their target in the back. Three weeks ago."
"Anybody see you?"
"Theyse all did. It was a party and they all started shooting at the target. Ise was workin doin some garding, when I joined in the shoot. Ise don't get much chance to shoot."
"Why did you have a gun?"
Looking up, Mattox said, "I need one for protection. Someone always after your things."
"You are a felon. Didn't you know you can't own a gun?"
"My attorney in Arizona told me that once I did my time, I could own a gun again. Its unfair that I could own a gun in Arizona and not California."
"I think you misunderstood your attorney. Federal law makes it a crime for a felon to own a gun. California has the same law. So you don't know how your gun, if it was the murder weapon, was used to commit the killings?"
"No, Ise don't"
"What is your education? How much schooling did you have?"
"Ise went to the 3rd grade. Then theyse said I need special schoolin but I never goes."
"Why were you on Bluejay Lane?"
"I don't know. Last I member, I was raking leaves and got drink of lemonade that Missa Westler left on back table for me."
"Have you ever blacked out before? Write it."
"No," he wrote.
"When and what was the last drugs you took? Write."
"Last week, crack."
"Ever take LSD or PCP?"
"Why did you confess?"
"I don't member doin it. I saw it on T.V., but it weren't me. I did not kill those babies. It weren't me. I has gun, I used drugs but I not kill babies. You tell em, please." Mattox screamed. "I didn't kill anybody. I didn't." The guard rushed into the room.
"Sit down Mattox. You ok?" the guard asked Lynn warily
"Yeah, I'm done." Picking up the notebook, she said to Mattox
"Behave yourself in here. The last thing we need is to have you on report as a disruptive person. Do you understand?"
"Yeah, I be good."
Another guard came in and tapped Mattox on the shoulder. Mattox got up and was led away. "You got trouble with that one." the guard stated. "Follow me to the elevator." The trek out of the jail was the reverse of the entrance. At the reception area, she received her bar card and license back and left the jail.
Outside the jail, she stopped after coming upon a small commotion. A strikingly attractive woman was posing for the cameras. For a moment, she considered waiting to find out what was happening but then decided against it. "I don't have time to be gawker. I've got work to do." Starting again for her car, she was jostled aside by several reporters seeking to interview the woman. Vaguely interested in knowing who she was, she was again tempted to stay. "But I have a lot of work to do, going over this case, as such as it is," so she turned and left.
The drive from the County Jail to Willits was on a concrete snake 25 miles long named Highway 101. The freeway repeatedly grew and shrank from 2 to 4 lanes and from 4 to 2 lanes. Throughout the drive, Lynn was reviewing her case and Mattox's interview in her mind. The result was troubling. "What do I have?" speaking to herself. "I have a drug addict with the murder weapon, in the vicinity, driving a car with same color as the murderer's and he resisted arrest."
Laughing sarcastically, "My defense is that my client doesn't remember killing a woman and two children Thank God, I'm not expected to win. If I won this case, I would probably be lynched."
Entering Willits, Lynn slowed the car down to 45mph. Most of the drive through the town is unimpressive. As a former timber town, Willits still maintained the commercial and working class appearance of a mill town. The main drag was lined with ancient trailer and mobile home parks. The few brick buildings along the main street were the remnants of the 1957 earthquake that destroyed nearly every downtown structure. Driving nearly completely through the town, she abruptly veered the car upward on a winding coil known as Sherwood Road.
Sherwood was the main road of the Brookwind Association, the affluent portion of Willits. The residents of Brookwind were immigrants mainly from the Bay Area. They did not socialize with the native Willitans and instead created their own separate world as much as possible. Riding the curve of the snaking road, Lynn drove past the golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts and riding stables. At the big Y in the road, she scanned the street sign. "Which way now?" she muttered. Pointing to the left, on the sign, an arrow read Locust Road and to right an arrow read Clubhouse. Steering the car to the left, she piloted the car through the redwood tree shaded road.
Horses were galloping through padlocks and fields in front of
huge palatial estates. "Damn, what a nice place to live."
Eventually, she came to a stop before a huge driveway framed with a stone archway and a handcrafted, remote controlled iron gate. Embedded in the wall was an intercom. As she opened the car door to get out and use the intercom, the gate opened. Puzzled, she scanned the area and saw no one. Then, the sound of an approaching vehicle reached her ears. A squeal of tires followed, as a new Porshe came roared down a driveway concealed under an ivy canopy. It stopped just inches from her car. "Damn, that was close."
A nervous and flustered woman leaped out of her car. "What are you doing blocking my driveway?" she screamed.
"Mrs. Holmes? I was about to use the intercom when the gate opened and you came out from under that trellis. I would never have expected traffic from under a covered trellis. The driveway goes straight to the house."
"This is not a trellis it is the covered driveway to our garage. Guests drive to the parking lot at the house. We take our cars to the garage under our ivy lane." Sharply she said, "Who are you and what do you want? How do you know me?"
"I'm Lynn Driskell. I represent Carl Mattox. I would like to ask you some questions regarding the case." She reached into her car, pulled out her briefcase and opened it. In it was just a pen and notebook, which she took out. Without her noticing, she flipped a switch that activated a concealed tape recorder.
"I don't have to speak with you. The District Attorney told
me not to speak with you and there's nothing you can do about it." "Mrs. Holmes, I just want to get first hand what you told the Sheriff's office. I simply wish to better understand the case. Are you saying that the D.A. told you not to speak with me?"
"Yes, she said that whatever I have to say you can get from her. So don't bother me or I'll call the police and accuse you of witness tampering."
"Very well Mrs. Holmes. However, I will interview you on the stand and then you will answer my questions. It would have been better to do it in a quiet and peace of you own home." Throwing her notebook in the briefcase, she shut and then tossed it into the car. Then getting in the car, she backed up and Mrs. Holmes pulled out like a shot and the gate started to slowly close behind her. Before the gate closed entirely, Lynn gunned her car through the gate and headed to the house. "She'll regret not talking with me."
The driveway went was as straight as an arrow and divided the lawn into two large and equal spaces and ended in a large parking lot lined in statues and trees. Parking the car near a nude cherub, Lynn got out and walked to the house on a ceramic brick walkway. As she reached the door, it was flung open and a young Mexican woman dressed in a maid suit said, "Yes, who do you wish to see? How did you get in?"
"I came up the driveway where I met Mrs. Holmes. Is Mr. Holmes in please. I am Lynn Driskell an attorney."
"One moment please." The maid closed the door. For several minutes, Lynn stood there was impatiently stared and analyzed the large flower beds surrounding the house. As she did so, she did not notice the door opening.
"Ms. Driskell, I'm Clayton Homles. I apologize for the delay. I was gardening in the back. It's my only hobby and I sometimes lose track of time." The man standing in the doorway wore dignity, stability and grace the way other people wear tennis shoes. In his late fifties, he was still a vital, lively and friendly person.
"Mr. Holmes, I represent Carl Mattox. He is accused of the Wester killings. It's uncomfortable but I must interview potential witnesses for analyze the case."
"There's not a lot to analyze. He was there, had the gun and even resisted arrest. Still, I'll answer any questions that can."
"What do you know of the Westers' marriage?"
"I know that they were separated. It happened about 6 months ago. Julie told me, after they separated, that Chad, her husband, had an affair with an unknown woman and she threw him out."
"Did she name the woman?"
"No, she did not. Audrey wanted to know also. You know how gossipy wommen are but I wouldn't ask."
"Why did she speak to you? Were you that close?"
"Not really. I guess I was safe. I'm old enough to be her father. Also, she was extremely depressed and needed someone with whom to speak. She really didn't say much."
"Was you wife with you at the time?"
"No, she had our son, Tyler, about that time and was suffering post partum depression. Most of the time she was in bed zonked on medication. We hired babysitters to care for the children."
"Sounds bad, my sister had a hard time after birth also."
"It was. She was the same way when our first son, Timothy,
was born. For that reason, we decided not to have another child but it didn't work out that way. Although, I'm glad it did, Tyler is a joy for us."
"Did you know Carl Mattox?"
"Yes, I met him a few times. He seemed a seedy character but I never saw anything strange."
"Did you ever see him with a gun?"
"Once about a month or so ago, at a party of the Westers'. They had a cookout and we were invited. In their backyard, they have a private gun and archery range. After a few rounds, drinks, we started target shooting. Mattox was there doing something and came over to give me some hints. I'm a terrible shot. Audrey is an expert, her father was a marine instructor and taught her to shoot when five. Anyway, Mattox went to his car, got his gun out and started shooting it to give me pointers."
"Who else saw where he kept the gun?"
"Everyone, me, Audrey and the Westers. Are you thinking someone took the gun, did the killings and returned it? That's ridiculous. I think our discussion is over."
"For the record, where were you when the murders happened?"
"New York, Carlton hotel. The police verified it. Now please go." Mr. Holmes turned and walked backed into the house and slammed the door behind him.
Turning on her heels, Lynn walked back to her car while taking of her coat. At the car, she threw her coat in the back seat and drove down to the gate. Glancing towards her right, she saw the garage and the ivy covered driveway leading to the gate. As the car approached the gate, it opened. "Nice," she said, "There must be an automatic switch somewhere." Driving through the gate without stopping, she headed home.
It took forty minutes to drive from Willits to her home. Pulling into her driveway, she saw Luke's Subaru in the drive. Parking next to his car, she got out while grabbing her briefcase and coat. With a coat over one arm and the briefcase in the other, she walked up the sidewalk to the house. Opening the door, the fragrant aroma of spaghetti sauce floated in the air. "Smells good," she cheerfully said as her mouth watered.
Luke stood up from behind the kitchen counter and was wearing apron that had "Chef" printed on it. "Hi, honey. I'll be done in 15 minutes. How was work?"
"Not great. My client is a classic for the prosecution." Putting her coat and briefcase on the table, she strolled over to the T.V. and turned it on and then walked back to the bedroom.
While she was in the bedroom, Luke called, "Kitten, your case is on T.V. Come on in."
Running into the living room, she caught a woman voice saying, "...we hope for a fast trial and quick execution. The people are asking for the death penalty. This case definitely merits it." The woman speaking was the same one she saw giving the interview at the jail.
The camera then focused on Annette Frome from KMLG. "I spoke with Lynn Driskell who refused to comment on the trial citing fear of pre-trial publicity. Miss Morgan the special prosecutor has no such fear. She is the niece of Senator Richard Morgan from Vermont. Her father was Representative Thomas, "Hack" Morgan the former Speaker of the House. Her's is the one of the most prominent political family in America. The Morgan family is like the Kennedys, the Shrivers, the Rockefellow, the Adams and Roosevelt family. Their family tree has two Vice-Presidents in it. Some feel that this case may be the springboard to a career in politics. If so, she will get quite a lot of exposure in this case. The crime has attracted nationwide interest."
"Gee, did you know she was going to prosecute the case?" Luke asked in an uncertain tone.
"No, it's news to me. I saw her speaking at the jail but I didn't know who she was."
"This makes it tougher for you, as if I need any more trouble with this case."
"Why do you say that Luke? Why is it harder, if she's the prosecutor?"
"Honey, she's gorgeous. The jury going to look at her and then at Mattox, who is as ugly as sin and convict him on general principles."
"Very funny," she poked Luke in the side. "She's not that good looking. She's fat."
"That's the T.V.. Believe me there's not an ounce of wasted fat on the body."
"And just how do you know?" Lynn quizzedly asked.
"I'm a man. We're born with the innate ability to judge those things," he laughed as he pulled her to him.
"Oh," she said coyly, "What does your intuition tell you about me?"
"That they're real," He kissed her and got spaghetti sauce on the back of her blouse as he hugged her.
Pulling back from him, she took a short gasp and patted her hair. "You've got sauce on my shirt. I've got to rinse it so the stain won't set." As she started to take off her blouse, Luke reached for her again. Laughing, she pushed him back and said, "My blouse."
"I'll get you another." While kissing her, he steered her into the bedroom.
"Your honor, we, the People, will show that the defendant, Carl Mattox, murdered Julie Wester and her two children. We will show that the gun found in the possession of the defendant inflicted the fatal wounds on all three murder victims. We will show that the defendant was in the vicinity of the murders when they were committed and that he forcibly resisted arrest. We will also show that the defendant is a convicted felon that was in possession of a gun in violation of California law. After which, your honor, we will ask that the defendant be bound over to the Superior Court for trial.
Judge Kline looked down at the young woman and patronizingly said, "There is no need for an opening argument, Miss Morgan. This is just a preliminary hearing. The only purpose of this hearing is to determine whether a crime may have been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed that crime."
"I am aware of that your honor. I was merely trying to keep the Court advised as to what we intend to prove and how we intend to do it."
"Very well," Judge Kline testily ordered, "Put on your proof. Call your first witness."
"I call Audrey Holmes." Mrs. Holmes got up from her seat in the gallery and walked forward. Before she reached the stand, the court clerk stood and administered the oath to her.
"Mrs. Holmes did you know the deceased Julie Wester and her children during their lives?"
"Yes," she answered visibly nervous and shaken.
"When was the last time you them alive."
"The night they were killed. I saw them at about 10:00. They had a cookout earlier. I live next door. So, I was invited."
"Did you see the defendant that night?"
"No," she replied cautiously. "I did see his car go up their drive around 10:30. I didn't see it leave. Later, when their dog,
Joker, didn't stop barking, I went over and found ....them." She started to sob and took several unconfortable minutes to compose herself.
"No further questions, cross-examine," Morgan stated.
Lynn arose and approached the witness. "You did not see the defendant driving the car. Is that your testimony?"
"Yes, it is."
"Do you know for sure if the the defendant did the killing?"
"Objection, calls for the conclusion of the witness."
"Objection sustained. Counselor, the jury is the trier of fact not the witness," the Judge admonished.
"I'm aware of that your honor. However, this is a preliminary hearing. In order to bind my client over, the prosecution must
show through competent evidence that my client might have been there. The witness's testimony is that she never saw the driver.
As such, the driver might not have been the defendant."
"I know what your trying to do, but your question as framed is improper. Ask another," the Judge responded.
"Mrs. Holmes, do you know who was driving the car that you saw go up the Westers' drive?"
"Objection asked and answered."
"Objection overruled. The question is relevant. Answer the question Mrs. Holmes," the Judge stated smoothly.
"No, I don't know who was driving the car."
"How far is your house from the Westers' driveway?"
"About 50 feet," Mrs. Holmes snapped.
"Aren't there trees between both the Westers' driveway and your house?" Lynn asked calmly.
"Yes," Mrs. Holmes replied warily.
"Isn't there a thick high band of shrubbery between the driveway and your house."
"Yes," Mrs. Holmes answered lowly.
"How did you recognize the defendant's car?"
"I saw it before, many times."
"Is it distinctive in any way. Can you describe it?"
"Its white. Its ..." nervously she groped for words. "I would know it when I saw it."
"Objection, to this line of questioning. Counsel is badgering the witness."
"Objection overruled. I do think however that we have covered this issue to death."
"Not yet, your honor, I wish to show the witness several pictures taken of cars and I wish to see if she can identify the defendant's vehicle."
"Objection, relevancy and foundation."
"Your honor, the witness just testified that she would know the defendant's car when she sees it."
"Objection overruled, Miss Morgan, counsel is testing recollection and perception."
Striding forward, Lynn handed Mrs. Holmes four photographs taken on the Wester driveway as they would appear from the Holmes porch.
"These pictures were taken from my porch how did you do that?" she asked astoundedly.
"That's not important. Can you identify the defendant's car?" Lynn replied sternly.
"Yes, it's this one." she declared.
"Please give it to the clerk." Looking up at the Judge, she said, "Your honor, I want that marked Defense Exhibit A. I also want the court to note that the car chosen is not the defendant's car."
"What?" Miss Morgan yelled. "Which one is his car?"
"None," Lynn said calmly.
"Your honor, this is a cheap trick to tamper with evidence. I demand sanctions. I I..." The prosecutor was screeching in rage.
"Easy Miss Morgan." Staring at Lynn, Judge Kline sternly said, "Why shouldn't I find you in contempt."
"What for? I never said that the defendant's car was in the group of pictures. I proved my point. The witness was so intent on finding the defendant's car, she identified the wrong car. She assumed his car was there and therefore identified it. In fact, her picture now identifies a white Honda as the car she saw."
"That's trickery." Morgan screamed.
"No just standard investigatory police work that was not done in this case."
"Enough, direct your comments to the Court. I will not have counsel engaging in tirades in this court. I don't appreciate your tactics, but they do show possible unreliability of the witness. Continue. Ms. Driskell."
"Mrs. Holmes, you did not see the white car return down the Westers' driveway, did you?"
"No," she said ruefully.
"Then is it possible that as the white car left another car could have gone up and come down without you also not seeing it?"
"Objection, improper hypothetical."
"Your honor, there is no other way to phrase the hypothetical question. If the white car went down without being seen, why couldn't another car have gone up?"
"Your point is well taken, answer the question Mrs. Holmes."
"Yes, it is possible that another car could have gone up and down the driveway without my seeing it."
"No further questions."
"Any redirect Miss Morgan?"
"No, your honor."
"Your excused Mrs. Holmes. Please step down." Judge Kline stated and motioned to the witness with his hand.
"For my next witness, I call Dr. Denis Buker."
"I'll stipulate to Dr. Buker's qualifications subject to the right of cross-examination," Lynn declared in an off-handed and apparent unconcerned manner.
"Very well, please be swore in Dr. Buker." As he raised his right hand, Dr. Buker was sworn and took the witness stand.
"Did you visit 49873 Locust Ave., Willits California in the Brookwind development on August 23 of this year?"
"What did you find?"
"In the living room, we found the bodies of a young woman about 32 years of age and two girls, Mandy Wester about 5 and Tara Wester 3 years of age. The first stages of decomposition had not started to set in. I estimated that the deaths had occurred within the previous three hours."
"Did you perform autopsies on the bodies?"
"And what did you find?"
"All of the them had been killed by gunfire. All of the victims were shot in the face at least once. The bullet holes were in the face and chest. The courses of the bullets were basically parallel.
"Were all of the bullets retrieved?"
"Yes, they were all recovered from the victims' bodies."
"These bullets were, in your opinion, the cause of death?"
"Yes, each of the bullets could have caused a fatal wound."
"Was there anything else of consequence about the bodies."
"Yes, the girls' faces were smashed by a poker from the fireplace. I can not tell if the girls' were killed by the bullets or the beatings which would have been fatal in themselves."
"No further questions."
Lynn arose and walked to the witness. Looking directly at the witness, she calmly asked, "Did you find anything in your autopsy that showed that the defendant fired the fatal shots."
"No, I have no way of knowing who fired the shots."
"No further questions."
"Any redirect Miss Morgan?" Judge Kline asked.
"No, your honor. I call Victor Lincoln as my next witness."
Lincoln came forward and with a confident smile took the stand after being sworn.
"Your name is Victor Lincoln. Are you employed by this county as a ballistics expert and scientific examiner?"
"Yes, that is correct."
"Are you acquainted Dr. Denis Buker, the witness who just testified?" She pointed to Dr. Buker in the gallery.
"I have known him for years."
"Did you see him on or about the 23 of August?"
"Did you speak with Dr. Buker on that date?"
"Did Dr. Buker give you any objects on that date?"
"He did. I was given three test tubes. In each test tube were two bullets. A label on each test tube identified the body from which the bullets were taken. Dr. Buker etched a letter on the base of each bullet to identify the bullet hole and body from which he extracted it."
"Did you later make a comparison of those bullets with
any bullets fired from any other gun?"
"What weapon was that?"
"A .32 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver with a 4 inch barrel."
"Do you have that gun?"
"I do. I gave it to the bailiff when I entered today."
"Will the bailiff please produce the gun?"
The bailiff came forward carrying a box. Having been handed the box, Miss Morgan turned and gave it to the witness.
"Are you sure this is the weapon, you examined?"
Turning the gun over in his hand, "257849, yes it has the same serial number."
"I ask that this be marked for identification," Miss Morgan said in triumph.
"It will be marked People's Exhibit 1," Judge Kline stated.
"What did you do with the bullets Dr. Buker gave you?"
"Except for the times I compared them with the bullets I
fired from this gun, they remained in the test tubes Dr. Buker gave to me."
"Did the bullets ever leave your possession?"
"No, Madam. They were in my possession from the time Dr. Buker gave them to me until I gave them to you. I knew that the chain of possession is important. I made sure that there was no way that the bullets could be tampered, accidentally lost or
"I ask that the test tube marked Julie Wester be marked for identification as People's Exhibit 2, test tube for Mandy Wester, the 5 year old girl, Exhibit 3 and the test tube for Tara Wester, the 3 year old girl, as Exhibit 4." Miss Morgan asked.
"After comparing the bullets from the gun you test fired with the ones given to you by Dr. Buker, what did you find?"
"All of the bullets were fired from that gun."
"Isn't there a chance for a mistake on your part?" she asked.
"No way. I have photographs made through a comparison microscope which shows the bullets superimposed one upon the other and the lines of striation. These photographs clearly show that striation pattern on the bullets are identical."
"Will you produce these photographs?"
"Here they are." Lincoln handed the photographs to her.
"I ask that these be received into evidence as People's Exhibit 5."
"No objection," Lynn stated.
"Cross-examine," Morgan said smilingly.
Walking slowly to the witness, Lynn picked up the
photographs. "As a scientific investigator, do you also run fingerprint tests."
"Yes, I do."
"Did you run a fingerprint test on the gun?"
"No, why should I?" Lincoln said tartly.
"How about to find the murderer?" Lynn loudly retorted.
"Objection, counsel is engaging in dialogue with the witness," the prosecutor shouted while rising to her feet.
Judge Kline leaned forward. "Mr. Lincoln, you know better than to ask questions you are to answer them. Continue counsel."
"Isn't it standard police to handle a gun in such a way as to preserve fingerprints?"
"Yes, it is," Lincoln grumbled.
"Yet, in this case it wasn't done, why?"
With a shrug Lincoln said, "The officers who found the gun had handled it so much that any fingerprints on it were ruined."
"Isn't there a test to determine if a person has recently fired a gun?"
"Yes," he said slowly, "there is a paraffin nitrate test that picks up the minute particles of powder from an exploding shell. No matter how much, the person scrubs some particles remain until the skin is sloughed off."
"Did you perform such a test on the defendant?"
"No," he said with an tense edge in his voice.
"It wasn't necessary. He had the gun," Lincoln shot back.
"Are you saying that just because the gun was in his car someone else couldn't have taken it, killed the Westers and returned the gun?"
"Objection, improper hypotheticial, no foundation and calling for conclusion of the witness."
"Your honor, he's testifying as an expert. He just testified because the gun was in the defendant's car he didn't feel the need to perform the one test that would have exonerated my client."
"Your honor this is just hyperbole," Morgan countered while attempting to diffuse Driskell's arguments.
"If I may continue, your honor, I will show the relevancy of this question."
"Go ahead counsel."
"Mr. Lincoln, if you had performed the paraffin test and it came back negative, what would you have concluded as an expert scientific examiner?"
Grudingly and in bad temper, Lincoln snorted, "That he didn't kill them."
"No further questions," Lynn said as she walked back to her chair. In the gallery there was a grudging murmur of agreement.
"Your honor, I call as my next witness, Sheriff Jason Crier."
Sheriff Crier marched up to the stand. He was sworn and sat in the witness chair as though it was a throne.
"Are you the Sheriff of this county?"
"Yes, I am," he said proudly.
"Did you respond to a call for a reported murder at 49871 Locust in Willits California on August 23 of this year?"
"What were the circumstances leading up to that response?"
Taking a small notebook from his shirt pocket, he flipped it open. Around 11:05 P.M. on August 22, the sheriff's office received a call from the Willits Police asking for our assistance in investigating an alleged triple homicide at 49873 Locust. I then raced immediately with the forensics people to the site. Willits police had already sealed the site but did not disturb it while waiting for us. I met with Willits Police Chief Tom Crandall who had questioned Mrs. Audrey Holmes, the person who found the bodies."
"What happened next?"
"Mrs. Holmes' statement gave us probable cause to believe that the suspect, Carl Mattox, might have been at the scene shortly before or when the crime was perpetuated. I ordered that he be stopped for routine questioning."
"What else did you find out?"
"A routine background check of Mr. Mattox showed that he had been convicted of several felonies in Arizona. In California, his crimes were misdemeanors."
"Objection you honor, Lynn stood up. "Prior misdemeanors are inadmissible to prove anything."
"Objection sustained. I understand that the defendant is
charged with the crime of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun. For that reason, evidence of felony convictions are admissible but not misdemeanors. Any future mention may result in a mistrial."
"Yes, your honor." Lynn turned back to the witness. "Sheriff Crier what was the circumstances of Mr. Mattox's arrest?"
Flipping through his notebook, Crier said, "On Bluejay Lane, a few miles from the scene, a resident saw the defendant's car. The defendant was in his car acting suspiciously according to the resident. She called the sheriff's office and we dispatched a unit. Upon arrival, the unit identified the defendant as a suspect in question. When they approached him, he resisted arrest and was forcibly taken into custody and held, in the patrol car, awaiting orders from me."
"What happened after that?"
"I and Police Chief Crandall went to the scene of the arrest. When we arrived, the officers had the defendant in custody in the back of the squad car."
"Did you find the gun, People Exhibit 1 at the car?"
"Yes," scanning the notebook, "Officer Michael Lassiter found
it when doing the routine search incident to an arrest. It was
placed in the squad car and delivered to Victor Lincoln our ballistics and forensics expert."
"No further questions."
Walking up to the Sheriff, Lynn asked, "What are you reading, Sheriff Crier."
"This is my notebook."
"Did you write down your investigation?"
"No, this is my own private notebook."
"May I see it?" Lynn held out her hand.
Angrily, Sheriff Crier yelled, "No, it's my own private property. I made my report."
Lynn looked up to the Judge, "Your honor..."
"Give him the book Sheriff or face comtempt charges."
Scanning the notebook, Lynn was about to give it back when she noticed the word bloody. Snatching the book back from the Sheriff, she lifted her eyes upward to meet the Sheriff's and asked, "Sheriff Crier were blood tests conducted on the defendant to determine if he was under the influence on any drugs."
"No. He was not under any drugs," Crier sneered.
"How do you know that? Are you a trained physician?"
"When he confessed, he was alert and in full possession of his faculties."
"Were any samples taken of the defendant's blood?"
"No and we can't test his blood now and have it count."
Opening the Sheriff's notebook, she read aloud, "Suspect resisted arrest and suffered bloody nose bled over seats of the squad car." Closing the book, "Sheriff Crier is that squad car available for inspection from blood analysis."
"Yes," he said softly.
"Your honor, I want an order that the car be examined immediately for blood samples for a drug analysis. I want the order to cover any other source of the defendant's blood that may be in the People's possession."
"I object you honor. This is a fishing expedition," the prosecutor said while waving her arm for emphasis.
"Of course its a fishing expedition," Lynn retorted. "This is information that is required to be produced. I'm not supposed to fish for it."
With a broad grin, Judge Kline said, "That is the order of this court. The Prosecution has duty to provide all evidence of exculpatory nature to the defense. In this case, blood samples that may prove the presence of mind altering drugs are relevant to determine if the requisite intent is present for a first degree murder conviction. Do you understand this order Sheriff Crier?"
"I do your honor."
"Good, I want sufficient samples retained for defense experts in the event they challenge your experts. If there is not enough
of such a sample, then I will appoint a court expert rather than let just one side have their expert. Go on." Judge Kline made this order impatiently while writing a memo to that effect down in his note pad.
"I have no further questions. When I receive the results of
the blood tests, I may make various motions. Therefore the defendant is not waiving waiving any rights by not questioning Sheriff Crier about the blood tests before they are produced."
"That's understood, Counselor," Judge Kline then said to the prosecutor, "Miss Morgan do you have any redirect?"
"Yes, your honor." She opened her maroon briefcase and
extracted a tape recorder. With a mocking smile of triumph, she presented the tape recorder to the witness. "Sheriff Crier, did the defendant confess to the murders?"
"Objection no foundation as to the basis for receiving the confession," Lynn said in a matter of fact tone.
"Your honor, he confessed. I have the confession on tape. Its been played on T.V." the prosecutor became confused about what the objection was about.
In the patient tone of father instructing his child the Judge said, "Miss Morgan, the objection is that there's no evidence that the defendant was read his rights before he confessed." Turning to the witness, Judge Kline asked, "Did you Sheriff Crier inform the defendant of his Miranda rights?"
"Yes, your honor."
"Did he understand them?"
"Yes, your honor."
"Foundation is laid, continue Miss Morgan."
Contritely, she slowly continued. "Did you record the defendant's confession?"
"Yes, I have the tape here."
"Has the tape always been in your possession?"
"Your honor, I would like to play the tape."
"Do so." Judge Kline declared.
The tape was played. The first voice on the tape was that of Sheriff Crier advising the defendant of his rights. The next voice on the tape was the defendant who slowly and hesitantly waived his rights after being asked several times. The voice on the tape was that of a slow thinking and stuttering man. The taped confession lasted nearly half an hour. At points, the man on the tape was rambling and incoherent and questions had to be repeated and leading questions were asked.
When the tape was finished, the prosecutor stated, "Your honor, I move that the tape be admitted as People's Exhibit 6."
"Objection, the tape shows that the defendant was confused and disoriented when the confession was made. It was not voluntary or competent. I move that it be suppressed."
"Objection overruled. I find the tape shows that the
defendant knowingly waived his rights and admit the tape as People 6. Anything further with this witness?"
"No, your honor," the prosecutor almost danced back to her table, she was that happy.
"I have no question further questions of Sheriff Crier."
"Stand down Sheriff. Do the People have anything else?" Judge Kline asked.
"Yes, you honor. I wish to introduce a certified copy of the defendant's 1976 conviction for the felony of drug possession. Under California law, a person committing a felony in another
state may not possess a weapon."
"No objection, your honor," Lynn stated while reviewing the verdict."
"It will be admitted as People's Exhibit 7. Anything else from the People?"
"No, your honor. The people have shown that there is sufficient evidence to connect the defendnat with the murders in question and possession of a weapon as a felon. We ask that he be bound over for trial in the Superior Court."
"Ms. Driskell your response."
"Your honor. There is no evidence that the defendant was at the Westers' home. The witness, Mrs. Holmes could not identify his car and in fact identified a different vehicle altogether. There exist no fingerprints or paraffin tests to show that he fired the gun. The gun is not registered so there's way to even show that it's even his gun. The only thing connecting it to him was that it was found in his car. It is not far fetched that the gun was planted on the defendant because as a previously convicted felon, he is the perfect dupe. The confession shows a confused, simple man with a 3rd grade education. When taken in context, there isn't enough evidence to get a conviction for murder." Lynn then sat down at her table.
"The court recognizes the circumstantial evidence in this case. However circumstantial evidence when bolstered with a confession, which the court finds was validly obtained, is sufficient for binding a defendant over for trial in the Superior Court. This is required even though the evidence may not be sufficient to obtain a conviction. That is the Court's decision." Walking out of the courthouse, Kristin was treated like a movie star. Between posing seriously for camera, she fielded questions from the reporters.
"Miss Morgan, do you think the blood tests will disclose anything damaging to your case?" the Tribune's Bert Hopkins asked.
"There is nothing that the blood tests can reveal that will harm our case." An aide, from the D.A.'s office bent over an whispered in her ear. "In fact, requesting the blood tests will probably enhance our case by providing us with additional new evidence for possible new charges."
"Miss Morgan, what do you have to say about the forensic work in this case?"
"The defense is grasping at straws. The gun was found in the defendant's possession and he confessed. Everything else are just red herrings to distract from that."
Annette Frome from KMLG shoved a microphone forward, "Are you going to bone up on criminal procedure and evidence so that the Judge will not have to take your case over again?"
Flustered, she blushed beet red which showed up well against her light gray business suit. "I..I have to go now." She forced her way through the throng of reporters.
At 7:17 P.M., that night, the quiet in her apartment was shattered by the shrill ringing of her phone. Kristin jumped out of her bathtub and grabbed a short towel which she wrapped, as best she could around her. Pulling the phone from its cradle on the wall, "Hello."
"Miss Morgan, this is Margaret Hancock, the District Attorney. I am a few blocks away and I want to speak with you. I just saw you on television and I am concerned how this case is progressing."
"I just got out of the tub," she tried to beg off.
"I want to see you now. If you want to stay on this case, you will see me."
"Ok, come over." The phone went dead with a click.
Kristin went into the bathroom and wrapped her hair in a towel. Afterward she walked into the bedroom and put on her full length white fluffy terry cloth robe with huge pockets. There was a sharp short knock on the door. The time was 7:32.
Walking to the door, Kristin asked, "Who is it?"
"The D.A.," a woman said in a short sharp voice.
Kristin obeyed the door. "Come on in. I wanted..."
While Kristin was speaking, the woman marched right past her to the T.V. which she turned on and tuned in a particular station. "Miss Morgan, I might have made a mistake in letting you try this case. I wish to reconsider my decision."
"What are you talking about? I got him bound over."
"There's more to it than that and you know it. Our political future requires that we be perceived as intelligent capable women. The way things went today, if it hadn't been for the tape he wouldn't have been bound over. You let a civil attorney, with no criminal experience worth a damn, almost destroy your case."
"It wasn't that bad." Kristin protested.
"Oh not! This case is being highlighted on the Crime Time tonight. I was asked to watch it by the producers so that I could comment. I don't think its going to be friendly."
Turning they both watched the screen. Onto the screen came a man standing in front of the Ukiah Courthouse. Hancock turned up the volume. The man stated, "This is a quiet county of 80,000 people north of the Bay Area. It's a county in which everyone shares the same values, rustic and stable. It's the type of county that Norman Rockwell would have chosen for family paintings. Crime, while not unknown here, was never extremely violent. The last and only triple murder was in 1911 in a foiled robbery attempt in which 2 deputies and 1 bystander was killed. That is until the coming of Carl Mattox."
The scene shifted to tape of Carl Mattox being led into
court. "The normal tranquillity was shattered when Julie Wester, age 32 and her 2 children Mandy 5 and Tara 3, were murdered in their living room. The girls had their faces mutilated by being beaten by a fireplace poker. Carl Mattox, a convicted drug dealer, was arrested for the murder. Mattox later confessed to the murders after the gun was found in his car."
"What should have been a straight forward prosecution has, in fact, turned into cheap political patronage with the result that case against Carl Mattox may be unraveling."
The picture then shifted to the District Attorney walking up the steps to her office. "Margaret Hancock is a 49 year old career prosecutor. She has tried many felonies and even murder cases. Instead of the handling the case herself, or giving it to her felony trials unit, Ms. Hancock requested that the Attorney General's Office furnish a special prosecutor to handle the case. The Attorney general assigned the case to Kristin Morgan."
The T.V. screen showed Kristin Morgan at the time she gave her initial interview at the Jail. With the air blowing through her hair, she looked like a model. "Miss Morgan is the special prosecutor appointed for this case. We found that she has never had a criminal trial before, neither misdemeanor or felony."
The scene then shifted to the courtroom. "Today was the preliminary hearing for Carl Mattox. A preliminary hearing is to decide if there exists enough evidence to show that the defendant might have committed the crime with which he is charged. The case was supposed to be water tight. Yet in the matter of couple ofhours, a young woman attorney in her first criminal trial almost succeeded in getting the charges dismissed. The inexperience of Miss Morgan became evident when she could not ask the properquestions needed to lay the foundation for admitting the confession. The Judge in exasperation took over the prosecution's case and asked the questions needed to admit the confession."
The screen played the scene in the courtroom. Kristin saw herself standing before Sheriff Crier with a huge smile on her face. She watched Lynn Driskell as if she was seeing her for the first time. She saw a very striking woman stand up and state, "Objection no foundation as to the basis for receiving the confession."
Still watching the screen, the T.V. clearly showed her turning pale, in the courtroom, even though the video tape was only black and white. Kristin heard herself say, in a panic stricken voice, "Your honor, he confessed. I have the confession on tape. Its been played on T.V."
Harter's voice said, "It was clear to all that the prosecutor became confused about what the objection was about."
Then to add further embarassment, she relived the patronizing instruction of Judge Kline. "Miss Morgan, the objection is that there's no evidence that the defendant was read his right before he confessed." Holding her arms tight at her side, she watched Judge Kline say to the Sheriff while she stood dumbly, "Did you Sheriff Crier inform the defendant of his Miranda rights?"
"Yes, your honor."
"Did he understand them?"
"Yes, your honor."
"Foundation is laid, continue Miss Morgan." The show continued but the district attorney walked in front of the television and turned angrily to face Kristin.
"That's what you up against," Hancock said sharply. "A young attractive woman that knows the law and how to handle herself. You should have prepared better. Interviews are fine as long as you are ready. You were not. Everyone seeing this," she said with a wave, "knows that your courtroom virginity was saved by the Judge. You were being stripped naked in the court."
Kevin Harter came back on the screen. "The defense attorney Lynn Driskell totally discredited the prosecution key witness. Through a brilliant legal ploy, Driskell proved that she could not identify the defendant's car as the one she saw going up the Westers' driveway. In addition, she got the witness to admit that it was possible for other cars to go back and forth to the Westers without her seeing it. Driskell also elicted from the prosecution forensic expert that neither fingerprint tests on the murder weapon nor a paraffin test for conclusively proving if the defendant fired the gun were performed. Finally, in the climax of the hearing, Driskell discovered that blood samples of the defendant existed and requested that they be tested for drugs."
The scene switched back to Carl Mattox. "Make no mistake about it, Carl Mattox still has a hard road to hoe if he intends to be acquited. However, if the work of the prosecution does not improve, that may happen. Kevin Harter reporting."
Turning the T.V. off, Hancock turned to Kristin. "I will not have a repeat of what happened today. I'm assigning a permanent deputy from the felony unit as your assistant. You are the figurehead but he will handle the case."
"I won't do it."
"Yes, you will. Unless you win this case in a glorious fashion, it won't help you or me. Therefore, if you won't cooperate, I'll take the case over myself."
"Ok, I'll do it."
"Fine, next time it will be Driskell that is legally exposed."
Getting angry, Kristin snapped, "When it happens, I'll put her away for indiscent exposure."
Smiling for the first time, Hancock laughed slightly, "Good girl." She then walked out of the apartment without saying another word.
Kristin Morgan was sitting at her green metal desk, in the D.A.'s office, reviewing the transcript from the preliminary hearing. Her desk was in the corner of a large unwalled room. Scattered throughout the room were desks surrounded with make shift walls of bookcases and computer work stations. Taking a sip of coffee from a mug with a drooping face on it, she laid it down as her assistant Frank Ritter came around a tall bookcase crammed with books and manilla folders. "Hi, Frank. Anything happening?"
"Plenty, Driskell's trying to pull a rabbit out of her hat. Margaret is afraid she's done it."
Standing up quickly, she blurted, "What are you talking about? What happened?"
"Driskell filed a motion to dismiss the gun possession charge based upon a pardon her client got in Arizona."
"That won't fly here. California doesn't recognize pardons from other states as restoring the right to possess weapons."
"That's where Driskell is showing her style. She's making a federal constitutional argument that California is violating both the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by not giving the same rights to a pardoned individual as to the unconvicted person."
"It does not matter. No California Court is going to dismiss the charge," Kristin stated with a dismissive shrug.
"She's not going to a state court. Because of the Constitutional arguments, she's threatening to go to the Ninth Circuit under a habeas corpus petition to have the charge dismissed."
"They won't hear it. It's frivolous."
"No, I don't think so," Ritter murmured. "It's a good argument. One that the Court has been skirting for years. The notoriety of this case will probably guarantee them hearing it."
"They would let us try the case first and then review Mattox's conviction. After all, until he is convicted, he's not harmed," came Kristin's quick rebuttal.
"Normally, yes. Driskell, however, is claiming that the prejudicial effect of trying Mattox for a charge for which he is innocent, violates his civil rights for a fair trial."
"When is the hearing?" Kristin asked.
"I can get help from the A.G.'s office since this issue deals with state law and independence.
"Margaret already asked for the help. They're going to send an Ed Kigburn. Do you know him?"
"I've heard of him, Frank. He's supposed to be the best appellate attorney in the office. He's the big gun."
"Well the stage is set. It should be interesting."
Two days later, Ed Kigburn came into the office and introduced himself to Kristin. Kigburn was a retired Navy commander that entered law after serving 20 years. Tall and ramrod straight with distinguished gray hair, white teeth and gentle laugh lines around the mouth, he exuded confidence and stability. Smiling at Kristin, "Hi, I'm Ed Kigburn. I was sent down to assist you in the Mattox case. I appreciate the opportunity. I'm usually stored away in the deep recesses of some dark, dank library while all the young folks carry the day."
Shaking his hand, Kristin said warmly, "I'm glad to meet you, Ed. I've heard of your work but you spend so much time in the library, we've never met."
Sitting at her desk, Ed asked, "How do you want to handle this? We can fight it here and in Federal Court or go directly to Federal Court."
"Which do you favor?" Kristin countered.
"In truth, Federal Court. We can get the matter decided once and for all. Fighting it through the state courts will take needless years. This case gives us the opportunity to settle the law, the first time around."
"Let's go see Margaret the D.A. here." Kristin got up and walked down the hall. Falling in behind her, he watched with appreciation how she walked in her high heels.
At a large wooden door marked private, Kristin knocked. A voice inside said, "Come in."
Entering the office, they saw the District Attorney speaking on the phone. Putting a finger in the air, she motioned them to be quiet and take a seat. Then hanging the phone up, "Well, you must be Ed Kigburn. Welcome to Ukiah. Have you reviewed the pleadings?"
Nodding, he said "Yes, I have. They're pretty good."
"The question is can we beat them?"
"Yes, eventually. I'm sure the local court will sustain the prosecution. The defense will then take the entire case up to the Ninth Circuit on constitutional grounds. The liberal Ninth, given what they did in the Geyler case, will probably strike the charge. After that happens, we go to the conservative Supreme Court which will probably rule for us."
"In the meantime, the defendant is not tried and we look like ineffectual idiots." the district attorney uttered in exasperation. "That won't do. We have to prevent the trial from being unnecessarily delayed."
"There is another alternative," Ed stated. "After the court rules for us, we could voluntarily bifurcate the trial. Try the defendant separately for the murders and the gun possession."
"Yes, I like that," the D.A. smiled. "When we win at the motion, we'll bifurcate to keep the case going. If Driskell wants to split her time and effort fighting a gun possession case in
Federal Court let her. We'll snow her down with paperwork. We don't need the gun charge. It only shows bad character for the murder. We're going at least 3 life terms for murder. An additional 6 years for gun possession, isn't worth delaying the case as far as I can see."
"I don't know. Without the gun charge, we won't be able to introduce the prior felony conviction," Kristin voiced cautiously.
"Ed, can I speak with Kristin alone for a minute?"
"Sure, I'll be in your library." He got up and left the room shutting the door behind him.
Both women watched Ed leave the room. Then, Hancock stated,
"We're doing this to get the case wrapped up by November. That's when they're holding the interim primarily elections under new reapportionment plans. If we aren't done by then, it will bad for you and me. I plan to run for the State Senate and I know with your family connections, you plan to run for Congress. The only way we can do that is to bifurcate the trial. It really doesn't matter, once we convict him for 3 murders, I'm not going to waste money trying him for gun possession. To speed it along, I would be willing to dismiss the charge altogether. Do you understand?"
"Yes, but can we sell it to the people?"
"That's your job. You're supposed to bat your eyelashes and pose with your fashion model figure and wrap the press around your pretty little fingers while we do the work."
"That's not fair and it is a lie," Kristin flared.
"Now look, princess. I will not lose this case. I want out of this backwater burg. This case will do it. I will win this case with or without you. The party has offered me support if I let you handle the case. I agreed only on the condition that you not lose it. So you do it my way or get out. Understand?"
Kristin jumped up with her face fiery red in anger, "I understand." She stalked out of the room past several astounded men and women.
"People vs. Mattox are the parties ready?" Judge Higgins asked while looking directly into a row of T.V. cameras.
"Kristin Morgan for the People your honor. We're ready."
"Lynn Driskell for the Defense and moving party. Ready your honor."
"I have read the pleadings in this case and I am leaning for denying the motion to dismiss the charge. I will hear arguments. Proceed Ms. Driskell."
"Your Honor, the defendant is charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was convicted in 1976 in the Federal Court in Arizona for drug possession. We don't deny that conviction. However, after completing his sentence, all of his civil rights were restored to him under both Arizona and Federal law. Therefore, under the Equal Protection and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the defendant is totally within his rights to have and possess a firearm."
Opening a law book on her table, she turned while declaring,
"The People cite an Attorney General's Opinion 56 Ops.Cal.Att.Gen. 139, 139 (1973) in support of their contention that a pardon does not carry with it the right to own a firearm. The Attorney General's Office stated in its opinion the following," Then she began to read:
"California is not required to recognize sister state pardons. Murray vs. Louisiana 347 F.2d 825 (1965), nor is California required to recognize a Presidential Pardon, Carlesi vs. New York 233 U.S. 51 (1914)."
Shutting the book with a flourish, she pronounced, "The use of this argument by the Attorney General is a flagrant misapplication of the law. The Attorney General's Office has misstated the law. The California Supreme Court has decided the issue in the favor of the defendant's position. Yet, the Attorney General's Opinion did not even mention the case that overruled the precedents cited by the Attorney General." Reaching into her briefcase, Lynn slowly retrieved a another law book. "The Supreme Court of California settled the matter in the case, People vs. Terry, 61 Cal.2d 137, 148 (1965), the Supreme Court stated the law to be followed in California when it held:
'Under the Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 1, California must give an administrative decision of Oklahoma represented here by the pardon, the same effect in California as that decision would have borne in Oklahoma. Since Oklahoma courts have pardoned the defendant, as a person not convicted of a crime, California must defer to that definition of the defendant's status. The people introduced the evidence of the Oklahoma conviction for the very purpose of demonstrating to the jury that the defendant committed the robbery, the trial court pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause should have rejectedit.'
The California Supreme Court has never overruled its decision in Terry. It remains the law in California. In addition of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, we have the Equal Protection Clause. We have a person whose rights were fully restored in the state where the crime was committed. As such, the defendant is permitted by law to own a gun in Arizona where he was convicted but not in California where he wasn't. There is no basis for that prohibition where his full civil rights have been restored. California in such circumstances are taking away the defendant's rights for conduct which is legal in the state that convicted him and at the same time treats its felons differently than out of state felons."
Kristin then stood up. "Your honor, the law is clear. Penal Code Section 12021(a) clearly applies to those who were convicted of a felony in California or elsewhere. The Legislature has not provided relief for ex-felons convicted in federal courts or in other state courts. A convicted felon is not permitted to have a firearm, period. When the Governor grants a pardon, he may provide that the person pardoned may own or possess any type of firearm which may be lawfully owned or possessed by other citizens that is Penal Code Section 4854. When the Governor grants a full and unconditional pardon, the recipient is restored to all civil and political rights and may own and possess any type of firearm which may be lawfully possessed by other citizens that is Penal Code Section 4852.17. Obviously, the defendant is not exempted from the plain terms of the statute."
Placing her pleadings on the table, she continued, "The precedents are ripe and on point that the denial of the right to possess a firearm to a convicted felon is a state right. Toward that end, we cite People vs. Norton 80 Cal.App.3d, Supp. 14 for the proposition that the restoral of civil rights, to a convicted felon in another state, does not carry with the right to carry a gun in California." Picking up the opposition papers, she again started to recite:
"We are compelled to conclude that appellant received a limited pardon and was not entitled to possconceivable weapon in California. Therefore the doctrine of full faith and credit does not afford appellant any defense."
Laying her papers down for effect, the prosecutor looked the Judge directly in the eyes. "Your Honor, there never was a pardon in this case. The defendant after completing his prison term had his civil rights returned to him under Arizona law. At that time, the law did not expressly restrict the right to own a weapon. Now in Arizona, a felon's completion of his sentence does not, by itself, automatically restore the right to own a gun. In any case, it isn't a pardon. The felon stills remains convicted of the crime. While a pardon wipes out the conviction, the completion of a sentence does not clear, erase or expunge the defendant's conviction. That is not what happened with the defendant. He may have had his civil rights restored but he was not pardoned. At most, he had the restoral of civil rights while the conviction was kept on his record which should be viewed as a limited pardon. For that reason, we, the People, feel it is irrelevant what happened in Arizona. California has the right to restrict gun ownership within its borders." Kristin then sat down as Lynn stood up.
"Your Honor," Lynn stated, "counsel for the prosecution, has cited the case People vs. Norton in support of their position that the restoration of civil right is not the same as a pardon. That is not what the case held. Norton specifically said that it's holding did not apply to the situation where the sister state pardon expressly restored the right to possess a concealable weapon." Picking up another book, she started to read,
"We feel constrained to add that this is a narrow decision. We are not confronted with a case where a pardon was issued following a determination that defendant was innocent of the prior conviction. Nor are we confronted with a situation where the sister state pardon expressly restored a defendant's right to possess a concealable weapon."
Laying the book quietly on the table, Lynn looked up and stated, "That language makes it clear that the Norton decision did not apply to fact patterns where, as here, full civil rights including the right possess a gun were restored in the sister state where the conviction occurred. The full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution prevents California from prosecuting the defendant for possession of a gun. Such possession of a gun would be legal in Arizona where the conviction, which California is using as basis to prevent possession of a gun, originally occurred. Furthermore, the Equal Protection Clause is violated because felons convicted in California may seek a pardon from the Governor so as to own a gun but no such right is afforded a convicted felon from another state, even when full civil rights were restored to him." With a nod, she sat down.
Judge Higgins cleared his throat and said, "I am concerned with the unequal treatment between in state and out of state felons regarding pardons and the right to carry a gun. California Penal Code Sections 4852 etc restrict pardons along with the right to possess firearms to felons convicted in this state. Those sections do not give the Governor the authority to pardon or permit felons convicted in other states the right to possess firearms in California. Ms. Driskell's assessment of the unequal treatment is pointedly accurate. A person convicted in another state of a crime that is a felony there but not here, for example the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would none the less be denied the right to possess a firearm. Whereas a felon convicted in California of violent crime not involving a weapon could nonetheless seek a pardon. However, we are not talking about the denial of a fundamental right. The right to own a weapon has never been held to be guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Right to Bear Arms is not an individual right but that of a state. Therefore, states can regulate possession of guns or abolish them altogether. Thus the standard for determining if the equal protection clause is violated, when no fundamental right is at issue, is whether the difference in pardons is rationally related to a legitimate state function. I feel that out of state felons should be more closely controlled because they have less contacts with the state. As such, the difference in permitting in state felons to petition for pardons but not out of state felons is not violative of the equal protection clause."
"As for the Full Faith and Credit Clause, Arizona law, at
that time, did not expressly state that it restored the right to own a gun only that completion of the sentence restored full civil rights. Now the law expressly states that the restoral of such rights does not automatically include the right to possess a weapon. I take the subsequent change to be just a restatement of the law as it existed not, as Ms. Driskell alleges, a subsequent modification that restricts a right that previously existed under the law. I have read Ms. Driskell's case, U.S. vs. Geyler in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals interpreted the Arizona law as impliedly restoring the right to possess a gun. That decision only applies to the Federal Government. California Courts can, and in this case do, reach a different interpretation. I find no violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause."
Lynn stood up, "Your honor, I must express surprise at your ruling. A Federal Court ruled that as a matter of law, the Arizona law restored my client's right to carry a gun in Arizona. Since the Federal Appeals Court is a higher court that this, you are compelled to follow its precedent. I intend to seek immediate review for the Ninth Circuit. I therefore request that the court stay the trial until a decision is reached on this issue."
Kristin stood up, "Your honor, that will not be necessary. The Attorney General is most interested in settling this issue
once and for all. As such, we welcome a chance to go before the Federal Circuit to clear up the inconsistencies that are bothering Ms. Driskell. Rather than delay the trial, the People will bifurcate the gun charge from the murders. After all, since the People expect to at least get 3 life sentences, an additional 6 years for gun possession by a felon hardly seems worth the delay in prosecuting the case."
"Very well, the case is bifurcated. Ms. Driskell, the trial on the gun charge is stayed until the Ninth Circuit renders its decision."
That night on T.V., Kristin turned on the Crime Time.
Kevin Harter appeared with a short blurb on the case. "For those following the Mattox triple murder trial there were more interesting fireworks today. Defense attorney Lynn Driskell made a motion to dismiss the charge of possessing a gun as a convicted felon. The basis for the motion was that in 1976, Arizona did not have a law preventing a convicted felon from owning a gun. Since then they have enacted such a law. However, Mattox is permitted to own a gun in Arizona because he was convicted under the old law. Driskell argued that the Full Faith and Credit Clause along with
the Equal Protection Clauses requires dismissal of the charge."
On the screen were shown the courtroom activity of the day as the voice continued:
"Kristin Morgan opposed the defense motion and in a spirited exchange prevailed. Judge Martin Higgins denied the motion to dismiss. Then, Lynn Driskell stated that she would take the case up immediately to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the Judge Higgins. To avoid delaying the trial, Kristin Morgan voluntarily bifurcated the gun possession charge from the murder cases. This means that they will be tried separately. Miss Morgan stated that since the people expect to receive at least 3 consecutive life sentences an additional 6 years for gun possession may not even be worth spending taxpayer's money to achieve. It seems that Miss Morgan has developed quickly into a savvy prosecutor and this case may develop into a legal classic. Kevin Harter reporting."
Smiling to herself, Kristin said, "Ed was right. This was the best way to handle it."
When Miss Morgan threw the latch to the door of the D.A.'s office, she was surprised to find Denis Buker sitting by her desk and drinking a cup of coffee and reading a report of some type.
"Hi, Kristin. I received the analysis of Mattox's blood late last night. So, I brought it over in person."
"What do you mean bad?" Kristin asked as she placed her
briefcase on the small file cabinet at the end of her desk.
"Our analysis shows that he must of had at least 350 mg of amitriptyline HCL, an antidepressant drug in his system at the time of his arrest."
"What does that mean in plain language?"
"He was zonked out of his gourd when he confessed."
"What! Are you insane? You heard the tape that wasn't a man on drug flying to the moon," she screamed while running up to him.
"Amitriptyline HCL overdose affects different people in different ways. Just because he seemed to be in control of his mental faculties didn't mean he was," Dr. Buker stated as he handed her the file.
"Have the results been verified?"
"What do we do now?" Kristin moaned.
"We give the report to the defense. If they challenge it, you'll lose your confession."
"Dr. Buker did you run an analysis of the defendant's blood pursuant to the order of Judge Kline?" The doctor was in the witness stand before Judge Higgins.
"I ran the analysis yes. I was not ordered to do so by Judge Kline. I did it because Sheriff Crier told me to do so."
"What were your results?" Lynn asked.
"Objection, no foundation has been laid to testify as an expert witness."
"Your honor, Dr. Buker was qualified as an expert through stipulation at the pre-lim. In addition, I am asking about the results of a court ordered blood test."
Judge Higgins smiled, "Objection overruled. Answer the question please, Dr. Buker."
Uncomfortably Dr. Buker shifted in the chair. "Our test shows that the defendant blood sample contained a detectable amount of the drug, amitriptyline HCL."
"Could you scientifically determine the amount present in his system?" Lynn asked.
"Objection your honor. Their has been no evidence that the test used was accurate or that it was properly performed. The questions do not conform to the Kelly-Frye Test for introducing scientific evidence in California."
"Your honor," Lynn replied, "the Kelly-Frye Rule requires
that to use a scientific technique there must be, in the words of our Supreme Court, 'the general acceptance of the technique by the relevant scientific community.' That acceptance can be shown."
"Then do so Counselor," Judge Higgins nodded."
Turning to Dr. Buker, Lynn asked, "Dr. Buker were you trained to operate the blood analysis equipment?"
"Yes, I was."
"By the manufacturer of the equipment during a 6 week training course run by the California Department of Justice's forensic lab."
"Did you complete the course?"
"Have you taken refresher courses?"
"Yes, every 6 months I go to Sacramento to attend a seminar on the latest trends in pathology."
"Are the blood tests and methods of calculation new?"
"No, they have been around for decades."
"Are they acceptable by the general scientific community?"
"Objection, the witness is not an expert on the general scientific community."
"Very well your honor," Lynn said testily. "Have you ever testified on the results of such tests and calculations as an expert in this court before?"
"As an expert for the prosecution?"
"Your honor, I move that a sufficient foundation has been
laid for the introduction of this test. The prosecution has used the witness and these tests in this court before. They can not now claim that the tests lack scientific veracity without admitting prejudicial error in every case that they were used."
"The court finds that Dr. Buker is qualified to testify as an expert on the results of the blood tests. It further finds that tests and calculations therefrom, used by Dr. Buker, are indeed acceptable to the general scientific community under the Kelly-Frye Rule."
"Now, Dr. Buker what were your results?"
Angrily, Dr. Buker bellowed, "We found, according to the concentration in his blood sample, that the defendant had at lease 350 milligrams of the drug in his system."
"Is that a lot, medically speaking?"
"It is highly dangerous?"
"What do you mean by dangerous, Doctor?"
"I mean potentially fatal. What did you think I meant?" Buker snapped.
"Control yourself, Dr. Buker. Just answer the questions." Judge Higgins sternly ordered.
"Sorry, Judge," Buker sat back in the chair.
"What is this drug for?"
"It is an antidepressant with sedative effects. How it operates is unknown. We know it does not act by stimulation of the central nervous system. We do know that it interferes with the body's uptake of norepinephrine and serotonin."
"What does that mean to the lay person doctor?"
"If your depressed and take it you'll fell better."
"How much should a person take?"
"According to the FDA, adult outpatients should take no more than 75 mg per day. In a hospital, dosage should be normally 100 mg per day up to 200 mg per day. A small number may need 300 mg per day. Under no circumstances should a patient be given more."
"Your test showed that the defendant had over 350 mg in his system. Is that correct?"
"In your medical opinion, what should have been done with the defendant after he was arrested?"
"He should have been taken to a hospital and been treated for amitriptyline HCL overdose."
"Are you familiar with the Physician's Desk Reference, Dr. Buker?"
"Yes, I have it in my office."
"What is it, doctor?"
"It is the standard pharmacopoeia for pharmacological use by doctors. It contains standard formulas and methods of preparations for medicines, drugs and other remedial substances.
In addition, it lists the actions, indications, contraindications, warnings, suggested dosage and effects of overdosage of the drugs. It is the mainstay of most practices."
"Does this book belong to you?"
"No, its the county's book."
"Objection, relevancy," the prosecutor interjected.
"Your honor, the Physician's Desk Reference is a scientific compilation of fact that is widely accepted for its veracity in the scientific community. The People's own pathologist has it as a reference volume in his office."
"That's fine Counselor, by what are you doing with it?"
"I wish to have the effects of amitriptyline HCL overdose put before the court."
"Objection overruled. Proceed, Counselor," Judge Higgins
nodded which the prosecutor sat down.
"Please read for the Court, Dr. Buker the results of an amitriptyline HCL overdose."
Taking the book, Dr. Buker opened it to the place where a bookmark was located. Then, he started to read:
"High doses may cause temporary confusion, disturbed concentration, or transient visual hallucinations..."
"Also Dr. Buker doesn't it say that the drug may enhance the effect of alcohol and other barbiturates on central nervous system depressants."
"Yes, it does."
"Did you find any other alcohol or barbiturates in the defendant's blood?"
"Yes, we found a small amount of alcohol, a .06. He was not legally drunk."
"But the effect could have been increased but this drug?"
"Yes, it is possible.
"Does this drug have mind altering potential?"
"Objection sustained," Judge Higgins pronounced.
"Could, Dr. Buker, a high overdose, as in this case, give rise to hallucinations?"
"Yes, it could."
"Would someone under the influence of such an overdose be
considered medically in full possession of his mental faculties."
"Objection, calls for a factual conclusion of the witness as to an ultimate fact." Miss Morgan flailed her arms.
"Your honor, Dr. Buker, as the county's medical expert, can testify as to the effects of the drug and its effect on the defendant. This is no different from a prosecution expert in a DWI case who testifies about the mental capability of a defendant with a particular weight and particular blood alcohol level. In this case, we know the defendant was under the influence an amitriptyline HCL at the time of the alleged confession."
In poor grace, Lynn asked, "Dr. Buker can an overdose make a person susceptible to suggestion in the sense that they would repeat what was said to them?"
"Yes, its possible. But.."
"That's all with that question Doctor. Could an extreme overdose, as in this case, result in brainwashing."
"Objection, that is argumentative and speculative."
"Dr. Buker," Lynn asked, "Is it possible, medically speaking, that the defendant's confession was induced and fabricated as an hallucination or induced suggestion from the overdose."
"It's possible, but I ..."
"That's enough doctor. No further questions."
Miss Morgan walked to the witness. "Dr. Buker, could an overdose of the drug make the defendant violent."
"Yes, it's strange that while normally the drug is a sedative. In these large amounts anything can happen from absolute stupor to high agitation."
"Could a defendant on the drug, commit murder?"
"Objection, argumentative and speculative. The court denied my questioning regarding the result of the drug and now the D.A. asks the same type of question."
"Your honor, I'm entitled to ascertain the scope of the effects of an overdose."
"Overruled, Answer the question."
"Yes, its possible to commit murder while under the influence of the drug."
"Could the defendant been under the influence and competently and knowingly waived his rights?"
"Yes, it is possible."
"No further questions."
"Redirect Counselor," the Judge asked.
"Yes, your honor. Dr. Buker, in your opinion, is it likely that a person overdosing on over 350 mg of amitriptyline HCL would be able to knowingly and competently wave his rights?"
"No further questions," Lynn said walking to her table.
Standing up, the prosecutor chimed, "No further questions."
Arising amid books and papers scattered atop the defense table, Lynn started to address the Judge. Noise from the motors of the T.V. camera behind her, momentarily distracted her. Sensing the cause for the delay, Judge Higgins' ordered, "Quiet in the courtroom. I don't want any unnecessary talking or noise for anyone in the gallery and that includes the media.
"Your honor," Lynn walked in front of her table. "The defendant confessed. There is no doubt of that and we never disputed it. What we are contending and what the People's own expert testified is that the defendant was under the influence of a mind altering and confusing substance at that time. Amitriptyline HCL is an antidepressant drug that when taken in an overdose produces both hallucinations and susceptibility to suggestion. That is not mere rhetoric or hyperbole on my part. It is scientific fact on file with the FDA regarding the drug. The effect of this drug is further contained in the Physician's Desk Reference Book which is the standard pharmacopoeia for pharmacological use by doctors."
Wheeling around, Lynn grabbed an open law book laying face up on the table. With her back to the Judge, she started to read from the book while turning to face the Judge:
"Even though the formal requisites of Carnley are established, the rejection of counsel still may not have been 'knowingly and intelligently'-i.e., it may not have been the product of a reasoned and deliberate choice based upon adequate knowledge of what the assistance of counsel encompasses. In determining the whether the defendant's rejection reflects such choice, courts rely upon an analysis of the defendant's age, mental condition, the particular setting in which the offer of counsel was made, and the manner it was explained."
Slamming the book shut for effect, she continued, "That is from Criminal Procedure 2nd Constitutional Limitations."
Walking over to the chalk board which was sitting on an
easel against the wall, she slowly wiped it clean. With all eyes on her, she brought the easel in the middle of the courtroom and set it up facing the Judge. "As early as 1938, the United States Supreme Court held in Johnson vs. Zerbet 304 U.S. 458 that waiver of the rights to counsel must be quote 'knowingly and intelligently waived'." Writing knowingly and intelligently on the board, she drew a line between them. Looking up, she added, "The Supreme Court further held in Johnson that 'Trial Courts must indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver.' In this case, the facts do not support a waiver of the right."
Leaning against the easel with one arm hanging over the top,
Lynn appeared totally at ease and in control. Kristin Morgan was clearly angry and her deputy Frank Ritter was furiously writing notes in response to her presentation. "What do we have under intelligently? The defendant only has a third grade education. His I.Q. according to his prison record is a low 87, not very bright." Under the column intelligently, she wrote 3rd grade and I.Q. 87.
"What do we have under knowingly? The drug amitriptyline HCL is a mind controlling and mind confusing drug when taken in an overdose. Dr. Buker testified that the defendant had over 350 mg of the drug in his system a potentially fatal overdose can occur after 200 mg. Dr. Buker testified that the defendant should have been in the hospital been treated for the overdose not being grilled in the jail. The drug is scientifically known to create confusion, hallucinations and susceptibility to suggestion if taken in an overdose." Under knowingly, she wrote overdosed on mind altering drug causing hallucinations and confusion.
Walking over to the clerk's table, Lynn picked up the taped confession. Holding it over her head, "From the very beginning, we have been told that the slow stammering incoherent statements and mid word pauses of the defendant were simply the result of his limited intelligence. Now, we know absolutely that he was under the influence of a powerful mind controlling drug. We know the effects of the drug are to cause hallucinations and render the person susceptible to suggestion. Repeatedly, the defendant was asked if he killed them. He did not respond until asked the sixthtime. His famous response was in the stilted monotone that we all recognize is drug related. His mind simply repeated the question as a fact. He did this repeatedly. Some of his confession we will prove is wrong. He confessed to have entered through the back door yet it was found locked. Also, the only footprints were found in the front yard. It's clear that the man was so zonked on drugs that he could not knowingly waive his constitutional rights." In a loud voice, she concluded, "That's all I have your honor."
The prosecutor stiffly rose while Frank Ritter handed to her his notes. Looking at it, she smiled weakly and stared at the Judge for a second. "Your honor just because the defendant was on drugs at the time of his confession does not mean that the confession is tainted or unreliable. The case, People vs. Taylor 112 Cal.App.3d 348 affirmed the conviction of a defendant based on a confession given while the defendant was quote, 'heavily under the influence of heroin'. In fact," reaching for her pleading, "the appellate court held as follows:
'The mere ingestion of drugs and alcohol does not compel the conclusion that a defendant is incapable of intelligently waiving his rights. (People v. Wilson (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 384, 397, People v. Moore (1971) 20 Cal.App.3d 444, 449, People v. Conrad (1973) 31 Cal.App.3d 308, 319)
Although Taylor was heavily under the influence of heroin Matt testified that Taylor never appeared confused and answered directly, coherently and in detail.'"
Walking to the easel, Morgan wrote under the column labeled intelligently, answered directly, coherently and not confused. Using the chalk in her hands line a pointer, she said, "There isn't a T.V. viewer in America that hasn't heard the confession. All one has to do is listen to the tape to positively know that the confession was freely, knowingly and intelligently given. The defense is saying that because the defendant has low intelligence the confession was not voluntary. Low intelligence alone doesn't mean that the defendant was unable to waive his rights. I ask the court to listen again to the tape to satisfy itself that the defendant was not under the influence of any mind confusing drug."
Striding over to the prosecution table, her assistant handed her a law book. Wheeling around, she threw at the Judge, "Your Honor the People further cite the case People vs. Hendrick (1988) 204 Cal.App.3d 639 for controlling authority. In that case the court upheld a conviction based on a confession obtained while the defendant was suffering from drug withdrawal. It held as follows:
'Unlike the defendants in the Taylor and Hendricks cases, defendant was only suffering from drug withdrawal and was not actually under the influence of any substance. However, like those cases, defendant was coherent, was able to comprehend all questions asked and was not confused. Defendant indicated he understood what was going on and was well enough to discuss the cases, declining Torrez's offer to postpone the interview to a later date. Defendant also indicated a coherent understanding of Hergenrader's comments when defendant stated that he did not shoot at anyone because the gun he had stolen from the East Pitt residence did not work. Moreover, defendant did not have difficulty speaking and the officers did not have to repeat any of the questions asked. Under the totality of the circumstances, the record supports the trial court's finding of voluntariness insofar as the issue of drug withdrawal is concerned.'"
Laying the law book gently behind her back without turning around while staring straight at the Judge: "Your Honor, the test in determining whether the confession was legally obtained is to look at the totality of the facts. Play the tape and you will see that all the facts support upholding the confession." Walking around the table, she gracefully sat down amid a murmur of assent from the gallery.
"Your Honor, by all means play the tape but more importantly read the prosecution's cases," Lynn said while quickly standing up. "It supports the defense position far more than the prosecution. In Taylor, the court upheld the confession because heroin in not a mind confusing drug whereas amitriptyline HCL is a mind confusing drug. That's what it is for to control depression not pain." Reaching for an open law book, she declared, "The court specifically reasoned as follows:
'Matt testified that as an expert on the effects of heroin on the body, opiates are not a mind confusing drug and so long as a person's eyes are open, the person can communicate as the drug does not cause mental confusion.
END OF PREVIEW