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After the tech comes the medical examiner, but his testimony is short and sweet, and nothing surprising. JT died of massive blood loss due to a single stab wound to his carotid artery. The other stab wound was inconsequential. Although a murder weapon had not been identified, they believe it was a letter opener that JT’s housekeeper said he keeps on his desk but had never been recovered. The medical examiner opines that the wounds look to be caused from an instrument such as a letter opener.

Then we get to what I believe to be the meat and potatoes of their case. ADA Hammond calls Detective Amber Denning to the stand. She leads her through some questions regarding investigative protocol, eventually leading her up to her interviews with me.

“And how many times did you interview Mr. North?” Hammond asks.

“Twice,” Denning replies. “Once at his condo the evening we found Mr. Townsend’s body, and then again last Wednesday when he came into the station voluntarily with his attorney.”

“What was his demeanor during those interviews?” Hammond asks.

“He did not seem surprised when we arrived at his condo to advise him of Mr. Townsend’s death,” Denning says as she flips through her written reports she must have made after. “But he was cooperative and answered our questions. He was also cooperative during the second interview.”

I’m glad she doesn’t mention the fact I got pissy with her at the end, but I expect that’s because she’s a professional and wouldn’t stoop. Probably irrelevant anyway.

“And in the course of those interviews, did you learn anything that would lead you to focus in on Mr. North as a suspect with a sound motive for murdering the victim?” Hammond asks smoothly.

Denning nods. “Two things stood out. Mr. North had tried to buy Mr. Townsend out of their business on a few occasions and Mr. Townsend would not sell out. He seemed to be battling issues with drugs and gambling, but those weren’t factors that could cause Mr. North to terminate their agreement and force Mr. Townsend out. We were able to gather all of the financial records of Townsend-North, and the estimated worth of the company was right at three hundred and seventeen million dollars.”

Hammond makes a low whistle sound, like she’s astounded to hear that amount, when everyone in this courtroom knows damn well it wasn’t news to her. “And what was the other thing that stood out?”

“We discovered that Mr. North and Mr. Townsend were actually half brothers, both sharing Beckett North, Sr., as a father. We learned that Mr. Townsend was going to get half of Mr. North’s inheritance.”

I can’t help it. I look over my shoulder at Colin Townsend, and I can tell by the look on his face that this is not news to him. Either he’s always known or the ADA told him so he could be prepared to hear those things in court, but he sits ramrod straight on the wooden pew-type bench and listens with rapt attention.

Then I turn even further in my seat to look at the other person that this will be shocking news to. Caroline stares right back at me, her eyes accusatory that I would keep something like this from her. I’m going to have to answer for that secret once we get this shit behind us. Hindsight is twenty-twenty and all that, but clearly, this is something I should have told Caroline a long time ago. Just never thought it would ever have any bearing on either of our lives, but it turns out it’s a fact that could end up tearing all of us apart.

ADA Hammond asks a few more questions about her interviews with me, including my alibi. She also brings up the fact I suggested this was done by a disgruntled Vegas bookie who didn’t get paid. Denning merely testified that they searched JT’s house and office, including phone records and bank transactions, and simply could find no evidence other than the fact he’d been assaulted by unidentified assailants the day before his death.

“Detective Denning,” Hammond asks bluntly. “Do you believe Mr. Townsend’s death was related to this alleged gambling debt?”

“I do not,” she says firmly. “We could find no evidence, and even Mr. North admitted to us that Mr. Townsend was given a few days to come up with the money. It made no sense for this alleged bookie not to honor the deadline, as he stood to get a lot of money.”

“Thank you,” Hammond says, and then moves on. “Now, in the course of your investigation, did you come up with other evidence that would give Mr. North motive to kill his partner?”

“Yes,” Denning says as she flips through her file. “All going to the theory he wanted Mr. Townsend out of the business, but in searching Mr. North’s office at home, we found a copy of a signed agreement between Mr. Townsend and a Miss Melissa Fraye outlining the mechanics of a sexual rendezvous that would occur between them that involved a rape fantasy. We interviewed Miss Fraye and she acknowledged she did not sign the agreement. We believe Mr. North was perhaps trying to use that as blackmail to get Mr. Townsend out of the business.”

What the fuck?

I start to lean toward Doug to tell him that’s absolutely untrue and that I saved that woman from getting raped, but he’s busily taking notes.

Denning continues. “We also interviewed Mr. Townsend’s secretary, Karla Gould. She said that the two owners’ relationship was extremely volatile, involving many arguments that were loud and disruptive in the office. It was always Mr. North coming down to Mr. Townsend’s office to instigate these encounters. She had even heard Mr. North on one occasion make a death threat against Mr. Townsend. Overall, it’s clear they did not have a good relationship and that Mr. North was trying everything he could to get him out of the business, but was unsuccessful about it.”

I can’t help myself. I lean in to Doug and hiss, “That’s not true. Out of anger I said something like ‘I could kill you, JT’ or something like that, but it wasn’t a death threat.”

Doug nods in understanding as he scribbles more notes.

Hammond asks a few more questions, but right now I’m so angry at the way things are being misconstrued I have a subtle ringing in my ears. I say subtle because I don’t miss the last question that starts to put the nail in my coffin.

“Detective Denning, anything else from your investigation you believe is relevant?” the district attorney asks.

“After the victim’s body was found and we set up a police perimeter so we could start our investigation, we posted an officer to keep an eye on the surroundings. The officer assigned to that duty reported seeing a white Audi A4 turn onto the street where the murder occurred, but then pull into a driveway and leave by the same route it arrived.”

Source: www_Novel22_Net

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