Finding Elvis Ch. 13byWine_Maker©
Leo yanked open his car door and pulled out a cardboard box. "Here! Everything you asked for."
"Give me that," I said disbelievingly as I snatched the box away from him. I set it on the hood of the car and started going through the folders inside. I stared back at Leo, shocked. "It's a full set of CSI files, including pictures and notes, all photocopied. How the fuck did you get these?"
"I know you're not bitching 'cause I got what you wanted," he said with a little of his original cocky attitude. "Does it really matter? I delivered the goods. Hell, I probably got more than you expected." With bravery I would never have expected, he turned his back on me and faced Gretchen. "Are we square? Would you tell my wife that we're good?"
"What?" she asked.
"My wife won't believe me," Leo said, "but she'll believe you. Can you call her on your cell phone? Please? I'd really like to get lucky again and she hasn't let me touch her since this all blew up."
Gretchen looked at my still stunned face and nodded. "Fine." She pulled out her cell and called the number Leo gave her. I assume Mrs. Elvis answered, because she told someone that everything was kosher now.
When she hung up, I had to snatch the box as he virtually dived into the car and started it up. He took off quickly, spraying us with dirt. I guess he wasn't as brave as I'd thought.
"Is it really all the crime scene information, Hawk?" Gretchen asked, looking into the box I was holding.
"Yeah, it is. Let's get inside and start looking over what the experts have to say."
We looked at reports for hours. Copies of crime scene photos and preliminary autopsy reports. I was so engrossed, I didn't object when Gretchen put food in front of me. A Big Mac and large fries with a monster coke. I should have been asking why the hell she had that here in a place with a cook, but I was just happy to see something familiar. I devoured the cop fare while trying to make sense of what I was seeing.
The initial summary said exactly what Sweeney had told us. The CSI team said the blood, or lack thereof, on Gretchen was inconsistent with her being the killer.
As for the rest, too much of the report was still preliminary. Toxicology showed that Kat was doing some recreational drugging. More than a trace of cocaine was in her system along with all the alcohol she could drink. I'd be surprised if she even felt the knife go in. Cartwright was drunk, but otherwise clean.
I picked up the snapshots taken of the scene and the bodies in the morgue. The photographer was good. It was almost as good as being there. I reached over blindly and grabbed some more fries. "I don't know what they put in these fries, but they are the best. Thank you for the food." I sat up and looked at her. "Hey! I said I wasn't hungry."
She smiled like the cat that ate the canary and pointed to the papers spread across the bed. "I know. Now, what does all that tell you?"
"Well, it's got some confusing stuff in the reports," I said, allowing myself to be distracted again. "Other than saying you didn't do it, the ball is still up in the air. However, all we really need to do is exclude you as the perp."
Gretchen vehemently shook her head. "No. I've already been convicted in the press, so I'm guilty until proven innocent. You know how this works. If I want my life back I need to be able to point at the guilty party."
I nodded and pulled a picture of Kat lying naked on the stainless steel slab closer to my face. "Do you have a magnifier? I need to look at this one closer." When Gretchen handed one to me, I looked closely at the picture of her chest. The ugly wound above her doctor-enhanced breast looked wrong somehow. Was it the wound or the blood? Both could tell me something about the height of the killer, if I looked at it right. This one looked like...
Abruptly, I sat straight up as the wrongness transformed itself into a theory.
I looked at the pattern of blood on her chest and then looked at several other photographs of her, including ones of her hands. I found nice deep gash on the inside of her right pinkie and ring finger. Then I looked at the same array of pictures for Cartwright.
I stood up and began sorting the pictures and reports into the folders they went in. "I need to fax these to a friend in Houston and make a call."
"Did you find something?" Gretchen asked eagerly.
"Maybe," I said cautiously. No need to get her hopes up if I was wrong. If I was right, the killer has been right in front of us all the time.
It took an hour before all the information had been sent, and I was stalking around the house waiting on a call back. I took the time to also make copies to take to the DA. Hector Santos, one of the Medical Examiners I worked with in Houston, was looking over the data and was late calling me back with his off the cuff assessment. I snarled my frustration and grabbed my coat.
"We're going to confront the bear in his den. Call Devon. We're going to the DA's office. Call your attorney while we drive. I've got enough here to get him off your back and the other will just have to wait."
She grabbed her phone. "Give me a hint!"
"Not till I know for sure. Come on." I almost dragged her out of the house to meet Devon. Once we were in the Hummer and on the way I set the box of copied evidence in my lap and closed my eyes. I was taking a real chance here. This could all blow up in my face.
We were pulling up to the DA's office when my cell rang. I handed Gretchen the box and opened the phone.
"Hawkins," I said, trying to hide the eagerness of my tone.
"Santos. You're still the queen of the crime scene, Hawk. Your read on the evidence matches mine. You owe me dinner."
He disconnected as I grinned wolfishly. Time to go pin the tail on the killer.
Gretchen ragged at me in the elevator for details, but I just smiled at her. "I'm only telling this once. It won't be easy to snap the cuffs on the killer, but I think it can be done. Let's hope your mouthpiece is here."
When we got to the tenth floor office, Zieter was sitting there, waiting. He raised an eyebrow and stood up. "I got him to see us, but he's not very happy about it. He thinks we're here to cut a deal. Are we?"
I smiled at him and shook my head. "Nope. We're here to get all charges dropped and put the finger on the real killer."
That got both his eyebrows up. "You think this is a crime TV show? You either have a signed confession in that box, or he'll laugh us out of his office."
"Close enough, Mister Zieter. Close enough. Let's go."
The secretary rose to stop me, and I just bounced her off my shoulder with a casual "Sorry" and opened the door. Danforth and Sweeney were sitting at the desk, and both startled at the door bursting open.
"I'm on time, right?" I said with a smile as Danforth reddened in fury. His secretary tried to explain, and he waved her out. Sweeney just smirked, a faint hint of approval in his eyes.
"This had better be good, Hawkins," the prissy DA said, sitting down without bothering to offer us seats. "Are you ready to cut a deal and save your wife from life in prison?" The word "wife" came out very distastefully.
"Nope. I'm here to put this case to rest." I tossed the box onto the desk in front of him and dropped into a chair, planting my feet on the arm of Sweeney's chair. "I have all the evidence I need to not only prove Gretchen innocent, but to also tie the killer up with a neat little bow for you, if you can figure out how to get a grand jury to indict. Although I've heard a decent DA can indict a ham sandwich, I'm sure even you can get one here."
Danforth snarled and grabbed the box, opening it and first growing pale and then red with renewed fury. "This is crime scene evidence and classified police reports! How the hell did you get this? Now you'll go to prison with her. We're done here. Detective, take her into custody."
"Hang on a second," Sweeney said with a quelling look at Danforth. "I want to hear what she has to say. Why is Gretchen Werner innocent? And who killed Senator Cartwright and Kat Werner?" His eyes showed some satisfaction, some curiosity, and... Did he just wink at me? He already knew Gretchen didn't do it, but the real story was going to surprise everyone.
"I know she didn't kill anyone because that's what your own CSI team says," I said with a shark-like smile that I turned on Danforth.
"You have exculpatory evidence in your possession that you haven't turned over to me and you're still hounding my client?" Zieter asked with a frown. "Danforth, you've got some serious explaining to do."
Danforth glared at us as though he would be able to incinerate us all on the spot. "I don't give a rat's ass what that report says, it's just an opinion."
"An expert opinion shared by at least one other Medical Examiner," I said to Zieter. "That part is firm. No way, no how, did Gretchen kill anyone."
Zieter glared back at Danforth, his fierce expression at odds with his usual laid back appearance. "I can have a motion to dismiss in the hands of the court in less than half an hour and I'll make you look like more of a fool than usual for your prosecutorial misconduct. Unless you drop all charges immediately."
It looked like he was eating glass, but Danforth nodded. "I suppose I don't have a choice." He picked up the phone and dialed an extension. "File a motion to dismiss the indictment against Gretchen Werner."
"I'll want a copy before they run off," Zieter said, settling back in his chair as the unwilling Danforth passed that along.
When he hung up the phone, Danforth snarled at him. "Satisfied?"
Sweeney cut in. "Not yet. If she didn't do it, I want to know what you saw in that evidence that we missed. Who is the killer?" He leaned forward, almost eagerly.
"The man in your lab is right when he said that Cartwright killed Kat Werner," I said smugly, "but he missed some subtle evidence that points right at Cartwright's killer."
I paused for effect and Gretchen smacked me on the back of my head. "Don't do this to me, Hawk. Who killed Cartwright?" she asked, exasperated.
I turned and looked at Gretchen and smiled. "Kat did."
Pandemonium erupted as everyone started yelling all at once and it took me a minute to get everyone to stop screaming that I was an idiot so that I could explain. I pulled the picture of Kat's chest out of the box. "The evidence is right here." I set it down in front of Sweeney. "Look at that knife wound. Cartwright is right handed. See how the knife went in? The edge is down and toward the center of Kat's breastbone, following the curve of her ribs. If the taller Cartwright pulled that knife out, why is the wound cutting down and twice as wide as the blade? The non-cutting edge would be taking the force if Cartwright pulled that knife out. It was pulled out from the left side, or in this case, from Kat's right hand. She reached up and yanked the knife that killed her right out of her own chest and stabbed Cartwright. She was so hopped up on coke that she probably didn't know she was dead till she hit the floor."
Sweeney picked it up and waved Zieter and Gretchen back so he could see it. Danforth shook his head. "That is the biggest bullshit story I've ever heard. You can't possibly expect anyone to believe that?"
I smiled sweetly at him as the door opened and the secretary brought in a paper and gave it to Zieter. "Since Gretchen has been ruled out as the killer, I don't really care what you think. I'm telling Gretchen what happened, and I'm just being nice by sharing that with the police." I turned back to Sweeney. "Look at the blood splatter on her upper chest. She was showing some nice cleavage that night and the rest of the evidence is on those fake tits. The size of the drops is consistent with splatter from a distance, not with blood from her own wound."
"Sure," Sweeney agreed. "She was laying on the floor when Cartwright bought it. The blood fell on her from above."
"If she was lying on the floor, then why," I asked, my expression victorious, "do the blood drops impact her breast and flow against gravity toward the nipples? If she were supine, the blood should flow towards her chin. But it doesn't, which can mean only one thing. She was standing when that blood hit her. She was stabbing Cartwright back even as she was dying. The evidence tells the story, if you want to read it. Those two sorry excuses for human beings killed each other."
"That is total crap!" Danforth snapped, standing up. "No one is going to believe that."
"Ask Sweeny what he has seen people hopped up on coke do. I've seen someone shot in the heart take the gun away from his killer and empty it into his murderer before he, himself, fell down dead. It's more than possible. I can see it in my mind's eye as clearly as if I were sitting there when it happened. Cartwright is humiliated again, this time in public, by Kat. He slips into the kitchen and hides a knife in his coat. He asks her to talk upstairs, and she agrees. They argue, he tells her what a bitch she is, pulls the knife and plunges it into her chest. Then, as he stares in smug anticipation, she gets pissed and pulls it out and plunges it right back into the drunk bastard's chest."
Danforth was obviously not buying it, but Sweeney looked thoughtful. It took almost an hour and a number of phone calls, but we walked out of that office with everything I wanted going in. Total victory.