When We Were Married Ch. 05AbyDanielQSteele1©
MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2005 -- 9 a.m.
My name is William Maitland. I was married, mostly happily, for 18 years to a beautiful woman who I had realized long ago was out of my league. Reality finally caught up with me nearly five months ago when she bounced my ass out of our happy home to take a young stud professor to her bed.
She proceeded to file for divorce and then to bedevil me with attempts to talk about things that it didn't help to talk about.
Once you know your dick isn't big enough to satisfy your wife, know that you leave her cold in bed and the one time you take the bull by the horns, so to speak, take your wife and make her cum with the use of hands, mouth, dick and vibrator, she winds up lying beside you crying in the night, there really isn't much left worth talking about.
Today I am a free man. I'm still living in my postage stamp of a condo not far from the courthouse and the State Attorney's Office where I'm the number two prosecutor. I haven't found a woman to replace my wife in my heart or in my bed. But I have mended fences with my 18-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, my head is on straight professionally, and I am about to try to send an evil woman to the death chamber.
I walked into the courtroom of Circuit Judge Leonard Pizarro with Jessica Stephens beside me. Pizarro nodded at me. At 70, he was the oldest actively practicing judge on this bench. He was crotchety and a minor tyrant in his domain, but he wasn't a bad judge.
Judy Johansen was already sitting at the defendant's table along with her attorney. I nodded to Lew Walters. As I settled in, he got up to walk over to me and Jennifer. He held his hand out and I took it.
"I'd say may the best man win, but that would be gloating," Lew said with a shit-eating grin. "So I'll just say, may justice prevail. Which means my innocent client will walk away with her innocence and her freedom confirmed."
"You really think she's innocent?"
He looked around to see that no one except Jessica was close enough to hear and said, "Who cares? I'm being paid to defend her and that's what counts. And with me representing her, and your case, she's as good as acquitted."
I couldn't help smiling.
"You don't have any fears at all that the Angel of Death will swoop down and nail your murderous harpy?"
"Come on, Bill. You know the way this is going to go down. You're the grizzled old gunfighter in your last glory days, and I'm the rising young gunfighter. I'm going to shoot your eyes out and walk off in a blaze of glory. It's my time. Maybe you ought to think about moving over to corporate, or handle wills and estates. Leave the courtroom battles to the young, swift and the strong."
His grin took the sting out of his words, and we'd exchanged smack talk plenty of times before as we faced off, but I thought I was going to take particular pleasure if this case went the way I thought it would. He was very good, but he needed to be taken down a peg or two once in a while for humility's sake. Otherwise, nobody would be able to stand being around him.
"Let's just see who winds up standing, young Luke," I said with our friendly Star Wars badinage.
He just laughed and said, "The Old Folks Home for Retired Jedi Masters has a room waiting, Master Obi-Wan-Kenobi."
"As always, humility is your greatest strength."
He laughed and walked back to his client. Judy Johansen was a 67-y-old who could pass easily for a 45-year-old. About 5-foot-four inches tall, she had a 38-26-38 inch body that wasn't Miss America shape, but plenty hot for a granny. She was dressed demurely in a pink blouse and dress that went down to her ankles. Very little skin showing and the blouse, while not a potato sack, showed very little curves.
Lew knew what was coming and didn't want to give the jury a chance to look at his client as a sexual creature.
The case slowly started rolling and we trotted out the basics of our case, spelling out to the jury the facts. Judy Johansen was a three-time previously married divorcee when she had met Clark Carroll in 2000. She wasn't poor, but wasn't wealthy either. Carroll, a 78-year-old snowbird who had left behind a chain of profitable neighborhood grocery stores across the Midwest, was worth approximately $50 million.
They had met at a dance at the gated retirement community where Carroll had moved after his wife of 50 years had died the previous year. One thing led to another and they were living together in a month and married in two months and in six months Carroll had changed his will to leave the bulk of his estate to his new wife. He left each of his two grown children roughly $10 million. That left Judy ONLY $30 million.
Clark Carroll suffered from a variety of ailments, but it was an enlarged heart that had killed him a year ago in their Orlando mansion where they had moved after they married. I explained to the jury that we would prove with expert testimony that Carroll received an overdose of a heart medicine and it was this that killed him.
I told the jury we would also prove that Judy Johansen was the only person who could have given him the overdose. She had the means to kill him. She had 30 million monetary reasons to kill him. And, most importantly, she had one overriding emotional reason to kill him. That was in the form of a 6-foot-3, 40-year-old boyfriend she had been carrying on an affair with for more than a year before her husband's death.
Lew held his fire during our presentation, waiting for the actual case to begin. He made a brief opening statement to the seven man, five-woman jury, to the general effect that Judy Johansen had been tried in the tabloid press and convicted of making a human error, a layman's error, in administering her husband's medicine that killed him.
He confidently stated that the prosecution would never convince them beyond a shadow of a doubt that Johansen had deliberately taken her husband's life.
Our first witnesses, most of them officials from the Orlando area where publicity had swirled so strongly that court officials had decided the case would have to be moved, laid the groundwork.
Dr. Eugenio Amparo had been Carroll's personal physician and testified that although his enlarged heart was a problem, it was a reaction to one of the medications he was taking that actually provoked the heart attack that killed him. Judy Johansen had been the only person in the house when the medicine was taken and she had admitted administering it to her husband.
Then it was Lew's turn at bat. He got Amparo to concede that Carroll had been a very sick man and his care givers were basically balancing a stew of drugs, any one of which could have killed him.
"But as long as Mrs. Carroll had followed the instructions I provided her, there is no reason she should have gotten confused enough to make such a drastic mistake," Amparo said in a strong Filipino accent.
"But you're a professional, Dr. Amparo. My client is a lay person. Isn't it possible that under the stress of confusing or strong emotions, she might have gotten confused?"
"Possible, but she had been caring for her husband for nearly five years. It would be out of the ordinary for her to have gotten confused after being a caregiver for so long."
Lew gave him a funny look, then looked back at me and I knew he was getting ready to carve up Amparo, and by extension myself.
"How long have you been a physician, Dr. Amparo?"
"And you practiced in the Philippines for ten years before coming to this country?"
"Do you remember a Bayani Amicay, by any chance?"
Amparo remembered. He looked like he was about to have a heart attack himself.
"Wasn't he a patient of yours, Dr.? You had been a practicing physician for nearly eight years when he became a patient. And he also had similar heart problems. And, oddly enough, didn't a similar confusion about medications cost his life?"
"That was during a period when there was political unrest, a typhoon off the coast, and the hospital where he was being treated was tremendously overcrowded. There was a great deal of confusion."
"But you signed off on the medication, didn't you, Doctor? You, a professional with eight or more years of medical training and eight years of practice, and you still made basically almost the same mistake that Mrs. Johansen did. Were you prosecuted for murder?"
"Did you lose your license?"
"There....was an out of court settlement. The family agreed to it."
"So you basically paid off the family and walked away without a scratch."
"I wouldn't put it that way..."
"I would, Dr. You, more than anyone sitting in this courtroom should be aware of how fragile Mr. Carroll's health was, and how easy it would be to make a fatal mistake. And yet you were willing to sit in judgement of an elderly woman, a non professional, and leave the jury with the implication that there was something suspicious about the mistake she made. Would you care to reconsider your remarks?"
Lew just stared at him until he finally raised his eyes to look at him. Amparo wouldn't look at me.
"Yes. Mr. Carroll was in precarious health and it is quite possible that a lay person would make a mistake without intending to. Sometimes, we doctors tend to forget that -- lay people aren't doctors or nurses."
"No further questions."
Lew gave me a little look that spoke volumes and swaggered back to his table. Alright, he didn't really swagger. That's just the impression I got. But, he was going to find out that the old gunslinger wasn't going to go quietly.
"Re-direct, your honor."
Lew was expecting, obviously, to have taken the wind out of my sails. Let's see how he liked a gut punch directed at him.
"Dr. Amparo, Mr. Walters brought up the situation involving a patient of yours that died as a result of a mistake in medication. You admitted to that mistake. Was that mistake your fault, not a nurse or subordinate."
"No, sir. It was my fault. I made the mistake."
"Alright, that's honest of you. You mentioned there was political unrest, there was a storm and overcrowding. And you indicated that those were factors in your mistake. Could you please give the jury a little more detail. What was the political unrest?"
He looked down at his hands. After three minutes and the judge growing increasingly restless, I walked over to the witness stand and said softly, "I know what happened, Dr. Amparo. Would it help if I gave the details and you simply confirm them?"
I looked at Lew and he was tempted to make an objection, but there are times when you sense things and I knew he was smart enough not to step in a minefield and become the bad guy.
"At the time, Dr. Amparo, more than 15 years ago, there was political dissension in the Philippine province you and your wife and son lived in, wasn't there? And a major storm had hit the Philippines the previous day. Entire villages had washed away, bodies were still being recovered and the hospital you were working in was so crowded almost every square inch was occupied by cots or people lying on the floors. Isn't that so?"
"You had gone in the previous day. You had worked 36 hours without rest, hadn't you?"
"And two hours before you made the mistake with Mr. Amicay, you had received a radio message on shortwave from the Philippine Security Forces, didn't you?"
He just nodded his head and sobbed.
"And didn't they tell you that a unit of rebels had ambushed a car your wife and son were driving in on their way home from providing relief aid in a neighboring village. And the security forces told you the rebels had raped and shot your wife in the head. And cut your son's head off and place it on a stake near your abandoned car. Didn't they?"
He didn't move.
"They did this because in addition to your being a physician, you were an elected office holder in the province in which you and your family lived, didn't they? They were sending a message to all government office holders in your province."
He remained silent and motionless, head down.
"And when you learned this, Dr. Amparo, did you break down? Go into a room and block out the world? Did you find a bottle and get drunk? Or medicate yourself with the narcotics you had easy access to? It would have been so easy. Your entire world had died that afternoon."
The silence stretched until it seemed like the world had frozen in place. I couldn't even tell that the jurors were breathing. I looked over at Pizarro and even he looked stunned.
Finally Amparo raised his head. His face was wet with tears.
"No. No. I did my job. There were people in there dying, people I could save. I couldn't abandon them. I simply....put my feelings away someplace where they wouldn't hurt. I could grieve later."
I looked up and at Lew and there were no words, but I didn't need any to deliver my message: "Alright hotshot, now that I've cut you off at the knees, let's see how you bounce back."
I turned my attention back to Amparo.
"Doctor, there was obviously a legitimate reason for you to have difficulty concentrating. To your knowledge, on the day Mrs. Carroll gave her husband the wrong medication, had anybody murdered any member of her family? Did she have the responsibility of saving the lives of hundreds of strangers? Was she under any kind of stress similar to what you endured?"
I glanced back at Lew, just daring him to open his mouth and make any kind of objection.
Amparo just shook his head.
"No further questions, your honor."
Pizarro looked over at Lew, and I could swear I saw sympathy in the old judge's eyes.
"Any further questions of this witness, Mr. Walters?"
He just stood at his desk, looked down at Judy Johansen and then at Amparo. I don't normally read minds, but I could read his. There was no way in hell he was going to touch Amparo's testimony now. All he'd do is make the jurors believe he was an unfeeling monster. Checkmate.
"No, your honor."
We went through more cops and ambulance people and others we needed to get on the record, but Lew was going on instinct. I had stunned him, but I knew he'd be back. When we got to the noon hour, Pizarro said, "I think this is a good stopping point. Let's meet back here at1:30. Is that okay with you gentlemen?"
I nodded and looked at Lew. He did also. Then everybody was leaving. Judy J was out on bond and a grown son was here so she went out with him to lunch. When there were only a few people left, Lew came over to me.
"You sure you didn't make a deal with the devil, Bill? Are you really the Angel of Death? How the hell did you do that?"
"Is that you, Lew. You know you shot my eyes out with your blazing guns and I'm helpless here."
He reached out to tap the side of my face and said, "You won't let me live down my big mouth, will you? Why'd you let me step into that shit? You could have brought out all that info and hurt Granny J without making me look like a fucking moron."
"But it was so much fun making you look like a fucking moron."
He rubbed his chin.
"Alright I deserved that. Remind me not to tug on the Tiger's Tail in the future. But you know when all's said and done, I'm going to win. You just don't have enough to convict her. They're not going to send a grandmother to the death chamber, not in this state, not with ammunition you've got."
I stood up and couldn't conceal a small smile.
"We'll just have to see now, won't we young Luke. Anyway, you want to buy me lunch somewhere. Feed me and I might take it easy on you during the trial."
"You know, I ought to try to get you and Debbie back together again. You weren't near this mean when you were fucking her on a regular basis."
I know I clouded up and he tapped me on the side of the face, a little harder this time.
"Come on, man. You're divorced. She's out of your life. You got to be able to take a little shit about her someday. I'm your friend. Probably the best one you got. If I can't razz you about her, you're going to be the walking wounded for the rest of your life. Just get over it, and her, okay?"
MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2005 -- 10 a.m.
Even though she was new on the job, she had heard enough from the staff she had interviewed when she was coming onto the job that she knew most of the attorneys and staff who didn't have to be working were going to be down in Judge Pizarro's chambers for the showdown between Bill Maitland and Lew Walters.
"You want to go down with me," the cute Irish public defender Dennis Leary asked her, sticking his head in her office door. "If you have any game questions, I can do a play by play of the trial."
"You guys will go down there just to watch a murder trial? When it's what you do most of the time anyway?"
He grinned and her stomach would have flip flopped in a pleasant way except that bile rose in her throat and she had to turn her head away from him for a moment. She had already planned to make an appointment with her physician. Ever since the weekend she had been getting nauseous and had even thrown up several times.
The first thing she'd done was buy a pregnancy test and try it out. No way in hell could she be pregnant because she'd been on the pill for years. But...the test had given her blessedly welcome news. Still, the recurrent nausea wouldn't go away. She'd bought Tums and several over the counter stomach medicines.
She hadn't been nauseous like this in years, and that was when she was pregnant. But she wasn't pregnant. So what the hell could it be?
She pulled her attention back to Leary. She was aware of his reputation among the ladies and she'd felt the pull of his bad boy personality, but he seemed like a decent guy. And she did want to see Bill in his element, as well as watching Lew do his thing.
It was funny, but she realized she hadn't seen Bill lawyering in years, since before he had joined the State Attorney's Office. She'd gotten his views of his job in nighttime conversations, and she had gotten the idea of how the people in his world viewed him. But she had never seen it for herself.
Now that they were finally split, just two people who used to live together, she was curious to see him as something other than her husband. She wanted to see him the way others did.
"It's like watching the NFL finals or the Sweet 16. The Killer Granny trial has gotten people around the country interested. And we have a chance to see Lew Walters, AKA the Shark in action going up against the Angel of Death. They ought to sell tickets to this thing."
It was hard for her to imagine people selling tickets to watch Bill in any kind of action. But she realized it was obvious he had had a life she had never really seen.
She rode the elevator down to the courtroom with Leary and they sat on the left side of the public seating section. It was four rows deep and most seats on both sides were occupied.
There were secretaries and attorneys from the State Attorney's Office and Public Defender, as well as a large contingent of local, state and even national media. The "Killer Granny" story had already made the national television newsmagazines.
Two guys had apparently been saving a spot for them and got up and left as she and Leary sat down.
Leary whispered to her, "This is just the preliminaries. It's like the opening of a boxing match. They're just feeling each other out. But something will break."
As they watched and listened to the two attorneys, Debbie remembered her meeting with Lew. He was still damned hot. Tall and slender and he moved with fluid grace. She watched the women in the spectator section, secretaries, lawyers and some just public types as they watched him. Mona had no idea how much competition she'd have if Lew was even willing to look at other women.