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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: October 19, 2020      Views: 27
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Chapter 20 of the book Pewter's Homecoming
Andrew gets a surprise at his trial.
"Chapter 7 - After Homecoming" by teols2016
Five years later, a closed homicide gets a second look.

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.

Three Years Ago:

"The people call Jose Ortis to the stand," the District Attorney, Quince Martin announced. After Sheriff Darden and the coroner, this would be the third witness speaking for the state of Texas.

Andrew Mooruff looked up in surprise. Why was Jose coming to speak at his trial? Sure, the pair had spoken in their neighboring cells in the county jail, but what did Jose have to say now?

His attorney, Clyde Baxter, put a hand on his shoulder.

"Relax," he hissed in a harsh whisper. "You're agitating the jury."

Andrew tried to relax, but his leg kept shaking. Clyde Baxter didn't say anything about this, so he supposed that was all right. He turned his head to watch as his friend came into the courtroom.

Jose looked a lot cleaner than he had in the jail. He wore beige pants, a clean white shirt, and a brown jacket. He had no stubble and his dark hair was neat, like he'd used a comb. He looked a lot like Andrew needed to look whenever his mother took him to church. In fact, he looked a lot like Andrew did now in court, except Andrew's pants and jacket were black and he was wearing a blue tie.

Jose came up to the front of the room. He swore to tell the truth with his hand on a Bible and sat down to face everyone.

"Mr. Ortis," Quince Martin said. "Do you know the defendant, Andrew Mooruff?"

"Yes, Sir," Jose replied in his Hispanic accent. "He's in the cell next to me at the county jail."

"Why are you in the county jail?"

"I have a problem with drugs, and I got arrested for it. I'm hoping I can get past my problems soon."

Andrew recalled Jose hinting at the business he ran, but he couldn't remember all the details now. He kept watching.

"Did you and the defendant speak much?" Quince Martin asked.

"Yes, Sir," Jose Ortis said. "He was very nervous ... asked me a lot of questions."

Questions about what?"

"He wanted to know what was happening and how a trial worked. I asked him what he did, and he said he tried to help some girls who got hurt. I asked what girls and he told me two girls at the high school. He said they were real pretty girls. He saw them a lot."

Andrew remembered saying that because Jose had asked if they were pretty girls. They were, but lots of girls at the high school were pretty.

"Did the defendant explain how the girls got hurt?" Quince Martin asked.

"He thinks they hit their heads on the wall," Jose explained. "He told me their heads were all bloody. He also told me they were bloody between their legs."

Several people in the courtroom murmured and squirmed.

"He looked between their legs?" Quince Martin asked in astonishment.

"I wasn't there to see if he did," Jose said in disgust. "He just told me how they looked."

Clyde Baxter looked at Andrew, who didn't speak. He was trying to remember what he'd said to Jose over the past few months. He also remembered how both girls had blood on them. That memory still made him sick and he fidgeted in his seat.

"Relax," Clyde Baxter hissed again, that firm hand back on his shoulder. "It's bad enough without you drawing everyone's attention right now."

"What did the defendant say about what happened to the girls?" Quince Martin asked.

"He told me he thinks they hit their heads on the wall," Jose said.

"What did he do when he found them?"

"He said he wanted to help them because they were hurt. He described how he touched them but that nothing worked."

Jose cast a scornful look at Andrew, who didn't know what to do.

"That's all for me," Quince Martin said. "Your witness."

Clyde Baxter let out a long sigh as he rose to his feet.

"Remind us," he said, sounding tired. "What were you arrested for?"

"State troopers pulled me over for speeding and found cocaine in my trunk," Jose said.

"And are you receiving any consideration for your testimony today? Maybe a reduced sentence?"

"Only if I tell the truth. And I am telling the truth."

Clyde Baxter sighed again.

"No further questions," he said.

"Any redirect?" the judge asked.

"No, Your Honor," Quince Martin replied.

"Then, let's recess for lunch."

The judge banged his gavel.

* * *

Clyde Baxter came to see Andrew in the holding cell outside the courtroom. A brown bag sat on the long bench inside the cell. Andrew wasn't hungry.

"How's it going?" Andrew asked his lawyer.

Clyde Baxter released his third sigh in the last two hours.

"Not so good," he said. "They've got the coroner explaining how those girls were attacked and how one of them died, experts from the state explaining how your fingerprints and DNA were found at the scene, and now your neighbor painting you as a pedophile and possibly a necrophiliac, depending on the jury's mood. Plus, he says you told him how they got their heads bashed into the wall, which the evidence shows is exactly what happened. All we need are the families of those girls getting up there to cry about their lost loved ones, and it's over."

Once again, Andrew felt confused by everything this man was saying to him.

Clyde Baxter took a deep breath.

"It might already be over," he continued. "I'm sorry, but I don't know what else to do."

"What does that mean for me?" Andrew asked.

"You need to do a lot of praying. God might not be able to keep that jury from convicting you, but he might be able to convince one of them to keep you off Death Row."

Clyde Baxter turned and left, shaking his head. Andrew let out a sigh of his own as the outer door slammed shut.

The book continues with Chapter 7 - Present. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Jose Ortis: occupied the neighboring cell from Andrew at the Alter County Jail.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.
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