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| Category: || Mystery and Crime Fiction |
Posted:|| December 8, 2019 Views: 263|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Chapter 30 of the book What The Blind Girl Saw
"What The Blind Girl Saw #30"
by Sally Law
It's every man's business to see justice done. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Burden of proof. In criminal trial law, this 'burden' is carried by the State Prosecutor's Office, and is an important element in securing a guilty verdict.
Without it, the guilty may go scot-free, not receiving any penalty for their actions and the rights of the victim not upheld. The accused, or sometimes referred to as the defendant, is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the prosecutor.
The defense attorney carries the responsibility to defend the rights of the accused, and has the ability to cross-examine each witness.
The jury weighs all the evidence, then convenes to discuss the facts of the case privately. The hopeful outcome in a felony murder trial is a unanimous verdict.
But as in real life, not everyone sees things through a clear lens. Each person has his or her own way of making assessments; and, when grouped with others, it can be a long process to come to an agreement.
I once served as a foreman for an assault and battery case where one of the jurors didn't like the outward appearance of the defendant. After four hours and ten styrofoam cups of Maxwell House, I finally delivered the obvious not-guilty verdict on behalf of the jury.
Today, a man stepped forward to give sworn testimony of his involvement in the murder of my uncle, Andre Dupree. His name is Paul Bellamy. I tangled with this man in the ladies' washroom earlier in the trial. According to my husband, Jackson, he still looked like he'd just been thrashed.
Although I wished my encounter with this man had not been so frightening, I was hoping we all could view him as someone who had heard and seen things others did not. Most of all, I hoped he could add to the state's case against Philippe Savard.
Detective Mike Lembowsky offered to sit with King in a soundproof booth so he wouldn't interrupt today's court. There was no doubt in my mind we could easily replay the scene from the ladies' washroom, with my hundred pound German Shepherd pinning Mr. Bellamy down once more.
The witness was sworn in shortly after the opening and greeting by Judge Hawthorne.
Prosecutor Owens was relaxed, and his tone, disarming. He came across as sincere, wanting to get to the crux of the matter.
"Thank you for your attendance in court today, Mr. Bellamy."
"You're welcome," he replied.
"Please tell the court, did you know Andre Dupree personally?"
"I had never laid eyes on Andre Dupree until I saw him bludgeoned to death, lying on the floor."
"Were you acquainted with either Charles Dupree or Philippe Savard?"
"I was acquainted with Charles Dupree only by way of Philippe Savard. Mr. Savard and I were business partners at one time."
"I see," said Prosecutor Owens. "Could you please expound on this business partnership?"
"We would purchase antiques and other valuables and resell them for a profit."
"And would you describe this partnership with Mr. Savard as a corporate one, or nothing more than a gentlemen's handshake?"
"Strictly a gentlemen's handshake. We had no official papers drawn up between us."
"How did you split your profits?"
"That is where I wish I'd been smarter about the ways of Phillipe Savard. He was always withholding money that was due me. My overdue paycheck was to be from the artwork coaxed out of Andre Dupree and sold to online bidders."
"Please recall for us the day of the murder, beginning with your arrival at the Dupree residence."
"I arrived by cab a few minutes after Charles Dupree and Philippe Savard. I was originally to deflect any visitors coming by while Charles and Savard met with Andre. I was shocked to see the front door ajar and Andre Dupree lying there bloodied and still. I took off my shoes and stepped inside. Charles was hysterical and left almost as soon as I came in. Savard grabbed me and demanded I search behind every painting in the studio for the suspected diamonds. He disappeared to the master bedroom where he uncovered a secret chamber where a single pink diamond was found. Savard mentioned the diamond was a gift to Andre for hiding a family of Jews during the war. Anyway, I never found any other diamonds in the residence that day. When we went outside to dispose of the crowbar, Andre's blind next-door neighbor, Mrs. Law, interrupted us. She called her German Shepherd just as Savard was going to silence her--kill her. We heard sirens and left hurriedly after burying the crowbar."
The entire courtroom erupted. Jackson reached over and held me close as we both shuddered at the thought.
"Order in the court! This is a murder trial, ladies and gentlemen; and we have to navigate some difficult waters. Please, everyone try to control your outbursts as we proceed," said the judge. "You have the floor, Mr. Owens."
"Thank you, Your Honor. The story doesn't end there, does it, Mr. Bellamy?"
"No sir, it does not."
"Did you and Mr. Savard have a meeting with Charles Dupree later in the day at Mouth of the South Cafe in downtown Lafayette?"
"Yes, and it was a strange one."
"How so?" inquired Mr. Owens.
"I had just come into the cafe and noticed Charles right away. He was intoxicated, sitting at the bar. I offered to call him a cab, then escorted him to the door. After he left, I sat down with Savard. He told me he had taken the pink diamond and fed it to Charles during dinner, unbeknownst to him. I asked Savard why he would do such a stupid thing. He said it was a 'guarantee' Charles would make it to Paris the next day, the diamond lodged inside of him. He promised me a cut from the sale as soon as we were back on French soil--my payment in exchange for my silence. In the meantime, Charles and Savard were arrested within hours of each other, charged with Andre Dupree's murder. I was a fool to believe the psychopathic liar, thinking some of the proceeds from the diamond's sale would come to me."
"Why did you agree to come today and give sworn testimony?"
"I forcefully questioned Mrs. Law in the ladies' washroom wanting to know what happened to the pink diamond. I read in the local newspaper, she had inherited the entire Dupree estate, and assumed she must've had it in her possession. She sincerely didn't know, and I felt painfully sorry for asking. She dropped the assault charges and sent word asking me to step forward with any information regarding her uncle's killer."
"Thank you, Mr. Bellamy. I'll turn the cross-examination over to Defense Counsel Moore at this time."
Fermier Dairy Farm, Strasbourg, France. July, 1944.
A new family unit had formed in the war-torn countryside of Strasbourg. Andre Dupree and his Maman, Renee, were staying with a newfound friend they had grown to love and appreciate more by the day--Leo Fermier. Also making their lives worth living again, was the kind and tender Hava von Gil. The widowed Jewess was soon to birth another child, yet went about her days on the farm with joy and strength. She attended to Maman, and was unswervingly dedicated to her recovery.
The allied invasion had been successful and the Germans were leaving France. It would take years for France to recover; but it would survive, person by person, and family by family.
The Duprees had much still ahead of them to overcome. Their farm and home were burnt beyond recognition. No doubts were entertained as to why the German soldiers had left such a cruel parting gift.
The whereabouts of Jeanne-Louise Dupree were still unknown, as St. Paul's Hospital in Colmar had closed around the first week in June. When Leo inquired about the hospital's dairy order being cancelled, he was told Dr. Segal, along with his wife and child, had suddenly left for Switzerland. Leo was surprised by this news, as he had never heard the doctor speak of a child.
It was on this July day that these war refugees bonded and came together for years to come. Hava went into labor early, Leo by her side.
"Leo, something is wrong. Please see if you can maneuver the babe."
Leo had seen this before many times in his hospital training. He had delivered two babies already in his short career as a medic. But his emotions were running high as the hours of difficult labor passed.
"Hava, let me know when you feel the next contraction." Leo leaned her forward and placed pillows behind her back. He held her hand as he tucked a few loose strands of hair behind her ears. Oh, how he wished this child was his, and this loving woman, his wife.
Hava let out a gasp. "Now--Leo!" Leo moved to the front of her and placed his hands on her abdomen and pressed down. The baby girl came out effortlessly.
Hava prayed aloud as she received her newborn from Leo's hands. Leo teared at the precious sight and quickly became overwhelmed. As he started to leave the room, Hava called to him. "Leo, please come here."
It was then, he saw it--felt it.
"Leo, thank you. I owe you my life." She signaled for him to come closer.
Leo was sure this was a dream, a sweet one, but a hope induced dream nonetheless. She pulled him close and kissed his cheek. Leo wiped away love's tears before she could see.
"Isn't she beautiful, Leo?"
"Just as beautiful as her mother," Leo replied.
They sat together while Leo bathed the baby and wrapped her snuggly in a blanket. I thought I knew what love was all about, until now.
"Let me know when you want me to bring in the boys and Maman. I'm sure they're fit to be tied. After that, I'll get Maman to help you with a bath while Andre and I prepare a special dinner," Leo said smiling.
Clayborne Moore had very little defense left for his loathsome client.
Mr. Bellamy had confirmed the forensic evidence and sworn testimonies, including the letter brought forward from Charles Dupree penned from prison. The story sounded almost identical to what Charles had recounted. The funny thing was, Charles had never mentioned Paul Bellamy in his letter. It could have been that Charles was so distressed that he simply didn't see him there. It was a possibility, as people are prone to miss obvious things during times of trauma.
Mr. Bellamy had described Charles as hysterical, and that he'd left his father's home in a hurry.
Clayborne paused for a moment to re-read the letter from his trial notes, focusing on one section.
On the morning we arrived at my father's house, we had planned to knock him unconscious with the flower pot and steal a few of his paintings. I got into it with Savard on the front porch, and he cut his hand on some broken pottery shards. He went into the garage and retrieved a towel along with a crowbar. Then, running back and through the open front door, he jumped my dad as he was walking away, hitting him so hard with the crowbar that it killed him instantly.
I will have to live with that ghastly sight until I die--which I suspect will be soon.
He walked past my dad without emotion, and began to check behind the paintings for the rumored white diamonds. But, I was so distraught--hysterical really--that I couldn't join him in the search. I left him there, walking as fast as I could to catch the next train.
"Mr. Moore, do we need a recess at this time?" asked Judge Hawthorne.
"No, Your Honor. I'm just refreshing my memory."
"Mr. Bellamy, I just read Charles Dupree's letter; and it doesn't mention your presence at all. Can you explain that?"
"Like I said, I had just stepped inside the door as Charles ran from the house. I don't think he saw me; but, if he did, he knew I had nothing to do with Andre Dupree's murder."
"How did you communicate with Philippe Savard?"
"I had a burner phone, and I also emailed Savard from a ghost account."
"Mr. Bellamy, what is your assessment of the crime scene? Specifically, did it look like a well-planned murder, or something done in the heat of the moment?"
"I was told it was a meeting, not a diamond search with a murder to clean up. Savard and Charles Dupree must've fought because Savard was bleeding all over the place. To answer your question, I'd say it was most likely portrayed to Charles one way, but, once inside the house, Savard let loose his fury on the old gentleman as planned. I also realized that day, Savard has no conscience--not a drop."
To be continued . . . .
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