The prosecution rested and it was Theo's turn for witnesses. He called a police officer.
"You were one of the investigative officers on the scene the night of the crime?"
"And you spoke with August Day that night. How did he seem to you?"
The man arched his eyebrow and said, "He was about to enter the premises as if nothing had happened. Once we stopped him, he got agitated."
"Did you suspect he already knew what had happened inside?"
"Absolutely not. He was upset with worry about his boyfriend and wanted to get past us. I thought he was talking about Mr. Fortner. I'd been mistaken since there were no other men in the house. When I told him he'd passed away, Mr. Day was so shaken up as most people would be given such news."
"Had you given that news to family members before?"
The man stopped, made a face and said, "Unfortunately, yes. It's something they don't give enough training for in my line of work."
"I have no more questions."
"You may step down, Officer Kenton," the judge said.
The prosecution stood up and said, "Oh, Judge Lobs, I do wish to cross-examine."
"Very well. Proceed."
Prosecutor Wright approached the witness stand. "Officer Kenton, have you ever seen a perpetrator lie in your line of work?"
Shrugging, he said, "Of course. I deal with that all the time."
"How do you know Mr. Day wasn't putting on a good act? After all, it would behoove him to make it look like he didn't know about who was murdered inside. Could he have just dropped off his lover, Beau Blackwell, at some undisclosed place since he was hurt and then go back to the scene of the crime to make it look like he had no knowledge?"
"Yes, it's possible but highly unlikely."
"In all my years, I've never seen a murderer be such a good actor. He was shaken after I told him the news not before and real tears came to his eyes. He'd have to be a trained actor to fool me."
"But it is possible the scenario I laid out could have happened."
The officer glared. "Yes."
"I have no more questions, your honor."
I didn't like how that went because it put it in the minds of the jury that August might have saved Beau somehow and then come back. August said he didn't know where Beau was. He'd been recorded as a missing person, but even I'm not sure if August was telling us the truth. He'd lied about so much of what happened with Daniel Fortner before. I just had to believe August was innocent.
Next, it was my turn to take the stand. I didn't want to but Theo said it would help in August's defense.
"Approximately, what time did Beau and August leave for Beau's apartment on the night in question?"
"I'd say around 7:30 pm. It was just getting dark outside."
"And do you remember what your son was wearing?"
"Yes, it was a new shirt--grey with white stripes."
"And what time did he arrive home the first time?"
"It was not long...around 8 PM."
"Did he have the same shirt on?"
"Any blood stains or marks on him? Did he act differently?"
"No, he didn't act at all different and his clothes were clean."
"None whatsoever and the police didn't find any either."
"Thank you, Mrs. Gallegher-Day. I have no more questions, your honor."
"Prosecution, do you wish to cross-examine?"
"Yes, I do."
My stomach sank a little. I was hoping not to have to face Prosecutor Wright.
"Hello, Mrs. Gallegher-Day."
"Hello," I said, quietly.
"There was something missing in your kitchen shortly before the murder. What was that item?"
Damn. I knew the knife would have been brought up sometime in the testimony, but the sly fox of the prosecutor wanted it to come out last to underscore that it was the murder weapon in the jury's mind. Sighing, I said, "Yes. Our butcher's knife."
The jury made a collective gasp.
My heart sped up. Could I be the one to personally nail my son into his jail cell from my testimony?
"Have you taken a look at the murder weapon? Is it the same brand as yours, Mrs. Gallegher-Day?"
"Yes," I answered, reluctantly.
"Do you believe it is the same knife?"
Closing my eyes, I whispered, "Yes."
"The jury can't hear you, could you speak up?"
"Yes," I said a bit louder.
"How do you know?"
"Because, my husband had used it as a tool one time and took a chunk out of the handle accidentally."
"Yes...and the murder weapon has this same marking, does it not?"
"Thank you, Mrs. Gallegher-Day for your cooperation," he said with a wicked smile swishing his face. "No more questions, your honor."
With all the testimony in, it was time for the closing arguments. As expected, Prosecutor Wright painted August as a crazed, spurned lover who was bent on seeking retribution for his love killing herself. He meticulously planned this murder down to the detail of calling up Daniel Fortner and meeting him at the apartment. Unfortunately, the murder went awry when Daniel, in the hopes of protecting himself, shot Beau as August maliciously stabbed him in the back. Of course, since he'd planned it, August changed his clothing before all this took place. Once the crime was committed, he changed back into his clean clothing. Nevermind that they never found said bloodly clothing. I had to try not to roll my eyes at this made up scenario.
Then it was Theo's turn to lay out his argument.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what you've just heard from the prosecution is their failed attempt to condemn an innocent man. The only thing connecting August Day to this crime is the murder weapon which came from his home, but anyone coming into contact with the house, including workers and friends all had access to that knife. Beau Blackwell himself could have borrowed it for some unknown reason and the perpetrator used it, seeing it laying on the counter. This alone is not enough to make us think August Day did this crime. His friends say he'd not capable and the bloody clothing is no where around August Day. As the medical examiner herself said, not only would the clothing be bloodied, but his face, his hair, shoes, everything would have been covered in blood. And the time period between when he left his home and when he arrived did not give enough time for him to commit murder, take Beau Blackwell somewhere, shower, change and get back to his house in a span of thirty minutes. It just doesn't make sense."
Theo smiled as he says, "No...it's ludicrous, in fact to suggest such an idea. As others have testified, Daniel Fortner was a hated man. A violent man himself, capable of murder. He had a gun and shot Beau Blackwell. That is clear evidence. I say the key lies with Beau Blackwell himself who, unfortunatley, has disappeared conveniently. I believe he or someone he knows who is close to him is the one who used this knife that Beau might have borrowed and in the heat of the moment, killed Daniel Fortner in defense of Beau.
Therefore, you cannot believe without a shadow of a doubt that August Day committed this murder. The circumstancial evidence is just not there. It is weak. Someone did murder Daniel Fortner, but it was not August Day. I believe in our judicial system. I believe that you, dear members of the jury, will make the right and just decision based on the facts you've been presented."
It took only six hours of deliberation for the jury to come to their verdict. I wasn't sure if this was a good or bad sign, but my heart was beating so hard it hurt. Seth held onto me as the forman rose from his chair. He said, "We, the jury, find the defendant, August Jackson Day...."
"...innocent of the murder of Daniel Fortner."
The blood rushed out of my body as tears flooded my eyes. Seth and I enveloped our son and he cried into our shoulders.
The nightmare was over.
We could finally take our boy home.
I went back and forth on whether to leave this on a cliffhanger but decided against it since I want to start the YA years fresh on Monday without any loose ends. This ends the teen arc! Yay!
Next update is on Monday, February 12th
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