One of Every Color
The air was tense. It wasn't difficult for Miles to imagine every person on the edge of his or her seat, watching him expectantly. Their attention was cold and accusatory, but he was long since used to that. He knew their manner would change quickly enough anyway--the gallery was always that fickle.
He wondered briefly if anyone
could see how shallow his grin was.
Even if no one noticed, there was still only one way he could proceed. It would be over soon.
"Your Honor." Miles gathered himself up, trying to ignore
"The prosecution?" The Judge blinked, looking rather confused himself. "Cross examine? Ah, it's been a while since I've even heard of that!"
"Forgive me for being old fashioned," Miles replied with a smirk.
The Judge considered, giving
"Well, I don't see why not," the Judge admitted. "You may ask your questions, Mr. Edgeworth. That is, begin your…cross examination." He pounded his gavel, seemingly quite amused by the entire concept.
"Thank you, Your
Honor." Miles turned his attention
on Chassie, prompting
Chassie tilted her chin down slightly, for a moment looking even more like Urami than usual--as if she might have picked up the gesture from her. "I did."
"I'd like you to tell the court exactly where he was."
"He was…." Chassie paused, gauging Miles as if fearful of being caught in some kind of ambush. "…in a cradle," she finished carefully. "A small bassinette, at the foot of the bed."
"In other words, the bedroom--where you and Mr. Hoff fought over who would take him?"
Miles tilted his head slightly. "Did you get any alcohol on the baby?"
Chassie straightened, as did much of the gallery. "I beg your pardon?"
"The baby," Miles repeated impatiently, as if having to remind her. Chassie's shoulders inched up in irritation. "Did you get any alcohol on the baby, when you broke the glass bottle and spilled wine all over?"
Miles was quick to defend his line of questioning. "Your Honor, I have evidence that some harm might have befallen the baby William some time before the fire. Seeing as Chassie admits to being the last person at the scene before the arson and related deaths, I have a right to question her."
"Are you suggesting that the arsonist took the time to kill a sleeping child, then set the building on fire?" Miles challenged.
The only reason someone would do that,
He didn't have time to consider--he had to respond to Miles now. "I wouldn't presume to know. But the fact remains Chassie was not last at the scene."
"Exactly what kind of evidence are we talking about?" the Judge inquired.
Your Honor." Miles lifted what looked like an autopsy
"But the baby was not discovered under any debris," Miles retorted, wagging his finger at him. "It was found in the burned out remains of the very bassinette Miss Gander has just mentioned."
The Judge banged his gavel as soon as the voices of the crowd began to swell. "Witness, would you like to amend your testimony?"
Chassie was staring straight ahead, her eyes fixed on some point below the Judge's seat. "No," she answered quietly.
"Then you have no explanation?" Miles prompted, his voice mocking. "As to who might have harmed, then tried to save, then burned your own son?"
"It was not me," Chassie insisted shakily.
"Oh? Then do you admit that's what happened?"
Miles waved a hand disdainfully. "It's a fair enough question. She and Mr. Hoff fought--quite heatedly--in that very room. We know the baby was somehow injured. You can't discount the possibility that the events were connected."
"A court of law is not based on possibility, Edgeworth."
"It was not me," Chassie murmured again, her hands shaking against the witness stand.
"Then who was it?"
Miles demanded before
"It wasn't me!" Chassie cried, her voice growing suddenly shrill as her control failed. "It was her--it was that backstabbing whore!"
"That monster Ann Arky killed my son!"
"Witness!" the Judge exclaimed, blinking in surprise. "What is the meaning of this?"
"It was her!" Chassie wailed, her shoulders hunched as she leaned forward against the wooden stand. She was trembling all over. "That Ann--William was my son! She had no right to him!"
Miles, having seemingly expected her breakdown all along, quickly pounced on the opportunity to extract more testimony from her. "Miss Arky intervened when you were arguing with Mr. Hoff, didn't she?"
I don't know what he's getting at, but I have to stop him! "O-Objection! There's no basis for--"
"She tried to take my
baby," Chassie went on despite
…To cover something up….
"So the cradle was
knocked over," Miles was saying, drawing
Chassie quivered and turned her head away. "…Yes."
"And you tried to resuscitate him."
"Was this before or after you hit Mr. Hoff with the wine bottle?"
faltered. Her eyes darted back and
forth, in a way that
Miles tilted his chin
up. He had shed his bravado from
earlier, by now looking as cold and professional as
Chassie's eyes went wide, and as she stared vacantly down they glistened with tears. "I…." She lowered her head, hiding again beneath her thick locks of hair. "I didn't kill anyone."
Say something. Damn
"I don't have to," Miles replied smoothly. "If the child died as a result of a crime Miss Gander was already in the act of committing--namely, murder--the law can still hold her responsible for the death. Thus, three counts of murder."
"Yes, that's true," the Judge confirmed. "Though, which murders are you referring to?"
Miles's hand slammed down on his desk in another impressive clap of sound. "I am referring to the murders of Jack Hoff and Ann Arky, which were committed before the fire was started!"
"The proof is the contradiction in her own testimony," Miles said firmly. "First she claimed Ann Arky had nothing to do with her fight with Mr. Hoff--she was only an observer. But now we learn Ann did interfere, enough that a young child was killed because of it. The question is, why did Miss Arky feel compelled to reach for the baby?"
"I…." Chassie struggled to regain some kind of composure. "It was after I hit Jackie with the bottle," she related hoarsely. Her face remained hidden, but it sounded as if she were crying. "She was afraid."
"Don’t you find that strange?" Miles continued. "As Miss Gander has pointed out herself she is a frail woman, and she claims Mr. Hoff suffered no great injury from her attack. He was well enough to eject her from the building. So then why was Miss Arky fearful enough that she would try to flee with a delicate child?"
"She was a coward," Chassie hissed. "And a kidnapper!"
Miles' hand moved to his
papers, sliding one to the top of the pile.
I still want to know the truth.
"You're certain, then," Miles asked Chassie one last time. "You did not harm Miss Arky?"
Chassie shook her head again, her voice coming out as a thin, grating murmur. "I didn't kill anyone."
Miles's eyes thinned, and he took a deep breath. "As the court is aware," he declared, "blood evidence does not fade over time. It can become harder to see, but even a stain that is a few years old can be detected, and positively identified."
The Judge blinked. "You have such blood evidence to present?"
"I do." Miles lifted his report, giving it a sharp flap just before the bailiff came to take it from him. "If you recall, this last Friday the defense presented a photograph of Chassie Gander making a call from the phone booth just outside Mr. Hoff's residence. By now any fingerprint evidence is long since gone, but the defendant herself has admitted to using that booth the night of the incident."
"Yes, that's true," the Judge said, following along.
"Miss Gander also testified that she hit Mr. Hoff with a bottle. She suffered lacerations to her hands, and no doubt Mr. Hoff sustained at least some kind of injury as well. When Miss Gander made her call that night, the blood from her hands seeped into the thin metal crevices in the phone's cord. However." Miles' voice lifted slightly. "We were able to identify DNA from three different people from the blood we collected from the booth."
"Chassie Gander, Jack Hoff, and Ann Arky."
Chassie shook, and her fingers clenched--in a startling display of strength, her grip spread thin cracks along the polished wood she'd been clinging to all along. "They took my son," she hissed.
"The defendant, Chassie Gander, had suitable motive," Miles addressed the court. "She came that night to retrieve her son, but a struggle ensued. The child's cradle was overturned, and he suffocated beneath it. And in her anger, Chassie killed them both, before replacing the baby in the cradle and retreating to let a friend clean up the mess for her."
Chassie lifted her head,
revealing a tear-streaked countenance twisted with anger and panic.
Chassie's eyes thinned, and she looked away from a face in the crowd who could have only been Urami. Slowly her expression melted into one of merely pain. "Mr. Wright…." Fresh tears spilled over her cheeks. "I'm so sorry."
"Miss Gander," Miles interrupted. His voice was the only sound in courtroom. "Did you stab them with the broken wine bottle?"
She flinched, beginning to shake again as her fingers clenched. Her fingernails broke against the podium. "I cut her throat," Chassie confessed eerily. "From behind. The blood was all over my hands…."
"And Mr. Hoff?"
"I…didn't kill Jackie."
"Witness," the Judge prodded, "you've already just confessed to murdering Miss Arky. Not admitting to killing Mr. Hoff will not ease your sentence."
"I didn't kill
him!" Chassie hollered, her voice cracking. "I stabbed him--I did. In his lying eyes!" She laughed shrilly, making
Chassie's raving was cut off by a thick sob, and she shook herself until she was able to continue. "I left him to burn in the fire--to burn in Hell! He deserved it for taking my baby from me!"
The uproar from the crowd was suddenly deafening, as if Chassie's surrender had unleashed the responses they'd been trying to contain. All around, people declared their shock to each other as she continued to weep, her knees buckling but her hands still tightly gripping the podium. When the bailiff approached to try and remove her from the stand she let out a shriek. "It was my son!" she raged madly, refusing to be touched. "They killed my son! It wasn't my fault--it wasn't me!" Splinters from the wood dug into her grasping fingers and drew blood. "She made me kill her! I hate them--I hate her!"
Through the commotion
"Your Honor," Miles spoke from some great distance. "The Prosecution rests."
The gallery quieted only long enough to hear what the Judge had to say. "The Defendant has confessed," he told the court, he himself shocked by the proceedings. "To…two counts of murder, and one accidental death…? One murder and two felony murders? Three counts of murder? I'm not sure what to make of this outcome."
"The Prosecution is satisfied with two counts of murder. It won't affect the sentence already imposed on her."
"And the arsonist?"
Miles watched him, his face an unreadable mask. He turned again to the Judge. "I'm sorry, Your Honor, but we have no leads as to who might have set the fire that killed Mr. Hoff and his neighbors."
"I see. Then this case will remain…half
solved?" The Judge stroked his
beard thoughtfully and looked at
"Very well." The Judge brought down his gavel with a loud clang.
"This court finds the defendant, Chassie Gander, guilty."
To Next Chapter
Return to fanfiction