Mystery and Crime Fiction posted September 1, 2019 Chapters:  ...20 21 -22- 23... 


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The truth and nothing but.

A chapter in the book What The Blind Girl Saw

What The Blind Girl Saw #22

by Sally Law


The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

~**~
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."

I found myself cursing the darkness overshadowing the trial, and the aftermath I was forced to live with.

My mind drifted to this quote as I remembered our former First Lady and her amazing resilience.

"There was nothing I could do to alter the dark truth of Andre's murder, but--by God--I'd shine the light of truth!" I was jolted from these deep thoughts as the gavel came down.

Day two of the trial of the murder of Andre Dupree had officially begun, and the Honorable Judge Preston Hawthorn was seated. I slapped my mind to attention after inwardly chastising myself for staying up so late last night.

According to the State Prosecutor, Roy Fitzgerald Owens, Dr. Marie MacLavish would continue with her forensics testimony, graduating to the blood DNA found at the scene and on the murder weapon.

There was a possibility I might be called to the witness stand today to testify because Jackson, King, and I were there on the morning of the murder and when the bloody crowbar was discovered buried beneath our magnolia tree.

**************

Dr. MacLavish knew from her years of experience that the most vivid and compelling evidence was live forensics. It engages the court attendees like nothing else.

Who could forget the trial of O. J. Simpson? The former running back for the Buffalo Bills stood at the center of the courtroom, modeling the DNA-covered gloves retrieved from the murder scene of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and friend, Ron Goldman--you know, the ones that were ridiculously small for his hands. This created reasonable doubt and showcased the power of live forensic testimony.

Today would be more of the same--re-enacting the day Andre Dupree was murdered in his home. The crowbar that was used to bludgeon him to death would be shown directly to the jury.

The crowbar contained only two sources of blood DNA. One belonged to the Defendant, Philippe Savard, and the other was Andre Dupree's.

It would prove to be as effective as the gloves modeled by O. J. Simpson in 1995, moving our township's jury decision in the last hour.

***************

The home of Dr. Francois Segal, Resident Physician of
St. Paul's Hospital, near Colmar, France~May 20, 1944.

"This little girl is just an angel," exclaimed Marie Segal to her husband. "Good as gold."

"She is a sweet thing," said Dr. Segal. "Her maman was distraught though, with the weight of the world on her shoulders. I've seen so many just like this family during these war years."

"Oh, my husband, if only we had such a child as Jeanne-Louise. I wouldn't ask anything of God ever again!"

"You're still young, Marie. Perhaps the stress of the war is to blame. We'll keep trying," he said, touching her cheek. "How is our little patient this morning?"

"She ate breakfast and drank two glasses of goat's milk--is what she did," answered Marie.

"Ah, good, that's very good. Let me have a look at her before I leave for the hospital. Is she bathed?"

"Yes, dear doctor. She smells like lavender, and of course, goat's milk," said Marie, smiling.

***************

France countryside, May 20, 1944~

Andre Dupree halted his borrowed mare before he reached the truck. His eyes fell on David's form, but his mind couldn't comprehend the gruesome sight.

He slid to the ground, running to his dearest friend in the world, David von Gil. Touching him tenderly, Andre knelt beside him, drenching him with his tears. "Why did I agree to this? Why? I should've known the risk involved. This is all my fault!" He held his friend and rocked him in his arms. "What will I tell your wife? Little Andre?"

Blood was sprayed on the driver's side door, and his trench coat stained in brownish-red. Andre saw the tweed cap he had loaned David, still clutched in his hand. With pained regret, his memory recalled David happily waving the cap as he drove away from the cave. "Was it only two days ago he was alive and well?"

His thoughts raced when he realized his girls were not accounted for.

Frantically, he rifled through the truck cab, searching for clues of Maman and Jeanne-Louise's whereabouts. Nothing.

Except for David's kerchief wadded on the front seat along with a few apple cores strewn about, there was no evidence of his maman and sister ever riding in the truck.

Grief was pushed aside when he realized the German soldiers may be returning soon, compelling him to move quickly.

The vultures were becoming more bold too, and had surrounded him. He gathered a few rocks, and threw them, chasing the predators away.

With all his strength, Andre lifted David's body onto the truck bed then covered him with burlap sacks.

In the hope that he could get his truck running; Andre slid into the driver's seat. He pulled out the choke before switching on the ignition to start the engine. The engine hummed as it turned over on the second try, but Andre was unable to move the truck in either direction. The problematic gears appeared to have given out. After examining underneath the hood, he quickly saw the issue. "It's the gearshift all right--in desperate need of lubricant."

Luckily, his borrowed mare drew his attention to a pile of fresh manure. "Perfect. That will do in a pinch." He scooped the manure into the kerchief and applied it to the gears.

"Now, if I can loosen these gears just a little . . . ." He finally moved the shifter out of neutral, to first, and back again. "Success!"

Andre thought it might be possible to drive slowly in first gear back to the cave. But first, he must search the wooded areas for his girls.

***************

Maman slowly awoke from her tormented sleep in the forest. She felt a heaviness in her chest, and feverish. A pounding headache had kept her from getting up and moving around.

Someone was staring at her, as cracklings in the bramble signaled a presence. She lay still, stifling her tears.

A jackrabbit came and nibbled on her toes and she was never more relieved to see signs of life.

The hills of France in Spring had left her chilled, leaving her exposed to the damp forest air, and the night's shadows--despairing.

The convoy of German soldiers would've shot her--or had their way with her--had it not been for David. No doubt, he had saved her life. Renee Dupree was still very beautiful, with long brown hair and violet-blue eyes. She had noticed a wounded German soldier staring at her lustfully while she waited with David and Jeanne-Louise at St. Paul's Hospital.

But the mid-morning sun shone on a much-altered woman. She felt sick in body and spirit, certain David had been shot.

Suddenly, in a brief vision, she saw the faces of her children, Andre and Jeanne-Louise.

Drying her eyes, she headed back to the road to see if there was any chance David was still alive.

***************

Jackson leaned into me and whispered, "Clayborne Moore is here. I certainly wasn't expecting him back so soon."

Mr. Moore had excused himself on the first day of the trial, and was replaced by his less experienced co-counsel, Ashley Bishop.

"It should be an interesting day," commented Jackson.

"How so?" I asked.

"You can't see the overall picture, but everyone at the defense table looks like death warmed over."

The judge wasted no time as he showered us with pleasantries.

"Good morning, everyone," said the judge. "Mr. Moore, it is good to have you back with us today and you, too, Miss Bishop. We will proceed where we left off yesterday, as the court recognizes Mr. Owens at this time."

"Thank you, Your Honor. The state would like to continue with the forensic testimony from our county's medical examiner, Dr. Marie MacLavish," said Mr. Owens.

"Doctor, you are still under oath from yesterday in your continuing testimony," reminded the judge.

"Yes, Your Honor," replied Dr. MacLavish.

Mr. Owens spoke in his slow drawl, "I understand you have recreated the scene of the murder with a few of your staff members for today's court. Is that correct?"

"Yes, Mr. Owens."

"They may come forward at this time to the center area. I give the floor to you, Dr. MacLavish."

"Thank you, Mr. Owens. I have a special request today as part of the reenactment. I would like Mrs. Sally Law to read the letter addressed to her from Charles Dupree marked as state's evidence, exhibit (v). We have made a Braille copy for her convenience and needed participation in today's testimony."

Judge Hawthorn waved to Jackson and called me forward. "Are you prepared to do this today? If not, we can move this to tomorrow."

"No, I'll be fine, Your Honor," I replied.

The bailiff swore me in. "Repeat after me. I solemnly and sincerely promise before Almighty God that the evidence which I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

"Please state your full name for the court."

"Sally Jeanne-Marie Law."

"And your occupation?"

"I'm a retired canine trainer, specifically detection dogs."

"Thank you, Mrs. Law. You may be seated."

Jackson seated me as I signaled to King with my hand to stay.

The original letter was brought forth and shown to the judge and jury, and marked as evidence. I was handed the Braille copy prepared for me by a local librarian.

I pushed my sunglasses onto my head as I began to read aloud, my fingers quickly scanning the text.

To Sally,
I write this to you because I know you will do the right thing. You seem to have a quality about you that draws people to trust you.

First, I must confess, I have asked God to forgive me for the horrible things I have done to you all, and especially my father. He didn't deserve to die like that.

With that being said, here is what really happened the day of my father's murder.

I discussed and planned it all, step by step, along with Philippe Savard. The only part that was not true to my side of the deal was my father's murder. He was killed--in cold blood--by my evil partner.

In the beginning, it was all about stealing and selling my father's oil paintings. In my opinion, they were never displayed and sold as they should have been.

Philippe Savard had online buyers ready to purchase, paying us handsomely. He had many connections in the art world, and had pictures of my father's oils ready for bidding as soon as we had them in hand. The pre-arranged sales seemed to fall in place effortlessly.

However, once Savard got wind of the white diamonds and their possible whereabouts behind one of the oil paintings, he went crazy. That's all he could think about. He shifted his interest solely towards the diamonds.

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 the 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 stopped at this point and held up one finger, as my emotions got the best of me. "Just a moment please, Your Honor."

The kind bailiff handed me some more tissues. Composing myself, I continued reading.

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. 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. He buried the crowbar in your yard as he was leaving. That's when you and King came upon him. He would've killed you, too, if it weren't for your protective dog and quick police response.

Later that day, Savard texted me and said he looked for diamonds behind every painting but came up empty-handed. I knew then, the gems had to be in your care, or hidden behind the rose painting given you by my father. Dad always boasted they were in safe keeping.

I was confident at the time, Savard would've been back to steal the diamonds himself; and God knows to what lengths he would've gone to get them. I volunteered to burglarize your home, and retrieve them from behind the rose painting, paying off Savard to get my life back. (My dad always kept a key to your house on an alligator keychain by his front door. That's how I entered your home so easily.) I'm sorry about that, too. Anyway, we know how that ended, and here I am.

Philippe Savard is evil, greedy, and has no conscience. I sorely regret my days spent with him. He deserves the maximum penalty for what he did. It was pre-meditated, with malice, with the intent to kill.

I hope I live to give testimony of these things; but, if not, please deliver this letter to the State Prosecutor via Detective Mike Lembowsky.

I blame myself for letting this happen. Even now, I beg God to forgive me, along with my father, you, and Jackson. I hope you all can forgive this--forgive me.

Sincerely,
Charles Dupree


The courtroom remained silent as I signaled to Prosecutor Owens.

"Your Honor, I have additional evidence that I would like to submit to the court at this time, if I may. I brought with me: journals, birth certificates, and adoption records proving that I am the niece of Andre Dupree. I plan on confirming this with Mr. Owens, and providing all the pertinent information needed for the court."

A collective gasp followed.

To be continued . . . .


Recognized

#23
2019



To continue to chapter 23 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


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