“No further questions,” I said with authority and sat down. We were a couple of weeks into the trial and today was Daniel Floyd’s testimony. I had major qualms about putting him up on the stand, he was chasing after a 19 year old girl which limited his credibility. But he was one of the few people who missed the victim and wanted justice to be served. I was hoping his good looks would allow the jury to ignore the fact he was actively cheating on his wife with a woman young enough to be his daughter.
The defense’s council, Mr. Radcliffe, stood and walked over to Daniel. Smiling, he asked, “When did you meet the victim?”
“Last year,” Floyd said matter-of-factly but did not elaborate. When I prepped him, I made sure it was drilled into his brain that he did not offer up any extra information than necessary.
“Last year. She came into your office? The Dean’s office?” Inwardly I sighed; I knew where this was going.
“Yes, I’m the Dean of the Philosophy Department, and she needed my permission to take a class that was supposed to be for an upper classman.” So far, Floyd was doing well at looking professional on the stand.
“So, did you start screwing her then or did she have come to come back and make an appointment for that?” Radcliffe asked sarcastically.
Jumping up, I yelled, “Objection!” Before I could speak on the terms of the objection, Judge Marcom already sustained me.
Radcliffe resumed his questions. His direct implication that Floyd was jumping Melanie’s bones right from the start was meant to showcase Melanie as a slut. The defense hoped the jury’s prejudices with women living promiscuously might downgrade the act of committing the crime itself, and sometimes it worked. But it could also backfire too. In many cases, the defense lawyer can be seen as the mouthpiece of the defendant and attacking the victim’s behavior could also highlight the defendant’s contempt for the victim, or in the case of Brooks, his obsession.
Radcliffe’ questioning of Floyd was going at an agonizing pace. He was being very thorough in questioning his and Melanie’s relationship. I kept popping up with objections due to relevance but now the judge was giving the defense some latitude and overruling me.
Finally, Radcliffe got to the day of her death. “The day Melanie died, you were the first one the police suspected, correct?”
Daniel smiled, he knew this was coming. He also had a very good alibi with his doctor’s appointment. The doctor backed him up as did the rest of the office. “Yes, but they immediately ruled me out.”
“They did? Where were you?” Radcliffe asked innocently. I nearly rolled my eyes.
“I had a doctor’s appointment.”
Radcliffe nodded, flipped another page, and questioned, “What kind of doctor’s appointment?”
Daniel looked surprised, and again I jumped up quickly, “Objection…”
Radcliffe cut me, “I’ll rephrase. You went to see a Dr. Carl Williams, correct?”
Daniel looked terrified and an internal siren went off. I looked over at Jeremy who was just as puzzled as I was. I realized I had missed something. I knew he had seen Dr. Carl Williams, but I never followed up to what type of doctor he was. Now, the jury would find out the same time I would.
“He specializes as a fertility doctor, correct?”
I watched as Floyd shifted in his seat. I cringed as I realized now what Radcliffe had discovered. “Dean Floyd, were you and Mrs. Floyd looking to have another baby?”
Again, I jumped up with an objection but it was too late. I was overruled. I sat down in horror as I watched Floyd admit he and Rose were not planning on having any children.
“You and Mrs. Floyd actually had decided a long time ago you would have no children, is that correct?”
“Yes,” Floyd admitted while looking down. I turned to look at the jury; they were shaking their heads at him.
“Then why go to a fertility doctor? Or maybe I should say, why go to Dr. Williams in particular? Does he have a particular specialty?”
Again, my own short sidedness loomed over me. Mike would have known to follow up on the doctor. Jack certainly would have. I was able to keep a straight face when Floyd answered, but the entire courtroom reacted.
“He specializes in reversing vasectomies.”
Jeremy leaned over then, pushing one of the papers over to me. It had an interview with some of Rose’s society friends. Rose was forbidden to speak to the press, but she could speak to her friends who then spoke to the press. They felt sorry for their friend and were worried for her, but one of them mentioned they were so relieved to find out her sick husband had a vasectomy. That gave Radcliffe the clue to dig into Dr. Williams.
“I see. But you and Mrs. Floyd didn’t want children, or at least, Mrs. Floyd didn’t want children. Tell me, did Melanie ever mention to you that she might want kids someday?”
I had put one of Melanie’s friends on the stand earlier in the week and Radcliffe had asked what Melanie’s plans were for the future. I thought it an odd question that the defense would remind us the victim had long range goals; they always tried to minimize any sympathy felt for the victim. The girl had mentioned Melanie always wanted a family but I hadn’t thought anything of it at the time.
Daniel nodded his head, “Yes, she did.”
“So you were looking into making that dream happen?”
“Yes,” Daniel said quickly, “I loved her and I would have done anything…”
“Like leave your marriage so you could be with Melanie?”
“Yes,” Floyd fidgeted while speaking, “No! I was…I hadn’t made a decision but…”
“Did Mrs. Floyd know about Melanie?” Radcliffe walked over to the jury. Daniel just nodded but Radcliffe seemed to know even though he wasn’t facing him but the jurists. “Did she want to get divorced?”
Radcliffe turned back to him. “But your wife knew you were becoming very close to your mistress? Your much younger mistress?”
“I loved her.”
“Did you tell your wife that?”
I stood quickly. “Objection! Communication between husband and wife…” the judge sustained me. Radcliffe had only one more question.
“Tell me, Dean Floyd, do you know where you wife was at the time Melanie was killed?”
He looked like he wanted to say something but he shut his mouth. “Not specifically, no.”
Damage was done.
As soon as I could, I had Jeremy on the phone getting a hold of Rose. We had to find out exactly where she went that day; she couldn’t remain coy with us anymore. She was scheduled to testify on Monday.
We found out she was at the country club on ninth. I told Jeremy to head back and go over everything we had on Rose’s activities the day that Melanie was killed.
Walking into the club, I saw Rose seated with a lady I was all too familiar with: Mrs. Angela Davenport. She was an older woman but very powerful. While she had married into the illustrious Davenport family, she had managed the business for 20 years quite successfully since her husband died. I was sure Rose would not like me interrupting, but I didn’t care.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Floyd, I am sorry to interrupt but this cannot wait.” Rose’s eyes shot me an icy look but quickly disguised it when she turned back to the older lady.
“You see what I have to put up with, Angela? It’s not enough my husband was humiliating me by running around with a girl, now I have to deal with the justice system constantly interfering with my life like I’m a criminal too!”
The older woman smiled with sympathy. Jack had always described her as a sharp tack, but she seemed to be fooled completely by Rose’s crocodile tears. She reached out her hand and patted the blonde’s. “It’s alright my dear. Soon this will be over, you can divorce that useless pathetic husband of yours and find yourself a real man.”
She got up then, giving me the once over, while walking away. Rose smiled as the older lady left, clearly enjoying the sympathies that others had been giving her.
“Have a seat, Miss Rubirosa, would you like to order something?” Her voice was polite but there was an edge.
The stress of the courtroom led me to have even less patience than I usually had, which wasn’t a lot. “I’m going to get right to it. You must tell me where you were when Melanie was killed. The defense is setting up for you to be an alternative theory to her death and that can give enough reasonable doubt…”
“Isn’t it amazing, Miss Rubirosa,” Rose interrupted showing not the slightest concern, “that while I’ve been a good wife to my husband, a good citizen to this city, a good humanitarian to charities, that with everything I’ve done, you act like I’m a garden variety criminal who is lying to you now.”
“Mrs. Floyd, without being able to pinpoint your exact movements that day, you will look worse than a liar, you will look like a murderer.”
To my astonishment, she shrugged, “All this trouble for a husband stealing whore. Let me be clear one last time, I have told you everything. I drove around the city, I didn’t stop anywhere and when I got back, the police were already doing their…thing.”
Her nonchalant attitude made me wonder what Mike ever saw in her. Perhaps she developed this ice cold attitude long after they broke up. “You are going to have to check your resentment and jealousies of Melanie at the door when you testify.”
“Jealousies? My dear Miss Rubirosa, the only reason I would be jealous of such a creature is if I wanted something she had. Daniel was not going to divorce me for her. I know for sure he wouldn’t have done so. So he could play with her all he wanted, but he knew better to even ask me for it.”
My eyes narrowed, “What if he got her pregnant?”
She scowled, “He couldn’t have.”
“If he reversed his vasectomy, he could.” That got her attention. She didn’t show surprise at the statement, like I expected, but just a reaction to learning I knew. “Did you know he was going…”
“I know everything about my husband and he knows I know. But he hadn’t gotten the procedure yet, and now of course, he won’t.”
The way she smugly talked left the blood in me running cold. I could actually imagine her committing the crime. Quietly, I replied, “Melanie’s death did work out well for you.”
“You are just realizing I could have really done it, aren’t you? Must be hard to decide who gets prosecuted when there are multiple people who benefit. I didn’t kill Melanie, Miss Rubirosa, when I left her she was very much alive. If I had killed her, I would have ran her over with the car, I would not have strangled her.”
Rose stood up at that, smoothed down her skirt, and walked away. Her denial didn’t mean she still didn’t kill Melanie. My mind was thinking over everything I had just learned. Taking out my phone, I called Jeremy.
“You want to do what?” Jack asked, furious.
I knew I was in for it. I still felt guilty about not following up on Floyd’s alibi completely. But it would be moot if Rose was the killer. “I want to start looking into Rose’s history, including her phone records, to see what I can about her.”
“If I’m not mistaken, Rose Floyd is not the person you are currently prosecuting.”
“Yes, that’s right, Jack.” I cringed at his reaction. Mike was usually the person Jack blamed for the bad turns in our case, whether he deserved them or not. Now I had a new appreciation for what he dealt with. “Look, it’s clear Rose’s alibi is very flimsy and the timeframe means she could have killed Melanie, then hopped in the car and drove off.”
Jack walked back to his chair, “And this theory is just coming to you now? How did you come upon such a brilliant deduction? Oh, I know, it’s coming straight from Brook’s defense team!”
“Brooks was still there after Melanie died. The police found her things in his dorm room,” Jeremy said, trying to help.
“Which Radcliffe got thrown out!” Jack muttered. “If Rose did it, Brooks had to have seen something, didn’t he? Why would he protect her?”
“He might not have, and because his lawyer prevented questioning on the found evidence, we never heard his explanation to why he has Melanie’s possessions…” I said but stopped at Jack’s look. This had turned into a huge mess. The problem was I still thought Brooks could have possibly killed Melanie too, but long days on trial and Rose’s unlikeable demeanor had me questioning it.
Jack stood up, grabbing his overcoat. “I’ve got a meeting tonight with a state senator, John Baker, who has been in office since before I was born and likes to chew without closing his mouth, an astonishing feat considering his teeth can fall out at anytime. But I have to go see him. It’s part of the job, dealing in politics. Doesn’t mean I’ve not dreaded it all day. I didn’t think there was a worse way to spend time. Sitting here listening to your update actually has prompted me to leave early for his house! Sitting down with him sounds much more pleasant than what I’ve just listened to. I don’t care who you prosecute, just as long as it’s the actual murderer!”
With that, Jack stormed out. Jeremy started spewing out things to do, but I had enough. Holding up my hand, I said, “It’s late. Go home to your wife. We are meeting with Bernard early tomorrow and we have to go through his testimony. After he’s done, we’ll get him to work with Lupo on investigating Rose Floyd more. We only have the weekend for that.”
Jeremy didn’t argue. I got my coat and briefcase, heading for the door. It was late, darkness had come a long time ago and I really wanted to just go to bed, to try to forget about the case for awhile. But I knew that wouldn’t happen.
I didn’t plan on it. It wasn’t my intention to skip heading to my apartment and head towards another one. As I went up the elevator, I purposely avoided planning what I would say. There was also the chance I wouldn’t be invited in. But I had to see him because he was someone that actually knew her and it didn’t matter how long ago. He had insights I had to have now.
Knocking on the door, I held my breath. I was nervous. He might be angry at my disturbing him so late and without calling first. When he opened the door, Mike was wearing a t-shirt, and sweat pants. He looked surprised to see me, and his normally perfect hair was ruffled like he had been lying down. I couldn’t get over how adorable he looked.
“Mike, I’m sorry to surprise you. Can I come in?”