A/N: This was the continuation of a prompt, which I’ve placed as quoted text. I had heaps of fun creating this, and I hope you like it as much I enjoyed writing it! Enjoy!
He pleaded not guilty, but I knew something no one else knew. I was there that day.
I knew the truth of what happened, and yet, I couldn’t say anything. The evidence, I knew, was not enough to convict anybody of the crime, let alone him. As the court broke for a short break, I slipped out the back, making sure to keep out of the way of other people. They did not notice me, and I wanted it that way. Oh, for sure I could make myself known – it would have been easy enough for me to walk up to them and say ‘hi’, or to ‘accidentally’ bump into someone. But I didn’t want this, not now. What I wanted – what I needed – was proof of his wrongdoings. I needed to find something to prove he had done it.
There had already been an eyewitness. I had convinced her to testify in court – and trust me, it had not been easy. She had been terrified – absolutely terrified, the poor thing – but in the end, I managed to persuade her that it was for the better. I can’t take all the credit, of course. Her conscience was mostly the reason she had agreed. She was too young to have seen such horrible things, and, forgive me for saying this, but it was the exact reason I needed her to be the one to point him out in a line-up. At 17, there would have been no reason for her to lie.
But, I also knew that an eyewitness was not enough. Sure, it was evidence of sorts to place him there, but it was nothing solid. Any good cop and judge would know that memory is a fickle thing, not to be trusted as anything concrete. And this was the exact reason I needed more time – I had to find more evidence, somehow, some way, or he would walk.
There was no way I would ever let a guilty man walk.
So, quietly, I made my way across the hallways until I found the judge, talking with another man. I didn’t know, nor care, who that was. My only interest was the judge. “Excuse me, I need to talk to you,” I said, softly, and waited until the man had ended his previous conversation before leading him to a nearby lounge seat. Nobody else was around, which was good, because this needed to be a private conversation.
“Your Honour, I must insist that you postpone today’s court meeting,” I told him. He protested, but I went on before he could get a word in. “I just need a little more time to get the evidence. He’s guilty, I know he is, but nobody can prove that at this point.” Still the man remained unmoved, and so, I tried another card. “You don’t want to be the reason a guilty man goes free, do you?” This seemed to strike a chord, and I could sense his hesitation. “If you let the trial continue today, that could very well be the result. Call recess. You can do that in particular circumstances, can you not?”
Slowly, he nodded. “Good, then do it,” I said, then, for effect, added, “After all, a guilty man going free would be bad for such a reputable judge as yourself.” He nodded again, and I knew he would do it. Too easy, I thought as I got up and left him. I knew he would do exactly as I asked. He was a good man, and sought only justice. That just made it all the more easy to manipulate him.
Did I feel bad? Of course I did. I like to say I’m an honest woman, and, for the most part, I am. A church-goer, faithful wife, a good mother to my 3 children… You don’t get more real than that, so for me to now have to play the part of a sneaky, going-behind-people’s-back, manipulating witch made me feel horrible.
Leaving the court entirely, I hurried my way to the crime scene. The police had already gone over the scene multiple times, but my gut was telling me they had missed something, that I had missed something, despite being right there alongside them while they searched.
The alley looked so peaceful and safe in broad daylight, and if not for the yellow ‘do not cross’ police tape, one might have never guessed that something horrible had taken place a week ago. If that had not been a giveaway, however, the dark stain of dried blood against the grey cement would have told a tale in itself. It was large, covering an area about the size of a dining table, and I winced as I saw it.
Closing my eyes, I took myself back to the scene the first time I saw it. The body, face down. The fresh, bright red puddle growing. The knife, lying in the middle of the blood. And then I saw it. The feint traces of a shoe print, barely in my line of sight. It had to be his! Was it still there? I hunted around for a little while, and I was just giving up hope when I found it. It was very feint, practically gone, but it was just visible.
I had a police come and look at it an hour later. It took a little bit of convincing, and he was stubborn – why couldn’t the lead investigator have been someone easier to talk to? – but he went. It took him far longer than it took me, despite me trying to point it out multiple times, but eventually he found it. I let him take the credit for the find; I was not interested in fame or glory. I merely wanted the bastard behind bars, excusing my language.
For the rest of the evening, people came and went. Someone took pictures. Another enhanced the print with some chemical spray. Another took a mould, and another, sketched it. Finally, someone went away, with a warrant, to search his house for any and all shoes. I tagged along.
There are not enough words to describe my satisfaction and glee when they found a pair of sneakers hidden in an air vent of his guest room. Honestly, I didn’t care where they found it, only that they did. I was sure it was the proof they needed.
The next day, he was brought to trial and, in front of the jury, the newly found evidence was presented. Upon seeing the shoes, he broke down on stand and confessed to it all. He talked about his love – his obsession – with the woman, and how she had rejected him multiple times. He described how angry that made him feel, and how he decided that if he couldn’t have her, nobody could. He went on to tell them how he had laid in wait for her one night, where he knew she would pass after work, and attacked. He explained how he had realized he stepped in the blood when he got home, and hid his shoes in a panic. He expressed no remorse, except for one thing – he should have burnt the sneakers instead of hiding them.
The result of the trial was, once more, manipulated by me. I snuck into the jury room as they discussed the result, and pushed them to choose the death penalty. He broke down again when they delivered the news. Me? I was beyond ecstatic. Do I feel bad for everything I did? Yes, of course I do. But I had to. You must understand that – I had to.
There was just no way I could have let my murderer go free.