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33

Davis surveyed Jack Newlin's spacious, well-appointed office, on the top floor of Tribe amp; Wright. The wall of windows displayed the entire western half of the city, twinkling at night. A cherrywood Thos. B. Moser desk and end tables flanked a patterned sofa, and Newlin had two other desks: a polished library table in front of a matching file cabinet and, against the side wall, a modern workstation with a laptop. Three desks total; Davis would have expected as much. Atop them rested silver-framed photos of Honor and Paige Newlin. It was odd seeing a photo of Honor Newlin alive and it reminded Davis of his purpose.

He wanted to know all he could about Jack Newlin. He crossed to the file cabinet and opened the top drawer, which slid out easily on costly runners. He scanned the files, neatly kept, and all of them were Buxton Foundation matters. He reached into the first accordion, pulled out a manila folder of correspondence, and flipped through it. The letters concerned the tax structure of a charitable gift to libraries worth almost a million dollars. The D.A.'s eyes would have glazed over if it hadn't confirmed his belief that Newlin was a meticulous and patient planner. He marked the files for seizure by the uniformed cop waiting outside, with a warrant and a cooperative security guard from Tribe. He'd read the files at his office, to see the details they contained.

Davis opened the second drawer and zeroed in on the folder that said 'CONFIDENTIAL – COMPENSATION.' He pulled it out and skimmed the stack of papers inside. It was a listing of the partnership draw of the firm's lawyers

from last year. They were ranked in order from the highest paid to the lowest, and he didn't have to look far to find Newlin's name. It was in second place, just under William Whittier's. Newlin's compensation was listed at $525,000 in partnership draw and a million dollars in billings bonus, from the Foundation business he'd brought to the firm.

Davis whistled softly. He had learned the information from Whittier, but it was something else seeing it in black-and-white. He flipped back through the years, fully expecting the most recent year to be the highest. But it wasn't. The previous year, Newlin was still number two, but his draw was $575 grand and his billings bonus was higher, $1.1 mil. The prosecutor double-checked, but he had read it right. He thumbed backward in time, to the previous year's compensation. Again, to Davis's surprise, it was higher than the more recent year, $625 in draw, $1.3 in billing bonus. And Newlin was number one in compensation that year, not Whittier. What gives?

Davis eyeballed Whittier's trend and that of some of the other highly ranked partners. All of them had partnership draws and billings bonuses that increased through the years. That would be the logical trend of the income of a successful lawyer; it was Davis's own salary history, though his pay was much lower. But Newlin's pay was going down.

Davis mulled it over. Given what Videon had told him, he suspected that Honor Newlin had been gradually decreasing the amount of work the Buxton estate was sending her husband and apparently beginning to funnel the billings to Whittier. She was costing Newlin hundreds of thousands of dollars and humiliating him in front of the entire partnership. In effect, Honor Newlin was firing her husband gradually, giving him every reason to want her dead before she cut him off completely.

Excellent, for motive. Davis slapped the folder closed, marked it for seizure, and searched the third drawer, which yielded nothing significant. He stood up, brushed

off his suit, and was about to leave when he glanced at the third desk, the workstation. Newlin's laptop, he'd almost forgotten it. He went to the laptop and lifted its lid, which opened more easily than he expected. It hadn't been latched completely, merely closed to protect the keyboard from dust. Davis had the same careful habit.

The large screen was black, saving power, and he moved the mouse to wake it up. It came to life with Newlin's time records for the day of the murder, and Davis sat down and studied them carefully. Newlin's day in six-minute slices, spent on matters for the Buxton Foundation. The description of the billed time was detailed and complete: prepare contracts, prepare documents for gifts to local college; revise press release with regard to computer-to-schools program; discuss joint gift to the Cancer Society.

He checked the list for telephone calls and other items. All of the calls were related to the Buxton Foundation. The only nonbillable time was for the Hiring Committee; Newlin had interviewed a law student for a summer job. The laptop wasn't much help, but he would seize it anyway, since it was arguably within the scope of the warrant. Davis was just about to shut it down when he noticed the task bar at the bottom of the screen.

He looked closer. The computer was running another program behind a minimized window. He moved the mouse and clicked on the box. A multicolored website popped onto the screen. It was an online travel agency, confirming travel to London, England. There was a ticket on British Airways, ordered that morning and leaving next week, with no return date. He checked the names of the reservations. JACK NEWLIN. A single ticket, no wife.

'Yes!' Davis said aloud and hit a key. That was it! Why wasn't Newlin taking his wife? Because she'd be dead, that's why. Newlin had been planning to leave the country alone after her funeral. Davis felt like he had won a marathon. With what he had learned from Videon, it was more than sufficient evidence to convince Masterson they

shouldn't offer a deal, and after him the conviction would be a snap. The single ticket was just the sort of detail juries ate with a tablespoon. Newlin would pay for the crime he had committed.

Davis moved the mouse and clicked PRINT, just for a souvenir.


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