Mary and Paige entered Captain Walsh's office, which was surprisingly bare for such top brass. She introduced herself and Paige, then took a seat in front of his regulation-issue desk and gestured to Paige to take the other. Mary had decided to go straight to the top with Paige's confession. The old Mary would have been intimidated, but the new Mary didn't think twice about the asking to see the manager. Thank you for meeting with us, Captain,' she said, and Paige nodded stiffly.
'Certainly.' Captain Walsh nodded, his thick neck folding into the starchy collar on his white uniform. He wore a dark tie and gold badge and his hair looked permanently uncombed. Mary avoided staring at his birthmark, which matched the blotches on her neck. Captain Walsh gestured to the door, opening behind her. 'Here's Detective Kovich. I think you know him.'
'Yes, sure.' Mary twisted around. Kovich entered the office in a short-sleeved shirt and spongy brown pants that revealed he hadn't cut down on portion size. Following him was a young man with spiky black hair moussed straight up and a black tweed jacket with baggy black slacks. Mary figured him for the Young amp; Hip version of detective.
The good-lookin' one is Detective Donovan,' Captain Walsh said, and Mary smiled politely.
'I also remember a Detective Brinkley, from our interview at Paige's apartment. Will he be coming?'
'No, Detective Donovan has replaced him on the case.' Walsh addressed the young detective. 'Say hello to the nice lawyer, Danny.'
'Hello, Ms DiNunzio,' he said, with a mock half-bow, and Mary hated him instantly.
'Where's Detective Brinkley, Captain?' she asked.
'Detective Brinkley is no longer on this case. I'm holding a press conference later today about the matter. He was put on suspension for improper conduct.'
Mary knew it was code for disagreeing with the boss and wondered how Walsh and Kovich would react when Brinkley turned out to be right. She paused until Kovich took a position at the right side of Captain Walsh, leaning against a credenza in the back. Donovan stood next to him, slipped his hands in his pockets, and looked skeptically at them. Mary ignored the boys-against-the-girls vibe and cleared her throat.
'Captain, as you know, I represented Jack Newlin in the early stage of his murder case, and after investigation I came to believe that he was innocent of the crime and that he confessed falsely, to protect his daughter. It turns out to be the truth, and Paige has decided to come forward.'
Captain Walsh frowned so deeply his birthmark folded in two and he addressed Paige. 'Is this true, young lady?'
'Yes, it is,' she said. Her voice sounded soft and young, and Mary's heart went out to her. Mary could only guess at how frightened she must feel, turning herself in to face a murder charge. She had warned Paige that she might not be tried as a juvenile. 'I'm very sorry for what I did, and I'm very sorry I let my father do what he's doing. I shouldn't have. He's innocent. I did it. I… killed my mother.'
'Well, now. That's quite a mouthful.' Captain Walsh's lips set like concrete. 'I think at this point I should tell you your rights under Miranda. I think I still remember how.' He went through the litany as Mary's stomach tightened. As bad as it felt for Jack to be in jail, it would feel equally lousy to have Paige there. It was a no-win situation, and Mary could almost understand why Jack had done what he did. Walsh finished, then asked, 'Do you understand your rights, Ms Newlin?'
'Yes,' Paige said, her voice trembling, and Mary took her hand and squeezed it.
'Kovich, why don't you get us some waiver forms?' Walsh said, and the burly detective straightened and hustled out of the room. 'Ms DiNunzio, are you representing Ms Newlin?'
'Yes, I am.'
'Good, fine.' Walsh clenched and unclenched his fist, as if he had a hand exerciser, until Kovich returned with a flurry of papers and handed them to Mary. 'Ah, here are the forms,' he said, as she read them and nodded for Paige to sign. She did, with a pen handed to her by the captain. 'Now, Ms Newlin, why don't you tell us what happened,' he said.
'Sure. Right. Okay.' Paige ran her tongue over dry lips. 'I was going home to talk to my mother, to tell her I was pregnant. I told my dad on the phone that day, and he said he would be home to help me tell her. I brought my boyfriend over, but I told my dad I didn't.' She paused. 'My mother went nuts when I told her, like she went crazy. She was drunk and she hit me so hard I fell off the chair. Then she started kicking me in the stomach really hard, saying she was going to kick my baby out of me.'
Walsh's dark eyes flared. 'She said what?'
'She started yelling, "You kill it or I'll kill it!" And then I just went crazy, too. I think it was the drugs.' Paige halted and looked at Mary. They had been over this at Mary's office, and Mary had advised her to tell the whole truth, drugs and all. It had to come out, and Mary was hoping it could provide a diminished capacity defense or maybe reduce the charge.
'Drugs.' Walsh sighed,-his frown undisguised. 'What were you high on?'
Mary leaned toward the captain. 'It was given to her by her boyfriend, Trevor Olanski. He was present at the crime and can substantiate everything she says. We've
been trying to locate him but we can't. I have reason to believe he was in New York last night.'
Walsh turned to Paige. 'Please go on.'
'Well, I never took meth before and I was so mad, like raging. It's hard to remember. I grabbed the knife off the table and I… I… stabbed her.' Tears of guilt sprang to Paige's eyes but she didn't cry, and Mary felt proud of her. 'I didn't even know I was so angry inside, but I got out of control and I stabbed her. I finally stopped and calmed down, and I dropped the knife. My mother was… on the floor, so my boyfriend picked me up and got me out of there. Well, then my dad came home and he must have found my mother and figured out what happened. He confessed, but he didn't do it. He didn't.' Paige managed to hold back her tears, and Mary squeezed her hand. It was over. Paige had come through. Jack would be set free.
But Walsh still looked grim. 'You know, Ms Newlin, it's not unusual for a family member to come to us and try to cover for one of their own, especially in a homicide case.'
Mary nodded. 'We know that. That's why her father did it.'
Walsh raised a palm like a traffic cop. 'I'm talking to Ms Newlin, Ms DiNunzio.'
'I understand that.'
'So let me talk to her without interfering. If there's anything you don't want her to answer, you can tell her. But don't answer for her, understand? I muzzled my boy Donovan here, and if you think that was easy, you're nuts.'
'It's not the same thing. Captain.' Mary remained unintimidated, an act of will. 'Detective Donovan isn't exposed to criminal liability. Paige is, and I'm her lawyer.'
'And you were also Mr Newlin's. Now, I don't know a lot about legal ethics, but I don't get how you can be his lawyer and her lawyer when their interests are in conflict.'
'I'm no longer Mr Newlin's lawyer and I know from my investigation on this case that what Paige is saying is true.' Mary glanced at Kovich, against the credenza. 'And before you question my ethics, look to the department's. It's all over the newspapers that you've broken ranks over this case. Yet your only response has been to punish Brinkley, not to release an innocent man.'
'We haven't established that Newlin's innocent, Ms DiNunzio. Maybe if you let me talk to his daughter, we can make some progress.'
'Go right ahead,' Mary said. She found herself respecting Captain Walsh, even as they fought.
'I'm so glad.' Walsh hunched over his desk, closer to Paige. 'Ms Newlin, as you know, your father confessed to this crime and that's why we charged him. He confessed to nine-one-one, he confessed to the detectives, and we have it all on videotape. Nobody beat it out of him or made him say anything. He came in and told us what happened. You understand that?'
Paige nodded. 'But he was lying, to protect me.'
'You may not know that there was a substantial amount of physical evidence against your father. He had your mother's blood on his hands and clothes. We just received the coroner's report and he says it took a substantial amount of force to make those knife wounds. I wonder if a skinny girl like you could have done it.'
'I did do it. I stabbed her,' Paige protested, but Mary was getting a sinking feeling.
There were a number of stab wounds, too. Do you know how many?'
'I think maybe two or three. I remember… two or three.'
Captain Walsh shook his head. There were five.'
'Okay, whatever, there were five/ Paige said, testy in a teenage way. 'I don't know how many I did. I was high, I told you.'
'I understand that.' Walsh paused. 'But five stab wounds
into a chest takes time and effort. It's work. You wouldn't forget something like that.'
'I was high, I told you.' Paige was getting frustrated, and, standing behind Walsh, Donovan folded his arms.
'What about the cut on the hand, Cap?' he asked.
Walsh glanced back in annoyance, then returned to Paige. 'You know, typically when a knife is used in a murder, the person doing the stabbing gets a cut or two on their hand, because the knife is so slippery. It almost always happens that way. Your father had a cut on his hand. Do you have any cuts on your hands?'
Paige looked down at her hands, spreading her fingers. They were pink and lovely, with not a scratch on them, and Mary felt stricken. She knew where this was heading. They weren't going to believe Paige. She wondered briefly if she should take Paige to confront Jack, but he would just deny it.
'But I did it, I'm telling you,' Paige protested. The softness had vanished from her voice in her determination to be believed. 'Do you honestly think I would make this up? Pretend I killed my own mother when I didn't?'
'Yes, of course.' Captain Walsh nodded, his expression somber. That's what you're telling us your father did.'
Kovich shifted uneasily against the credenza. 'I'm wondering about something, Captain. May I?'
'Can I stop you?' Walsh asked, with a stern smile, but Kovich wasn't taking no for an answer.
'Paige said her mother was kicking her stomach, hard. You saw the coroner's report, Cap. The mother's toe was broken, on the right foot. She could have done that kicking someone. We thought it was a defensive wound, but maybe it wasn't.' Kovich's eyes sharpened behind his gold-rimmed glasses. 'If Paige is telling the truth, she should have bruises on her stomach.'
'Yes, she should,' Mary said, eagerly. Kovich was helping them, obviously at some professional cost, and she nodded to him gratefully.
Walsh turned to face Paige. 'Ms Newlin, do you have any bruises on you?'
'I guess so, sure. My stomach hurt the next day. I was worried about the baby and I called Planned Parenthood. They said it should be fine, since it was so early.'
'You understand, we can't take your word for it,' Walsh said, his tone still heavy with doubt. 'We'll have to see the bruises. Photograph them, too.'
'Fine,' Mary said. She wished she'd thought of it in her office, but she hadn't known about the broken toe. The prosecution hadn't had to disclose the coroner's report yet. 'If you gentlemen will clear out of the room, maybe I can take a look at Paige's stomach.'
The captain and the detectives rose and left. Kovich shot them a backward glance as he went out the door, which Mary read as encouragement. He must have realized that Brinkley had been right. With his information and Mary's, Jack would be exonerated. Mary jumped to her feet as soon as the police had closed the door behind them. 'Paige, let me see your bruises.'
'Sure.' Paige began to unbutton her blouse, her long red hair tumbling forward. 'I do have them. I mean, I didn't think to look, but I know I do. My stomach was killing me.' Her fingers fumbled to open the middle button, then the next and finally the third and fourth. She parted her blouse. A lacy white bra peeked out and below it lay one of the flattest, prettiest stomachs Mary had ever seen. There wasn't a bruise or a blotch on her.
Mary's mouth went dry. 'There's nothing,' she said, stricken, and Paige looked down in confusion.
'I don't get it. Where are the bruises? She was kicking me and kicking me. I know it. I remember it.'
Then how could they not be there? How could you not know?' Mary tried not to sound accusatory, but it dashed her hopes for Jack's release. 'Don't you look at your own body?'
'Not since that night, I guess. I've barely had time to
shower. But she kicked me, I remember. I was worried she was going to kill the baby. She said she was going to kill the baby!'
Mary didn't know what to say or do. What was going on here? The captain would never believe Paige now, but she had been telling the truth. Her account was exactly the way she'd told it in Mary's office and all of it made sense. But Kovich, who had been trying to help them, had also been right. If Paige had been kicked with enough force to break a toe, she would have bruises to show for it. So the only logical conclusion was that she hadn't been kicked.
There was a soft rapping at the closed door. 'Can we come in, Ms DiNunzio?' asked Captain Walsh, and Mary felt panicky.
'In a minute,' she answered, and Paige buttoned her shirt hastily.
Captain Walsh entered with Detective Donovan, and Kovich followed on their heels, holding a Polaroid camera. After him came a woman and he seemed excited as he introduced her to Mary and Paige. 'This is Detective Andersson and she'll take photos of the bruises,' he said, but Mary thought fast.
'We'll take the photos after we talk with her boyfriend. He can substantiate everything she says.'
'What? What about the bruises?' Kovich asked, his shoulders slumping visibly, as Captain Walsh scowled.
'Are there bruises or not, Ms DiNunzio?'
'No,' Mary admitted, and she ignored the knowing look that spread over Donovan's face. 'But maybe they haven't appeared yet, or something. The boyfriend was there, I know it. When we find him, he can corroborate what she says.'
'I doubt it.' Donovan folded his arms. 'Paige is obviously trying to protect her father. She's lost one parent and she doesn't want to lose the other.' He looked at Paige with sympathy. 'I'm very sorry for your losses, Paige. But you are the victim of this crime, the same as your
mother. Your father has to answer for her murder, not you.'
I'll handle this, Donovan,' Walsh said. He returned to his chair and sat down heavily, looking up at all of them. 'Tell you what, Ms DiNunzio. You take Ms Newlin out of here immediately and I won't press charges against her for filing a false police report and attempting to obstruct justice. Nor will I mention to the bar association that you're playing fast and loose with the truth. And mark my words, if either of you go to the press with this, I'll have her head.' Walsh pointed at Paige. 'Capisce?'
'Captain, as soon as we find the boyfriend, we'll come back.' Mary couldn't give up. 'Then he can tell you exactly what happened.'
'I know where the boyfriend is, and he can't help you.'
'What? Where?' Mary asked, in surprise.
'He's in federal custody,' Captain Walsh answered, and Paige gasped.