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Plea of insanity, p.11
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       Plea of Insanity, p.11

           Jilliane Hoffman

  ‘That’s what Marisol said,’ he replied as they walked toward the elevator bay. ‘So I stopped up to your office and your secretary said you were in trial.’

  ‘Was. It’s over now.’

  ‘I can see that.’ He hit the button down.

  ‘Were you here—’ she started to ask.

  ‘When Farley JOA’d you? Yup. I caught the tail end. You had a nice argument, but he was n’t listening. No offense,’ he said, stepping into the elevator and holding the door open for her, ‘but I don’t think he likes you much.’

  ‘You think?’

  ‘Don’t take it personal. I don’t think he likes women.’

  ‘I figured that out.’

  ‘Your victim didn’t show up for trial?’

  ‘Nope. So I was trying it without her. And that’s wherein the problem lies.’ She looked around the elevator car and didn’t offer any more information, so he didn’t askany more questions.

  ‘Well,’ he said after a moment, ‘I need to run some things by you, then. We’ve got a couple of decisions to make and you’re the “it” girl.’

  Uh-oh. New-found perspective and self-proclaimed confidence aside, decisions were something she was n’t sure she wanted her name on making in this case just yet. She also was n’t too sure Rick would want her making them. She frowned. ‘Have you talked to Rick today?’

  ‘Nope. Beeped him, but he doesn’t seem to want to call me back. You’re still second seat, right?’

  She nodded.

  ‘Then you’re the “it” girl as far as I’m concerned.’

  ‘Alright. What’s up?’

  ‘We got some of the lab workbackfrom the house. The footprints in the upstairs hall – one set was made by a size-eleven loafer that belonged to the Gables uniform who responded. The other set, well, we don’t know. They’re unidentifiable.’

  ‘What does that mean?’

  ‘The prints are too distorted for a comp. Not just smeared, but distorted. There’s no tread base. Best guess, based upon size and what appears to be weight distribution, is a size twelve, which would match Marquette. Greg Cowsert is our print and tread specialist. He’s the best and he’s thinking that our bad guy might have worn something over his foot, like a surgical bootie or something, although he found no fibers in the print, which would be consistent with a bootie. That would account for the distortion and smearing.’

  ‘But there were no bloody booties found at the scene, right? Okay. I’m guessing this is not good news,’ she said walking out of the elevator.

  ‘No, I got good news. A nurse anesthetist at Sinai who works with Marquette’s practice for the last couple of years ID’d his voice on the enhanced nine-eleven tape. It’s not a forensic comparison, but it’ll do for PC. Sure as she’s breathing, she says it’s him.’

  PC stood for probable cause, which was the legal threshold necessary to cross over and arrest a defendant. Was it more probable than not that a crime was committed and that the defendant was the one who had committed it? ‘Okay, that’s good,’ she said.

  ‘Now, back to the not so good. So far, we’ve got sixteen different sets of fingerprints around the house that have yet to be identified,’ he continued. ‘Three of those are by and around the window sills. Now it could be the Terminix guy or a shitty cleaning lady who doesn’t dust right for all we know, and in the long run, it probably won’t matter a damn, but a defense attorney’s gonna pickup on that and play the fingerprint game, so I just wanted to give you a heads-up.’

  ‘DNA’s not backyet on that semen stain, right?’

  ‘Won’t be for at least a week. The oral swab we took yesterday from Marquette for DNA won’t be backtill then either.’

  ‘Do you thinkthe semen’s going to be an issue?’

  ‘You’re asking me? If it’s not hubby’s, hell yeah, it’ll be an issue, although it shouldn’t affect PC for his arrest.’

  ‘I think Rick wanted to workup a warrant by the end of this week, before Marquette gets released from the hospital,’ she said, starting toward the doors that led out to the back of the courthouse.

  Latarrino stopped walking. ‘We don’t have that long, Counselor,’ he said.

  ‘What?’ she asked, turning backto lookat him.

  ‘That’s why I’m here. He’s being released today,’ Lat replied. ‘In about three hours, give or take. His father’s having him transported to Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial tonight.’


  ‘You’re kidding me,’ Julia said, staring at him in disbelief. The clockin the courthouse hall hung right above the detective’s head. The numbers seemed to pop out at her, like a cartoon sketch in a Dr Seuss book. BOING! 4: 58!

  ‘Found out when I was at the ME’s. A nurse over at Ryder called my Lieutenant and gave him the heads-up. Once Marquette’s out of our jurisdiction it’s gonna be that much harder to get him back. And we’ll have lengthy extradition issues to contend with, not to mention a damn high flight risk. In addition to being the Chief of Neurology over at Northwestern, we’ve heard Dad’s also pretty heavy-handed with a checkbook.’

  ‘So he’s got pull.’

  ‘And money. We need to pick him up.’

  ‘Alright,’ she said. ‘Hold on. I can’t give you the go-ahead until I try to reach Rick.’ The day just couldn’t get any shittier, but there you go. ‘Let’s head backto the office and let me try his cell. If I can’t get him, we’ll go from there.’ She speed-dialed while quickly walking across the street, praying like a nun for him to pick up.

  A lot of legal clocks started ticking once a person was arrested. First and foremost was the right to a speedy trial, which, absent a defense continuance or a waiver by the defendant, ran out permanently after just 180 days. And there were no second bites at the apple if you screwed up and made the wrong call the first time, but subsequently found that murder weapon or that missing witness on the 181 st day. Double jeopardy prevented that. In criminal law, the stakes were high for a prosecutor to make the right call at the right time all the time. Although Julia had made the decision to arrest someone before, she’d never done it in a homicide.

  ‘What’s up, Julia?’

  There was a God. ‘Hi,’ she said into the phone, slowing down to catch her breath. ‘I’m just heading backfrom court.’

  We’re on a break. I was going back in myself in a second,’ Rick said.

  ‘I’ve got Detective Latarrino with me. There’s a problem. I’m going to let the detective tell you.’ She hit the speaker button.

  ‘Thanks for calling me back,’ Lat said.

  ‘My beeper’s off when I’m lecturing. So’s my cell. We just broke not five minutes ago and you were next on the list, Lat.’ He sounded irritated.

  ‘Alright, I’ll buy that. Look, I’ll let your second seat fill you in on the gritty details, but the shoe prints are a bust. We also have sixteen unidentified fingerprints, three on and around the windows. DNA is still pending and won’t be backtill next week.’

  ‘Great. Got any good news for me, Lat?’ Rick said with what sounded like a sigh.

  ‘Marquette’s set for release tonight,’ Latarrino said.

  ‘No fucking way.’

  ‘That’s not the bad news,’ Lat said.

  ‘It’s not?’

  ‘Nope. He’s hopping a private medical transport plane for Chicago in three hours.’

  The silence lasted a long time. Only the crackle of cellphone static told them Rick was still on the line. She and Lat had reached the Graham Building, but she didn’t want to lose the signal, so they stood outside. On the floor over in the corner by the concrete benches and planters she spotted a bunch of crushed cigarette butts scattered about. This was where the smokers met and chatted every day on their breaks, or on their way back from court as they stopped to finish the last puffs before heading inside. Julia herself hadn’t touched a cigarette since college, but she couldn’t help thinking how good one would taste right about now.

  ‘The hell he is,’ Rick fin
ally said. ‘I guess the state of Florida will be picking up the tab for those medical bills after all. Screw the warrant; we’ve got enough. Go pick him up, Lat.’


  Lat waited until the wheelchair was actually pushed out the front doors of Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center before he walked up to the man seated in it. ‘David Alain Marquette?’ he asked, already knowing the answer.

  ‘Jesus Christ! Not here!’ shouted the older gentleman in dress slacks and a sweater who walked carefully alongside the chair. He had the slight cadence of an accent that had been worn away over many years, which Lat couldn’t quite place. Lat figured it was Marquette’s father, who had been successfully ducking the police since his arrival in Miami a couple of days ago. A handsome woman – probably Marquette’s mother – flanked the right. She was dressed impeccably in an expensive suit with well-coiffed silver-white hair that was pulled back tight into a chignon. She looked elegant and reserved, but scared. The man now moved protectively in front of the wheelchair.

  A private ambulance sat waiting underneath the awning. The two EMTs that had moved to assist Marquette hesitated, looking around dumbly for someone to tell them what to do. Steve Brill held up his badge. Although he had no jurisdiction outside of Coral Gables, no one besides Lat knew that. ‘Mr Marquette and his family won’t be needing your services anymore, boys,’ hesaid. At that precise moment, three MDPD cruisers pulled up, their lights flashing. ‘See, we’ve made other arrangements for him.’

  ‘Are you Alain Marquette?’ Lat asked the older man.

  ‘Go to hell!’

  ‘Step away from the wheelchair,’ Brill cautioned.

  ‘I’m Detective John Latarrino, Miami-Dade Police,’ Lat said.

  ‘He is sick!’ said the man, his tone desperate.

  ‘Step back, sir,’ Brill said again, and the man finally did. Family members were always the ones you watched during an arrest. Emotions ran high and you never really knew what someone was capable of.

  The figure in the wheelchair was pale. His light-gray eyes darted everywhere. An oxygen tube ran from his nose to a tank on the side. A portable IV connected more tubes to his veins.

  Lat was unmoved. Images of the slaughter that he’d seen at the house flashed in his head. The crumpled, broken body of little Emma, hiding behind her Hello Kitty chair in her pink princess room. For as long as he lived, he’d never forget that scared, swollen face, her blue eyes wide open, the soft streams of sunlight from a new morning bathing the bloody carnage in a golden caramel hue. Lat nodded to a uniform. The nurse backed away as the officer took her spot, turning the wheelchair around and back toward the hospital. On the other side of Jackson, and a building away from the Ryder Trauma Center, was Ward D, the part of the hospital reserved for in-custody defendants who required hospitalization. Marquette would be booked in there, just a few short pushes away. Ward D was handled like a jail, with bolted doors and high security. But no matter how bad it might be, at the end of the day it was still a hospital, not a jail cell. For Lat, that was just not bad enough.

  ‘Get Mr Levenson on the phone. Now!’ shouted the man.

  ‘Alain, calm down!’ said the woman.

  ‘Just do it!’

  ‘His lawyer ain’t gonna help him tonight, folks,’ piped in Brill.

  A blue Channel Seven news van pulled up fast behind one of the cruisers. The door slid open and a breathless Teddy Brennan jumped out, microphone in hand, Willie in tow. ‘Dr Marquette!’ he shouted while running toward them. ‘Did you kill your whole family? Why did you do it? How do you feel right now? Or are you the victim here?’

  ‘Jesus Christ!’ Lat shouted, shaking his head and waving in the direction of the uniformed officers. ‘Get them the hell out of here!’

  Only a few limited ears at MDPD, the State Attorney’s Office and Coral Gables PD knew about Marquette’s arrest and Lat certainly hadn’t authorized anyone to contact the news, even going so far as to keep it off the radio so no one would pick it up off the scanners. It didn’t take a quantum leap to figure out the boat had a leak. As if on cue, another news van pulled up and a reporter scurried out, this one from local NBC Channel Six.

  ‘Is it true there’s a full confession?’ yelled Brennan, ignoring the uniforms and pushing closer, hoping it was his question that got an answer, not the competition with the next microphone over.

  ‘Was Jennifer Marquette raped before she was murdered?’ shouted the newcomer.

  ‘Is this a Miami-Dade case now?’

  ‘Are you seeking the death penalty?’

  ‘Where the hell is your warrant? Where’s your warrant?’ the old man shouted angrily at Lat. He, too, moved toward the wheelchair.

  Another news van pulled up. Another reporter came a-running.

  ‘Step back, sir,’ commanded Brill, his hand on his taser. ‘I said step the fuck back! You, too, Geraldo!’ he yelled at Brennan.

  ‘He’s sick! He’s sick!’ pleaded the woman. Her handsome face had turned ashen white, matching her hair.

  ‘Freedom of the press, Detective! We have a right to be here!’ shouted Brennan, thrusting his microphone at the woman, and pressing close enough to Brill that Lat knew it was simply a matter of time before something really bad happened.

  Time to wrap this up. ‘David Marquette, you’re under arrest for the murder of Jennifer, Emma, Daniel and Sophie Marquette,’ Lat began. ‘You have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You also have the right to an attorney, but you obviously know that one already. Alright,’ he said to Brill and the uniform, nodding back to ward the electric double doors. ‘Let’s go. Get him out of here.’

  That was when the woman fainted face-first onto the pavement with a thud, Alain Marquette started to scream and sob for the cameras, and all hell broke loose in front of Jackson Memorial.


  The angry shouts from 5 – 3 could be heard all the way down the courthouse’s fifth-floor hallway. Mel Levenson was a tall, lumbering man with two chins and an imposing voice even in a library. Now Mel was in a courtroom, he was mad and he wasn’t holding back, either on the volume or the accusations.

  ‘This was nothing but an ambush, Your Honor!’ Mel complained on decibel ten to an already irritable Judge Irving Katz and a courtroom full of cameras. ‘Rather than call my office and arrange for my client’s surrender – which could have and should have been done,’ he said, shaking an angry, swollen finger in the direction of Rick Bellido, John Latar-rino and a sullen-looking Steve Brill, ‘the Miami-Dade and Coral Gables Police Departments – with the blessing, I’m sure, of the prosecutor – set up a trap outside Jackson to nail my client as he helplessly rolls by in his wheelchair, an oxygen tank and critical-care nurse at his side. Not to mention the man’s elderly parents. And without any concern for the devastating emotional trauma this man has already been through, losing his whole family, or the life-threatening injuries he’s just had surgery for,’ Mel continued, picking up a copy of Friday’s Herald and holding it up for the judge. DOCTOR DAD ARRESTED FOR MURDER WHILE ATTEMPTING TO FLEE blared the headline across the front page. ‘ These detectives call the press to get their own fifteen minutes of fame in – all the while prejudicing everyone in the tri-county area against Dr Marquette with their damn lies. Then they arrest him and ship him off to jail, when he belongs in a hospital.’ Mel wiped his long jowls with his big balloon hands and moved back from the podium, almost stepping on a cameraman and Stan Grossbach, his co-counsel.

  Lat felt the rush of anger flush his face and he looked over at Rick Bellido, waiting for him to say something about that fame comment, but he never did. Meanwhile, to his right, he could actually hear the knuckles in Steve Brill’s hand crackas he clenched and unclenched his fists behind his back. He was apparently waiting for the same thing.

  Due to the sheer volume of people who tended to do even more stupid things over the weekend than they normally did during the week, bond hearing
s on Monday mornings in Judge Irving Katz’s courtroom were always busy, but never like this. Except for the judge, bailiff, an ASA and a PD, usually the claustrophobically small courtroom was empty. Today it was standing room only. Conducted via closed-circuit TV at DCJ, even the defendants didn’t show up for court. At least not physically. Nothing more than a thirty-second pro-forma hearing that allowed the judge to review the arrest form, determine if probable cause existed and set a bond, a First Appearance was usually done and over with before the defendant had even figured out where in the room the damn camera was.

  The judge shook his head. ‘Great speech, Mr Levenson, and it’s duly noted for the record, but your client is charged with murder. Four of them to be exact. This is just the First Appearance and you know murder’s non-bondable at this stage.’ He nodded at the TV screen before him, where a pale-faced David Marquette, dressed in an orange Department of Corrections jumpsuit, stood motionless at the metal podium, a wheelchair at his side. ‘All I get to decide now is if there was probable cause to arrest him, and,’ the judge continued, waving his copy of the pink arrest form from the bench, ‘based on the facts cited in here, I have no choice. So there’s not a lot I can do about your complaints except listen to them, and, frankly, I’m not Dear Abby. Besides which, if I’m reading this A-form correctly, Dr Marquette was wheeled off to Ward D, Mr Levenson. He got his medical care. It’s not like the detectives threw him in a cement cell with the rats.’

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