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Plea of insanity, p.12
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       Plea of Insanity, p.12

           Jilliane Hoffman

  ‘We all know Ward D is not like the rest of Jackson, Judge. Look at him,’ Levenson said, pointing to the screen. ‘Just look at him!’

  The doctor had not moved. He hadn’t even acknowledged that the judge was talking about him. In fact, Lat wasn’t sure if the man had even blinked the five minutes or so he’d been standing up there, clutching the sides of the podium with bone-white knuckles, eyes vacant and expressionless. Behind him, a long line of bored-looking, tattoo-riddled defendants in various states of undress snaked its way through the middle of the crowded, peeling pea-green room to the back doors, where two correction officers stood watch against a wall. Another two kept the line moving at the podium and the noise down. Because a First Appearance was supposed to be held within twenty-four hours of arrest, more than a few defendants were still dressed as they were when the cuffs were slapped on the night before – bare-chested and in their boxers. Some even worse. The restless line began to talk again and the courtroom filled with the echo of incoherent chatter and noise.

  ‘Keep them quiet over there!’ yelled Katz to the correction officer at the podium, placing one hand over his ear. ‘I can’t hear. If they don’t want to be quiet, then take whoever’s yapping out and bring ’em back tomorrow.’

  The guard nodded at the camera. Then he turned and yelled, ‘Shut up!’ to the crowd behind him.

  ‘I could’ve done that,’ mumbled Katz in disgust.

  ‘He should be in a hospital bed right now,’ Levenson continued. ‘He never should have been released back to the general population this morning. He’s still a very sickman.’

  ‘HMOs do it all the time,’ Katz said flatly. ‘He had the weekend off as it was.’

  ‘Mr Levenson’s client was apparently feeling well enough last week to try and flee the jurisdiction before he was wheeled over to Ward D, Your Honor,’ Rick interjected.

  ‘He was being transported to another hospital,’ protested Levenson, glaring across the courtroom.

  ‘In Chicago,’ added Rick.

  ‘I made those arrangements,’ said the man who rose like a tall shadow from the front row of seats. ‘That is my hospital and my son needs acute medical care. He was not trying to flee.’

  ‘Your hospital?’ asked the judge.

  ‘This is Dr Alain Marquette, Your Honor,’ said Levenson. ‘He is the Chief of Neurology at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital.’

  ‘Ah, three sides to every story,’ said Katz. ‘Dr Marquette, you have good counsel here, and as I’m sure that good counsel has told you, there’s nothing more that can be done for your son at this point in the proceedings. Mr Levenson will have another opportunity to seekbond at what’s known as an Arthur Hearing or before the trial judge when one’s appointed, but there’s nothing I can do for him today.’

  ‘This was unprofessional. It should have been handled differently,’ Levenson grumbled.

  ‘If I had a nickel for each time I wished for something I didn’t get, I’d be a rich man, Mr Levenson. Instead, I’m just really old and really disappointed.’ Katz looked into the jail camera. ‘No bond,’ he yelled, as if David Marquette were deaf. ‘Now unless there’s some other high-profile case that someone forgot to tell me was on my calendar this morning,’ he said, pausing for a moment to throw an icy stare in the direction of his bailiff, ‘you all can take this outside in the hallway so I can clear my courtroom. I imagine they’re all with you, Mr Bellido,’ the judge finished, frowning over his glasses at the reporters who had already started to gather their cameras and microphones and hightail it for the door. Then he turned his attention and his frown back to the correction officer on the TV screen. ‘Bring the next one up, Sergeant!’ he barked. ‘And keep the rest of them quiet over there!’


  Lat moved quickly, catching the elder Marquetteas he opened the door to the courtroom’s vestibule. ‘Dr Marquette? I’d like to speak with you for a moment—’

  ‘You’re kidding me, right?’ barked Mel Levenson, barreling up behind them, like a freight train without lights.

  Alain Marquette turned to Lat, his dark-blue eyes angry and unforgiving. A long, uncomfortable moment passed. ‘I have nothing to say to you people. Nothing,’ he finally said.

  Contrary to what police dramas portrayed on primetime, short of a subpoena or some really good leverage, there was really no way to make someone talk to the police who didn’t want to talk to the police. And since John Latarrino had neither at the moment, he could only watch as Dr Marquette, flanked by his son’s attorneys, walked out of the courtroom.

  Less than thirty seconds later, a dapper Rick Bellido strode up in his expensive navy suit, frowning. ‘Let’s go,’ he said with a nod, straightening his tie and reaching for the door.

  ‘What about Brill?’

  Bellido shot him a look. ‘He said he’ll catch up with you downstairs.’

  That was smart, Lat thought, as he followed Rick out of the courtroom. Brill had been warned by his department in no uncertain terms to keep his mug far away from any and all cameras after last week’s televised out-of-jurisdiction, expletive-filled, taser-waving takedown at Jackson.

  A crowd of noisy reporters from all the local stations buzzed around the Levenson camp, which had made an impromptu, teary-eyed press-stop by the escalators. Another crowd waited anxiously outside the doors for Team State. Lat had been in media cases before, but this looked Hollywood crazy. Flashbulbs began to explode as soon as they pushed the doors open, and a parade of reporters and cameras and boom mikes trailed behind them as they headed for the elevators, shouting out questions that they’d either just heard the answer to in court, or weren’t going to get an answer to anyway. At least not from him.

  ‘Does this mean Dr Marquette will have to stay in jail? When would his Arthur Hearing be? When could he be released?’

  ‘What about the death penalty? Are you going to seek the death penalty for all four murders?’

  ‘How did he kill the children? What was the actual cause of death? Why won’t your office provide details?’

  ‘Were the kids sexually assaulted? Was the mother involved? Was there evidence of a cult?’

  ‘Is it true Emma Marquette was still alive when officers arrived at the house? Could she have been saved if they’d just gone in sooner?’

  ‘Detective Latarrino, does your department take some blame for the injuries suffered by Nina Marquette when her son was arrested last Thursday?’

  Some of the questions were just completely bizarre, as were some of the reporters asking them. Back in the front row once again, Lat spotted Teddy Brennan, from Channel Seven, and it set his teeth on edge. Rickstopped by the elevators and selectively answered a few of the easier ones, the perfect look of prosecutorial confidence and controlled outrage on his face, while Lat, of course, said nothing. He’d watched Rick Bellido work the cameras before on his other media-magnet Major Crimes cases, and also when the guy popped up on TV as a guest legal analyst, and he had to admit that the cameras sure did love the man. But if Lat was damn sure of anything it was that Ricardo Bellido, Super Prosecutor, loved those cameras right back. Every last one of them.

  Just as the elevator doors opened on an empty car, Rick held up his hands, like the Pope at an attendance, and the crowd obediently quieted. ‘That’s all I have for now, folks. We hope – I hope – that you’ll respect that. Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victims, and, of course, our concern is to ensure the safety of the community, which was the purpose of this morning’s bond hearing. The investigation’s ongoing, and we’ll keep the public informed. That is a priority. That’s my priority.’ Then he repeated the same thing in Spanish for the cute Telemundo reporter, just before the elevator doors closed.

  Lat could practically hear the collective sigh of approval as thousands of abuelas across Miami swooned in their living-room easy chairs. ‘That’s my priority.’ Like this guy was running the damn show by himself? As he watched the doors close on all those cameras
, Lat began to seethe. With the exception of the serial killer Cupid a few years back, he’d never seen such media interest before at a bond hearing – which made today’s unexpected circus all the more curious. David Marquette hadn’t even been shipped over from Ward D and placed on calendar until the last second this morning. And since all bond hearings were videotaped, there was really no reason for the press to physically appear. All a reporter had to do was call ahead and order the bad guy of the day to go, zip by the courthouse and grab the tape twenty minutes before airtime. And that’s what they usually did. Usually. Unless they thought they’d be getting a scoop.

  ‘The cameras certainly eat you up, Bellido,’ Lat said with a shake of his head when they were alone.

  ‘Thursday was a clusterfuck, Lat,’ Rick replied coolly, without looking over at him. ‘Today was damage control.’

  Marquette’s arrest and the dramatics that followed had played out on an otherwise slow news night on all the local channels. Alain Marquette might have nothing to say to the police, but he sure had plenty to say to Teddy Brennan. His angry two-minute interview – the one where he clung to the sweater that had gotten soaked with blood from his wife’s televised kiss with the pavement – had blasted both police departments. Rather than see it as the harmless emotional tirade Lat thought it was, the Director of the MDPD viewed it as a PR nightmare.

  ‘What about controlling Mel Levenson?’ Lat asked. ‘What about making the detectives who are working this thing 24/7 a priority? You know damn well it wasn’t us that called in the press. That’s what turned Thursday to shit.’

  ‘You need to know how to work them, John. Don’t let them work you.’

  The elevator stopped on four. ‘I heard Jerry Tigler is passing the reins soon, heading to greener pastures. Charley Rifkin, too. I heard there’s gonna be room at the top soon,’ Lat said and then paused. ‘Did you know the media was gonna be here today, Bellido?’

  Rick finally looked over at him. ‘I was just doing my job today, Lat,’ he replied, the temperature of his voice dropping from cool to arctic freeze. ‘And they just showed up doing theirs, I suppose. The two shouldn’t affect each other, and they didn’t. As for that rumor you heard, that’s news to me.’ He exited the elevator, holding the door as people pushed past him to get on. ‘Your pre-file’s next week. Call me the second you get that DNA back and keep pressing Holt for the pattern testing on that knife by the end of today. If you can’t do it, I’ll get on the horn with him and handle it myself. Like I said, I don’t like waiting till the last minute. What you need to be worrying about now is the grand jury.’ With that, he let go of the doors and walked off down the crowded hall.

  Then the elevator filled and the doors closed, and the opportunity passed for John Latarrino to give Rick Bellido’s camera-friendly face the finger.


  ‘Are we done now, Ms Seminara?’ Judge Farley asked with an impatient sigh, slapping his hand hard on the bench and spinning his throne in the direction of the nearest exit.

  ‘I think so, Judge,’ Karyn replied, as she quickly thumbed through the thick calendar, the division’s brand-new bewildered C attorney at her side. The courtroom was all but empty; only court personnel remained.

  ‘Good. Then we’re in recess.’ The judge capped his pen and stood up, turning his attention to the court reporter. ‘Off the record, now,’ he said sternly, and obediently the soft clicking of the stenography machine stopped. ‘Word to the wise, Ms Gleeson,’ he continued sharply, shaking his finger in the frightened direction of the new C, his brow buried so deep in wrinkles that it looked like his scalp was slipping off his head. ‘Stop objecting so much. It’s irritating me and it’s certainly not getting you anywhere. Let’s not get off on the wrong foot, now.’ With that, he shot a dark look across the courtroom at Julia, who stood on the State side of the gallery against the wall, watching the minutes tick slowly by on the clock over the judge’s head. Then he quickly flew off the bench, disappearing like the Wicked Witch of the West in a black puff down the judge’s back hallway before Jefferson the bailiff could even yell, ‘All rise!’

  ‘Court is now in recess,’ Jefferson managed weakly when the door slammed shut.

  Finally. Julia grabbed her stack of files off the State’s table and hurried past Karyn and Janet, up the gallery. She pushed open the doors and walked smack into Rick.

  ‘Just the person I was coming to see,’ he said with a frown. ‘You missed all the fireworks. What happened to you this morning?’

  ‘Damn. I’m sorry, I was just coming up,’ Julia started.

  ‘I happened,’ said her DC, as she stepped out into the hallway, a glum and shell-shocked Janet Gleeson trailing behind with a pull cart full of file boxes. ‘Good morning, Rick,’ Karyn said rather brightly, but with a tired, woe-is-me smile. ‘Look, don’t get mad at Julia here, but mornings with Farley are just completely crazy. Even when it’s not their trial week, I need all my attorneys in court. If something comes up on calendar, I can’t be hunting them down all over the courthouse. I know Julia’s been helping you out on this doctor case of yours, but I’m afraid I just can’t spare the bodies around here. Especially on a Monday morning.’

  ‘She’s second-seating me on a first-degree murder case, Karyn, not helping me photocopy,’ Ricksnapped back. ‘And a first-degree murder takes precedence over babysitting your crazy Monday-morning calendar, anytime and all the time. Call me in the future if there’s gonna be a conflict, but let’s get this straight, right here, right now – this bullshit’s not going to happen again. Ever. Or it won’t be Leonard Farley you’ll be worried about babysitting.’

  Karyn’s face tightened up so hard and so fast, Julia thought it might crack if she ever did smile again. She also thought it might be a good long while before her division spent another Friday night sipping two-for-one mojitos together. ‘Right,’ Karyn replied coolly after a long moment, ‘I understand.’ She looked over at Julia, and, with some difficulty, added, ‘I’ll see you back at the office, then. You know, I’m still waiting on those dispos you owe me.’

  ‘This case, Marquette, is your priority, Julia,’ Rick said, turning to her after Janet and Karyn had finally disappeared down the hall, defeated. ‘Word to the wise – a lot of people will be wishing it were theirs. Don’t take their disappointment too personally.’ He nodded toward the escalator. ‘Come on, let’s get some coffee,’ he said, glancing at his watch. ‘I think I’m having withdrawal. I haven’t had a cup since eight.’

  ‘So how’d it go?’ she asked as they walked.

  ‘A lot of media, which I expected. No bond, of course. Levenson was yapping about how unfair life is. Marquette’s dad showed up, without his wife this time, thankfully. Latarrino and Brill were there, but apparently they’re still ticked off at everyone but themselves over last week’s fuck-up at Jackson.’

  Julia said nothing. She’d watched the news Thursday night, too, and it wasn’t pretty. She felt bad; circumstance had forced an early arrest. And she knew the media could distort absolutely anything.

  ‘As for our defendant, be sure to tune into the news at noon for a peek. Corrections wheeled him over from Jackson early this morning, but he still looks like death warmed over. Good,’ he scoffed, stepping onto the escalator. ‘Hope he feels like shit, too. It’s a damn pity that he’s gonna be just fine. Anyway, Yars is taking Marquette to the Grand Jury on the second.’

  Martin Yars was one of the State Attorney’s Chief Felony Assistants. Besides handling administrative staffing matters, he was solely responsible for all of the office’s Grand Jury presentations. In Florida, only first-degree capital murders and juveniles being sent over to adult court were indicted by the Grand Jury. Formal charges had to be filed within twenty-one days after an arrest or the court could ROR the defendant – release him on his own recognizance. That meant no bail, no bond, no house arrest, no ankle bracelet – nothing but a heartfelt promise to come back to court.

  Julia counted off the days in her hea
d. ‘His arraignment’s—’

  ‘November third. The Grand Jury only meets on Wednesdays. That gives us a little time to prepare. I’ve got this protracted motion to suppress before Judge Gilbert this week, and I’m starting a murder trial next week, so I’m going to have you handling most of the pre-files. It’s good for you to get familiar with all the witnesses anyway, and the experts, too. Jump right in. Who knows who you might end up directing at trial …’ he added with a sly smile.

  As a B second-seating her first Major Crimes murder trial, Julia figured that would probably be the Coral Gables PD records custodian, if she were lucky. Just sitting at the State’s table was invaluable experience; directing or crossing a witness was a bone. And doing all the exhausting prep work to get there was the price of admission.

  ‘Does this mean you’re definitely going to seek the death penalty?’ she asked. She suddenly, uncomfortably, recalled one of Charley Rifkin’s overbearing, dire predictions from last week.

  If Dr David Marquette becomes the next Scott Peterson du jour … the press will be camping out in both your backyards until Corrections finally sticks the needle in.

  A conservative Republican some days, Julia’s staunch opinion on the death penalty had always been an eye for an eye, but, then again, her opinion, until now, hadn’t really mattered much. And now it would. Now if this case went that far, now she’d actually be a participant in the process that took a human life. And she wasn’t as sure of her opinion as she once used to be.

  He paused for a moment, studying her. ‘It leaves the option open. Of course, the official decision will be made after we sit down and examine what aggravators we have.’

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