Irrefutable Evidence Part Fourteen - Conclusion by CN Winters
See part one for disclaimers. Write the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening statements were made hours ago and Angie was called to the stand first. The D.A. had hoped to put Denise on the stand before anyone else but she hadnt been released from the hospital by the time court began.
Angie breezed through the prosecutors questions and the defenses cross examination with ease. The next witness for the county was Sara. She confidently walked to the stand, not backing down from DeVittems glare. He knew this woman would be the death of his freedom and the intense stare he gave her showed more of his fear rather than his anger.
He counted on his contacts to handle her - to make sure she never spoke a single syllable in court. What he didnt count on was the determination and strength of Denise VanCook and the will and spirit of his target, Sara Langforth.
Angie smiled as she listened to Saras testimony. She was good on the stand. Damn good. Denise would have been proud. The defense was unable to pose a single objection. She used the term suspect when she refered to DeVittem, trying to remain neutral; factual. But the sharp edge her tongue put on the word, cut through the courtroom, stabbing anyone who was listening - especially DeVittem. All DeVittem and his attorney could do was sit and wait for their turn at bat. The D.A. finished and DeVittems lawyer finally had his turn.
"You say this man is the one you saw in the dimly lit alley on the night of September 15th of this year correct?" he asked, trying to shake her recollection.
"Yes," Sara answered, making sure to add, "But it wasnt dimly lit. Evening was just beginning to fall but I still had plenty of light."
The attorney overlooked the additional comment Sara added for the jurys benefit.
"Now at the station house you identified him from an eight year old picture. How can you be so certain it was my client?"
"As I explained to the detectives I mentioned the man I saw looked about 10 years older but thats already been established in Sgt. Michaels testimony." Sara was quick, confident and articulate. Strike one to the defense.
"But how can you be sure?" the attorney asked with a cocky grin.
Sara grinned. She debated on mentioning something she had noticed but never mentioned. She had even asked Angie to bring the mug shot book but didnt state why to any certain extent. Oh what the hell, she figured. Go with it.
"Ask Mr. DeVittem to unbutton his shirt," Sara grinned. "The man who killed Kevin Bakker was wearing a cross tatoo or a design similar to it." Sara turned to the judge. "Do you have a piece of paper your honor so I can draw a picture for the court?"
The judge looked to both attorneys for approval. When nether one posed an argument he handed Sara a paper and a pen.
It was a chance. A big chance. But this whole incident was filled with big chances. The prosecutor felt exceedingly nervous. His witness could be killing his case. If DeVittem didnt have such a marking then that would cast doubt on his identity. At least he felt that way until he looked over to see DeVittem, wipe his profusely sweaty brow.
As Sara drew the top half of the cross DeVittem undid his collar and pulled down his shirt to expose what looked like a Celtic cross on his right breast. Sara finished her picture and looked to the jury before anyone else. "May I step toward the jury," she asked the judge who gave his approval. She held up the picture for them as she walked over.
"This line here," she pointed to her picture, "was his shirt line and this design above is what I saw." As the jury oooed and ahhhed at how close Saras picture came to DeVittem who was now facing them. His attorney got worried but soon came up with an explanation.
"You could have seen that from the mug shot," he challenged Sara.
"Yes I could have," Sara nodded before casting a glance toward Angie. "But this tatoo is recent well perhaps not recent. Lets just say that he didnt have it the last time he was arrested because it lists a skull on his arm and a dagger on his ankle but it says nothing about the cross on his chest."
With that Angie stood up and brought the book to the D.A. Sure enough, Sara was on the money and the district attorney stood up. "Your honor," he began. "I have the mug shot book in question that I can turn in as an exhibit to Miss Langforths testimony."
"Objection," the defense attorney cried out. "Your honor weve been given no prior notice that this book would be used and I ask that you dismiss it as evidence."
The judge paused a moment, giving deep thought to it. "Overruled," he answered. "You wanted to know why the witness was so sure and she provided you with the answer. This book isnt anything that cant be seen by anyone in the public. Im overruling your motion. Bailiff, please take the book and show the jury the page which points out that DeVittem didnt have a cross tatoo at that time please."
Strike two to the defense.
"Mr. Connely," the judge told DeVittems lawyer. "You may continue."
Mr. Connely now looked as nervious as his client. He had to find somehow, someway to salvage the case and discredit Sara as a witness.
"Would you say that you and Lt. VanCook are intimate?" the defense insinuated.
"Objection your honor," the prosecutor said standing up. "This question is irrelevant to the case."
"Sustained. . . Please restructure the question Mr. Connely."
The defense attorney paused a moment. "What is the nature of your relationship with Lt. VanCook?"
"Objection again your honor! I can not see the relevance in this line of questioning."
"Neither can I," the judge agreed. "Mr. Connely where are you going with this?" he added.
"Im trying to find out if Miss Langforths testimony is being exploited due to any emotional attachment with Lt. VanCook. After all they did spend over a month together," the attorney said while looking at Sara.
"No," Sara replied. The D.A. tried to hide his wince at Saras outburst. Voluntary comments were something he wanted to stay away from.
Connley saw the reaction from Sara and ran with it, "But you spent a month with her?" he persisted. "Surely you formed somewhat of an intimate relationship?"
Angie was on the edge of her seat when she felt a tap on her shoulder and she gave a little jump.
"Hows she doing?" Denise whispered.
"Beautifully so far. Connely is asking her how intimately you two know each other," Angie whispered. Denise didnt reply to Angie. She just looked at Sara. At that point, Sara noticed Denise taking a seat next to her partner, right behind the D.A.
"Lt. VanCook and I spent a month together. Thats true," Sara began, looking back to Mr. Connely. "We spoke intimately on many issues in life. But if you think for one moment that shes coerced me into sitting up here, telling falsehoods about that man over there then youre crazier than your client."
The jury smiled and gave a few light chuckles to Saras response.
"Objection!" the defense attorney cried out.
The judge tried not to chuckle himself at this point. "What are you objecting too," he tried to ask in all sincerity.
"She cant talk to me like that. Who do you think you are?" the attorney asked Sara.
Sara looked past Mr. Connely and straight into DeVittems eyes. "His worst nightmare." Casually she turned back to Connely again. "And you both know it."
DeVittems attorney realized too late that he kept Sara too long on the stand. Strike three to the defense. He was out.
"No further questions your honor," he said to the judge, walking back to his seat next to DeVittem. He didnt even ask for the right to recall because he knew there was no way he was going to put her back on the stand again.
When the prosecutor turned back to smile at Angie, he then saw Denise. "Yes, you made it", he whispered to her.
"Your next witness Mr. Prosecutor," Judge Harris ordered.
He rose confidently to his feet. "The prosecution calls Lt. Denise VanCook to the stand your honor."
Sara and Denise passed each other, giving only a nod to one another as Denise took her place behind the stand. DeVittem just sunk lower into his seat with every step Denise took and as Denise gave her sworn oath he felt his freedom slipping away.
"Has the jury reached a decision?" Judge Harris asked the foreman. Only an hour had passed since the jury left for the verdict room.
"Yes your honor," she replied. "On the charge of murder in the first degree, we the jury, find the defendant, Carlos DeVittem, guilty."
Angie clapped her hands together once in victory before melding them together as if in prayer; giving thanks. The sound melted in with all the other commotion in the courtroom as a result of the jurys decision. Denise embraced Sara hard. "I told you youd do it," Denise whispered her congratulations.
"Thank you," the judge replied in a neutral tone to the jury. "Youre all free to go." The judge opened his notebook and scribbled something. "Sentencing will be set for December 2nd at 9 am. Bailiff please escort Mr. DeVittem back to holding. Court dismissed." As Judge Harris banged the gavel, the D.A. turned around and thanked Denise and Angie.
"And you," he said looking at Sara. "You were great. You had me a little worried now and then but you were brilliant. I hope we never have to do this again sometime," he teased.
Sara laughed. "You and me both."
"Well I have to go," the prosecutor said rising and filing out with everyone else. "You ladies take care now."
They watched him walk out with everyone else. Moments later they were the only three souls left in the vacant courtroom.
"Im heading out too," Angie announced. "But first I have to thank you," she added to Sara, shaking her hand.
"It was my pleasure. Im glad I could help."
"Shame you didnt get here sooner," Angie told Denise. "You should have seen her. She was phenomenal." Denise and Angie shared a brief smile. "Well, Ill see you outside," she added to Denise.
They both watched Angie leave in silence before turning to face each other. It was as if they were memorizing each other; knowing they would probably never meet again and hoping to capture this moment forever.
"I guess thats it," Sara sighed as she stroked the top of one of the bench seats with her fingertips. "Ive fulfilled my civic duty," she added with a grin.
Denise continued to examine Sara - her light blonde bangs, her oval face and slender lips. "Well let you know the sentence as soon as we find out," Denise told her. "and as for DeVittems thugs, dont worry. Hes smart enough to know that harming you now will only cause him more trouble. Besides I think your guardian angels from the other day will still be looking out for you for quite sometime."
Sara nodded and began to make her way out. When she was at the double courtroom doors she stopped. She turned slowly, taking a last look at Denise. She wanted Denise to follow but Denise didnt move. She stayed stationary, remembering every detail of Sara Langforth. As Sara opened the door and disappeared, Angies voice echoed over and over in Denises mind. She was phenomenal. She was phenomenal. She was . . . But Denise let Sara walk away just the same.
Denise heard a tap on the office door and looked up. It was Angie.
"Can we talk?" Angie said with great concern as she poked her head inside.
"Of course," Denise said getting worried. She could tell something was bothering Angie. "Whats wrong?"
"Thats what I wanted to ask you," Angie replied.
"What do you mean?"
Angie took a deep breath. This wouldnt be easy. "Have you seen her at all?" she asked.
"Who?" Denise asked turning her eyes way. She knew damn well who Angie was refering to.
"You know who," Angie began softly. "The one youve been pining over the last four months. The one who makes you stay here 15 hours a day; sometimes all night . . . Im worried about you."
"Im fine," Denise replied.
"Youre not fine Denise. I see it behind those depressed baby blues of yours. Why dont you go see her?"
"Like you said, its been four months. Im sure shes moved on with her life."
"Are you so sure about that? Because I know you havent," Angie countered.
"Since when did you become Dr. Joyce Brothers?" Denise said getting caustic.
"Get as sarcastic as you like but this needs to be said . . . I hate to see you lonely."
"I can never be lonely. Ill always have you to nag me," Denise replied.
Angies first reaction was anger. Then frustration. Then sorrow. Sorrow for Denise. "Go to her," she begged softly.
"And do what?" Denise asked. "I have no reason to see her."
Angie looked around the office thinking of a reason. Thats when she saw it.
"Her book!" Angie explained. "Take her book back to her."
"Oh god," Denise laughed. "That is so adolescent."
"What do you mean its adolescent?"
"Id feel like a scared teenager conjuring up some stupid excuse to see her," Denise responded.
"Youre not a scared teenager," Angie began. "Youre a scared adult . . . Besides dont you think shed like her book back? She told you it was once of her favorites."
Denise thought of the ridiculous plan. A plan that was getting less ridiculous the more she thought about it. Angie could tell Denise was considering it.
"Go ahead!" her partner urged with a smile.
Denise thought some more. "Maybe next week," she said looking at the book on her desk.
"No!" Angie said forcefully. "Not next week. Tonight."
"Tonight?" Denise asked, pulling at her clothes. "Look at me. Im a mess."
"Shes seen you a lot worse Denise."
Denise hated it when Angie was so goddamn logical and she knew for every con she spewed, Angie would give a pro. She might as well quit now while she was behind and the thought made her chuckle.
"Whats so funny?" Angie asked.
"You," Denise answered shaking her head. "Tonight huh?"
Denise thought it over again. "Okay, but what happens if I get there and shes . . . not interested."
"Then youll know. And you can move on without wondering what could have been."
Before Denise could reconsider Angie went over to the coat rack and got Denises coat. With a deep sigh Denise stood up and Angie helped her with the sleeves and zipped her up. She walked to the door after picking up the book and waited for Denise. Pausing to give another deep sigh, Denise finally walked over, taking the book.
"I hate you," Denise muttered.
"Well see after tomorrow if you still hate me," she smiled.
Denise cracked a smile and without anything further left the office. When Denise was almost out the squadrooms double doors Angie called to her.
Denise just gave a wave and out she went. Denise couldnt even remember getting to Saras new apartment but soon enough she was in her hallway. Shed been there once to drop off some paperwork for Sara to sign regarding the case in Canada against the man that tried to wager her life for the black satchel. Denise raised her arm twice but both times couldnt bring herself to knock. She took a deep breath to try again and she finally lowered her hand. Suddenly the door opened before her knuckles could make contact. Denise saw Sara hugging a tall brunette haired woman.
"Denise!" Sara exclaimed. "What are you doing here?!"
Denise couldnt put her finger on how she felt. Anger. Hurt. Guilt. Maybe all three. Serves me right for listening to Angie she told herself. She watched them a moment longer and realized she had to say something. "Your book," she said handing it over to Sara. "Im sorry for not returning it sooner. I didnt mean to interrupt you," she added, as she turned to go.
"Do you have to leave?" Sara asked. Denise stopped and faced Sara.
"Im sorry," Denise began. "I assumed youd be alone. I should have called first."
"Well, shes going to be alone," the brunette said with a smile. "Im going home and Rick here is on his way to a meeting."
Denise looked further into the apartment to see a man behind Sara. The woman turned back to Sara. "Give me a call and well have lunch next week." Sara nodded and soon the woman was departing, giving Denise a wave.
"Ill let you know what the Salvation Army says later today," Rick told her.
Sara nodded and Rick gave a nod to Denise as he started to leave. He paused however and took a closer look at Denise. "Youre the cop," he exclaimed. Denise smiled. She wasnt sure just what the comment meant exactly but she took the handshake he offered. "You look a lot better than the last time I saw you slumped over a steering wheel," he grinned.
At first Denise didnt understand but soon she realized this was Rick, the homeless man that came to Saras aid. Funny he doesnt look homeless. Hes dressed pretty damn good.
"Nice to meet you," Denise answered shaking his hand.
"Nice to meet you too. Ive heard a lot about you," he replied.
"Rick," Sara interrupted. "You dont wanna be late for that meeting. The shelter needs the armys support."
He took the cue to shut the hell up and move on. "Right," he told Sara. "Anyway, nice to see you Denise. Sara, well talk later."
Rick began to make his way down the hall with a silly grin on his face.
"Come in," Sara said opening the door wider for Denise. Denise walked in, taking a look around. Everything looked the same as it did before. Everything, except Sara. She was still just as beautiful but her hair was much longer now and a darker shade of blonde, probably a result of lack of sunlight during the winter months.
"How have you been?" Sara asked in her gentle style pulling Denise back from her observations of the woman.
"Good. Been busy," Denise answered. "Cops work is never done it seems. And you?"
"Ive been working too. I gave up real estate though. I started a homeless shelter downtown. Rick now works for me and hes doing a great job with getting us backers and financial support. Cant say Im making money but I dont have to worry about that so it works out. Janet helps me out too. Shes the one who just left. Old friend from my college days who used to be a social worker and now tries to do good without all the red tape," Sara smiled. "Im sorry I didnt properly introduce the two of you but I have to admit I was surprised to see you here."
"Thats okay," Denise replied. "Im a bit surprised to be here myself."
"Why? Didnt you want to come?"
Months earlier Sara would have put a sexual spin on the expression but now her words seemed detatched; edgy. And Denise began to second guess herself for being there.
"Angie thought I should come here."
"And you didnt?" Sara asked.
Denise considered how to answer the question. "I didnt want to interfere in your life . . . But it feels like thats exactly what I did when I saw you with her."
"You mean Janet?"
"Like I said, shes an old friend. And you werent interfering with anything. Shes MY Angie," Sara grinned. "As a matter of fact, theres no one your presence could interfere with. I havent been seeing anyone. I havent wanted to see anyone."
Denises desire to pull Sara into her arms and thank God she didnt move on was so strong. Maybe she still had a chance. Sara watched Denises eyes become moist as she watched her reaction.
"What is it?" Sara said softly, hoping Denise would open her heart.
"I lied," Denise said starting to weep but quickly regained composure.
"You lied? About what?" Sara asked as she began stroking the officers arm.
"About being good. Thats a lie. Ive been miserable. I spend hours at the office trying to forget about you but it doesnt work. I wonder where you are and what youre doing. I wonder who youre with and if she could ever care for you as much as I do. . . Everything reminds me of you and I miss you so much I ache."
Sara was speechless. Not that she didnt believe it. She certainly could because she felt the same way. She was just having trouble finding the words to say.
"I dont even know what Im doing here," Denise said starting to feel insecure when Sara said nothing in return. "I should just leave you alone. I shouldnt have come back," Denise said starting toward the door.
Sara grabbed Denise by the sleeve of her leather jacket and turned her around until they were face to face.
"Dont you dare walk out of my life again," Sara ordered. "I ache too Denise," she added in a whispered.
Denise moved in closer until they were forehead to forehead. "Do you still love me?" Denise asked after a few moments of just holding Sara in her arms. "Does this feel right to you?"
Sara felt herself a bit choked up too and she cleared her throat. "Yes . . . But you should know that I lied too when I said there was no one I wanted to see. Cause I never stopped wanting you and I know I never will. But I gotta know . . . Am I the one? Am I the apple of your eye?" she added, smiling up to Denise.
Denise returned the smile and stroked Saras cheek. "Its safe to say Ive found my red, delicious. If you come with me, Ill most certainly leave the orchard."
Sara began to chuckle but soon it turned into a hum of arousal as Denise claimed her lips with a tender kiss. Sara returned the affectionate gesture and she gave a silent thanks to Angie for advocating Denises return to her. Sara knew that for the rest of her days she would love this brave, daring woman who had risk life and limb to keep her safe. But more than the protection of her body she felt the protection of her heart. She finally found a place to call home and it was in Denises arms in moments like this.
Denise, for her part, fell into the kiss with all her heart and soul. No conflicts. No pressure. No need to do the right thing. In fact this WAS the right thing - holding this woman, loving her. It wasnt just the adreline rush that made her love this woman as much as she did. This woman was a part of her. Since their separation she hadnt felt complete. And if she had her way she would never let her go again.
As Denise pulled back she made a mental note to call Angie. The officers fingers began to stoke the lips she was fortunate to just kiss. Sara closed her eyes and gently captured them on one of the sweeps across. The desire to take Sara to bed after so many months was very strong but Denise resisted. Shed resisted before. She could do it again. At least for the time being.
"What do you say we do this right this time umm?" Denise said softly.
"What do you mean?" Sara asked taking her time to open her eyes.
"Lets do this the way normal people do."
"Well what do normal people do Denise?" she remarked with a coy grin.
Denise smiled and gently released her embrace, zipping up her coat a little more. "Would you like to go out tomorrow night? Dinner and a movie perhaps?" Denise said formally.
"Why Lt. VanCook I would be honored?" Sara grinned. "But I should warn you . . . I may not kiss on the first date."
"Shucks," Denise said snapping her fingers.
"I might do more," Sara added with a wiggle of her eyebrows.
Denise chuckled and hooked Sara under the chin with her fingertips before giving her a light kiss. "Until tomorrow then?"
Sara gave a kiss of her own as she stroked Denises face. "Tomorrow," she agreed.
Denise opened the door and Sara followed leaning against the frame.
"Where you off to?" Sara asked.
"The precinct," Denise answered. "I think I owe Angie a big thanks."
"Make sure you give her mine as well."
"I most certainly will . . . Have a good night Sara. Ill see you tomorrow."
Denise began to walk out when Sara stopped her, "Hey! What are you doing this weekend?"
"I dont know, spending it with you perhaps?"
Sara smiled. "I was thinking . . . Maybe you could take a few vacation days. I happen to have a beachhouse in the Bahamas you know."
"You dont say," Denise teased.
"Yes, I do. Weather looks clear down south. No storms coming. Think you might be interested?"
"Well Ill have to think about it. A weekend getaway is a pretty big commitment. Something you dont wanna rush into," Denise teased. "Ill let you know tomorrow."
"You do that," Sara nodded with a growing smile. They stood a few more moments admiring each other. Denise pulled Sara to her by the waist and locked her in a tender embrace.
"I love you Sara Langforth," she whispered as she kissed the smaller woman on top of the head.
"I love you too Denise."
With a contented sigh, Denise turned and walked down the hallway to the front door of the complex. She stopped and turned around to see Sara still watching her. She blew her a kiss, which Sara caught and placed over her heart.
Denise opened the door and stepped outside. Oh yes. I think a thanks is certainly in order for Angie.
Sara walked back inside and picked up the phone, pausing until she heard a voice on the other end. "Hey, Denise was just here and I wanted to thank you personally."
Angie smiled as she looked at the picture of her and Denise on the desk. "Youre very welcome. She looked too long to find the right one to let her slip away. When you called and asked for my help I was more than happy to give it."
"Thank you Angie that means a lot to me," Sara answered. "And the idea about the book - very clever."
"They pay me to be clever you know," Angie chuckled.
Sara joined her merriment. "Anyway, thanks to you clever girl I have a date tomorrow but youll have to act surprised when she tells you. Shes on her way there now."
"Oh dont worry. I can pull it off. But you do realize that one day well have to tell her the truth."
"If she takes my offer to go to the Bahamas this weekend Ill tell her when shes out in the sun with a margarita. She wont care by then."
Angie chuckled again and gave a sigh. "Whatever is she going to do with us?"
"Love us both . . . At least I hope."
"Well you take care Sara," Angie said. "I better look busy here for when she gets back."
"Take care Angie. And thanks again."
"Youre very welcome Sara. Night."
Sara hung up the phone. Was it wrong to go into cahoots with Angie? Sara wondered for a brief moment. When she recalled that smile on Denises face and how it filled her heart with joy she had her answer. Nahhhhh not on our lives.
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