• Crime Perfect – Part Two

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    CRIME PERFECT – Part Two

    Fawn said, “Look my client doesn’t know anything about the crash other than she got bruises, cuts, a broken arm and a diseased husband. To infer that some how she tampered with her husband’s car is ridiculous. She came that night at his request, in his car and was only driving because he had too much to drink – his blood alcohol level was five times the limit. As far as I’m concerned we’re done here. If there are any other questions please have your office contact me.”

    “What was that all about?’ asked Janet. “I don’t know, other than someone has put them up to this. Don’t worry about it, I think we have heard the last of this,” said Faun. “Do you want me to look into some of the assets that were acquired jointly during your marriage? I had my investigator start checking – they are in trusts and hidden equities so nothing shows in his name, but I think we can pry some money loose if you want to let the investigator go after his family.” “Let me think about it, I’m not sure what I want to do right now,” said Janet.

    A month went by and nothing more happened. Then one day Fawn called and ask Janet to come by her office. “I’ve got good news and bad news – the bad news is that Kurt’s dad’s influence and money has some influence with the legal system even this far from Boston. He has been browbeating the District Attorney for the last month about his son’s death, saying he knows you planned it. There are even some rumors that he is making big campaign donations to some of the judiciary. You probably didn’t know it but the Cabot family has huge holdings out here – that was one of the reasons Kurt was working in Albuquerque – the other was he apparently screwed up royally in New York and was banished to New Mexico. One of my contacts in the DA’s office told me that they finally gave into Cabot’s pressure and brought the case they had prepared before the current seventeen person Grand Jury.

    Here is the good news – apparently a majority of jurors voted against an indictment, even though the circumstantial evidence pointed toward you. That is very rare, usually the Grand Jury just rubber stamps the DA’s request for an indictment based on probably cause.“ “Well does that mean I no longer have anything to worry about, asked Janet? “Not exactly, if some new evidence comes up, they could bring a case against you to the Grand Jury again, but I doubt it very much.” As you know Grand Jury proceedings are supposed to be secret, but I have some contacts in the DA’s office.

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    Three weeks later Faun called and said her contact told her that the DA had brought her case back before the Grand Jury, but she didn’t know the reason or the outcome yet. She was very surprised that it had gone this far, but Kurt’s father was spending large sums of money on all aspects of investigation – he was convinced that Janet had somehow arranged his
    son’s death.

    Sure enough, this time the Grand Jury returned the indictment, although Faun could not find out about any new evidence, but she asked for a copy of the GJ’s transcript. She arranged for Janet to come to the police department and surrender herself. The same afternoon Faun persuaded a judge to have a bail hearing. After hearing the argument from the prosecuting attorney that this was a premeditated murder – there should be no bail. Faun’s argument that this entire charge is based on circumstantial evidence, that Janet had a completely clean record and that she should be able to be released on her own recognizance.

    The judge finally set bail at $100,000, which brought Janet into hysterical tears. Her brother Bob came up immediately and said he would put up all the cash he had – $26,000. Her friend Dr. Sanders said he would put up the balance. They had her out of jail the next morning, but she had to wear a GPS Ankle bracelet as part of the bail agreement. Kurt’s father also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Janet. But Faun prepared a motion to delay any action until the murder trial was over.

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    A search warrant to toss the house was signed and a team of policemen and detectives went through the house – all they could find was a pair of wire cutters on the bench with no one’s fingerprints on it – there were however, some microscopic plastic fibers on the cutter jaws that matched the disabled wires on the air bag. There was no gold switch despite an intensive search, and no prints on the hard piece of plastic that was wedged in the seat belt receiver. For some reason the cops came back again with another search warrant and did everything but tear the wallboard down the second time.

    Janet understood that the prosecutor’s case was based on circumstantial evidence, but Faun wanted her to see the list of people who would be witnesses. She was astounded to see her own parent’s name. The others all appeared to be technical automobile experts. She called her mother immediately to ask what this could possibly mean. Her Mom said she wasn’t sure but she and Harold had met with the District Attorney twice. “Here is your father.” “What did you tell the DA,” Janet asked.” Her father was slow in answering and said, “Well he wanted to know if you and I had any conversations about your marriage. He specifically wanted to know how the marriage was going and if I had ever heard you make any threats towards Kurt. I felt I had to tell him about six months ago – when you came home and were so upset. Remember you said you wished he were dead and that for everything he had done to you could kill him. I did tell the man about how Kurt had treated you. He said that your mother and I would probably have to testify in court.” Janet was beside herself. How could her parents side with the DA? She was sick.

    Her only real family support during this time was her brother. When he found out about the extent of Kurt’s abuse said he wished he had been the one who drove the car into the pole. And Dr. Sanders was there – always supportive, always willing to help. He saw her almost daily and the relationship was changing from friends to something more. She had strong feelings for him but told him, “Look, I know I’m innocent but who knows what will happen, I can’t plan anything yet.” He said he understood and he was there for whatever she needed.

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    The Preliminary Hearing began on a Monday with the prosecution quickly explaining the air bag and seat belt malfunctions and that the obvious person to do this was Janet. There was no reason for Janet to leave the road, nor any reason for her not to remember other than it was on purpose. Faun quickly pointed out that there was no past history of crime from Janet, and that she wouldn’t crash the car and hurt herself and that she had nothing to gain. In fact in tests they had conducted showed the time from leaving the street to hitting the pole was about one tenth of a second. A divorce would have accomplished the same thing as Kurt’s death. Then the DA called her mother and father who both said that Janet had said that she wanted Kurt dead and that she could do it herself if she had the chance. Winston Cabot went to the stand and testified that his son had told him that he was afraid of Janet – so frightened that he slept in another bedroom with the door locked.

    There were objections over hearsay and inadmissible evidence, on and on. They broke for lunch then and she found out her brother and Mr. Cabot had gotten into a yelling match outside the courtroom. Mr. Cabot threw a punch and knocked Bob down. Bob jumped up, and slugged Mr. Cabot twice, breaking his nose. The two of them ended up rolling around on the ground. Everyone wanted to press charges, but the policeman who broke up the fight said it was Mutual Combatants. At the end of the day the judge bound Janet over for trial – which was scheduled to start in six weeks.

    Jury selection took three days, mainly because it was evident that most of the prospective jurors showed disbelief that this young girl could intentionally drive a car into a telephone pole in order to kill her husband. And the old rule applied – that anyone with any common sense or intelligence can easily figure out how to get off jury duty – the people left to serve come from the shallow end of the Gene Pool. But they finally impaneled twelve jurors and twelve alternates and began the trial.

    The Prosecution started the trial with the same story in opening arguments. That Janet had disabled the airbag, stuffed something in the seat belt receiver and had purposely driven into the pole knowing she would only receive minor injuries. All the hospital tests she had undergone showed no reason for her to blackout. They would hear testimony from her parents about Janet wanting kill Kurtis. That the marriage was very unhappy and they would hear testimony stating that Janet had threatened to kill her husband.

    Faun came out with guns blazing. She filed a motion with the Judge to dismiss the case based on the lack of probably cause and lack of any real evidence. The Judge denied the motion. She stared by telling the Jury that all of them would have reasonable doubts about Janet being guilty, and but by the time the trial was over there would be no doubt in their minds that she was completely innocent. There was nothing in Janet’s past that would lead her here, however Kurt had an assault charge against a girl when he was in college and another domestic complaint from his former wife involving the police. She really ask if the jury if they thought that Janet could perform the technical task of disabling the air bag – where was any evidence that showed this – they turned the house upside down and never found the relay switch.

    “Would she really run into a steel pillar, knowing that she could be killed herself?” Then she moved on to Kurt’s monetary behavior including the fact that he had taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on Janet with himself as the payee one month before he died. He had nothing on himself payable to her. She had nothing to gain from the accident. “Why do you think he got that policy? And here is an affidavit that states the policy was not signed in the presence of the agent. Kurtis told him he would take it to Janet for signature, but the signature is obviously not Janet’s. The DA asked for a recess and met with Janet and Faun. “How about we drop the charges down to Manslaughter Two and your client will be out in five years.” Faun retorted, “how about you dismiss the case.” Back they went into the courtroom. Faun began again. “Many spouses wish the other dead and would like to see them killed – that is all that this was – just idle talk. In fact you’ll hear that Kurtis has a record of abuse and indeed threatened Janet just a few weeks ago.

    Let me tell you what I really think happened here and why Kurt Cabot got that large insurance policy on Janet. There is no question that the air bag was disabled and the seat belt made non functional. Who did that? I’ll tell you who – Kurtis Cabot. He fixed the air bag so it wouldn’t deploy and then intended to kill her in the way he himself died. I believe he did the same thing with the seat belt. But he got so drunk he couldn’t drive and execute his plan. She could see many of the jurors nod their heads. Winston Cabot jumped up and yelled something about a “Witch” and was escorted from the courtroom.

    Once again the DA wanted a conference. “What will your client plead to he asked.” “How about nothing,” said Faun? “Look, I need to get something just to satisfy old man Cabot, how about Reckless Endangerment – one-year sentence, but only serve 6 months.” Fawn said, “I’ll talk to my client.” The response was: “Not only No, but Hell No!” Just before Janet was to take the stand, the DA wanted another conference. “Come on, he said, “give me something”. “Okay I’ll recommend that she pleads to Reckless Driving, with the only penalty being a $500 fine.” Faun consulted with Janet and said, “I’m sure we have this case won, but you can’t ever completely determine what a jury will do, so I suggest we take the misdemeanor charge.”

    Janet pled guilty to Reckless Driving knowing that no future charges could ever be filed because of double indemnity. The jurors who were interviewed afterwards said they would have found Janet innocent based on all the evidence although they were troubled about the car leaving the road unexpectedly. Fawn filed a motion the next day to dismiss Winston’s wrongful death lawsuit, which was granted six weeks later. She then countersued the Cabot’s in front of a New Mexico Judge for the money that Kurt had taken from Janet to supposedly invest – collecting in two months.

    One day about three months after the dust had all settled, Faun asked Janet to meet her for dinner. The talked about their lives and the trauma that Janet had gone through, raising their wine glasses to toast the outcome. Then Faun got a very serious look on her face and said: “Now we are going to talk about something that we will never speak of again. I didn’t ask if you were guilty during the entire ordeal, I won’t ask you now, but here is what I think happened. I believe that you found out that Kurt intended to kill you, fixing the airbag so it wouldn’t deploy, cutting a piece of plastic to stop the seat belt receiver – I’m not exactly sure how he was going to manage your death.

    But he got the $500,000 life policy on you so he would benefit. Somehow you watched him do these preparations and found the gold relay switch for the airbag, eventually understanding what it did. Obviously he didn’t leave it in the house, but you found it. From then on you made sure you didn’t ride with him. When he called that night drunk, it was the perfect time to put his own plan into effect against him. I admire you, it took a lot of courage to drive into the telephone pole. I don’t think there was ever a headlight glare.” “ I’m innocent,” was all that Janet said.

    Time went by and in about a year, no one was interested anymore. George and Janet had been married six months and had started their life together. He wasn’t as good looking as Kurt but in every other way he was the opposite. Janet was ecstatic about him. George never asked if she had anything to do with Kurt’s death and she never volunteered.

    One afternoon when George was covering for a colleague at the hospital, Janet started to get rid of all of the paperwork from the ordeal. Lots of paper bound into folders, pictures of everything and a small wooden box. She sat at the shredder for two solid hours then decided to go down to the Nature Center Park. It was a nice area by the Rio Grande – a quiet place to ponder everything that had happened. Some people still had unanswered questions, such as why she had blacked out, who really blocked the seat belt receiver, and most of all why hadn’t the gold relay been found despite extensive searches?

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    It got to be early evening. She sat with the box next to her on a bench, thinking how bad things had been two years ago and how great the last six months had been with George. Then as evening shadows lengthened in the park, she walked over to the bank of the river, looked around for a moment, and then opened the box. She curled her hand around what was there, smiled, and tossed it underhand across the brown waters of the Rio Grande.

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    There was just a flash of gold as it splashed into the river.

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