I Is for Innocent
investigation. It's painful for everyone... me more than most. I simply couldn't handle it."
Lonnie crossed his eyes. He didn't have a lot of sympathy for what people could or couldn't handle. His job was to handle it. Voigt's job was to turn him loose. "Hey, okay. Skip that. It's water under the bridge. It took a year to get him tried and acquitted on the criminal charges. In the meantime, Ken here watches David Barney work his way through Isabelle's money. And believe me, there's plenty of it, most of which would have gone to his daughter, Shelby, if Barney'd been convicted. Finally, the family reaches a point where they can't stand it anymore, so Ken comes back to me and we get into gear. Meanwhile, Barney's attorney, guy named Foss, files a discretionary motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution. I whip into court and tap-dance my tiny heart out. The motion was denied, but the judge made it clear he wasn't happy with me.
"Now, of course, David Barney and this jerk who represents him are using every delay they can think of, and then some. They dicker around and dicker around. We're going through all the discovery, right? The guy's been acquitted in criminal court so what difference does it make what he says at this point? But he's tight-lipped. He's tense. That's because he's guilty as hell. Oh, and here. Check this. Ken here has a guy shows up... turns out he shared a cell with David Barney. This guy's been following the case. He sits in on the trial, just to see what's going on, and he's telling us Barney as good as admitted he killed her as he's walkin' out the courtroom door. The informant's been hard to nail down, which is why I want to get the sucker served first thing."
"What good's it going to do?" I asked. "David Barney can't be tried again on the murder one."
"Exactly. Which is why we kicked it over to the civil side. We've got a much better shot at him there, which he damn well knows. The guy's really dragging his feet, doing everything he can to hinder and obstruct. We file a motion. He's got thirty days to answer so his attorney – what a geek – waits until day twenty-nine and then files a demurrer. Anything to string it out. He's throwing up roadblocks left and right.
"We bring Barney in for a deposition and he pleads the Fifth. So we take him into court and force him to testify. The judge orders the guy to answer because he has no Fifth Amendment rights. There's no danger of prosecution because jeopardy has attached. Back we go on the depo. So now he takes the Fifth again. We take him in on the contempt, but in the meantime we're running up against the court statute –"
"Lonnie?" I said.
"We're humming and humming and it's not working for us. We're coming up to the five-year statute and we really need to make the case happen. We're on the master calendar and we've been given priority, and now Morley drops dead –"
"Looonnnnie," I sang. I raised my hand to get his attention.
"Just tell me what you need and I'll go out and get it for you."
Lonnie laughed and tossed his pencil at me. "This is why I like her. No bullshit," he said to Voigt. He reached over and pushed the stack of, files in my direction. "This is everything we got, though it's a bit disorganized. There's an inventory on top – just make sure it's all in there somewhere before you start work. Once you're familiar with the basics, we can figure out where the gaps are. In the meantime, I want you two to get acquainted. You're going to be seeing a lot of each other in the next month."
Voigt and I smiled politely at Lonnie without looking at one another. He didn't seem to feel any more excited about the prospects than I did.
I ended up staying at the office until midnight. The accumulated files on Isabelle Barney spilled over the tops of the two cardboard cartons, each of which weighed over forty pounds. I nearly developed a hernia hauling the boxes from Lonnie's office to mine. There was no way I could get through all the data at one sitting so I figured I might as well take my time. Lonnie wasn't kidding when he said the files were disorganized. According to the inventory, the first box should have contained copies of police reports, transcripts from the murder trial, the complaint Lonnie'd filed in the civil action in the Santa Teresa County Superior Court, all the demurrers, answers, and cross-complaints. I couldn't even be sure that the trial transcripts were complete. What files I could
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Hans Joachim Alpers
Hans Joachim (Hrsg.) Alpers