I Is for Innocent
your fellow man when you're forced to look at some of his handiwork. I disconnected my emotional machinery while I studied the autopsy X rays and photographs. I work best when I'm armed with an unflinching view of reality, but the detachment is not without its dangers. Unplug yourself often and you risk losing touch with your feelings altogether. There were ten color photographs, each with a nightmarish quality of violated flesh. This is what death is, I reminded myself. This is what homicide really looks like in the raw. I've met killers – soft-spoken, pleasant, and courteous – whose psychological denial is so profound that their perpetration of a killing seems inconceivable. The dead are mute, but the living still have a voice with which to protest their innocence. Often their objections are noisy and pious, impossible to refute since the one person who could condemn them has been silenced forever. The final testimony from Isabelle Barney was framed in the language of her fatal injury, a devastating portrait of waste and loss. I tucked the pictures back in the envelope and moved on to a copy of the case notes Dink Jordan had sent over to Lonnie.
Dink's real name was Dinsmore. He referred to himself as Dennis, but nobody else did. He was in his fifties, bland and gray, a man without energy, humor, or eloquence. As a public prosecutor he was competent, but he had no sense of theater. His delivery was so slow and so methodical it was like reading the entire Bible through a microscope. I'd once watched him lay out his closing arguments in a spectacular felony murder trial with two jurors nodding off and two more so bored they were nearly comatose.
David Barney's attorney was a man named Herb Foss, whom I didn't know at all. Lonnie claimed he was a jerk, but you had to give him credit for getting David Barney off.
While there had been no witnesses to the shooting and the murder weapon was never found, evidence showed that Barney had purchased a .38-caliber revolver some eight months before the murder. He claimed the gun had been removed from his bed table at some point during the Labor Day weekend, when the couple had given a large dinner party in honor of some friends from Los Angeles, Don and Julie Seeger. When he was questioned about his reasons for not filing a police report, he maintained that he'd discussed it with Isabelle, who'd been reluctant to confront her guests with the alleged theft.
During the trial, Isabelle's sister testified that the couple had been talking for months about a separation. David Barney contended that the breach between them wasn't serious. However, the gun theft incident precipitated a quarrel, which culminated in Isabelle's ordering him to move out. There seemed to be much disagreement about the prognosis for the marriage. David Barney claimed the relationship was stable but stormy, that he and Isabelle had been in the process of negotiating their differences. Observers seemed to feel that the marriage was dead, but that might have been wishful thinking on their part.
Whatever the truth, the situation deteriorated rapidly. David Barney moved out on September 15 and then proceeded to do everything in his power to regain Isabelle's affections. He made frequent phone calls. He sent flowers. He sent gifts. When his attentions became annoying, instead of giving her the breathing space she requested, he redoubled his efforts. He left a single red rose on the hood of her car every morning. He left jewelry on her doorstep, sent her sentimental cards in the mail. The more she rejected him, the more obsessed he became. During October and November, he called her day and night, hanging up if she answered. When she had her number changed, he managed to acquire the new unlisted number and continued phoning her at all hours. She got an answering machine. He continued to call, leaving the line open until the message tape ran out. She told friends she felt she was under siege.
In the meantime, he leased a house in the same stylish section of Horton Ravine. If she left the house, he followed her. If she stayed home, he parked across the road and watched the house through binoculars, keeping track of visitors, repairmen, and the household help. Isabelle called the police. She filed complaints. Finally, her attorney had a restraining order issued, prohibiting phone calls, written communication, and his approach anywhere within two hundred yards of her person, her properly, or her automobile. His
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