The Keepsake: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel
“It is, your honor. It goes to the witness’s judgment,” said Whaley.
“How so?” the judge countered.
“Past experiences can affect how a witness interprets the evidence.”
“What experiences are you referring to?”
“If you’ll allow me to explore that issue, it will become apparent.”
The judge stared hard at Whaley. “For the moment, I’ll allow this line of questioning. But only for the moment.”
Aguilar sat back down, scowling.
Whaley turned his attention back to Maura. “Dr. Isles, do you happen to recall the date that you examined the deceased?”
Maura paused, taken aback by the abrupt return to the topic of the autopsy. It did not slip past her that he’d avoided using the victim’s name.
“You are referring to Mr. Dixon?” she said, and saw irritation flicker in his eyes.
“The date of the postmortem was November first of last year.”
“And on that date, did you determine the cause of death?”
“Yes. As I said earlier, he died of massive internal hemorrhage secondary to a ruptured spleen.”
“On that same date, did you also specify the manner of death?”
She hesitated. “No. At least, not a final—”
She took a breath, aware of all the eyes watching her. “I wanted to wait for the results of the toxicology screen. To see whether Mr. Dixon was, in fact, under the influence of cocaine or other pharmaceuticals. I wanted to be cautious.”
“As well you should. When your decision could destroy the careers, even the lives, of two dedicated peace officers.”
“I don’t concern myself with consequences, Mr. Whaley. I only concern myself with the facts. Wherever they may lead.”
He didn’t like that answer; she could see it in the twitch of his jaw muscle. All semblance of cordiality had vanished; this was now a battle.
“So you performed the autopsy on November first,” he said.
“What happened after that?”
“I’m not sure what you’re referring to.”
“Did you take the weekend off? Did you spend the following week performing other autopsies?”
She stared at him, anxiety coiling like a serpent in her stomach. She didn’t know where he was taking this, but she didn’t like the direction. “I attended a pathology conference,” she said.
“In Wyoming, I believe.”
“Where you had something of a traumatic experience. You were assaulted by a rogue police officer.”
Aguilar shot to her feet. “Objection! Not relevant!”
“Overruled,” the judge said.
Whaley smiled, his path now cleared to ask the questions that Maura dreaded. “Is that correct, Dr. Isles?” Whaley asked. “Were you attacked by a police officer?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I’m afraid I didn’t hear that.”
“Yes,” she repeated, louder.
“And how did you survive that attack?”
The room was dead silent, waiting for her story. A story she didn’t even want to think about, because it still gave her nightmares. She remembered the lonely hilltop in Wyoming. She remembered the thud of the deputy’s vehicle door as it closed, trapping her in the backseat behind the prisoner gate. She remembered her panic as she’d futilely battered her hands against the window, trying to escape from a man she knew was about to kill her.
“Dr. Isles, how did you survive? Who came to your aid?”
She swallowed. “A boy.”
“Julian Perkins, age sixteen, I believe. A young man who shot and killed that police officer.”
“He had no choice!”
Whaley cocked his head. “You’re defending a boy who killed a cop?”
“And then you came home to Boston. And declared Mr. Dixon’s death a homicide.”
“Because it was.”
“Or was it merely a tragic accident? The unavoidable consequence after a violent prisoner fights back and has to be subdued?”
“You saw the morgue photos. The police used far more force than was necessary.”
“So did that boy in Wyoming, Julian Perkins. He shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy. Do you consider that justifiable force?”
“Objection,” said Aguilar. “Dr. Isles isn’t the one on trial here.”
Whaley barreled ahead with the next question, his gaze fixed on Maura. “What happened out there in Wyoming, Dr. Isles? While you were fighting for your life, was there an epiphany? A sudden realization that cops are the enemy?”
“Or have cops always been the enemy? Members of your own family seem to think so.”
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