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Gone, But Not Forgotten and Wild Justice
By Phillip Margolin
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Phillip Margolin
All right reserved.
"Have you reached a verdict?" Judge Alfred Neff asked the eight men and four women seated in the jury box.
A heavy-set, barrel-chested man in his mid-sixties struggled to his feet. Betsy Tannenbaum checked the chart she had drawn up two weeks ago during jury selection. This was Walter Korn, a retired welder. Betsy felt uncomfortable with Korn as the foreman. He was a member of the jury only because Betsy had run out of challenges.
The bailiff took the verdict form from Korn and handed it to the judge. Betsy's eyes followed the folded square of white paper. As the judge opened it and read the verdict to himself, she watched his face for a telltale sign, but there was none.
Betsy stole a glance at Andrea Hammermill, the plump, matronly woman sitting beside her. Andrea stared straight ahead, as subdued and resigned as she had been throughout her trial for the murder of her husband. The only time Andrea had shown any emotion was during direct examination when she explained why she shot Sidney Hammermill to death. As she told the jury about firing the revolver over and over until the dull click of hammer on steel told her there were no more bullets, her hands trembled, her body shook and she sobbed pitifully.
"Will thedefendant please stand," Judge Neff said. Andrea got to her feet unsteadily. Betsy stood with her, eyes forward.
"Omitting the caption, the verdict reads as follows: 'We the jury, being duly impaneled and sworn, do find the defendant, Andrea Marie Hammermill, not guilty...' "
Betsy could not hear the rest of the verdict over the din in the courtroom. Andrea collapsed on her chair, sobbing into her hands.
"It's okay," Betsy said, "it's okay." She felt tears on her cheeks as she wrapped a protective arm around Andrea's shoulders. Someone tapped Betsy on the arm. She looked up. Randy Highsmith, the prosecutor, was standing over her holding a glass of water.
"Can she use this?" he asked.
Betsy took the glass and handed it to her client. Highsmith waited a moment while Andrea regained her composure.
"Mrs. Hammermill," he said, "I want you to know that I prosecuted you because I believe you took the law into your own hands. But I also want you to know that I don't think your husband had the right to treat you the way he did. I don't care who he was. If you had come to me, instead of shooting him, I would have done my best to put him in jail. I hope you can put this behind you and go on with your life. You seem like a good person."
Betsy wanted to thank Highsmith for his kind words, but she was too choked up to speak. As Andrea's friends and supporters started to crowd around her Betsy pushed away from the throng to get some air. Over the crowd she could see Highsmith, alone, bent over his table, gathering law books and files. As the assistant district attorney started toward the door, he noticed Betsy standing on the fringe of the crowd. Now that the trial was over, the two lawyers were superfluous. Highsmith nodded. Betsy nodded back.
Excerpted from Gone, But Not Forgotten and Wild Justice by Phillip Margolin Copyright © 2006 by Phillip Margolin. Excerpted by permission.
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