The tension that concluded the morning session was discernible when the afternoon session began. Judge Martina Yuo leaned forward on her bench and said, “Counselor Doe will begin his cross-examination of Officer Jackson Payne,” and then relaxed in her chair. She followed it up by dropping her glasses in front of her and it made a slight echo.
Jason Doe, tall and agile, shifted himself and strolled leisurely towards Officer Payne in the witness stand. The lawyer smiled momentarily like a boxer about to pounce on his enemy. There was a nagging sense of confidence discernible in his demeanor.
“Col. Payne,” Counselor Doe said, “Ephraim Sackor was one of the candidates for the president in the recent Media Union elections?”
“And he lost his bid for the presidency and reports indicated that he was meanwhile referred to as the angry candidate by his colleagues who did not live to his expectation?”
The lawyer made a swift retreat to his table and in that moment met the eyes of defendant Ephraim Sackor, whose gaze filled him with uncertainty.
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders and marched towards the witness. In his unusual baritone, Cllr. Doe said, “Ephraim Sackor, your investigations concluded, and this was from his wife that he had a mental breakdown?”
“Did you verify that statement from a professional psychologist?”
“Mrs. Sackor is not a professional psychologist?”
The lawyer frowned thoughtfully.
“How then could not agree with her ‘opinion’ that Ephraim Sackor suffered a mental breakdown after he lost the Media Elections?”
The witness gave a deep breath and said, “Mrs. Sackor knows her husband better than anybody else. She did not have any demonstrate any hatred towards him and therefore her observation seemed probable.
“Additionally, she was keenly involved in the Media Elections and after her husband’s loss she spent considerable time with him and was in the best position to make an opinion of fact. It therefore seemed right to believe her.”
Jason Doe frowned again, and turning to Judge Martina Yuo, said, “It is true she is the wife of the defendant but at the same time she is not a professional in the field of psychology to accurately diagnose the mental state of a man who is facing murder charges and you accepted her opinion as a fact, Col. Payne?”
Col. Payne readjusted himself in the witness, for it seemed the question had jolted him. He shrugged his shoulders in an attempt to rise above the shock and was said, “Mrs. Sackor, I must admit, is not a psychologist and neither is she with the authority to point out her husband’s mental state, but her closeness with him, as a husband. She did not have any ulterior motive and that gave us the assurance that she was speaking of fact.”
“So then,” Jason Doe said, “you were investigating a case, involving the death of a citizen of much influence, and you surprisingly based a statement of fact which a man’s life hangs, on the opinion of an unprofessional.” Suddenly, Prosecutor Samson Swen was on his feet.
“The opinion of the defendant’s wife is one aspect to develop the case, Counselor.”
“You’re right,” Jason Doe retorted, “but in a case that demands without reasonable doubt, it makes a whole lot of sense to base the conclusion on a professional psychologist after a thorough examination?”
Judge Yuo weighed in the case and responded, “The Court does not expect the prosecutor to intervene in the defense counsel’s trend of cross examination, bringing out an apparent source that is not an authority on a man whose life hangs in a balance, as to whether he contributed to the death of the decedent.
“The Court is much interested in professional sources that could bear much on the case and hence Counselor Doe has the Court’s support to bring out an apparent error of assigning an authority to an opinion of a spouse who in a greater measure should be siding with her husband.”
“Thank you, Your Honor,” Prosecutor Swen said, “I was trying to point out that the woman’s honest opinion should not unnecessarily delay the case, though she is not an expert.”
“Very well,” Judge Yuo said, and glaring at the prosecutor noted. “Since the prosecutor agrees with the defense’s position, it is therefore not necessary for any intervention.”
“Thank you, Your Honor,” the prosecutor conceded, and the negative blow of his position could not be lost on the spectators, but Jason Doe, in a triumphant response, said, “Ephraim Sackor visited the decedent two hours before he died?”
“And the toxicologist report indicated that his death came two hours after the defendant’s visit?”
“Referring to the Promissory Note, which you testified in Court; when was the defendant expected to pay his loan?”
“It was on October 15.”
“Was a specific time of the day specified in the Promissory Note?”
“Therefore,” Jason Doe said, “the defendant was supposed to visit the decedent on October 15?”
“Yes,” Officer Payne said, “and his visit was to be accompanied with the money.”
“Did the Promissory Note made any specific indication about his visit without the money?”
“It did not state the way you put it but his visit evidently should have been accompanied with the money,” Officer Payne retorted, a bit irritably.
“But,” the lawyer said with an amount of interest, “it did not state that he must not visit the lender unless he had the money.”
“It did not state in that clear terms but it was obvious.”
A mild laughter swept through the courtroom and Jason Doe allowed the echo to fill the air.
“The decedent, Clinton Dahn was an elderly man?”
“How elderly, Officer Payne?”
“He was in his 50s.”
“And how did you know that he was in poor health? Did you have any idea what medications he was prescribed for?”
Suddenly, all attention swept towards the corner of the Courtroom where the widow, Comfort Dahn and other family members sat, displaying a suppressed emotion but the voice of the witness responded:
“The decedent suffered from high blood pressure.”
“Was he under any strict instructions regarding the use of medicines prescribed for him?”
“It’s obvious. His prescribed medications were Thiazide Diuretics and Beta Blockers.”
“Thiazide Diuretics,” the lawyer said, and after some hesitation said, “yes these kinds of drugs are sometimes called ‘water pills’ and they act on kidneys to help the body eliminate sodium and water, reducing blood volume. During your investigations did it occur to you that the efficient administration of these drugs required a family member or a nurse?”
The officer strained his eyes and pretended he was recollecting what had transpired and said, “We were assured that dosage was administered by his widow Comfort Dahn.”
“Who assured you, officer?”
“His widow, Comfort Dahn.”
“Therefore,” Jason Doe said, “when you returned to the house on October 27th, did anything you observed raised your suspicion about the cause of death?”
Col. Payne seemed confused and after hesitation, said, “It did not seem anything much at the time but now that you are asking about it, let me explain she violated police instructions by cleaning up the house.”
The lawyer returned to the prosecution table and looked through papers and returning to the witness said, “What was her reaction when one of the officers confronted her?”
“She mumbled that she did not mean to kill her husband and we thought her reaction was due to the shock of his death.”
“And did that move you to investigate that angle, officer?” Officer Payne was considering the question when an echo of tears broke out at the corner where Widow Comfort Dahn was mumbling to herself.
The courtroom was taken aback as her hysteria increased. Bailiffs and several police officers rushed to the scene.
Meanwhile, the widow informed the officers that she wanted to make some issues clear about the death of her husband. The information was communicated to Judge Yuo, who advised and warned her that she did not have to increase her discomfort by making any incriminating statements.
Her insistence was so strong that she was sworn in, and positioned herself to clear the air, as a witness for the prosecution. Her face was that of a woman whose world had come to the end with an action she did not mean to execute. In the dock she straightened up, squeezed her lips and stared in the air, as if she was seeking some intervention.
Her hands trembled and she grabbed the edges of the witness stand. When she began to speak, it was in a well-modulated tone which took the courtroom by surprise.
“Clinton’s death,” she said, fighting back tears, “was not by that man, for it was an accident.
A hush swept through the courtroom, and seconds later, she resumed, and kept her composure intact.
“I did not mean to have caused his death,” her voice echoed the meaning across the courtroom, as spectators strained their ears.
“When I learnt that Clinton had given such huge amount to someone, I thought the recipient was a woman.
“So I went to him after I had collected all his medications and threatened that either he confessed the name of the woman who he had given the money to, otherwise I would not give them to him.”
The silence in the courtroom was deafening and even a drop of a pin could have been heard. Judge Yuo sat, relaxed in her bench as her ears received the shocking revelations.
Jason Doe, who did not seem at all surprise, was already seated at the defense table, with his ears straining, his eyes glinted with a frown on his face.
After a couple of seconds, the widow continued, solemnly, “I did not mean to cause his death but when I realized what I had done, it was apparently too late to save him.”
As the witness, once again, hesitated, Judge Martina Yuo signaled the defense and the prosecution to a whispered conference.
Few seconds later, Judge Yuo announced the release of defendant Ephraim Sackor from further police custody and ordered the widow Comfort Dahn held for the murder of her husband, businessman Clinton Dahn.