01 August 2013

Ambush in Bartlette: Chapter 16

Brad walked right past Paula and Jeanna and slammed the door to his office behind him. For most of the day he had been in general district court arguing against bail for Jordan, Minor, and Sanger.  Judge Fleming would have shut down that stupidity in minutes and probably lectured the defense attorneys about filing frivolous motions. However, Judge Fleming was a potential witness and therefore he had refused to have anything to do with the case. Instead, Judge Heaberlin, a retired judge out of Abingdon, came over to hear the motion and it was a disaster.

Heaberlin let the three defendants call twenty-three family members and friends each swearing that the killers were angels who would never hurt a fly and valued members of the community with deep ties that guaranteed they would never flee to avoid trial.

When the defendants called Sheriff Riker, Brad was caught off guard. He knew the Sheriff was in the courthouse. In fact, eight members of the Sheriff's Department were in the courtroom, in uniform, sitting on the row directly behind the defendant's table. Still, it had been a shock when the Sheriff was called to testify for the killers. And once he started to testify things got nasty.

The Sheriff testified that the men were still valued members of his department with jobs waiting for them. Also, he had evidence that family members of the victims in the Pahl case were the ones who ambushed his deputies. He had warrants for Howard Mullins and Kyle Young with him, issued by the magistrate that very morning.

The first time Brad heard any of this was while the Sheriff testified. His cross examination was exploratory and brutal.  By the time it was over, the entirety of the Sheriff's evidence was exposed as being that each person he had just charged was related to one of the raped girls, each had a conviction for a violent crime in his past, and neither could account for his whereabouts at the time of the ambush. It was clear that the only reason the Sheriff had gotten his warrants was because the magistrate who issued them was one of the Sheriff's poker buddies and a fellow member of the local Elks lodge. It was also clear that the Sheriff was going to do everything in his power to disrupt the prosecution of his deputies.

Judge Heaberlin sat behind the bench soaking it all in. Once all the evidence had been presented he sat writing something on the pad in front of him for over five minutes, leaving everyone else in the courtroom sitting in silence. Then he issued his ruling.

“In the matter of Commonwealth versus Sanger: no bond or bail. In the matter of Commonwealth versus Jordan: no bond or bail. In the matter of Commonwealth versus Minor: five million dollars, bond to be secured by property or cash. Court is adjourned.”

With that, the district court judge stood and walked out of the courtroom without any explanation of his decisions.

The frustrating thing about all of it was that Brad knew the defense attorneys would appeal the lower court's opinion to the circuit court and he would have to do the same hearing all over again in a few days. In the meantime, he would have to get the district court judge to rescind those warrants before two men who didn't do this crime got arrested for it. Neither Howard Mullins nor Kyle Young was a stranger to the local jail or the courthouse. In fact, the reason they could not account for their whereabouts at the time of the ambush probably had something to do with stealing or dealing. Brad wouldn't lose any sleep if they were hassled a little, but he didn't need this complication of his case.

After thinking about it a couple minutes, he decided to call Darla Begley, the attorney who usually represented Kyle Young. After a couple rings, a chipper female voice answered the phone. 

"Law office."

“Hey, Darla, it's Brad. You representing Kyle Young on anything right now?”

“Hey Brad. I'm sure I am. He's got to have a driving while suspended or drunk in public going. Why? You looking to hook him up with something else or need him to talk with you about what some of his buddies are doing?”

“He's got a warrant outstanding right now.”

Darla's voice became a mix of wariness and resignation. “What's he done now? Supposedly, that is.”

“The Sheriff took out a warrant for murder this morning, but pocketed it until today's bond hearing. Tomorrow, I am going to go into court and get those warrants rescinded or dismissed or whatever I have to do to get rid of the damn things. Until that time the warrants will be out there. Deputies will probably try to arrest your client tonight. You might want to tell Young that he should spend the night somewhere else than his trailer.”

“What? You want me to call my client and tell him to avoid arrest?” Darla's voice rose with anger. “I am not going to get an obstruction of justice charge. I won't do it for my clients and I am not doing it for you. You leave me out of this private little war you and the Sheriff are ginning up.”

“Darla you have a duty under the Bar's ethics rules to . . .”

“Don't you tell me what my ethical duties are, mister high and mighty Commonwealth Attorney. I was doing this ten years before you even passed the Bar. Don't you ever call me and try to push me around like a pawn in your political games. Ever!”

With that, the line went dead. Well, crap. Brad thought. That could have gone better. Then, after a couple of seconds looking at the phone he picked it up and called out to Paula.

“Paula, is anybody representing Howard Mullins right now?”

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