08 September 2013

Ambush in Bartlette: Chapter 21

It was Sunday night and Brad was sitting at Yusif's desk. He had just spent the last two days going over as much of the evidence in the murder cases as he could. He started with the materials that Yusif had stacked around the desk and then worked through as many of the boxes as he could. The room was filled with even more piles of papers than it had been when Brad came up to do his own evaluation of the evidence.

It was not good. There was evidence that Jeff Sanger was involved, but it was tenuous. The tapes sealed it, but they could not stand alone. There was no way that a jury would understand them without someone to put them in context. Damn it, Brad thought, Yusif was right.

The only way to put the evidence in context would be to put Sanger's co-defendants on the stand to explain the conversations. And the only way to do that would be to make a deal taking the death penalty off the table. That meant Brad would have to decide whether he wanted the death penalty for the two guys who actually did the killing or the guy who sent them to do it. Of course, there really was no choice. If he went after Ian Minor and Dave Jordan he would almost certainly get the death penalty for both, however Sanger would go free. If he went after Jeff Sanger he might get the death penalty, but he would have to agree to take the death penalty off the table for at least Minor and probably Jordan. The first option was emotionally more satisfying because he would be guaranteed that two of the murderers would get the punishment they deserved. But, it wasn't really an option. He couldn't let Sanger walk free from murders which he had ordered. That meant Brad was forced to take the second option. He would pursue the death penalty for the man who ordered the killings and who was ultimately responsible for everything that happened.

The second option also had some collateral benefits. While it was too late for Brad and Sheriff Minton to ever be allies again – or even friends – reducing the punishment of Dave Jordan to life in prison might placate him enough that he would stop trying to hurt Brad politically. As things currently stood the Sheriff's political allies were beating the bushes to find someone to challenge Brad for the Republican nomination in the coming election. No one had stepped forward so far, but the Sheriff would eventually find someone willing to take a shot. Not that any this would have stopped Brad from pursuing the death penalty for the Sheriff's stepson if the circumstances allowed it. But, it was the only possible upside that Brad could think of.

Brad also had to figure out what he was going to do about Yusif. That whole line about Yusif going to a church which opposed the death penalty was bullshit. Brad had gone to Saint Berlinda with his wife for years and seen Yusif in the pews twice – maybe three times. It was an excuse that Yusif was using to avoid prosecuting Jeff Sanger. Yusif didn't like the fact that Brad was prosecuting anybody from the local Sheriff's Department and he had argued several times to Brad that they should ask the judge to allow their office to withdraw from the case and appoint a special prosecutor. Now, Yusif had apparently decided, despite the evidence, that Jeff Sanger was completely innocent.

Yusif couldn't be trusted to do any more work on this case. That meant he would probably end up doing all the misdemeanor work in the general district and domestic courts while Brad handled the smaller number of felonies in the circuit court. Brad needed the reduced case load if he was going to handle the murder trials by himself. Of course, all this meant that Yusif would lose his office. There just wasn't room anywhere else for all the evidence in the murder cases. Monday morning's conversation with Yusif was not going to be pleasant.

Brad's cell phone beeped and a message from Maggie popped up. "Check out the Facebook page of Clyde Mullins' wife."

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