“I didn’t want to get Jared in trouble so I didn’t call the police, but you can contact Asa Cross. He came to see me the day after the attack and he can tell you what I looked like. You can also question the landlady from Jared’s apartment complex. She’s the one that scared off the guys that attacked me.”
Larsen leaned back in his chair and tapped his fingers on the file in front of him. “Well, you see, Ms. Walker, that’s where we run into some problems with your account of the events that led up to the robbery. The landlady doesn’t recall anyone being in the apartment besides you and my client, and Mr. Cross has an ax to grind considering he was the one at the bar the night of the robbery. The woman he is involved with is also the police officer that shot my client, so his interest in seeing my client incarcerated makes him biased in so many ways. The only person claiming there was an attack prior to the robbery is you, so isn’t it much more likely that you were mad about the bar being sold out from underneath you and coerced your drug-addicted boyfriend to rob it? Knowing he couldn’t say no to money for a fix or to the woman he loved?”
My skin crawled when he mentioned the landlady because I was pretty fucking sure her current memory loss only came about after fistfuls of cash exchanged hands. This guy wasn’t above bribing a witness to get his way and that let me know that this was going to be as ugly and as dirty as it could get.
A broken laugh wheezed out of her as she turned her head in my direction and then jerked it back towards Larsen. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Even if I was mad, which I told you I wasn’t, I would never risk the lives of the people that worked there. I was stupid enough to stay with Jared after the first time he hit me, but I would never inflict him on anyone else. I knew how dangerous he could be when he was high.”
“Is that so?”
She heaved a deep sigh and shook her head. “Yes, it’s so. I mess up and I get myself into bad situations, but I do my best not to let that bleed on to anyone that I care about.”
“So, what happened with Autumn Thompson a few years back?”
She and I both stiffened when he mentioned the girl’s name that had been so instrumental in leading Avett down the path full of self-inflicted wounds and purposeful pain. I heard her breath wheeze out of her in a tortured sound that had my heart cracking right down the middle.
“Autumn took her own life, as I’m sure you are well aware.” I couldn’t keep the razor sharpness out of my tone or the warning. I could typically play these dodge and parry games with the best of them, but with Avett caught in the middle and her composure as the prize I was barely keeping all the things I knew about brutality and violence leashed.
“Ms. Thompson’s parents feel very differently about the matter. They have a lot to say about Ms. Walker and her influence on their daughter. It seems your client is very good at leading other people into trouble and then ducking out while everyone else suffers some very dire consequences.”
“I think my client has a knack for finding lost souls and trying to help them out in her own way and we both know if you put the Thompsons on the stand that Townsend is going to pull them apart. Why would you question the parents and not the boys that actually hurt their daughter? The only people guilty of committing any kind of crime that night were the boys that attacked Autumn. Townsend’s going to ask the parents why they let Autumn spend time with Avett in the first place if they were so concerned about her influence. He’ll question their parenting ability and all the jury is going to see is you bringing up a dead girl and rehashing bad memories. People don’t like being manipulated, Tyrell. It doesn’t go to probable cause at all, and the judge won’t let it go beyond one question. Your sole purpose for bringing that part of my client’s past up is because you wanted to rattle her.”
His eyebrows went up again and that slick-as-shit smile was back on his face. It took every ounce of self-control I had not to let my hands curl into fists where they rested on the arms of the chair.
“You would do the same thing if you were in my position, Counselor. I’m obligated to give my client the best defense possible.”
It irked me because he was right. That was a huge, open, gaping wound that festered and seeped into pretty much every aspect of Avett’s life. It was her major weak point and every attorney, no matter what side of the law they were on, learned to go straight for that spot when dealing with anyone on the stand.
Suddenly, Avett straightened up in her seat and she reached out to grab my forearm. Her head turned in my direction and her multicolored eyes popped open so wide they seemed to take up half of her face. “Asa wasn’t alone when he came to see me the day after the attack. His sister was in town visiting and she was with him.”
“My client is accused of robbing her brother at gunpoint. Her testimony would be as suspect as Mr. Cross’s.” Larsen’s tone was sharper than it had been and his gaze had narrowed at our end of the table. It was the first time since we entered the room that some of the smug satisfaction that surrounded him slipped.
I snorted and leaned forward so that I could put a forearm on the glass tabletop. “Right, the brother and the sister and my client are all conspiring to set your client up and to send him to jail. Sounds like there is witness testimony available that backs up my client’s story that your client ripped off his suppliers and was desperate for money, leading to my client being shaken down and roughed up. The robbery was clearly his idea.”
“This witness isn’t on the prosecution’s list and hasn’t been vetted.”
It was my turn to smirk and flash some teeth. “It’s called discovery for a reason, Tyrell. I’ll be sure to send Townsend this new information, as soon as we leave.”
We had a vicious stare-down for several long minutes until Larsen moved forward and closed the file in front of him with more force than the task required. “I think that’s all for me today, Ms. Walker.”
Avett let out an audible sound of relief, but I could see by the predatory look in the other man’s eyes he was far from done with her or with me.
“Thank you for your time. I want to remind you that when you are on that stand, nothing, and I do mean nothing, is off-limits. I can ask you about your past, including the men in it, and I can ask you about your current circumstances. I’m sure McNair and Duvall will be thrilled to have their firm’s name tied to a felony robbery case when it hits the press that one of their top litigators is sleeping with one of the witnesses. I can discredit both of you, with the right innuendo and the right wording. We both know exactly how to do that, don’t we, Jackson? You’ll have no chance of making partner when this trial is over. That’s a promise.”