|Lady Justice And The Vigilante
Lady Justice and the Vigilante
A vigilante is stalking the streets of Kansas City administering his own brand of justice when the justice system fails.
Criminals are being executed right under the noses of the police department.
In Lady Justice and the Vigilante, a new recruit to the City Retiree Action Patrol steps up to help Walt and Ox bring to an end the vigilante's reign of terror.
But not everyone wants the vigilante stopped. His bold reprisals against the criminal elements of Kansas City have inspired the average citizen to take up arms and defend themselves.
As the body count mounts, public opinion is split --- is it justice or is it murder?
A moral dilemma that will leave you laughing and weeping!
For "Best Mystery Novel" Summer 2012
National Association of Book Entrepreneurs
Honorable Mention - 2012 Southern California Book Festival
Ed Jacobs sat in the back of the courtroom quietly awaiting the return of the twelve men and women who would decide the fate of twenty-seven year old LeShawn Grimes.
He had been charged with breaking and entering, armed criminal action, grand theft and rape.
On the night of June 25th, 2011, a masked gunman had gained entry into the home of Ronald and Beth Martin by breaking the glass adjacent to the back door of the home and reaching in to unlock the door.
The intruder had surprised the Martins who were watching TV in the basement family room.
He immediately immobilized Ronald Martin by striking him in the head with his gun.
He bound the Martins’ hands with plastic ties and proceeded to rummage through the house looking for valuables.
The Martins’ seven year old daughter, Amanda, who was awakened by her mother's screams, hid under a pile of clothing in the laundry room.
Ronald Martin regained consciousness in time to see the intruder assault his wife before he fled the home.
Upon hearing the intruder leave the house, Amanda ran to the window and watched as the masked gunman drove away in a blue sedan.
Amanda freed her parents who immediately called 911.
Officers were on the scene within minutes and immediately radioed all police cruisers in the area to be on the lookout for a blue sedan.
A dozen blocks away, rookie officer Dwayne Bellows spotted a blue sedan that he pursued with lights and siren blazing.
The sedan pulled to the side of the road and Officer Bellows approached and asked the driver to produce his license and registration and he promptly complied.
Officer Bellows called in the license and was informed that LeShawn Grimes had an arrest record for several misdemeanors, but there were no outstanding warrants.
Officer Bellows asked Grimes where he had been and where he was going. Grimes replied that he had been with friends and was on his way home.
At that point, Grimes demanded to know why he had been stopped and detained and if he had broken any laws.
When the officer responded that he had not observed him breaking any laws, Grimes demanded the return of his license.
At that point, Officer Bellows examined the interior of the car and seeing nothing suspicious, ordered Grimes to open the trunk.
Grimes refused and Officer Bellows pulled the keys from the ignition and opened the trunk where he found a ski mask, plastic ties, assorted valuables that were later identified by the Martins and a snub-nosed revolver.
Officer Bellows drew his weapon, cuffed Grimes and radioed for assistance.
The case should have been a slam-dunk.
Quite the contrary.
Defense attorney Suzanne Romero represented LeShawn Grimes.
Romero had been a thorn in the side of the police department for years. Many a defendant had walked away free as she doggedly rooted out procedural errors in the police department’s investigation.
Everyone from street cop to the chief himself knew that they had better have their ducks in a row if Suzanne Romero was at the defense table.
This case was no exception.
Officer Dwayne Bellows had taken the stand and the prosecutor was about to present all of the incriminating evidence that was found in the trunk of the sedan, when Romero objected.
The basis of the objection was that the search of the trunk was an unlawful search and violated Grimes’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.
A pitched battle raged between Romero and the prosecuting attorney, each citing court cases to support their position.
In the end, the winning argument came from Romero citing Justices Brennan, Marshall and Stevens, “In sum then, individuals accosted by police on the basis merely of reasonable suspicion have a right not to be searched, a right to remain silent, and, as a corollary, a right not to be searched if they choose to remain silent.”
The final nail in the prosecutor’s coffin was when she cited Boyd v. United States. “Where property or evidence has been obtained through unconstitutional search and seizure, failure to return the same and to suppress the evidence learned thereby constitutes a reversible error.”
The judge ruled Bellows’ search to be unlawful and suppressed the incriminating evidence found in the trunk --- the fruit of the poisoned tree.
The intruder had worn a ski mask and gloves and left no trace evidence in the house.
Without the contents of the trunk, the prosecution was left with nothing to tie Grimes to the crime but a seven-year-old girl’s testimony that she had seen a blue car drive away.
The jury had been out only a half hour when the bailiff notified the judge that they had reached a verdict.
Ed Jacobs watched Ronald and Beth Martin as the jury filed in.
He lived on the same street as the Martins, about ten houses to the south.
While not close friends, they had lived in the same neighborhood for a dozen years and were more than just casual acquaintances.
He had seen little Amanda grow up and his pantry was loaded with cookies from her various fund raising projects.
Ronald had his arm around his wife holding her close, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.
The courtroom was deathly silent as the judge took the slip of paper with the jury’s verdict from the bailiff.
He turned to the defense table. “Will the defendant please rise.”
Then to the jury, “Mr. Foreman, have you reached a verdict?”
“Yes, Your Honor. We have.
“What say you?”
“In the matter of the State of Missouri vs. LeShawn Grimes, we find the defendant not guilty on all charges.”
The judge turned to Grimes, “Mr. Grimes, you are free to go.”
Grimes let out a whoop and pumped his fists into the air.
As he was leaving, he stopped in front of the Martins.
A malicious grin spread across his face as he blew a kiss and winked at Beth Martin.
Beth buried her face in her husband’s chest and burst into uncontrollable sobbing.
Ronald Martin watched in disbelief as the man who had broken into his home, struck him in the head and violated his wife walked cockily out of the courtroom.
Suzanne Romero gathered her papers and tucked them in her briefcase.
As she passed by the Martins, Ronald lashed out, “How can you defend garbage like that?”
Romero didn’t respond or acknowledge the outburst. Whatever she was feeling was well hidden as she exited the courtroom followed by the disgusted stares of the onlookers.
Ed Jacobs sat in stunned silence as he watched the drama play out before him.
He had expected the not guilty verdict but as he watched the mocking smile and knowing wink of the rapist, he felt something grow inside of him that he had never felt before.
The feeling increased in intensity as he watched his neighbor and friend weeping in the arms of her husband.
He had the urge to scream at the top of his lungs --- a primal scream that would vent his pent-up feelings of frustration and helplessness.
He could feel the blood rushing to his head and he grabbed the seat of the wooden bench to keep from leaping to his feet.
Suddenly it dawned on him that the emotion he was feeling was RAGE --- pure unadulterated RAGE.
He wanted more than anything to grab Grimes around the throat and choke him until he was dead.
He wanted justice --- or was it revenge --- for the pain this animal had inflicted on his friends.
The courtroom began to empty and as he watched the people file out, he saw the pain and frustration in their faces as well, and knowing he was not alone helped him control the fire in his gut.
He composed himself as best he could and made his way to the Martins.
Beth’s sobs had subsided and they simply sat there holding onto each other.
Ed put his hand on Ronald’s shoulder and simply said, “I’m so sorry.”