The Little Pipsqueak

© 2012 Matthew Templar
matemp1148@yahoo.com

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This story is copyrighted by Matthew Templar, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.

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Chapter Twenty-two

AJ, Dan and I were made to sit out in the hallway while the case got underway but Cybill and Lenore promised to fill us in on all the gory details later, during breaks in the trial, and at our celebration lunch, afterward.


"All rise. Court is in session. The Honorable Judge Homer Davenport presiding."

"You may be seated." said the judge as he took his place.

"Well, it's good of you two to show up to my court room, almost a week late," he said, looking at the lawyers at each table.

"Sir, I'm a little confused. How were we supposed to know you were calling us to court? Our offices both knew we were out of town."

"Oh, is that right? Then why couldn't they reach you? I gave them a whole week to try. Don't you make your whereabouts known to your staff when you leave? Maybe to your wives? I suppose I should have asked them. Oh, unless they were with you, that is. And stand up, both of you, while I'm talking to you." He wasn't too gruff sounding, yet.

"Um, no, our wives didn't accompany, at least mine didn't accompany me. How would I know where Mr. Patterson was vacationing?" said District Attorney Thomas with a bit of chuckle in his voice.

"Oh, so this is funny, is it?" asked the judge. Before anyone could speak he went on. "How is it that you didn't know where he was, but the deputies found you two, hell, all three of you at the same, um, resort?"

"Oh, um, well . . ."

"Okay, enough! We'll work on that one later. Right now I want to know why the boy hasn't been charged with his crimes. How long do you plan on holding him before you decide to go ahead with this case?"

"Sir, this isn't a small offense. As you know, many crimes were caused by the defendant. It's taking some time to sort . . ."

"You mean you've actually been working on the case, District Attorney Thomas?"

"Well, not me exactly. My staff has surely been gathering information and details of each crime, ready for me to go over, in preparation for the boy's charges and arraignment."

"I see, and is that the same with you, Mr. Patterson? Have you been on the case as well?"

"Oh no, sir," said Jeffy's court-appointed attorney, Patterson. "We haven't received the discovery for the case from the D. A.'s office." He turned to look at Cybill, who was sitting two seats over from him at the defendant's table. Jeffy hadn't been brought into the courtroom yet. "Isn't that true Ms. Hawthorne? We're still waiting for the discovery?"

"Ms. Hawthorne has been very diligent in her duties to her employer, Mr. Patterson. In fact, she has picked up all the evidence from the DA's office and has been studying it in your absence. I think you should be really proud of her," said the judge with a smile on his face.

Patterson turned a little paler and Thomas was twisting around to look at his two assistants in the second and third chairs next to him. Both Madden and Breyson just shrugged. Thomas was turning red. Cybill said she could almost see steam coming up from his neck.

"So, Mr. D. A., are you ready to charge the boy?"

"Sir, I can't even find the boy. When I went to the Center last night to talk with him, oh, with Mr. Patterson, his lawyer, as well, we were told he was turned over to the Sheriff's office here. When I called Sheriff Jensen, he didn't know anything about it."

"Who signed him out then, do you suppose?" asked Judge Davenport, acting as shocked as the D. A. was.

"The register said he was signed out Thursday of last week for a hearing Friday morning. That's all I know. Of course, there wasn't any hearing because Mr. Patterson and I weren't here then."

"Oh, and you're the only ones with any knowledge of the case?"

"Well, no, but it is my call as to who will take lead on any case in our office. Due to the obvious importance of this case, I am taking the lead, as you can plainly see."

"Don't get smart with me, Thomas. I'd be surprised if you were ready for a hearing had you known I'd called it twice last week, or you either, Mr. Patterson. Are you ready to move along with his charges so this boy knows what his future entails? Don't you think you've stalled long enough?"

"Stalled, sir?" asked the shocked DA. "That's pretty strong language. I've been trying to weigh the evidence and make sure all charges were brought forth with respect to the incidents in this case."

"But you haven't even looked at the evidence, have you?"

"Well, that's not totally true, my assistants . . ."

"No, you! Have you looked at the case since the boy was incarcerated?"

"Not personally, no. But that's my assist . . ."

"I'm very disappointed in what you've done, Mr. Thomas. Very."

"Sir?"

"This boy that I am about to bring in here had no idea of all the charges you were going to use against him, including the added one of Grand Theft Auto. Why is that, Mr. Thomas?"

"Grand theft . . . How did you know . . .?" asked Thomas looking down at his assistants.

They didn't even look up.

"Are you ready to proceed with the case, District Attorney Thomas?"

"Um, I, um, yes, of course."

"And you, Mr. Patterson, are you ready to defend your client?"

"But the discovery, I haven't . . ."

Cybill lifted the box onto the table and pushed it toward her boss.

"Would you like a five minute recess so you can go over the evidence, Mr. Patterson?" said the judge.

Cybill said you could just about see him wanting Patterson to say yes, so he could lambaste him for his neglect in the case. But instead, she said she could see Patterson sweating and it took everything in her to not show her happiness.

"Okay, I'll take that as a no. Have the defendant brought in please, bailiff."

Now, we'd reassured Jeffy, as had Cybill, Lenore and Dan, that everything that could possibly hurt him was behind him; that he had not a worry at this point. But we also coached him as much as we could about acting naïve about the goings on at that point, so the judge could deal with the true criminals. The only thing we didn't count on was his reaction when he saw his stepfather.


"NO!!" he shouted. His eyes flashed on his stepfather for barely a second. Cybill didn't know why and she was pretty sure no one else did, except ...

Juvenile cases are closed to protect the anonymity of the young one, so Jeffy came into a sparsely populated courtroom and immediately made eye contact with the man he was sure was going to get rid of him, somehow.

Henry Travis sat in the third row. When Cybill happened to look at him he had what she called an evil grin just barely showing. But it was enough to scare poor Jeffy something awful.

AJ and I could both hear him scream and Dan opened the door to ask the guard what had happened. When he told us I immediately thought of the only thing that would rile Jeffy after finding out Dan wasn't shot. I told Dan it was the sight of his stepfather and that I could kick myself for not thinking of it. Before Dan returned to the door to tell the guard, I heard him say something like, 'We'll take care of the kicking part later'. True friend!

By the time the guard whispered to Cybill what was likely happening, she had already figured it out. She met the boy and his guard and put her arm around him, then leaned over and whispered to him, "Jeffy, I promise you, by the end of today, he will not be a threat to you at all."

That calmed Jeffy a little and confused Patterson even more than he was.

CRACK!

"All of you, sit down please. Daniel Jeffrey Connors, we have convened here so that you might be told the charges that will be filed against you, after which we will hear your plea and set a time for your trial," said the judge.

Now, Cybill had already reminded Jeffy that this was all show and that nothing negative was going to happen to him. So when he heard the judge he just nodded.

"We understand, your Honor," said Patterson, standing beside his client.

"Thank you, Mr. Patterson. Don't you think you should introduce yourself to your client?"

"Well, I . . ." started Patterson, but Jeffy interrupted him.

"Oh, I know him well enough, sir. I know both of these new guys in fact," he said, pointing to District Attorney Thomas as well.

"Oh you do, Mr. Connors? You've had a meeting with your lawyer, then?" asked the judge, a bit surprised.

Jeffy immediately turned to Cybill and started to point to her and speak but Cybill leaned over to him and whispered that the judge meant the man standing beside Jeffy.

"Oh. He's my lawyer? I thought . . . Well anyway, I met him and that man (Thomas) in the jail one day right before . . ."

But Cybill stopped him from saying right before Cybill, Lenore and I visited him. She said she made a face at the judge of near panic and luckily he read it right to move on.

"So, Mr. Connors, you're saying that the D. A. over there and Mr. Patterson visited you at the juvenile detention center where you were being held until yesterday?"

"Yes, sir. They came once. But I don't think they were too happy to see me."

"Yes, well, your Honor," squeaked Patterson, "he was pretty distraught at the time. I'm surprised he's able to remember any of it at all."

"Well, let's move on, then. We'll get to those things later. Bailiff read the case to us."

The bailiff introduced the case and the defendant.

"Who is representing the county in this case?" asked the judge.

"I am, District Attorney Thomas, and my assistants."

"And who is representing the accused in this case?"

"I am, your Honor, Donald Patterson."

"Thank you. Sit down, men. Mr. Thomas, please tell us the charges you'll be filing against the defendant, one Daniel Jeffrey Connors."

"Your Honor, we intend to indict Mr. Connors on three counts of attempted murder, reckless endangerment, assault of an officer, two counts of attempted assault, and carrying a concealed weapon."

"And that's all?"

"At this time, your Honor, that's all."

"So, you plan to add more to this, Mr. Thomas? Could you enlighten us as to what the possibilities are?"

"Well, at this time it would be premature to . . ."

"And why is that, Mr. Thomas? Either you're going to charge him or not, correct?"

"In all probability, sir, but . . ."

"Then let's hear it."

"Um, okay. We will also be charging Mr. Connors with grand theft auto."

Immediately Jeffy swung his head around to look at his stepfather. His stepfather still had the same malicious grin on his face.

"I see," said Judge Davenport. "And that would be the boy's stepfather's car?"

"Yes, your Honor. It was that car he stole to drive to the Sergeant's house to shoot him in cold blood."

"Okay, Mr. Thomas, we haven't started to try the boy yet."

"Sir, at this time I would also like to bring up an earlier motion to try the boy as an adult. I don't see why, in light of the heinous nature of the crime and its severity . . ."

"How old is the boy, Mr. Thomas?"

"He's about to turn sixteen, sir; which would make him an adult."

"So, it would make him an adult when he turned sixteen. Is that what you're saying?"

"Well, yes, I mean no, I mean he's almost . . ."

"Exactly, Mr. Thomas, but he isn't is he? Motion denied. Don't bring it up again. Moving on. Tell me about the car. Is it your claim that the boy had no permission to drive the car? And what kind of car is it, by the way?"

Thomas shuffled through his notes, looking at his assistants a few times until Madden pulled out a file and handed it to him.

"Um, let's see, it's a 1999 Toyota Camry, sir. And, since you want him tried as a juvenile, we can add driving without a license to the charges."

"You've got to be kidding. Are there any other charges swimming around in your head that you'd like to get rid of, Mr. Thomas?"

"Sir?"

"He's being tried on a capital offense and you're adding a misdemeanor driving charge? Don't you suppose that, if the county has its way with him, he probably won't be driving ever?" Pause. "I didn't hear that, counselor."

"I said, 'Yes, sir."

"And I guess we'll have to keep the grand theft with the indictments, since the car is worth all of about $2500. Mr. Travis, do you still want to press charges against your stepson for the theft of your car? Maybe I should phase it this way, did the boy have permission to use the car, ever."

Henry Travis stood up slowly and looked at the D. A.

"No, Mr. Travis, I'm asking you, not your friend, Mr. Thomas."

"Your Honor, I object!" shouted Mr. Thomas.

"To what, counselor?"

"To making it appear that we're somehow in cahoots with each other about the boy's charges."

"I see. Are you not friends, then?" asked the judge, almost apologetically.

"Well, yes we are, well, more like business partners, but still . . ."

"Then I guess the other question to consider is this, are you two in cahoots about the disposition of the boy?"

There was absolute silence in the courtroom. Cybill said that it was so hard to be quiet, to not jump up and shout out what we all suspected was going on. She looked at Jeffy sitting next to her and simply saw tears streaming down his face. Other than that he showed little if any emotion. She said she reached over and rubbed his shoulder and he gave her a weak smile.

"Well?" asked the judge.

"Of course not! Where would you get such an idea?" answered the D. A.

Cybill and Lenore looked at each other with those big eyes like AJ gets. I'm sure they were ready to burst too. It dawned on me later how much restraint the good judge must have used to keep this as drawn out as he did, but I realized that he preferred them to indict themselves.

"Yes, indeed, where . . ." mentioned the judge as though the idea had never occurred to him. "Objection overruled, by the way, but I will rephrase my question of Mr. Travis. Mr. Travis, have you ever given the boy permission to drive that car?"

"Let's see. I think I may have let him drive it down the driveway before he left for school a few times, but I can't recall him ever being allowed to drive any other time."

"I see, but what about when you'd take him driving to get his license? Surely he, like every other fifteen year old boy in the county has a learner's permit and is chomping at the bit to be taken driving every day. I know my sons were."

"Hummph," said Jeffy under his breath. He looked at Cybill and shook his head.

"No, sir. The boy doesn't have his learner's permit, so I haven't taken him to drive."

"Why is that, Mr. Travis? Is it the boy's choice?"

"Your Honor, how is this relevant?" asked Thomas.

"It's relevant because I want to know about the boy, what he's made of and how he's been raised. Do you mind?" He didn't wait for an answer. "My question was clear, Mr. Travis, why does he not have a permit?"

"I wouldn't allow it. I don't feel he's mature enough to handle the responsibility and I think he proved that with his criminal actions of late."

"So, you still want to press charges against the boy for stealing the Camry, Mr. Travis?"

"Yes, I do. He did not have my permission to take it. And what's the difference now, anyway since he'll just be in jail a few years longer?"

"Oh, you want him to go to jail, Mr. Travis?"

"I consider myself an upstanding citizen and think the guilty need to be punished, so, I guess my answer is yes, I do."

"Anyone that's guilty, Mr. Travis? They should all go to jail?"

"You hardly have to ask me that, sir. Yes, anyone."

"So, can you wait until tomorrow to press those additional charges against your son, I meant your stepson, Mr. Travis? It's getting late and we'd like to take care of some other pressing issues. After all, it'll only add a few years, you know."

"Um, I suppose."

"Good, good. Oh, one last question, Mr. Travis. I know you're a well-to-do gentleman, having done very well in real estate and various other ventures. What would be the disposition of any bank accounts or valuables that the boy might have right now? They would go to his mother, I suppose. Surely you don't need anything as paltry as that which a fifteen year old boy has in his name."

There were three very distinct gulps in the courtroom just then. Mr. Travis and Mr. Patterson both swung their heads to look at Mr. Thomas.

"I'm asking you, Mr. Travis, not the other two men. Or don't you know the outcome of any of his estate as it is now?"

"I do, sir. I guess it would be for me to decide where it went. I have his power of attorney."

"Oh, good. Then you'll probably see that it's invested and hold it until he gets out, right?"

"Well, of course. What little there is, that is."

Cybill said she could see the occasional finger go into various shirt collars and let the steam out as the three men began to sweat.

"I see, and how much do you suppose that is, just off the top of your head. A round figure will do," he asked with a wave of his hand over his head.

"Sir, is this really necessary?" asked Thomas, again standing.

"Oh it most certainly is, Thomas. It most certainly is. Sit down! Travis, the amount!" Cybill said that his voice was beginning to take on the timbre of his authority like the last time we were in court.

"Um, let's see. Except for allowance . . ."

"Which I never got," said Jeffy to Cybill.

"Oh surely there must be something that he has in his name. Think, man."

"Um, well, there is a small trust that was left to him, um, by his, um, natural father."

"Oh, well then, how much do you suppose that it's worth; a few thousand dollars?"

"Well, maybe a little more than that."

"And what was the purpose of the trust fund? Was it for the boy to go to college or buy a car at some time? Was it specified in the will or the trust document? I can't hear you, Mr. Travis. I really must see about hearing aids. Can anyone else hear him?"

The court reporter said a brisk, "NO!"

"Oh, then speak up, Mr. Travis. This must all be recorded you know."

"Um, it was to be used for his upbringing, to take the pressure off of his mother, my wife now. But, your Honor, we didn't need it, not with my income."

"Oh that's right. You live in the gated community over by the lake, don't you? Makes you wonder why the boy was always over in the other part of town, with the likes of the boy that died, um, one Jarod Brown. Why is that Mr. Travis?"

"Um, let's see. We, uh, yes, we were trying to sell the house and didn't want it ransacked with no one living there. Then we'd all move in together, of course, when it sold."

"I see. Mr. Travis, when did you marry young Connors' mother?"

"Um, two years ago, next week, sir," he said quietly.

"So, it was okay for a thirteen year old boy to live alone in that house while you and his mother lived in your mansion?"

"Well, no, it isn't really a mansion."

"Mr. Travis, answer me!"

"Um, yes, but his mother was there a lot of the time."

"Let's get back to my question a while ago. Tell me how much his trust is worth?"

Travis was pawing through a file he had sitting next to him until the judge couldn't take it anymore.

"NOW!"

"Almost $75,000, sir. It was a life insurance policy taken out on his dad."

The whole place was one big gasp! The only one that didn't gasp, or really know what that meant was Jeffy.

A hand pulled on Cybill's sleeve.

"Daniel, look up here!" said Judge Davenport in that soft voice he had when he wanted to.

The boy swung around and waited.

"He just said that you, Daniel, have $75,000 coming to you from your dad's estate. He also said that if you are incarcerated, um, sorry, jailed, you won't get any of it. He will, at his total disposal. Isn't that right, Mr. Travis?"

"Oh. No . . .!"

"Your Honor, he just said he'd be taking care of it until the boy got out," said D. A. Thomas.

"I heard him, Thomas. Mr. Travis, how much was the policy for?"

"Um, I think it was $100,000, sir. But we had expenses and things, you know. It's all really . . ."

"So, you spent $25,000 of the boy's money in the two years that you were married to his mother and he never knew the money existed? Is that what I'm hearing?"

"Yes, well no, okay yes, but there were needs and expenses and . . ."

"You're supposed to be a wealthy man, Mr. Thomas. Why would you need the boy's money?"

"Like I said, sir, there were his expenses and . . ."

"Aren't those things your responsibility now as his father?"

"Well, technically . . ."

"Of course, Mr. Travis, I understand. Technically the money was there for you to mishandle and spend on what you saw fit for yourself, not taking into consideration the boy's welfare for one moment. Does that about sum it up?"

"Your Honor!"

"Sit DOWN, Mr. Thomas! I'm getting to you!

"Tell me, Mr. Travis, is there anything else of value that we haven't heard about, maybe something that you haven't yet absconded with?"

"See here, sir," blurted Travis at the indignation thrown at him.

"Oh, that's right - expenses. Well, let's just say that since you spent ten times what the car was worth that he didn't steal it, okay? I guess that was another expense you used the boy's money for and didn't tell him. Fair?" He didn't wait around. "Next, I asked about other things, investments, holdings, certificates, maybe a safe deposit box or property even?"

Three more gasps.

"Ah, I think we're getting somewhere."

"Your Honor, Mr. Travis is not on trial here. I take offence at what you're making him go through," said Thomas, though he didn't stand up.

"Oh you do, do you? Like I said, your turn is just around the corner. If we hurry we can get through this and all have time for a nice lunch."

Cybill said there was a guffaw from the back room. When she said that it became very clear to me why Jeb knew about this case at all, I just didn't know to what extent he was involved.

"Your Honor, I'm sure I don't know of any more funds or property or anything else."

"You're sure, Mr. Travis? You're not under oath, but honesty is the best policy, don't you all agree?""

"Oh, sir, why would I lie about something like that?"

"Well, as long as you've asked, and you're sure there is nothing else, (Mr. Travis nodded) then I guess it would be because you planned on keeping it from the boy."

"The boy is hardly going to need much where he's going, sir, as soon as he's convicted."

Cybill said she had to put her hand on Jeffy's shoulder to keep him seated. He told us later he was going to scream at his stepfather that he wasn't going to jail, the three bastards were. Somehow Cybill thought that might be a bit early to expose.

"We'll take a break and meet back here at 10:30. That's fifteen minutes, gentlemen. You will be escorted anywhere you go as the arrest is still in effect."

There was a "Your Honor!" and a "But!' and one "What?" heard from the courtroom all the way into the hall where we were.

"I'm not waiting on you again. Be back on time or contempt charges will be filed."

During the break I took AJ to the basement cafeteria for a soda and snack. When we returned, just before court reconvened, Cybill and Lenore came out and told us most of what happened. There wasn't time to tell it all. I wish I had been able to give Jeffy something.

"All rise!"

"Let's continue. But Mr. Patterson, I'd like to ask you a question or two."

"Your Honor, I thought this was just a hearing to list the charges," said a very nervous Donald Patterson.

"Well it is. We'll get to them, believe me."

Cybill said that she and Lenore wanted to blast out their own guffaws at this point but somehow managed to contain themselves.

"Counselor, you told your paralegal, Ms. Hawthorne, that you were on a business trip, then a week's vacation, is that right?"

"Um, no, I told her I was going to LA on business, then Las Vegas for another week on business, not a vacation."

"Oh, and what kind of business did you take care of at Bender's Ranch?"

"Honestly, it was my own private business and had nothing to do with this case, sir," replied Patterson a bit indignantly.

"Oh well, excuse me then. Mr. Thomas, I'd like to ask you the same question I asked Mr. Patterson."

"That really is none of the court's business, with all due respect, your Honor."

"I'll accept that, Mr. Thomas, now, Mr. Travis, you were also arrested by my order at the ranch, were you not?"

"Um, yes, sir, I was," said the less than confident Mr. Travis.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Travis, I think it would be easier for all of us if you were to sit in the chair next to Mr. Thomas. Don't you?"

"Sir, there's someone seated there already."

"See here, your Honor, how can this be necessary to the conviction of Daniel Connors?" asked Thomas.

"I keep saying that we're getting there, gentlemen. It won't be long now. And you're right, Mr. Travis, someone is seated there. Ms. Madden, is it?"

"Oh, uh, yes sir?"

"Ms. Madden would you please take a seat elsewhere while Mr. Travis moves to the seat you're in? I'd appreciate it. Mr. Breyson, I'd like you to move for the time being too please."

D. A. Thomas was shaking his head as his two assistants moved back behind the rail and Henry Travis sat in his assigned chair.

"Oh, much better. Thank you all. Now, again, Mr. Travis, what was your purpose at the ranch? Surely it would be such a coincidence for it to be business as well, especially at a resort with the reputation of Bender's Ranch."

"Oh, yes it can, sir. I mean, I was there on personal business also."

"Ah, and do they have conventions and things there? Are they set up for meetings, I mean the kind without a bed for two, though maybe three people?"

There was tittering throughout the court room. Cybill said even Jeffy's eyes got big. Evidently he was tuned into what was happening; no doubt anticipating what would result.

"Your Honor, I think we all said that it wasn't the court's business and had nothing to do with this case."

"Yes, Mr. Thomas, I believe I did hear you say that. It's just that I have reason to doubt you."

We heard three "WHAT!" coming from the room, very loudly.

"I said . . ."

"I heard you, your Honor but I just don't understand how you can doubt your own District Attorney as well as two honored gentlemen of this county and state. We're obviously able to corroborate our stories."

"Okay, I'll give you that. I do believe you had a meeting there and that it was together. How's that?"

"It's ridiculous. The fact that we were all there at the same time doesn't prove anything. And even if it did, of what possible use would it be to the court and this case?"

"Ms. Hawthorne, could you read that part of the investigator's report you filed with the court?"

"HUH?" gasped Patterson.

"Yes, sir," she answered, standing as she read. "'My associate was able to find the three men, namely D. A. Roland Thomas, Mr. Donald Patterson and Mr. Henry Travis at the Bender's Ranch, outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. (Address attached.) When I arrived on location, I was able to detain an attorney named George Morton as he pulled up to the ranch. He admitted to a meeting with the three men and told me, without much pressure and little detail, what the meeting and the planned outcome entailed. I sent a rather pleased lawyer on his way with a new $100 bill.'"

"What?" yelled Thomas.

"Patience, patience. Believe me, it gets better," said Judge Davenport, with an extremely pleasant voice. "Continue, please, Ms. Hawthorne."

"'I took my briefcase and approached the three men, introducing myself as one George Morton. I was accepted immediately and shown into a backroom that looked like it had been set up as a poker room. I was told to take notes and draw up any documents that were the outcome of their discussions. I was to be paid for my time and by the number of documents drawn. I was also told by D. A. Thomas directly that money was no object. (Note to Ms. Hawthorne, I have copies of all the tapes I made during this meeting and with the lawyer, George Morton.)'"

By this time, Cybill told us later, all three men were slumped in their chairs with their heads down. She heard her boss keep saying over and over, 'I knew it was too good to be true.'

"'To summarize the meeting, Mr. Travis showed the men a Title Deed in the name of a Mr. Daniel Connors, which we found out later was the deceased father of Daniel Jeffrey Connors. He even had a copy of the will that made the Connor's boy the owner of said deed. They went on to discuss the apparent value of the property described in the deed. It is prime land, close to the city in which all those involved live and had been speculated on for a new golf course and surrounding estate houses. At the time of his death, Mr. Connors, Sr. had written letters to send to three investors, though the only one he had a chance to send was to Mr. Travis.'

"'It was then that Mr. Patterson asked the other two men, 'Do you think four years is long enough? I can't believe we've all been this patient.'"

Cybill said the look on the two men as they turned to Patterson was electric. I'm sure strangling was on their minds about then. She read on.

"'We've waited plenty of time for suspicion to be negligible. Let's move on this.' That was Thomas answering Patterson. They then explained that they would give me a time when the documents could be processed, but not before then. I asked what those conditions were but was met with closed lips. They'd let me know, but it would only be a few months. When I questioned who owned the property, Mr. Thomas said the deed would be transferred into Mr. Travis' name at a given time. He assured me it was all perfectly legal.'

"'Then I had to ask one more question of them. I asked how much they thought the land would be worth. I was told it was none of my business so I asked a developer in the county, near the property in question, when I returned from Las Vegas. He said he'd always wondered who owned that piece of acreage and that the land alone was probably worth a cool million. But, he told me, with all I'd told him about the development, it could easily reach into the tens of millions, several tens of millions he told me.'

"'I then left the meeting with the notes they asked me to take, which I'm including in the report. As I drove away, two deputy sheriff's cars from Clark County Nevada drove onto the ranch property. I didn't wait around to find out why.'"

"But we know why, don't we gentlemen?" asked the judge. "Bailiff, please call in Todd Handy, private investigator and author of our tale. Also call Deputy Dan Perkins."

The three men were anxious to see who walked in, until he did and they recognized him as their lawyer, George Morton. Again, their heads sunk to the table.

"Well, it seems as though you men recognize Mr. Handy, though not by that name. Is that correct?"

There was only silence.

"I see. Mr. Handy, thank you for coming in today. Did you give all of your reports and evidence to Ms. Hawthorne here?"

"Yes, you Honor."

"Thank you, Mr. Handy. Is there anything you'd like to add to the report? Remember, though you are not under oath, everything is being recorded. You may be called on to testify to your findings."

"Sir, I have nothing, well, except one little thing. I was curious about the time line the men mentioned; about waiting four years."

"I see. And what did you find?"

"It seems Mr. Daniel Connors, the boy's father, wound up in the middle of a gang fight and was killed almost exactly four years ago."

"Yes, and what's so odd about that, though very regretful, I might add," said the judge, looking at Jeffy.

"Sir, there were no witnesses of any worth to the incident. The only ones were vagrants and two men who were later found dead together, gang style."

"Is that odd for such men, given they may have been involved with the killing?"

"Exactly, sir, it's not, but these men had no connection to any gangs. Their only link was a significant amount of money in their accounts soon after the killing of Connors, Sr. That was in the police report."

"And that is strange because . . .?"

"Well, I have to defer to Deputy Perkins for that one, sir. I couldn't legally do what needed to be done at that point."

"Okay. Deputy Perkins, thank you for coming in. Please continue the report Mr. Handy started."

"Sir, you know that when I met with Mr. Handy, he wanted me to check the bank record of Mr. Travis four years ago. You gave me a search warrant and we found that no money of any significant amount was drawn from any of his accounts during that time."

There was a disappointed moan from some of the people in the room.

"Okay, quiet, please. Continue Deputy Perkins. I'm sure there's more."

"Yes, sir. Since Mr. Handy's meeting was with all three men and one asked if four years was long enough, I requested search warrants for the accounts of the other two men."

There was a deep groan from at least three men sitting near the front.

"We found that each of the other two men, Mr. Thomas and Mr. Patterson, made withdrawals which added up to the amount deposited into the accounts of the two dead men. This happened the day before the money was deposited into the men's accounts and two days after the murder of Daniel Connors."

"Sir, that's all very circumstantial evidence. It would never hold up in court, I'm sure."

"It is very interesting though, isn't it, Mr. Thomas? And, by the way, I think we may all find out just how well it will hold up in court. I believe you men should be looking for some very good lawyers right now. Bailiff, seize the three men and have them taken into custody. I'm tired of this charade and I'm sick of having to keep putting this boy through more of the torture that they were willing to put upon him."

"Wait! What are the charges?" screamed Mr. Thomas as handcuffs were placed on him.

"Let's see, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted fraud, stealing, conspiracy to steal, oh there must be more; maybe grand theft auto of young Daniel's car. We'll have plenty of time to decide; don't worry. Probably two counts of murder or conspiracy in the deaths of your two hired killers."

"Guards, take them away!"

"The disposition of Daniel Jeffrey Connors can now go on record. He is free of all charges brought against him. Cased closed!" ordered the judge.

CRACK!

"Finally!" they all heard from the judge's chambers.

After the three men were removed we were invited into the courtroom.

End of Chapter Twenty-two


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