The Not Exactly Complete Works of Peter Schulman

Circumstantial Evidence

©2010 Peter Schulman


  Chapter 1  

  Chapter 2  

  Chapter 3  

  Chapter 4  

  Chapter 5  

  Chapter 6  

  Chapter 7  

  Chapter 8  

  Chapter 9  

  Chapter 10  

  Chapter 11  

  Chapter 12  

Chapter 5

I got up at seven o'clock, tossed on shorts, sneakers and an old, barely-torn polo shirt. By seven fifteen Pokey and I headed out the gate to run five miles. I remembered to drink a glass of water before I left.

My mouth gets pretty dry when I run. That’s why I keep the supply of root beer barrels. At least that’s the half truth I tell myself. They’re one of the last vestiges of my sugar addiction.

We ran through the park on Merion Road. We wound around tree-lined residential areas. I mixed in wind sprints because that would help me get around the bases on weekends.

The houses were expensive. Many were quite large. The people who lived in them made a lot more money than I did. They had current models of Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Infiniti and other brands that reflected status and disposable income. My car was eleven years old. It said: this is where the poor guy lives.

It was September first and we were still in the dog days of summer. Though the heat was not yet oppressive, I knew my shirt would be sticking to my skin by the afternoon.

When we passed close to major thoroughfares, I could see traffic already congesting like cholesterol in the arteries of a middle-aged couch potato. Philadelphia, like every other major city, had seen rush hour expanding. Morning rush now ran from before seven until nearly ten.

We returned home at about seven forty-five. I showered and dressed in a ninety-nine dollar, ten-year old, dark-blue suit from Today’s Man - the crown jewel of my collection.

I put on a black and white tie with depictions of Albert Einstein, and black wingtips. Jamie had told me black and blue go together. Or had she been talking about bruises?

I reached my office before nine, even though I had nothing pressing. The jury would decide in its own good time.

I reviewed witnesses' statements for cases I had pending and headed down the hall to the bathroom at around nine thirty. When I returned there was a new folder on my desk, the Reedy case.

I gave Doris the benefit of the doubt and emptied the folder onto my desk instead of into the trash can to give it a thorough read. It tipped the scales at two ounces so that didn’t require much effort. I didn’t like the case any better when I finished.

Janet Reedy had apparently been raped. He probably used a condom because they found no semen. Her wrists were bruised, probably from being held down, which could account for the lack of physical evidence under her fingernails.

A more remote possibility was that she knew her assailant and the sex had been rough, but consensual. Then, he smashed her head onto a rock on the ground, killing her.

The preliminary report indicated there were fingerprints on the victim. Our fingerprint guys had been unable to lift them with super glue after iodine fuming. It didn’t say iodine fuming, but I knew that’s how they did it.

The police had searched the area and found nothing related to the crime. The CSU had collected and preserved what appeared to be vaginal secretions. That was not unusual. Around twenty percent of rape victims experience arousal. It isn’t volitional.

They found a knit winter hat which belonged to Phillip Patrick. The same witness who identified the hat had seen Patrick walking in the vicinity of the crime scene at around the time the assistant medical examiner placed Janet Reedy’s death. The inside of the hat contained areas of dried blood the lab had determined was the same type as Patrick’s. The police report said his scalp showed scabbing in several areas.

None of this was surprising. Patrick was a street person living in that area. He would be seen there because he lived there. If they searched carefully, they would find other pieces of clothing he had dropped or lost.

When they picked him up he didn’t have the condom “on his person.” I laughed out loud. Exactly where on your person would you expect to find a condom?

I doubted he knew how to use a condom and, if somehow he did, I couldn’t imagine what value he would find in taking it with him.

For that matter, it was inconceivable he would squander perfectly good alcohol money on a condom. He was an alcoholic and perpetually befuddled. Whatever his IQ may have been before he started drinking, I had estimated it to be in the range of seventy to eighty in our prior contact.

I didn’t like any of it, but what bothered me most was his confession.

After a description of the rape, filled with more details than he could possibly relate, it continued, “Whereupon I grasped her head in both of my hands and smashed it on a rock in order to avoid her identifying me as her assailant.”

However implausible it was that he would use “whereupon“ or “assailant“ in a sentence, he was more likely to win the Nobel Peace Prize than use them together.

With no physical evidence to work with, if the killer were to be found, it would be the result of countless interviews and astute analysis of the information collected, or possibly just blind luck. In other words, good police work.

Janet Reedy’s murder was almost as high-profile as Prentice Caldwell’s. It was all over the news. It generated a lot of fear. For both the police and District Attorney it would be better, politically, to have suspects behind bars.

If they could convince themselves they had the right guys, a long, tedious investigation could be avoided.

I would have no such satisfaction.

Phillip Patrick was not capable of removing all the physical evidence that would have tied him to the crime scene because he didn’t understand the relationship between evidence and the crime, let alone prosecution.

There was only one rational explanation of the statement: the detectives decided Patrick was the best chance for a conviction and wrote his confession for him. They were not inarticulate enough to make it sound as though Patrick had written or dictated it himself. But they were claiming he had.

The phone rang at eight minutes to eleven.

“Jonathan Smith.”

“The jury is back.”

That had been pretty quick, but not too quick. For all her wealth and status, I did not envy Priscilla Caldwell.


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  Chapter 13  

  Chapter 14  

  Chapter 15  

  Chapter 16  

  Chapter 17  

  Chapter 18  

  Chapter 19  

  Chapter 20  

  Chapter 21  

  Chapter 22  

  Chapter 23