Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville #3) - Page 47

Without any preamble, a couple of bailiffs guided Cormac into the courtroom. He'd had a chance to shave, which made him look slightly less psychotic than he had last night. A point in his favor, and that was probably part of the strategy. It was a shock, though, to see him in an orange prison jumpsuit, short-sleeved, baggy, unflattering. It gave me a terrible sense of foreboding.

Ben followed, and both of them positioned themselves behind one of the podiums before the bench.

The whole procedure followed in a kind of haze. The judge, Heller, a middle-aged woman, brown hair pulled into a bun, wearing a no-nonsense expression, came into the room and took her place. Ben and Cormac remained standing before her. Across from them, one of the business suits, a surprisingly young man—no older than Ben and Cormac—shuffled papers on the desk in front of him. George Espinoza, the prosecutor. His suit was neat, his dark hair slicked back, his expression viperish. A crusader. No wonder Ben was worried.

The prosecutor read the facts—and just the facts, ma'am. The time and place of Cormac's arrest, the nature of the crime, the probable cause. The charge: murder. Not just murder, but first-degree murder. That was serious, way too serious.

Espinoza explained: 'The accused was heard to say that he had tracked the victim, had in fact been focused on her for quite some time with the intent to kill her. He was seen in the area of Shiprock, New Mexico—the victim's hometown—on several dates over the last month. He was, in fact, lying in wait for the victim's appearance. This presents a clear display of deliberation, meeting the requirement for a charge of first-degree murder.”

Cormac had been tracking her. He had meant to kill her. Which made the whole thing murky. I was glad I wasn't the lawyer.

This wasn't a TV show. Nobody shouted, nobody slammed their fists on the tables, nobody rushed in from the back with the crucial piece of information that would free the defendant, or pound the final nail in the prosecution's case.

They might have been lecturing on economic theory, as calmly and analytically as everyone spoke. It made it hard to concentrate on the words.

The judge spoke: “Mr. Espinoza has requested that Mr. Bennett—” Cormac Bennett. I'd never heard his last name before. Even such a small detail as that made the scene surreal.

It was like Cormac should have been beyond something as mundane as a last name."—be held without bail, on the basis of his past associations and the belief that he is a flight risk.”

Ben argued: “Your Honor, my client has dealt with law enforcement agencies in several jurisdictions, and has always been cooperative. He's never once given the indication that he's a flight risk.”

“Perhaps his past association with the Mountain Patriot Brigade hasn't been an issue until now. It is the experience and opinion of this court that members of such right-wing paramilitary organizations are, in fact, flight risks.”

Again, the world shifted, becoming even more surreal, if that was possible. I'd heard of the Mountain Patriot Brigade: it was one of those militia groups, right-wing fanatics who ran around with guns and preached the downfall of the government. When they weren't actually blowing things up.

That didn't sound like Cormac at all. Not the Cormac I knew. Well, except for the running around with guns part. The number of backstories I didn't know was getting frustrating.

Ben's hesitation before responding was maddening. Hesitation meant uncertainty. Meant a weak position. Maybe even guilt. Which made me wonder: Where had Cormac learned about guns? Where had he become such a great shot?

Ben said, “Your Honor, Mr. Bennett's association with that group ended over a decade ago. It hasn't been an issue because it isn't relevant.”

“Mr. O'Farrell, I've granted the prosecution's request that Mr. Bennett be held without bail.”

“Your Honor, I'd like to lodge a protest. You've got his record—he's never jumped bail.”

“And don't you think it's just a little odd how often your client has been arrested and had to post bail? Don't you ever get tired of standing with your client at these hearings?”

“Frankly, that's not your concern.”

“Careful, Mr. O'Farrell.”

“Your Honor, I'd like to move that the case against my client be dismissed. Miriam Wilson's attack was so brutal, lives were at risk. Katherine Norville's attempt to stop her without lethal force resulted in great injury to herself. My client was well within his right to use force against her under Title eighteen dash one

dash seven-oh-four of the Colorado Criminal Code.”

Espinoza countered: “The law protecting the right to use deadly force in cases of defense does not apply in this case. On the contrary, the accused was in fact lying in wait for the victim's appearance.” That was wrong. I almost stood up and said something. 1 had to bite my tongue. The prosecutor continued. “Your Honor, the victim was a twenty-year-old woman weighing a hundred and twenty pounds. Her ability to inflict lethal damage with her bare hands is questionable. Moreover, the evidence suggests she was highly mentally disturbed during the incident.” He consulted a page of notes. “She was wearing a wolf skin at the time and it has been suggested that she believed that she was a wolf. I find it hard to believe that in such a mental state, judging by her physical attributes, she was at all a danger to anyone. Especially when she already had three bullet wounds in her chest. The victim was already incapacitated when the defendant fired the final, killing shot. In that moment this stopped being a case of defense and became a murder.”

And nothing about any of that was false. She had been wearing a wolf skin. That it actually turned her into a wolf—suggesting that would sound ludicrous in this setting. And maybe she'd been fatally wounded. Maybe she wouldn't have lashed out with her skin/walker magic. But Cormac hadn't know that.

Ben offered another volley. “Seeing that a psychological evaluation of the victim is impossible, I would like to offer evidence and precedent that such a mental illness would in fact make her a danger to those around her, even while injured.”

Heller asked a question. “The witness who was involved in the physical confrontation with the victim— how extensive are her injuries?”

A moment of silence weighed heavily on the room. How extensive were my injuries? They weren't, not anymore. I had a few scabs, where the worst of the scratches had healed, a few pink marks. In a couple more days even those would disappear. But if I hadn't been a lycanthrope I'd be in the hospital. If I hadn't been a lycanthrope, we could say, Look, this is what Cormac saved us from, this is why he shouldn't be in jail. But we didn't have that.