Bernard stood. "Your Honor, I rest my case."
The trial was almost over. The evidence was clear. The closing arguments were uselessly uttered, and the verdict was left up to the jurors. Everyone suspected the accused was as guilty as sin. She had murderess written all over her, but her attorney, J Bernard Buckley, was a hundred percent certain she was about to be acquitted.
He knew because he had played dirty, dealt from the bottom of the deck. He had placed his client a thousand miles away from the scene of the crime. Dozens of people testified to that fact, without a single doubt. Mary Beth Palmer couldn't have been the one to murder her husband because she was nowhere around at the time the killing took place.
However, she was. Bernard knew Mary Beth had taken a knife and stabbed her husband three times in the heart, and she did it for the love of money. Harold Palmer was loaded. His estate was worth over three hundred million dollars.
When Bernard first took the case, the Christian attorney naively believed his client to be innocent. The evidence spoke for itself, and there was no reason to doubt Mary Beth's word. This trial promised to be easy, and Bernard desperately needed the money. He was twenty-nine years old, and his young law practice was in trouble.
Harold's name wielded a strong influence in the community, and while other attorneys refused to defend her, Bernard jumped in feet first. He couldn't believe his luck when Mary Beth walked into his office, and plunked down two hundred thousand dollars.
“Please, help me!” she cried, with a disarming English accent.
A maid and a butler testified they saw Mary Beth in the residence the day of the murder, but they both admitted to bearing a grudge when cross-examined by Bernard. They claimed she treated them with disrespect and constantly accused them of being incompetent.
Thirty year-old Mary Beth posed, preened, and made eye contact with the jurors when she took the witness stand and swore to her innocence. She was a sight to behold, with her long raven hair and soulful eyes.
“I didn't kill poor Harold. I loved him with all my h-heart!” Mary Beth covered her face with dainty, diamond-ringed fingers and sobbed.
Harold Palmer was 20 years older than Mary Beth when he met her during a business trip to England. He was totally smitten with her and wooed her with diamonds, pearls, and anything else her little heart desired.
Why would she kill her husband if he gave her everything she had the slightest whim for? Bernard knew why. She had gone and found herself a younger fellow, and she knew she couldn't have the fellow and the money if Harold found out.
Bernard was desperate to win this case. It was highly publicized and could put him on the road to real power and success. So he sold his soul to the devil, and the payback was a sure win.
No one, not even Harold, had known that Mary Beth had an identical twin sister named Susie living in England in sheer poverty. Orphaned and separated at the age of seven, they had not seen each until a few weeks before Harold's untimely demise.
Mary Beth found Susie, coached her, and paid her a great deal of money to pose as Mary Beth at a wedding in San Francisco on the day the murder took place. Susie played the role to a tee, took the money, and disappeared again.
The whole truth came out one evening when Mary Beth was a little tipsy. She came by Bernard's office and spilled the beans.
“I did it, Bernie, and I'm goin' to be rish.” Mary Beth slurred.
At first Bernard determined to bow out as her attorney. He no longer wanted any part of her case. “I cannot defend you, Mary Beth. You just told me you murdered your husband!"
“Of course you can, hic! Bernie. Just think, you'll be hic! rish, too!”
The young attorney wrestled with guilt and remorse, but he didn't resign. He was in too deep to turn back now. In a few days, his life would change forever. He wondered if Hell was as hot as his Christian mother had told him it was.
When the jury announced the "Not Guilty" verdict, Bernard slowly collapsed into his chair. Corruption had won. He put both hands to his guilt worn, haggard face, and wept.
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