Trials and Tribulations
Chapter 17: Questions
Detective Jones, being a frequent visitor while his mother was hospitalized, had made friends with a few of the nurses. He had learned that they kept games in the children’s ward to help keep them occupied. He talked one of the cute young nurses into letting him have one for him and JT to pass the time. The detective and JT were focused on a game of checkers when a knock on the door disturbed them.
JT looked at the detective with a raised eyebrow. Jones shrugged his shoulders and called out, “Come in.”
Judge Collins and Joey entered the room. Detective Jones stood and shook the judge’s hand as Joey smiled at JT and waved.
“OH WOW!” JT’s face lit up like Times Square at the sight of Joey. “Hey Joey!”
“Hi, JT. Are you okay?” Mindful of what JT was going through, Joey bent over and carefully hugged his former nemesis.
JT nervously glanced at the judge and detective, and nodded at Joey. He didn’t trust his emotions at the moment, because one of two people in this world he trusted, other than his ma, had shown up when he asked for his help. He would never forget the forgiveness Joey had shown him that morning in the hallway when he, Jonas, and Kevin had jumped Joey and Andy. Joey had seen through his tough bad ass routine. Joey also knew exactly why he had been acting the way he had, ever since his dad started beating his opinions into him and took it out on everyone else.
“Boys, Detective Jones and I are stepping outside of the room for a few minutes to talk and allow you two some privacy.” Judge Collins said, in a tone that let JT know he was saddened at the boy’s loss and the situation.
Joey and the judge had talked about how to tell JT about his mother’s death on the way to the hospital, and he had talked the judge into allowing him to tell JT. They had also discussed other issues. Judge Collins wasn’t too comfortable with what Joey had in mind, but agreed to put off a final decision until later.
After the judge escorted the detective out into the hallway, Joey pulled a chair close to the bed. He took JT’s hand and studied his face before speaking.
“JT,” Joey began, and stalled.
“What is it, Joey? You’re scaring me.” JT asked quietly.
Looking JT in the eyes and with a sad expression, he said, “It’s your mother JT.”
“OH GOD NO. NO, NO. NO.” JT wailed. “Please no God… no… no.”
Joey hugged him. As JT cried on his shoulder, Joey ran his hand up and down his back, consoling him. He didn’t try to speak words of wisdom to him, nor did he attempt to tell him that everything would be all right. For what wisdom could be found in the senseless murder of two human beings? How could he tell JT that everything would be all right when he didn’t know what tomorrow would bring for his own boyfriend. All Joey had was his faith and his faith told him that this boy needed a friend.
“I don’t have anyone now. No one that ever showed any love. My mother was the only one,” JT began through tears and a soft sob. “I don’t even know if pa knew about the game I had Friday night. I guess I’ll never know now for sure.”
“I’m not sure what to tell you, JT. I kinda know what it’s like to lose your family, but you and yours didn’t have a choice. My family walked away from me.” Joey said. He reclined into his chair, but still held JT’s hand. He looked into JT’s eyes and continued. “I don’t know what all is going on, but I want you to know that I will stand by you and face everything I can, with you. You can count on Andy and Roger, too.”
“Thanks, Joey. Somehow I knew I could count on you.”
In the hallway, the detective brought Judge Collins up to speed. “Have you heard any more from Detective Fleming?” the judge asked after the detective completed his update.
“No, sir. I haven’t heard anything from him since early this afternoon.”
“Detective,” Judge Collins started, but was interrupted by his cell phone. “Just a moment…”
“Hello, Judge Collins.”
“Wayne Rutherford here.” The man paused to allow the name to register. “Do you have a minute your Honor?”
“Sure, Judge Rutherford. What can I do for the County Judge/Executive of Pike County this evening, and please, Sam is fine.”
“Sam it is then, if you call me Wayne. Sam, I’ve been asked to give you an exploratory call to gauge your willingness in meeting with some important people of the state concerning their interest in finding the right candidate for Governor and Lt. Governor. They would like to bounce some ideas off you and get your response.”
As Judge Collins was formulating a response to the unexpected request, his cell phone buzzed informing him someone from home was calling. “Wayne, can you give me your number and let me call you back? I’m at the hospital right now.”
“No problem, Sam. I hope everyone is okay. My number is 606-555-1212. Call me anytime, night or day, as soon as you can.”
“Thanks Wayne, good-bye.”
“Hello.” Judge Collins answered after switching calls.
“Uncle Sam, there’s a detective here wanting to talk to Andy. Andy just went down to talk to him, but I have a bad feeling about it.” Roger explained.
“Tell Andy to stay polite, tell the detective he is my son, but not to answer any questions until I get there. Also, tell the detective he can call me if he wishes, but I’m on my way home now, and I should be there in ten to fifteen minutes.”
“Okay Uncle Sam. I got to run and catch up with Andy and tell him. See ya”
“Boys.” Judge Collins said, walking into the hospital room. “Joey and I need to return home. JT, I promise to come back and chat with you, if I’m allowed. Things seem to be getting very complicated right now. However, a Mr. Bennett will be stopping by. He’ll be your attorney. Don’t worry about the money, that’ll be taken care of. Okay?”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. And thanks for bringing Joey by to tell me about my ma. I’ll never forget your kindness.”
“That’s all right son. It’s what adults are supposed to do, help as much as we can. But now, Joey and I really need to go. Good-bye, son.”
“See ya, Joey, bye sir.”
“I’ll be back to visit as soon as I can, JT. Bye for now.” Joey said as he and Judge Collins left.
When I reached the front door, the detective still stood in the open door-way with his arms crossed and a frown on his face. I didn’t like this man’s demeanor, nor did I like his vibe. I was immediately on guard.
“Good evening, sir. I’m Michael Andrew Collins. Can I help you?”
“Do you also go by Andy Collins, boy?” Fleming asked arrogantly.
“Mister, I am indeed the son of Judge Samuel A. Collins. I’ve identified myself and my father, but you have yet to identify yourself.”
“I told the other boy who I was.” The detective sounded irritated.
“Yes sir, you may have, but I’m not the other boy, nor have I met you before tonight. Yet, here you are in my father’s doorway without identifying yourself, nor have you shown proof of who you are and questioning me without an adult present. I think I need to call my father and the city police before we go any further.”
Roger walked up and whispered in my ear what dad had told him.
“Sir, my father has been notified and is on his way home now and at his request I will not talk to you or anyone else until he arrives. In fact, since you won’t show me your identification or badge, I think it would be best if you waited outside.”
“Just a damn minute, kid.”
“Sir, do you have a warrant for my arrest or a search warrant for this home?”
A look of defeat crossed the detective’s face. “Kid, if your father isn’t here soon, I may just have both warrants in hand the next time we speak.” He turned and walked back to his car in our driveway.
“Wow, Andy. That was intense!” Roger exclaimed slapping me lightly on the shoulder.
In the living room I sat on the sofa staring at the picture of my mother and me on the mantle and I wished my mother were here to wrap her arms around me just one more time.
“I have a bad feeling about that man. Something about him doesn’t feel right.” I sighed and lay my head against the sofa. “I’m not sure I can explain it, but from the moment I saw that guy, it felt like he was out to get me.”
“I don’t like him either.” Roger shook his head. “He seemed full of himself. Your dad should be here any minute and then we’ll find out what all this is about.”
“I’m not sure I find comfort in that. I have a feeling it’s tied up somehow with JT’s parents. Why? I don’t know.”
“Uncle Sam will handle whatever it is, you’ll see.” Roger’s positive attitude always helped bring me out of my depression.
“You’re right.” I agreed, and decided to take things one at a time. It wasn’t enough that I had to deal with leukemia, but I now had some smart ass detective on my case. ‘What’s next’ I wondered.
“Hey guys, what’s going on?” Joey asked as he entered the living room.
“I don’t know for sure, some dude who claims to be a detective wanted to talk to me, but he wouldn’t show me his badge or anything, so I refused to talk to him before dad returned.” I said hugging Joey. “How’s JT?”
“He took the news about his mother pretty bad, but by the time we left, he had settled down some.” As Joey and I joined Roger on the sofa, Joey seemed to take a minute to collect his thoughts. “From what your dad said on the trip to and from the hospital, and stuff I saw and heard at the hospital, I get the feeling that some people think JT is responsible.”
Roger leaned forward to have a direct line-of-sight with Joey. “Responsible for what?”
“It appears that someone with the police thinks he killed his parents.” Joey took a deep breath. “Let me explain. Firstly, Uncle Sam asked me many questions about JT’s home life, which I know nothing about. Secondly, there’s a state detective with JT full time. The guy may be playing nice with him and being friendly, yet he isn’t straying far from JT either, for any length of time. It’s almost like JT is already in jail at the hospital. Thirdly, no one told JT about his mother. They waited until I told him, and I’m pretty sure the cop was right outside the door when I told him. And fourthly, Uncle Sam told him before we left, that Mr. Bennett, the guy that was my lawyer, would be in to see him tonight.”
“Okay, I can see why you feel that way. How did you feel about JT’s reaction to the news about his mom?” Roger asked.
“I think that anyone who believes he killed his mom is either drinking their own moonshine or not looking at all the facts.” Joey answered.
The three of us fell silent.
As Joey climbed out of the SUV and headed inside the house, Judge Collins exited the vehicle and walked back down the driveway towards the car he suspected belonged to the state detective. As he neared the car, the detective ended the phone conversation he was engaged in, climbed out of his car, and met the judge.
“Your Honor, I’m Detective Fleming, of the Kentucky State Police.”
“Good evening, detective. What can I do for you?”
“I stopped by to ask your sonquestions concerning a double homicide, but he refused to allow me in or answer any questions.”
“Why is that, detective?”
“I don’t know why he refused, sir.”
“No, detective. I know why he didn’t answer any of your questions. I told him not to. Surely you know better than to question a minor without a parent or legal advisor present. I meant, why do you wish to question my son?”
“Judge Collins, you may be a judge, but your family is no better than any other family, nor are you above the law. I’m working a double homicide and I’ll question anyone I feel necessary. And that includes your son.”
“Not tonight you won’t.” Judge Collins stated flatly. “There’s a lot you don’t know about my son. So, unless you have a warrant, there’ll be no questions tonight.” The judge paused to allow his words to sink in and then continued. “However, I’ll have him at my office in the courthouse tomorrow, at 1 pm, for any questions you may have. Both myself and his attorney will be present. Does that meet with your approval?”
“I don’t seem to have a choice, do I?”
“No, detective, you don’t.”
The silence that had fallen over the room was broken when dad walked in. I could hear him mumbling something about incompetence, irresponsible, arrogant asshole. I guess he had met the detective and didn’t think any better of the man than I did.
“Andy?” he called out.
“We’re in the living room, dad.”
He walked in and slumped into the lazy boy, like he was carrying a great weight. “Andy, I don’t know why, and I’m confident you don’t know why either, but the detective appears to have some questions for you concerning the death of JT’s parents.”
Okay, that answered one question we had, but we still didn’t know the why. I was brought out of my inward thoughts as dad continued. “I wouldn’t allow any of his questions tonight, but tomorrow we’ll meet with him at my office and get to the bottom of this. I want you to go to school as normal tomorrow morning, and I’ll pick you up during your lunch. I don’t want you to worry about a thing, son. I’ll be there and so will Nathan Reed. We certainly pay him enough to be there. I’ll call him and get him down here from Louisville. He should be able to fly into Hazard or Pikeville and make it by one.”
“When is my bone marrow biopsy this week?”
“That’s scheduled for Friday morning at nine”
“I guess I’ll be missing more school than we thought, huh?” I asked kinda concerned. I didn’t want to get too far behind.
“Perhaps, son, perhaps. But I have confidence in your ability to meet any challenge and bear any burden the good Lord places on you, on us.”
Joey took my hand and I turned to him. “Andy, I’m gonna head home. I still have some homework to get done before bed and you probably do too.”
“Yeah, me too, bro.” Roger chimed in.
“Okay guys, I’ll walk ya to the door.” I said, as we stood up. “I guess I do have a little reading to do, myself.”
At the door Joey kissed me sweetly before they took off for home. When I walked back into the living room, dad was on the phone. I waved at him, whispered good-night, and headed for my room.
I had many unresolved issues running around my head and I couldn’t focus on any one thing. I gave up on reading and reflected on the last few days. Friday, we went camping and Joey almost fell to his death. Saturday, I learned I had leukemia and at least three years of mind numbing, tummy tossing, immune system killing, chemo to look forward to. Sunday, we went to the church social and saved a kid from being totally abused, in ways that has only been hinted at. Today, we learned that JT’s parents had been murdered. And if all that wasn’t enough, it appears that JT is a suspect, and some asshole detective wants to question me about it all. What in the hell could I tell anyone about it that they don’t already know?
This was too much for me to deal with tonight. I decided to get ready for bed and call it a night. I undressed, pulled back the bed cover, turned out the over-head lights, and crawled into bed. All the stress made me think of everything my mother went through at the end. I know it had to have been hard on her, but it was hard on us too, to watch her waste away from a beautiful women to almost skin and bone. Thinking of mom lead me to remember the vision I had where she comforted me. She also told me I would be challenged. I wondered which was the challenge, the detective or the leukemia or was it both. I guess time will tell, since it tells all tales. With those thoughts in mind, I said a prayer, asking God to take my weaknesses and turn them into strengths. Feeling much better about everything, peaceful even, I rolled over and fell asleep.
“Michael Andrew, time to get up.” Dad called through the door and followed it with a few knocks.
Crap, I must have forgotten to set the alarm and overslept.
“I’m up!” I finally called back, after way too many knocks.
“Hurry, I want to drive you to school this morning.”
“Okay dad, I’ll be right down after I shower.” I kinda slept walked towards the door picking up some clean boxers along the way and headed for my morning routine, although at a slightly quicker pace.
I cut short my normal routine and headed down stairs to grab a pop-tart and some milk. As I sat down at the table, dad had just finished reading his paper.
“Anything interesting in the paper this morning?” I asked, before taking a bite of my breakfast.
“It appears that someone from law enforcement has been talking out of turn to the press.”
“Oh God, they didn’t mention JT’s name did they?” I asked indignantly.
“Thankfully, no. No names were mentioned at all. However, some unnamed source was quoted that there were persons of interest, who hasn’t been formally questioned, yet. It went on to say that both parties would be questioned today.” Dad said, while he watched me closely for my reaction.
Last night I had come to terms with most of the stuff happening in my life. I had concluded that besides life and death issues, most things didn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme. Even the life and death issues can be faced head on if you had faith in God. And I firmly believed that He had sent my mom and an angel to let me know he was with me and would walk me through the big things I had to face. Yes, I probably had leukemia. Knowing I faced the possibility of dying, I wasn’t the least bit scare of some detective who thought I had dome some horrible crime. The truth was on my side. Besides, death is of the body. Being scared, is of the mind. Having faith, is of the spirit. Having my mother come to me in spirit, strengthened my spirit, put my mind at ease and strengthen by body. But if it didn’t, I felt with all my heart and spirit, that death was only the end of the beginning. So, nope, I wasn’t worried at all about the detective.
“That’s cool. I hope the police find out the truth when they question their persons of interest.” I smiled. Dad’s facial expression instantly brightened, like a ray of sunshine had parted the dark clouds that had given his face that serious look.
“Excellent, I couldn’t agree with you more. Andy, I don’t tell you enough…” He started to say, as he stood.
“Daaaad, I know you love me and I love you, too.” I interrupted him, feeling a little embarrassed.
He chuckled. “Yes, I do, but that wasn’t what I was going to say.” He paused and placed a hand on my shoulder. “Son, I’m very proud of you. You’re the son I dreamed I would have one day.” He squeezed my shoulder and walked out into the garage leaving me to ponder his words. I didn’t think long on then as I rushed up stairs to get my things together for school and to meet dad outside for my ride to school. On my way out to the garage, I stopped and phoned Joey and Roger to let them know we were ready to leave. Joey told me they would meet us outside.
My morning seemed to rush by. I still hadn’t told any of my friends about the leukemia and no one at school, besides Joey and Roger, knew of my entanglement in the murder investigation, yet. But being the small town that Pine Hills is, it wouldn’t be long before everyone knew about it. I hoped I would be able convince everyone involved in the investigation that I knew less than they did about the whole affair.
At noon, dad picked me up and took me to the Pine Mountain Grill for lunch. Mr. Reed, my business/tax attorney from Louisville was already there waiting on us, and a really nicely dressed lady was sitting at the table with him. As we approached the table, both Mr. Reed and the lady stood to greet us.
“Hi Sam, Andy, it’s good to see the both of you again. I don’t like the reason for our meeting, but we’re handle all of that forthwith and be done with it after today.” Mr. Reed said, as he reached out and shook dad’s and then my hands. “Allow me to introduce Miss. Judy Williamson. Her firm handle all our clients’ criminal law cases, at least those that takes our advice.”
She surprised me by reaching for my hand first. “It’s very nice indeed to meet you Mr. Collins. And please call me Judy.”
“The pleasure is mine, Judy, and please call me Andy.”
“Judge Collins, it’s an honor, sir.” She had a pleasant voice and a big smile for dad.
“Ms. Williamson, welcome to Pine Hills.”
As we sat down, Mr. Reed said, “Sam, I highly recommend that you and Andy allow Miss Williamson to represent Andy. Sam, Andy, she has the best acquittal record, and more importantly, most of her cases never make it to trail, not because of a plea deal, but she gets the cases dropped all together. I’ll let her tell her tale, but in my opinion, she’s the best criminal defense attorney south of New York and possibly the whole darn country.”
“Perhaps, we should order first and after we dispense with that item, we can move on to myself.” It was almost like she sang the words. No wonder she had such a good track record.
“Excellent idea. Order anything you like, it’s on Andy and me.” Dad said with a twinkle in his eye.
“Of course it is.” Mr. Reed laughed and Judy smiled with the same twinkle in her eyes as dad’s.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen dad behave this way. And even though I’m gay, I wasn’t blind to Judy’s beauty. She appeared to be about five foot nine with long flowing blond hair and a button nose that seemed to fit her face perfectly. I don’t know much about make-up, but she didn’t appear to be wearing any and her face was blemish-free. I would have guessed her to be around dad’s age. But that was hard for me to tell, since older people looked the same to me after thirty, until their hair started turning gray. She held up the menu and I noticed she didn’t have a ring on her ring finger.
After we ordered our meals, Judy began. “Andy, I was born in Pike County, a few years ago.” She smiled, not giving her age. “I went to school at Pike County Central, and graduated Valedictorian. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Virginia and their Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics honors program, and finished first in my class at the University of Virginia Law School with a 4.0. I clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and received my LLM or Masters of Law from Yale Law School.” She said in that same sing song voice. I glanced at dad and she definitely held his attention. “Now, all that sounds impressive, but isn’t worth a plug nickel if my clients lose in court. The secret to my success is, I only take cases I believe in and feel my clients are innocent. And so far, I’ve only lost a handful case. I had been wrong about my clients’ innocence. Four of the seven later confessed to me that they were guilty of the charges.”
“I told you she was good, Sam.” Mr. Reed grinned.
“Now Andy, why don’t you tell me why you feel you need an attorney? Mr. Reed has told me some, but I’d like to hear your side.”
“To be honest, Judy, I really don’t know anything more than a state detective came by our home last night and wanted to ask me some questions. Dad would know a lot more than I do.” I concluded and looked at dad.
Dad proceeded to recount what he knew of the murder investigation and who it seemed Detective Fleming was pushing as suspects. He also told her about the conversations he had with Detective Jones and Detective Fleming yesterday.
She turned to me and asked, “Andy, where were you Friday night?”
“Joey, Roger, and I went camping up at High Rock and returned Saturday afternoon.”
“Do either of you have any idea why they want to question you, Andy?”
“No association between you and JT? Are you friends?”
“Well, we got into a fight the first day of school and again the next week, but since then…” I paused. Could I trust this lady who I had just met with my relationship with Joey? Knowing what I did about the law from my dad, I knew if she was my attorney, everything I told her was privileged. “May I speak with my father in private?”
“Of course, I need to use the ladies room anyway.” She nodded, stood, and walked away.
Mr. Reed made to leave, but I stopped him. “It’s okay if you stay; I mostly just have a technical question for dad.”
He nodded and relaxed in his chair.
“Dad, my question centers on my relationship with Joey. If Miss Williamson is my attorney, she isn’t allowed to say anything about it if I tell her, right?”
“Son, your relationship with Joey may come out no matter the outcome of this situation. However, if we retain Miss Williamson, and I suggest we do, then you should tell her everything and leave nothing out. It’s always better to learn something from a client and be prepared for it, than to learn about it in court.”
“Okay. What you are saying is I should trust her with this? I mean, I don’t want to hurt Joey.”
“Yes, Andy. You should trust her with it.”
As dad finished, Judy returned and sat down. “Are you ready to continue?”
“Before we continue, I’d like to place you on retainer,’ I said, ‘as my attorney for this state or any other state you are a member of the bar. I like you and both my dad and I trust you.” I leaned over and whispered in her ear. “I think my dad likes you, too.” I sat back and winked.
She burst out laughing. “Oh sweetheart, you’re too cute.” Regaining control, she said,“I bet you have the ladies knocking down your door.” she glanced at my dad and smiled. “I like you too, and I agree to be your attorney of record and represent you in any criminal proceedings, including your interview this afternoon.” She paused, glanced at dad again, and continued. “As for the last thing you said, me too.”
I grinned, and then in a sober tone, I related what I knew. “Okay, here is what I asked my dad while you were gone. I asked him that if I told you something, and you were my attorney, would you have to keep it to yourself. The reason I asked is it involves someone else and I never want to see him hurt again. You see, Joey and I are boyfriends. The very first day of school, JT nearly knocked Joey out and appeared intent on doing more. I stepped in and stopped him. Well, I did knock him out. He was suspended from school for the week and wasn’t allowed to practice with the football team or play in our first home game. Part of my punishment for the fight, I had to work for Mr. Horn taking the tickets at the game. JT and his father showed up and caused a scene. On that first day of school and that night at the game, I kinda told JT after he threatened Joey, that I would kill him if he laid a hand on Joey again.” I paused to catch my breath and then continued.
“Then a week later JT and a couple of friends jumped us. Roger helped to fight them off. After that fight Joey befriended JT. Since then, JT seemed to have changed. He even apologized to me for the fights and the harassment. I honestly believed he had changed. Mostly because Joey believes he has, but he has stopped the harassment and the physical stuff. Other than the meeting at the ballgame, I don’t ever recall meeting JT’s dad. But if I remember correctly, he called me a son-of-a-bitch because JT had told him I had sucker punched him and was allowed at the game and he wasn’t.”
“Do you know anything about his home life?”
“No, ma’am, I don’t. I’ve never heard JT or anyone else mention anything about it. I’m not even sure where he lives.”
She looked at her watch. “We need to leave soon, but first, I want to give you some rules if you want me to represent you. Firstly, I want you to always answer any question truthfully. Secondly, I want you to keep your answers short and to the point. If they can be answered with a yes or a no, do so. And thirdly, if I interrupt the cross examiner, don’t answer the answer until I give you the go ahead. Agreed?”
I nodded. “Yes.” She smiled at my short answer.
Detective Fleming and Jones were waiting for us when we arrived at dad’s office. Detective Jones stood at the entrance, but Fleming remain seated.
“Detective Fleming, is your show of disrespect directed at me, my son, or our party?” Dad said in an extremely neutral tone. If you knew my dad, it was his one and only warning.
Standing, Detective Fleming said, “No show of disrespect, your honor. I figured you would call us into your office when you were sure your son was ready and well coached.”
Ignoring Fleming, “Bradley, it’s good to see you. How are you this afternoon?” Shaking Jones’ hand.
“I’m fine, sir. How are you?”
“I could be better, detective. Why don’t we all head into my office and begin this interview.”
“Yes, sir. After you all, your Honor.”
I sat on the couch between dad and Judy. The detectives pulled up a chair, sat down facing me, and plucked out their notebooks and pencils. Mr. Reed stood behind the detectives.
After we were all seated, Dad began the introductions. “Detective Jones. Fleming, standing behind you is Mr. Reed of Reed, Weitkamp, Schell, and Vice. Their corporate headquarters is in Louisville. Seated on my son’s right is Miss Williamson of…” Dad turned to her. “I didn’t get your firm’s name.”
“It’s Williamson, Parker, and Tucker. We’re also have our headquarters in Louisville and a office in Lexington. I’m the managing partner.”
“Thank you, Miss Williamson. To my right is my son, Michael Andrew Collins. And these two gentleman seated in front of me is Detective Jones and Fleming.”
“Thank you, your honor. It’s a pleasure to meet all of you and hopefully this interview will help the investigation into a double homicide.” Detective Jones said, and then asked in a friendly tone, “Andy, I think we met briefly at the hospital a couple of weeks ago when Joey Adams was brought in to received treatment after his father has abused him. Is that correct?”
Detective Fleming leaned forward and asked, “What’s your relationship with the Adams’ boy?” Jones sat back in his chair and looked annoyed at the interruption.
“Andy, don’t answer that.” Judy advised me. “Detective, what in the world does that have to do with this homicide investigation?”
“I feel it’s relevant.”
“How so detective? Explain to me how it’s germane to your investigation.”
“Fine, we’ll skip it for now.” Fleming said in the same frigid voice he used in the reception area. “Are you and James Thomas McCray friends?”
“No? Aren’t you and Joey Adams friends with James?”
“May I ask a question so I’m clear on your question?”
Detective Jones leaned forward. “Yes, you may Andy. We want you to be sure what you’re answering.”
“When you say, James Thomas McCray, do you mean JT or his father? Both have the same name since JT is the third, as in James Thomas McCray III.”
“Why you little…” Fleming started, but was cut off by Judy.
“Detective, the young man has a valid point. Who do you mean? And sir, I advise you restrain your opinions of my client. Nothing will be accomplished with name calling.” Even I got the hidden meaning in that last comment. If continued the way he was acting, this interview would end.
“Counselor, this isn’t a courtroom.” Fleming snarled back.
“That’s right detective and my client doesn’t have to be here to answer any of your questions. He’s here voluntarily to try and help law enforcement catch a killer or killers who murdered one of his classmate’s parents, and I won’t have this young man sit here and be insulted by you.”
“You’re absolutely correct ma’am. And I apologize. This case has a lot of us on edge with the gruesomeness of the crime. ” Jones said, and eyed Fleming.
“Thank you, detective.” Judy nodded. “Please continue.”
“Andy, we mean JT. Is that how the young McCray boy is known at school?”
“Yes, sir. And to answer the other detective’s question, no, I’m not friends with JT. If Joey is or not, you would have to ask Joey.”
“What do you know about, umm JT’s, home life?” Fleming asked, in a little more reserved tone.
“Nothing sir. I don’t even know where he lives.”
“You didn’t know his father had been abusing him?”
“No.” I was stunned by this information.
“Coach Nettles knew and recently reported it. And you’re saying that your friend Joey, you and Joey are friends, are you not?”
“And your friend Joey never told you about this?”
“No.” By this time, I had decided to only give Detective Fleming one word answers and not call him sir. Since sir is a sign of respect and he isn’t showing me any at all, I wouldn’t either.
“You expect us to believe that?” He asked with a smirk.
“Detective, you asked your question and it was answered. Please move along, this isn’t an interrogation with twelve hours of non stop questions, under a spot light.” Judy admonished him.
“You stated earlier that you met my partner, Detective Jones, at the hospital where your friend Joey received treatment for physical abuse. How did that make you feel towards Pastor Adams?”
I glanced at Judy and she nodded. “I couldn’t understand how a parent could do something like that to their own kid.”
“That wasn’t exactly what I asked you, was it?” he asked with an arctic tone creeping back in.
“Could you repeat the question?”
“Knowing what he did to your friend Joey, how did that make you feel towards Pastor Adams?” He repeated, as he leaned forward, staring avidly.
“As I said, I couldn’t understand.”
“Are you saying you didn’t feel anger towards the man that hurt your friend?”
“So you did feel anger towards Pastor Adams?”
“Of course, wouldn’t anyone? Don’t you?”
“Son, I’ll ask the questions.” he said smugly. “Enough anger to strike out at him?”
“No. I would only take action to prevent Joey or anyone else from getting hurt.”
“First you say no, then yes. Which is it?”
“I would not and did not seek out his father, as you say, to strike out at him. I would only try to prevent someone from getting hurt while it happened in front of me, as I hope you or any other normal person would do.”
“Do you take drugs?” he asked, changing the direction of his questions.
“Have you ever taken drugs?”
“What exactly do you mean?”
“You know what drugs are. Have you?”
“I asked what you meant, because I didn’t know if you meant legal drugs or illegal. Yes, I have taken legally prescribed medication and no, I haven’t taken medication not prescribed by a doctor, not counting something for a headache or vitamins.”
“What type of prescribed medications have you been on?”
“Anti-depressants. I was on zoloft for depression for about 16 months, after my mother passed away.”
“Who was the prescribing doctor?”
“Doctor Reynolds. She was my psychiatrist.”
“I see. Do you have any more of this medication around your home?”
“No. I’ve been off them for quite a while. She slowly took me off them until all the pills were gone.”
“Where were you Friday night?”
“Joey, Roger, and I went camping up at High Rock.”
“Who took you, since I assume none of you are old enough to drive?”
“When did you return home and who picked you up?”
“Saturday afternoon and Steve Banks, Roger’s father picked us up.”
“Please stand and remove your shirt.” Fleming said, looking like the cat that just swallowed the canary.
Judy spoke up. “Hold on here. Why should he? Whats the purpose behind this request? I say request even though it sounded more like a demand.”
“We believe there was a struggle at the McCray’s house the night of the murders. We just want to verify that the boy doesn’t have any marks on him that leaves the impression he has been in a fight.”
“Andy?” Judy looked at me inquiringly.
I shrugged, stood, and removed my shirt.
“Can you tell us how you got those bruises?”
“Yes. Joey tripped and fell over the cliff at High Rock Friday afternoon, and luckily I was able to grab him before he fell to his death. But I fell hard on the rock doing so. You see, I just found out this weekend, Saturday, as matter of fact, I have leukemia and it makes me bruise easily. It also causes shortness of breath and dizziness.”
“One final question,” Fleming started, paused, looked down at his notes, and then continued. “You say you aren’t friends with the McCray boy, that you went camping Friday night, that you have leukemia which causes you to bruise easily, and the bruises you have were made by falling on top of High Rock saving your friend from falling to his death. My final question is, can you explain how a shirt with your name on it was found at the crime scene?”
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