IN PLAIN SIGHT
By Dave Creek
Detective Edward Galvan was in such a hurry he nearly ran into a large ceramic planter as he rushed into the Hall of Justice, headed toward the crime scene. He flashed his shield so the sheriff’s deputies working the metal detector would let him pass, but he had to pause as a group of jurors returning from an auxiliary courthouse went around the detector ahead of him.
The crime scene was a men’s rest room on the second floor. Galvan nodded to a couple uniformed officers he knew as he entered. He recognized the body on the floor — prosecutor Daniel Lawson. “Damn,” he said. “Daniel was a good guy. A good prosecutor.”
Crime scene investigator Katie Melendez, who was kneeling next to Daniel, said, “We found the murder weapon.” She indicated a handgun in a clear plastic evidence bag on the floor.
“Any witnesses?” Galvan asked.
“Apparently Daniel and the shooter were all alone.”
Galvan kneeled down and took a good look at the murder weapon. “Any prints?”
“The grip is dirty.”
“Saw that,” Katie said. “Don’t know if it means anything.”
Galvan said, “Even as I was coming here, the computer folks said they were cross-referencing Daniel’s recent cases to see who might’ve held a grudge.”
Katie stood. “That’s likely to be a long list.”
Galvan’s cell phone buzzed. “Galvan.”
“Detective, this is Julie Thomas — computer lab. We made an odd connection while we were looking into Prosecutor Lawson’s recent cases.”
“Odd? In what way?”
“There’s a fellow named Zachary Miller whose brother, Chester, he put away a few months ago. Drug-related murder.”
“So Zachary Miller might be looking for revenge?”
“As good a theory as any.”
“Does he have a record?”
“Not at such. Suspected but never charged on everything from drug cases to weapons charges. Zachary was apparently never involved directly in the messy stuff — never wanted to get his hands dirty. But supposedly he was the brains behind Chester’s operation — some sort of computer whiz.”
“He’s that good?”
“I wish I was so good — I’m still trying to figure out how someone hacked into the jury scheduling computer. I’ve never had anyone go to such trouble to stay off jury duty.”
Galvan said, “I’ll have him picked up.”
“You won’t have to look far,” Thomas said. “As good as he is, apparently he wasn’t good enough to be excused from jury duty. He’s right there in the Hall of Justice — in the jury pool!”
Galvan grabbed a uniformed officer. “Get to the jury room — don’t let them clear it!”
* * *
A few minutes later, Galvan entered the jury room. The uniforms had detained Zachary Miller. Two of them flanked the man, who was sitting in a hard plastic chair.
Miller asked, “So why are we here?”
“It seems odd that you’d happen to be on jury duty the day a prosecutor you have a grudge against is killed.”
Miller said, “Coincidences happen.”
Galvan said, “You’ve come under suspicion in a number of crimes. I’d think the computer would’ve kicked your name out.”
“Suspected — never charged, Detective. No reason I shouldn’t be here doing my civic duty.”
Galvan said, “I’m told you’re a ‘computer whiz.’ Is that how someone gets himself onto jury duty instead of avoiding it? And makes sure he’s scheduled into the auxiliary courthouse away from the Hall of Justice, but knowing he’ll have to return here later?”
“How would I get a gun into the Hall of Justice?”
“I’ve figured out exactly how you did it,” Galvan said. “I dodged a planter as I was coming here just now. That’s where you stashed the gun ahead of time. I saw the dirt still embedded in part of its grip. You grabbed it as your jury came back from the auxiliary courthouse. I was told you never wanted to get your hands dirty when it came to your brother’s business. But in this case you did.”
“If you’re so smart,” Miller said, “how’d I get the gun here into the Hall of Justice?”
“Jurors coming from the auxiliary courthouse get to bypass the metal detector. After you shot Lawson, you ‘hid’ in plain sight in the jury room.” Galvan motioned for Miller to stand. He got out his handcuffs and slapped them onto Miller’s hands. “I don’t think we'll have any trouble finding you from now on, though.”
Dave Creek mostly writes science fiction, but is also enamored of crime fiction. His books include two short story collections – A GLIMPSE OF SPLENDOR, and THE HUMAN EQUATIONS – and a novel, SOME DISTANT SHORE. His most recent work is THE SILENT SENTINELS, a novella.
Find out more about Dave’s work at www.davecreek.net and on Facebook at Fans of Dave Creek.
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