END OF TRIAL, END OF TYLER?
“Mr. Scott.” Joo was starting his cross-examination the following morning.
Ben and Dylan had not been allowed to speak to Tyler after he had started his evidence, as was the rule. Ben had retired early to bed the night before, having said goodbye to Peachey at the Marriott after their underwater performance. Peachey had said again words to the effect of “if only...” which Ben couldn’t get out of his head. Peachey was sitting in front of him in court, her long black hair hidden under her gray court wig. He forced himself to concentrate.
“Did the firm of Roberts McCann give you a financial inducement to get to know the judge?” asked Joo.
“Well, we agreed that if I could persuade the judge to come down on the side of the Tang Clan, then I would receive 10% of the Tang Clan costs. But I never believed it would come to that.”
“Did Mr. Roberts or Mr. McCann give you an estimate of what 10% may be?” Tyler coughed.
“About one million dollars.” There was a gasp from the jury, to Ben’s consternation.
“It’s fair to say that your partners were not happy at the choice of Judge Chang for the Tang Clan case?”
“They believed that he was biased against them, yes.”
“So, if Judge Chang had to step down from the case for any reason, they would not be too upset?”
“I think you could say that”, said Tyler, cautiously.
“Right. Mr. Scott, I am having a little trouble understanding why you went to this party if it was not for the intention of bribing the judge, for want of a better word.”
“There was never any intention of money changing hand, or blackmail, or anything untoward. It was a stupid idea, I realize that now.”
“So when you were at the party, and you felt so uncomfortable, why didn’t you leave?”
“I don’t know. Sebastian had brought me and I was introduced to the judge almost immediately, it seemed churlish and rude to leave immediately.”
“Are you homosexual, Mr. Scott?” asked Joo. Tyler turned red.
“I certainly am not”, he replied.
“You would agree that your best friend in Hong Kong is homosexual?”
“I assume you are referring to Sebastian. Yes, he is a good pal of mine. That’s all”
“So you’ve never had sex with him?” Before Tyler could deny that, Richard was on his feet.
“My Lord”, he said, “what is the point of this line of questioning?”
“Get on with it, Mr. Joo”, growled Judge Yeung. “I do not see the relevance either.”
“Yes, My Lord. Mr. Scott, did you intimate to the judge that you were gay?”
“No, I did not.”
“Well, is it possible that he thought you were gay?”
“Yes”, admitted Tyler, “he thought I was. I tried to explain, but he still wanted to get off with me. I was horrified, I didn’t now what to do. In desperation I told him I had a boyfriend.”
“And did that put the judge off?”
“No, he kept coming on strong.”
“OK, Mr. Scott, I’m puzzled again. Here you are, with the judge eating out of your hand, asking you back to his flat. There is a million dollars in this for you. Are you seriously asking this jury to believe that you didn’t want to go back with him?”
“Yes, that’s how I felt. I’m not gay, and wouldn’t have sex with the judge for one million dollars. Or a billion dollars for that matter.”
“Really, Mr. Scott. And yet you somehow find yourself in the judge’s flat in your underpants. Yes, I know, you had passed out, that’s your evidence.” Joo looked at the jury.
“Of course, a witness saw a man clad in only underpants running away from the apartments at about 3.30am. The police found you at home in those same underpants. You needed a story for this court, didn’t you, Mr. Scott, as to why you were clad in underpants only.”
“It is not a story, it is the truth. If I was going to kill the judge, would I have run away in my underpants?” Joo ignored the question.
“You didn’t make love with the judge, then?”
“Certainly not!” Joo stared at him for several seconds.
“Mr. Scott, we now have two witnesses who heard screams and a commotion at about 3.30am, about the time when you admit you were leaving the building.”
“I have heard their evidence, yes. They obviously heard the judge shouting obscenities at me, and my scream when he jumped on the bed.”
“You cut his throat, Mr. Scott.”
“I did not”
“You took a knife from the kitchen, and cut the judge’s throat. You wiped the knife clean of prints, but you missed one. You left the premises in a hurry, running down the fire escape to avoid the watchman, and went home. But someone spotted you. And someone heard you.”
“Look”, said Tyler, “I don’t deny being in the flat, being in my underpants, or running down the fire escape. I have given you my evidence on that. But I didn’t kill the judge. He was very much alive when I left.” Joo looked again at the jury.
“Mr. Scott, the jury has heard your story.” He emphasized the last word. “I think everything is pretty clear. I have no further questions for you.” He sat down. Richard knew he had to re-examine, he could not leave the case like that. He managed to get Tyler to virtually repeat his story. At least they ended with that imprinted on the jury’s brain, or so Richard hoped.
“That is the defence case, My Lord.”
“Thank you, Mr. Yap. I shall now hear closing arguments.”
Both Joo and Richard gave brief, succinct closings. Joo pointed out the obvious. The defendant’s fingerprint was found on the murder weapon. This had been accepted by the defence. Their explanation as to how it may have got there was too incredible. There had been a plot whereby the defendant had planned to get to know the deceased for personal financial gain. He had a motive to kill the judge. One million motives. He reminded the jury of the impoverished nature of Roberts McCann, and how the Tang Clan monies would benefit them. The firm would benefit should Judge Chang be taken off the case, as would the defendant personally. The defendant was alone with the judge in his flat at the time of the murder. No other prints had been found other the deceased’s and the defendant. Screams had been heard at around the time the defendant was seen leaving the building. The defendant was in his underpants. The jury would read into that what they may. The evidence pointed to one thing – the defendant murdered Judge Chang.
Richard reminded them that all the prosecution had was circumstantial evidence. The defendant had given a perfectly logical and plausible explanation of why he was in the judge’s flat that morning. Yes, he was in his underpants. Yes, there had been screams and a commotion. Yes, he had run down the fire escape, and then home. All this was agreed. The only thing the prosecution had as physical evidence, which could not be explained easily, was the fingerprint. The defendant had no idea how it got there. He speculates that maybe it was put in his hand whilst unconscious by a person unknown. Or it had been transferred there previously by some other person. The fact is that the defendant simply did not know how the print got there. Richard reminded them of Tyler’s good character. He was a lawyer of outstanding character. The mere suggestion that he would jeapordize his career by murdering a judge was so incredible, it was ridiculous. And, he reminded them, the senior partner in the Tang Clan case was kidnapped shortly after the judge’s death. Was this connected with the murder? They had no way of knowing, but it was more evidence to take into account. What was certain, said Richard, was that prosecution had not proved their case. There was clear doubt as to the defendant’s guilt. In such circumstances, the jury had no alternative other than to return with a not guilty verdict.
Ben thought Richard had done a good job. He also thought the judge’s directions to the jury were fair. He reminded the jury that the prosecution had to prove their case to the jury’s satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt, repeating Richard’s submission. If they were sure the defendant was guilty of murder, then they had to convict. If the evidence left them with real doubts as to the defendant’s guilt, then they had to acquit. It was as simple as that, he said.
The jury retired at 3.20pm. Feeling drained, the defence team walked over to the Shangri-la hotel for afternoon tea. Dylan collapsed into his chair.
“I need a beer”, he said. Richard nodded.
“I don’t normally partake, Dylan, but I will this time. I need something.”
“Good lad”, said Dylan.
Ben asked Richard his opinion of how it had gone. Richard said it was hard to say, the fingerprint may turn out to be the killer point, but Tyler came over well in the box, who knows what the jury may think. It was in their hands now.
Dylan had a couple of more beers, whilst Richard changed to coffee. Peachey was making no attempt to hide her feelings for Ben, to Dylan’s great interest and amusement. She was hanging onto his every word, and stared at him constantly. When Peachey excused herself, Dylan turned to him.
“Are you sleeping with her?” he whispered.
“No I’m not”, said Ben.
“No, I’m not, and be quiet, Richard will hear you!” Ben hissed. He had a smile on his face though, so Dylan knew he wasn’t too wide of the mark. Then Richard’s mobile went off. He took the call and nodded. He looked at Ben.
“The jury’s back. Let’s go.”