On the morning of day four Duncan visited Emily in the court holding cell, to provide her with an update. He was dressed ready for battle, with the exception of his horse hair wig. Emily was the sole occupant of the cells at this time.
‘How are you holding up?’ He asked Emily, through the bars of the cell.
Emily leaned on the bars. ‘I doing OK. I want this to be over though…’
‘I understand. That’s part of what I wanted to discuss with you this morning,’ Duncan said. ‘It would not be unreasonable to expect a murder trial to run for several weeks…’
Emily’s shoulders noticeably slumped at Duncan’s revelation. The last thing she wanted was to endure this process for two or more weeks.
Duncan continued. ‘Your case however is rapidly moving towards being the exception. The Crown had an unusually short witness list and moved through them very quickly. We have one witness to call today…maybe two, if I decide to put you on the stand. I’m undecided about that at this time. So I would expect by the end of today we should be ready to present closing arguments… with a decision expected by the end of the week. The variable will be how long the Jury take to decide.’
‘How do you think we are going? I find it so hard to read the Jury,’ Emily asked.
‘One can never pre-empt a Jury.’
Emily nodded her understanding, with a tinge of disappointment.
‘Having said that however,’ Duncan continued. ‘I am satisfied with the state of proceedings to this stage. To use boxing parlance, we delivered some telling right crosses that buckled their knees. We have them on the ropes at the moment… I need to continue that momentum and send them to the canvas with a precisely timed knockout blow...I’m hoping our next witness may do just that for us…’
‘I hope so.’
’Remember…All we need to do is create a reasonable doubt in the mind of the Juror, Emily…It is the Crown that has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.’ Duncan glanced over a shoulder at the male prisoner being escorted into the holding cell. ‘Looks like the prison bus has arrived,’ he mumbled. ‘Alright. I’ll see you up in court shortly,’ he said.
‘Thanks Duncan.’ Emily watched him leave until he exited from her view. He didn’t give too much away, but her read on his poker face was that he was happier than what he let on. She wondered who the next witness was. I suppose I’ll soon find out.
Following the swearing in, Duncan stood from his seat to address the grey-haired woman with the appearance of someone’s Nana, staring back at him from the witness box.
‘Could you state your name and occupation to the court please,’ Duncan asked his witness.
‘Madeleine Cartier. I am a Psychic Medium.’ Her voice was calm and reassuring.
‘How long have you practised as a Psychic Medium?’
‘What is your response to people…critics if you will, who say all Mediums are fraudsters and con artists…?’
Madeleine sat with her hands clasped tightly on her lap. She was so relaxed in appearance, she could’ve been waiting for a bus. ‘I would say, sadly they are closed minded people,’ she said. ‘Look, there are unscrupulous people in every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately we do have those types in our industry and all too often, all we ever hear about are the ones who tried to defraud their clients. Fortunately, these people never last very long. But I stress, there are genuine and highly skilled Mediums out there who possess a unique ability to be able to communicate with loved ones who have passed.’
‘Mrs Cartier, as a Medium, have you personally assisted law enforcement in locating Missing Persons?’
‘Oh yes. I have. But I must say, it is not as simple as it sounds, or portrayed in the movies. The cases I assisted the police with were decade old, suspected abductions and murders. I was able to connect with the spirits and receive impressions from them, which included their circumstances of death and their locations.’
‘Did police eventually locate these missing persons based on your assistance?’
’Yes, they did. But as I said…It was not straight forward. The type of impressions I received were vague and non-specific. They could actually match a number of locations. You see, we don’t lead the police directly to a location. We often have to work through the impressions to match the possible locations.’
’That is interesting. Let me see if I understand you correctly. When you connected with a spirit, the information they provided…these impressions, I think you called them…were vague locations of where their bodies were located, not specific locations?’ Duncan said, as he scanned the Jury. He wanted that question to resonate.
‘Correct. Most times that is all we get…vague locations. You see, Mediums receive impressions from spirits in three ways. Clairvoyantly — which is through clearly sensing, Clairaudience — which is clearly hearing and through Clairsentience — which is clearly feeling. The information does not appear in our heads like a movie on a screen. Much of the information is general and non-specific. Sometimes, I can interpret a location from the impression, and other times it is too difficult, simply because what the spirits provide is too vague.’
‘Simply because what the spirits provide it too vague…’ Duncan repeated while eyeing the Jury. ‘If I was to tell you the accused in this case told police she was visited by the spirits of seven missing persons, would that surprise you?’
Madeleine glanced across at Emily. ‘Not at all…Why should it?’ she said firmly.
‘If I was to tell you that the accused told police the spirits of these seven missing persons provided her with vague locations of where their bodies were buried. Would that surprise you?’
‘Not at all. In fact, what would surprise me would be if you told me the spirits provided her with exact locations of their bodies…That doesn’t happen, not in my experience.’
‘In your experience as a Medium Ms Cartier, would the accused be able to communicate with the spirits of these seven missing persons, if she did not have Mediumship skills…?’
‘Absolutely not. Mediumship is not entertainment. It’s not something you do for a party trick. You can’t learn it from a book. It is innate in a chosen few. The spirits know who among us have these unique skills and they often seek us out.’
‘Thank you Ms Cartier,’ Duncan said. He slid into his seat.
‘Ms Cartier…’ The prosecutor said as he stood. ‘With all due respect Madam…your evidence, while sounding interesting to those of us with no experience talking to dead people, is nothing but words… words that don’t actually prove anything.’
The witness held her gaze on the prosecutor. She showed no signs of offence or anger.
Duncan pushed himself up from his seat. ‘Does my learned colleague have a question for this witness, Your Honour?’ He said then returned to his seat.
The prosecutor continued. ’I respect the fact that you think you can communicate with dead people…but we’ve seen no evidence today to support this claim. Have you conducted any scientific tests…? Have you published any papers on this subject?’
‘No. And I don’t believe I have the need to…The clients I have assisted, which include law enforcement, are well aware of my Mediumship abilities.’
‘I see. But none of them are in court today to give evidence to that fact, are they…?’ The Prosecutor asked knowingly, as he feigned glancing around the court. The witness did not respond to his rhetorical question. ‘What would you say if I asked you to provide a demonstration of your unique skills to the court…?’
The witness frowned. ‘I’m not sure I understand…’ she said.
‘I have an uncle who recently passed away…Could you prove your skills to the court here today by conjuring up my uncle and talking to him…?’
Madeleine’s mouth fell open. She was either offended, or stunned by the ridiculous question. Probably both.
Duncan leapt to his feet. ‘Your Honour, this is absurd. We are not running a side show here for the Crown’s entertainment. Frankly, I find my learned colleague’s comments offensive towards this witness.’
‘I’m inclined to agree Mr Box,’ the Judge said to the Prosecutor.
‘I apologise Your Honour. I’ll withdraw.’ The prosecutor flipped over a page on his pad. ‘Could the accused claim to have these unique skills you referred to…but in actual fact, be faking it? The defence has not presented any evidence to demonstrate she actually possesses these abilities.’
‘I do not know this woman seated over there…I have not met her, or spoken to her, so I cannot vouch for her Mediumship skills. To answer your question…yes, she could most certainly be faking it…’
The prosecutor smirked down at his seated colleague assisting. He cast his smug grin over the Jury.
The witness continued. ‘But if the vague information that young woman provided to police, as given to her by these spirits, led the police to find these bodies, then I think you have already got your demonstration, Counsellor…The proof is in the finding.’
The prosecutor’s grin wiped. His shoulders slumped slightly as he dropped his pad on to the desk. He flicked a fleeting glance to his colleague, then slid back into his chair.
Duncan’s gaze met his colleagues seated with him at the bar table. He discreetly shook his head.
‘I wonder if I could have a couple of minutes to consult with my colleagues, Your Honour,’ Duncan said.
The Judge extended a hand to Duncan.
Duncan and his colleagues huddled to quietly discuss the pros and cons of putting Emily in the witness box. By their collective opinions, the day went better for them than they expected. Duncan only planned to call Emily if the Crown swung momentum back their way. He didn’t believe that was the case.
It was the Crown on the back foot. If he didn’t call Emily, the Crown couldn’t get a shot at her. That meant the Crown’s evidence was done. The Crown’s case was done. To Duncan, it was advantage defence.
Duncan stood to address the Judge. ‘We reserved the right not to call our last witness, Your honour… We are now exercising that right. We will not be calling on the accused to give evidence.’
‘I wouldn’t have thought so, Mr Jervis,’ the Judge said.
Day four was adjourned for the teams to prepare their closing statements.
Five days after the legal teams opened their cases, they presented their closing statements, led off by the Crown.
The closing statements were in essence a summary of the evidence presented during trial and way for the legal teams, through their powers of eloquence and persuasion, to have one last crack at swaying the Jury their way.
The reality was however, after sitting through and hearing all the evidence, most jurors would have already been inclined toward one side or the other. Truly undecided jurors were rare by this stage of a proceedings.
The court room’s occupancy was at its highest for the week. Family and friends of the seven victims, family and friends of the accused, curious onlookers, media and police all combined to occupy every seat in every row of the public gallery. Those who missed out on a seat lined the rear walls. Anyone else waited outside.
Why are so many people here? Emily couldn’t understand the popularity of the case. In her mind, she hadn’t done anything. She was innocent.
Her isolation from access to mainstream media however prevented her from learning the answer to her question.
The media wolves circled early on in the trial, labelling it as the “trial of alleged serial killer, Emily Davis”. The public, while abhorred at the actions of a serial killer, were also strangely fascinated, as evidenced by the strong following of Emily’s case in the media and by the attendance at court today.
A hush fell over the court room. All eyes were trained on the Crown Prosecutor who stood to commence his closing.
With the delivery of an accomplished salesman, the prosecutor thanked the ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, then he revisited and highlighted their salient points of evidence one last time.
Like their opening, the Crown’s closing statement weighed heavily on the accused knowing the whereabouts of the seven missing persons; a fact he re-emphasised that only the killer would know.
The prosecutor re-visited the connection between Emily’s List and the locations of where all seven bodies were found.
He recapped the evidence by expert witness, Professor Glen Schultz and how his scientific examinations cast serious question over people’s abilities to talk to the dead. He stressed to the jury that if you remove the possibility that one can communicate with the afterlife, you remove the accused’s defence.
A little over sixty minutes after he started, the prosecutor thanked the Jury and returned to his seat.
A collective exhale moved across the room as people relaxed and fidgeted.
Duncan remained seated while he finalised his note taking. After allowing several seconds to pass, Duncan stood from his seat.
All eyes in the room were on him as he too commenced by thanking the ladies and gentlemen of the Jury for their service.
Duncan was like an articulate storey teller as he re-presented the relevant points from their evidence. He recapped how Mrs Davis’ husband, Boyd gave evidence about the forty of fifty times Mrs Davis woke in fright, hyperventilating because of visions of visitors she received while sleeping, from people she didn’t recognise.
He told how they spent almost $300 to attend a Medium seminar to try and find out what was happening to Mrs Davis.
When Mrs Davis learned from the seminar she had a gift of being able to communicate with dead people, she began compiling notes, which later became Emily’s List.
He mentioned how she later learned the cognitive visions of people visiting her in her sleep were missing persons, only because her friend Naomi Johnson found these people of the Victoria Police missing person’s website.
He told how Mrs Davis attended the police station, not because it was part of her elaborate plan to deflect her guilt, she attended because her friend Naomi Johnson talked her into it. Ms Davis went to the police against her better judgement because she wanted to help the families of the missing persons by helping police locate their bodies.
He told the Jury how they heard evidence from Madeleine Cartier, a Psychic Medium with experience in locating missing persons for law enforcement and how she gave evidence that the spirits of those passed only provided vague locations, not specific.
Duncan reminded the Jury that all the locations on Mrs Davis’ list were vague; some completely missed the mark altogether because that was how the locations were told to her.
He wound up by re-emphasising how the Crown failed to connect Ms Davis, through evidence, to any of the seven bodies and by doing so, failed in their obligation to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Mrs Davis was guilty.
He thanked the Jury a final time and returned to his seat.
Emily rubbed her hands down her thighs. Her stomach started to churn. This was where it all got real. This was decision time for the Jury. What if they find me guilty? Her wandering eyes found Boyd staring back at her. She held up a hand with crossed fingers. He lifted two hands with crossed fingers.
The Judge presented the Jury with their final instructions before retiring them to decide on a verdict.
’You are reminded, ladies and gentlemen of the accused’s right to be presumed innocent of all charges and she should only be convicted if you are persuaded, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she committed the offences for which she had been charged.
’The question you have to ask yourselves is, “has the Crown established beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs Davis committed the relevant act or acts that caused the death of Brian Taylor, Jenny Cox, Libby Vassilliou, Lance Edwards, Sarah Moon, Dale Cartwright and Malcolm Denyer”.
‘If you believe the Crown has, then you are obligated to return a verdict of Guilty. If you hold a reasonable doubt that Mrs Davis committed any or all of the murders for which she has been charged, then you must return a verdict of Not Guilty for that charge.’
When he was finished instructing the Jurors, the Judge retired the Jury for the weekend, to return Monday to consider their verdict.
Monday morning was business as usual. After spending an uneventful weekend in the cells at the Geelong Police station, Emily was escorted up to her court room perch.
The only people in the room when she entered was the gathering of wigs and black silk robes of the legal teams occupying the bar table.
When the Judge eventually entered he formally adjourned proceedings until such time as the Jury made a decision.
The wait began.
The legal teams moved to on-site offices. Emily’s family and friends waited in the foyer, or visited nearby cafes for coffee. While Emily was forced to endure the anticipated protracted wait in the holding cell beneath the court.
For some of the wait, simply for something to do, Emily paced the cell like a caged lion. The cell was six steps across. She even did it with her eyes closed to challenge her bored mind — four, five, six, stop. Turn.
The majority of the wait however was spent in a sedentary position, leaning against a wall with her knees pulled up to her chest for security. The lack of oxygenated blood to her brain, from her prolonged inactivity, caused her to lapse in an out of a sleepy unconsciousness.
Emily’s eyes opened. Her head lifted from her knees. She scanned the empty cell while her brain reminded her where she was.
‘Emily…’ the voice repeated.
Emily’s gaze shifted to Duncan standing at the cells. ‘Oh, hi…’ she said. ‘What time is it?’
Duncan checked his watch. ‘3.40.’
Emily stretched into a long yawn. ‘You’re not here to tell me the Jury’s back, are you?’
Duncan grinned. ‘No. No. I’d be a little worried if they were back this early. I came down to give you an update of what is happening and what to expect.’
’On occasions, the Jurors require explanations on points of law, or clarification on some evidence. When this occurs, the Jury will seek comment from the Judge. This has happened twice today so far.
‘What I expect will happen…’ he glanced at his watch. ’Around four to four thirty, the Judge will send the Tipstaff in to ask the Jury if they are close to reaching a verdict. If they are, the Judge will allow the day to continue in anticipation of a result. If they give an indication they are a long way off, the Judge will adjourn for the day and we will be back here to do it all again tomorrow.
‘I’m betting we’re back here tomorrow?’ Emily predicted.
‘I’m with you. Actually, I’m betting we won’t have a result before Wednesday,’ Duncan said.
His news was far from welcoming to Emily’s ears.
‘Anyway, I’ll check in on you every now and then to keep you updated.’
Tuesday, day two of Jury deliberation, was Groundhog Day for Emily, spent like the day before; long hours waiting, anticipating a result that never came.
The worst part was, from deep within the bowels of the court holding cell, she didn’t get to see her husband. She didn’t get to see her family and friends.
The only company she had was the revolving door of other people in custody, or on remand being held in the cell, before leaving for their respective court cases. For the most, she spent her long days on her own.
The waiting for a result was a form of torture to Emily. With so much time, all she could do was think, but they weren’t positive thoughts. The longer the wait went on, the more her thoughts turned negative.
When Wednesday rolled into Thursday, panic replaced boredom. Emily started to self-doubt. What if they found her guilty? Would she ever hold her husband again? Would he wait for her if they unjustly sentenced her to a lengthy jail term? Could she appeal any conviction and sentence?
Her stress was compounded when during a visit Duncan mentioned to her, the longer the deliberation went on, the more concerned he became.
Thursday came and Thursday went without a result.
When Thursday rolled in to Friday, Emily all but conceded a Jury would seal her fate. She cut a lonely figure, sitting in the cell with her head buried into her hands.
Her nerves were at breaking point. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she prepared herself for the worst. She tried to imagine spending the rest of her life in jail for something she didn’t do. It angered her.
Her teeth gritted as she questioned a legal system that held innocent people in jails for so long, only to force them to endure further incarceration, while the same broken system decided on whether they were actually innocent or guilty.
The sound of jingling keys caused Emily to lift her head from her knees. Must be lunch time she assumed. She was wrong.
The Corrections Officer met Emily’s gaze. ‘The Jury is back…They have reached a verdict.’
Emily’s mouth fell open. She wanted this, but now it was here, the unknown scared her. She stood from her seat and adjusted her clothes. She dusted off her jeans. Oh My God. This is it — decision time. Her empty stomach churned so much, she almost vomited.
Her legs wobbled under her first step. She nervously rubbed her hands together, waiting for the cell door to open.
The walk to the court room felt like it was up a steep hill. She so much wanted this to be over, but she feared an unfavourable outcome. She continued to rub her hands together.
All eyes moved to Emily when she entered the court. She stopped to scan the room. It overflowed with onlookers. Seating was at a premium. Those standing were tightly wedged shoulder-to-shoulder.
Her wandering eyes found Boyd and her family in the front row. She forced out a straight mouth smile as she took a seat in the dock. She rubbed her perspiring hands down her thighs as she tried to control her breathing. Her heart raced.
The court room was alive with anticipation. Most in the room had already declared their prediction of the Jury’s outcome. In reality, nobody knew for certain.
Emily’s gaze met Duncan’s. She lifted up a thumb, then inverted it. Her unspoken question sought his learned prediction.
Duncan wouldn’t commit. He discretely shrugged and turned his palms upward.
Then came the order. ‘All stand.’
Emily’s stomach churned as she stood watching the Judge amble in, bow and take a seat.
The Judge directed the Tipstaff to bring in the Jury. Emily’s eyes locked onto the Juror’s door. It seemed to remain closed for ever. Then it opened. Her pulse raced. She briefly looked to Boyd for support.
As the Jury filed in and took their seats, Emily tried to gauge the expression on their faces. Her stomach sunk when all wore a face she had seen so often before at a funeral. Nothing about any of their expressions instilled confidence in her.
Duncan gestured to Emily to stand, which she did.
‘Has the Jury reached a verdict?’ The Judge asked.
The Jury forewoman stood. ‘We have your Honour…’
Emily noted that none of the Jurors would look at her. Was it due to a guilty conscience?
Every set of eyes in room was directed to the left side of the court room, to the standing Juror. A hush fell over the room.
‘On the charge of murdering Brian Taylor, how do you find the accused?’
Emily held her breath. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She couldn’t watch. Her heavy eyes fell to her navel. Her shoulders tensed.
‘We, the Jury, find the Accused…Not Guilty.’
Emily gasped. The tension left her. Her knees weakened and she collapsed back into her seat. She buried her head into her hands as a wave of emotion engulfed her. She broke down, sobbing heavily.
Her family members cheered as they leapt to their feet. They embraced each another. Boyd held his arms up in a victory salute. Emily was finally coming home.
The Judge allowed the interruption while he continued. ‘On the charge of murdering Jenny Cox, how do you find the accused?’
‘We, the Jury, find the Accused…Not Guilty.’
Continued cheering and applause filled the court room. People embraced. Journalist scribbled notes ahead of filing their reports. Boyd approached Duncan and shook his hand, then warmly embraced him.
Sitting in the back row of the court room, among standing revellers, Max Higgins smiled to himself as the verdicts were read out. He never wanted Emily to be charged and he never wanted her to be convicted. He had never celebrated a court loss before today. This would be his one and only exception.
The Judge persisted with his questions of the Jury while the rejoicing continued, despite the cheering and laughter drowning him out. On any other occasion the Judge would insist on quiet, but not this time. He allowed the celebration.
‘On the charge of murdering Libby Vassilliou, how do you find the accused?’
‘We, the Jury, find the Accused…Not Guilty.’
‘On the charge of murdering Lance Edwards, how do you find the accused?’
‘We, the Jury, find the Accused…Not Guilty.’
‘On the charge of murdering Sarah Moon, how do you find the accused?’
‘We, the Jury, find the Accused…Not Guilty.’
‘On the charge of murdering Dale Cartwright, how do you find the accused?’
‘We, the Jury, find the Accused…Not Guilty.’
‘On the charge of murdering Malcolm Denyer, how do you find the accused?’
‘We, the Jury, find the Accused…Not Guilty.’
‘Those verdicts were reached unanimously among the Jury?’
‘They were Your Honour.’
The Judge turned his attention to Emily. ‘Please stand Mrs Davis.’
Emily’s head lifted from her hands. She wasn’t sure if she heard her name over the commotion. She glanced to Duncan. He gestured to her to stand.
Emily jumped to her feet. She sniffed and wiped escaping tears while waiting for the Judge to continue. ‘A Jury of your peers has returned a finding of Not Guilty on all charges laid against you. You are therefore cleared of all charges and released. You are free to go.’ Emily’s hands covered her mouth. ‘If I could ask you to remain momentarily while the relevant paperwork is completed,’ the Judge said.
Duncan stood from his seat. ‘Your Honour. Could I ask please that Mrs Davis be permitted to leave the dock and wait with her family until such time as the paperwork has been completed?’
‘Of course. You are free to leave the dock Mrs Davis. This court is adjourned.’
Duncan and Boyd moved over the gateless dock and assisted Emily to climb over the front timber wall and slide to the floor. Her feet had no sooner hit the floor and she threw her arms around her husband. She held him tight for the first time in several long months.
Emily’s body shuddered as she sobbed heavily into his shoulder. Boyd also shed a tear as the united couple prolonged their loving embrace. She was finally coming home.
From Boyd’s loving arms, Emily moved to her family members and Naomi, where each one welcomed her back with a heart-warming embrace.
With the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted on the court documents, Emily was officially a free woman. She wrapped her arms around Duncan and hugged him tight in appreciation. ‘Thank you so much Duncan. You saved my life.’
‘You are very welcome, Emily.’
Boyd shook Duncan’s hand, then jabbed a thumb over his shoulder. ‘A few of us are going for lunch to celebrate Em’s freedom…We would love you to join us,’ Boyd said. ‘Our treat.’
Duncan’s gaze flicked to Emily. Her pleading eyes sparkled with renewed life. How could he decline? ‘I would be honoured to join you.’ He gestured towards the court door.
A beaming smile filled Emily’s face as she and Boyd strolled arm-in-arm from the court room, trailed closely by her new hero, Duncan.
For the first time since she was snatched away from her life all those months ago, she walked free. It was a surreal experience. She wanted this day so much. She dreamed about this day so much, and now, it was finally here.
The heavy nerves in her stomach that plagued her throughout the trial, were replaced with nervous excitement.
When they reached the court building’s external door, Emily and Boyd paused at what confronted them. She quickly learned the extent of interest in her trial.
A large throng of people had gathered at the foot of the court steps waiting for Emily. Television cameras recorded, while reporters with microphones in hand awaited her exit from court.
In a celebrity-style reception, Emily’s supporters cheered and applauded when Emily and Boyd emerged from the court building, onto the front landing.
Emily’s hands cupped her mouth as she scanned the gathering. Happy tears welled in her eyes.
Journalists rushed Emily, shoving microphones in her face while firing overlapping questions at her. Boyd and Duncan did their best to shield Emily, guiding her to a vehicle waiting to take her to their celebratory lunch with her family.