The Urn

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Chapter 31

August, 1992

3 Days Later…

Harry told the courier who knocked at his door to come in and he signed for the package from Pinehurst Forensics. He slit open the envelope and looked over the few pages of material that Vicky had rushed over with a note.


Here’s the results. I finished them up personally late last night and had them rushed over this morning so you could have then as soon as possible. Saw no reason to call you in the middle of the night and wake you up, but I think you will like the analysis. If you can figure out how to swing it, my prediction is that Sarah Holding will soon be a free woman!


P.S. Call me…let’s have dinner one night?

Harry felt his heart pick up a beat or two as he read Vicky’s note. Not the dinner suggestion, though he would certainly take her up on that offer. He and Vicky had gone out a few times, but nothing much had ever come of it. Maybe this was the beginning of something new.

What really made his pulse speed up was what he read as he went through the detailed analysis of her report. He just skimmed over all the technical scientific stuff, some of which he could understand but most was just a copy of what would be entered into any courtroom as evidence had this been a regular investigation that Vicky might be called to testify in. Harry jumped to the summary sheet where he saw the blood from the watch typed as AB negative. He knew this was rare in the general population but just how rare he was unaware until he read some notes Vicky had included on a sticky note:


Is not conclusive all alone, but you are in luck here. AB neg is the rarest of blood types in the general population. If Finley was African American it would be even more rare, but for Caucasians only about 1% have this type. As well, there was also a second different blood sample on the watch, O pos, which I believe I recall from your notes is the same as Joe Garrity’s.

If you go to the next page with the DNA panel, skip over all the scientific mumbo-jumbo and look at the side-by-side analysis I did on the sample we got from the AB neg residue on the watch against Richard Finley’s known DNA. I have a contact at the TBI who sent me Finley’s DNA screen from 3 years ago when he was busted on that B&E. I took the liberty of doing the match for you. Statistically speaking, there is only a 1 in 1 billion chance that the DNA from the AB neg blood on that watch belongs to anyone other than Richard Finley. The two together are a slam dunk, I think. You can thank me later………. Vicky

Harry read over what he could understand about the DNA analysis, which was more than he could have done a year or so ago and ignored the sections that sounded like a foreign language to him. But the part he did get completely was the side-by-side matchup of Finley’s sample from the TBI and what Vicky had extracted from the watch. Even with no science background whatsoever, Vicky had created this unique graphic representation so simple to comprehend that a school child could get it.

He read everything over one more time just to make sure he had not missed anything before calling Orville first and then Alberto. There was the same peculiar silence from each of them as Harry simply said he had new evidence that could overturn Sarah’s conviction. They both then pressed him for more information, but he deferred saying he would prefer talking to them both together with the news. They set a meeting for 1PM that afternoon and Harry raised his arms high over his head his fists clenched in a victory gesture after he hung up.

Orville was waiting with Alberto in the lawyer’s office when Harry arrived smiling from ear to ear. Not only was he bringing them good news for Sarah…and a couple days before her sentencing hearing on top of that…but also a strategy for how to get the new evidence entered into the court in an acceptable manner without having to explain how he had really gotten it.

“Orville, Counselor…” Harry said as he walked in and shut the door taking a set next to Orville.

“OK, Harry…” Alberto said, “I know that gloat of yours when I see it. This had better be good, making us wait on you.”

“I’m sorry for all the mystery, guys,” Harry replied, “but I think this will be easier if we all talk this over as a group.”

Orville suddenly felt nervous wondering if he might be forced to reveal where the information had come from that had caused Harry to go digging around at Joe’s old apartment.

“Before you start, Harry,” Alberto said as he leaned forward on his forearms, “I need to know if what you are about to tell us could be deemed privileged information from my position as Sarah’s lawyer.”

Harry thought for a second.

“I guess a judge or opposing counsel might ask some questions as to the source of this new evidence. That what you mean?”

“Sort of, but I was thinking more along the lines of extending the attorney-client privilege to both of you before we proceed here just as an added layer of protection…for us all, legally speaking.”

Orville and Harry looked at each other but neither said anything.

“OK, guys…could you each hand me a one-dollar bill?”

“Why?” Orville asked in a confused tone.

“Just humor me, Orville, OK?”

He nodded and both he and Harry dug into their wallet and handed over the cash.

“OK. Good. You both are now officially my clients as well. Why don’t you tell us what you’ve got Harry.”

Harry nodded and handed them each copies of Vicky’s report along with the note she had attached inside it regarding the blood typing and DNA analysis. He talked slowly and carefully moving through each section of the report and explaining how each successive point led to the next and how in the end it certainly looked as if at least Richard Finley had been in Joe Garrity’s apartment and that he had access to the hiding place where the murder weapon had been found.

Orville was simultaneously thrilled and concerned. Was this when he had to reveal how he knew to send Harry to check again? Alberto continued to read over the documents following Harry’s explanation of what it all meant. Finally Orville spoke up.

“Is this right, Alberto? I mean…can we legally take this to the court and get them to take another look?”

“OK, Orville, slow down a second…”

Alberto looked over at Harry and grinned knowing his methods to obtain this new information could certainly have been somewhat unorthodox as he thought back on some of the old cases the two of them had done in the past.

“Um…Harry…want to fill me in on how you came to find this watch?”

Harry shrugged.

“See…this is why I asked for you each to give me a dollar.”

Orville now was getting more and more anxious. Harry was still in the dark as to how Orville had come to know of the possibility of evidence of Finley, Robertson or Holding or possibly any combination of the three in Joe’s apartment and how they could be linked to his murder. If Harry asked for that to be clarified now, this whole thing would likely become way more complicated and he would end up looking like a loon.

“Sure, Alberto,” Harry said calmly. “I was never comfortable with how these two showed just in the nick of time to provide an alibi for James Holding. Also, the stories they laid out about this friction between Sarah and Joe? Just felt made up to me for two guys who most likely did not know either one of them. And from my experience it all just seemed too convenient, you know?”

“Me, too. But we just could not find anything else to refute the testimony. Even your search came back empty. Both on the men and the murder site.”

“True. And that has stuck in my craw ever since. There is no way Sarah Holding could have done this. I know that as well as you. So before she got sentenced, I decided to go back one more time and look again to see if I might have missed something.”

Orville sighed with relief and hoped it had not been apparent to them. But when Alberto jumped back in it seemingly had not.

“I am guessing you did not just waltz over there and get Sid Kennedy to let you poke around again.”

“Hardly,” Harry replied with a smile.

“OK, Harry,” Alberto said with an exhalation as he sat back, let’s have it. The attorney-client privilege will cover you…again…”

They both chuckled and then Harry went on to tell them how he had recruited Barb Harris from Middle Way Books to go with him as they posed as a newly married couple looking for an apartment. He continued explaining his removal of the panels where the murder weapon had been found and how he caught a glimpse of the watch during this second look. The rest of it, he let go figuring it was obvious how they had gotten to this point. Orville fully relaxed.

“Just a hunch then?” Alberto asked with a grin.

“Something like that. I guess my question now, though, Alberto, is how do we take this and get anyone to listen to us?”

“Couple things, Harry. First of all, I am sure with a careful approach I can take this to Finley and let him know what we found and that we will take this to the DA unless he would like to consider recanting his testimony during the trial. My guess is this guy would rather take a deal and a possible perjury rap versus second degree murder.”

“Isn’t perjury still a felony?” Orville asked.

“It is, but not with the weight of a murder rap. Plus maybe he flips on Robertson and Holding and then we get all three. Depending on how stupid this guy is, he may just fold, confess, and cut a deal rather than lawyer up and take his chances in another trial where he would likely go down hard for the whole thing alone.”

“You said a couple things, Alberto?” Harry asked.

“Yeah…I did. The location of the watch. It may be a hard sell to a judge that you found this in the same place that the murder weapon was found but that neither police detectives nor you yourself found it back then.”

“You suggesting I revise my story on where I found the watch.”

Alberto sighed and looked away.

“Not my most ethical hour, Harry, but yeah…I guess I am. I am sure I can go to Finley and get him to give us what we want by telling him the watch was found in the hole where the murder weapon was found. This guy does not strike me as exactly being on the faculty of Harvard…maybe he owed James Holding and this was to even the debt? I have no idea. But I would predict that if I tell him this story, he will fall like a house of cards.”

“And the judge and the DA?”

“Yeah…that is where this is not my proudest moment as a lawyer, guys. From what we know now, it is certain that Finley was involved. Whether he killed Joe himself or just planted the knife we cannot say. But he is hip deep in this thing. If I can get him to recant and roll over on Robertson and/or James Holding, then there is no need for what I would have to go to the DA with.”

“The DA?” Orville asked.

“Yes…like I said, we cannot not just go to Redding and say Harry went back into the apartment on a hunch and just happened to find this new evidence that everyone else overlooked before, including Harry himself. But what I can do is say he was still bothered by the convenience-aspect of the witnesses and went back to the building to look around one more time just to satisfy his own concerns. That he found the watch in a dumpster or in a ditch or some other public spot. Having both Finley’s and Joe’s blood on the watch I would guess would be enough to make even Redding have second thoughts.”

“You can live with that if you have to go that far, Alberto?” Orville asked.

He sighed and looked into Orville’s eyes.

“I can. We have the truth and I am damned tired of seeing justice perverted by something like this. I can live with this more easily knowing Sarah did not get sent up for lethal injection when she was innocent versus twisting this bit of evidence. I know how it could sound to most people to frame it this way, but I am trusting you both are on the same page with me here.”

Harry and Orville just nodded.

“Wait and hear from you to see what’s next, Alberto?” Harry asked.

He nodded.

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