Prelude (An Alec Winters Series, Book 1)

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Chapter 12

During his trial, Catalina sat between Cassidy and Sabrina on the far side of the courtroom, while Alec sat with his attorney and faced the bench. The women comforted each other during the three-week long proceedings. Detective Boudreaux was right. The prosecutor persuaded every neighbor, teacher, student, and police officer they could corral to testify against Alec. An endless procession of folks who thought Alec was guilty quickly paraded to the witness stand.

Alec’s defense attorney only called five witnesses. Three were character witnesses: Chaz Lambert, Sabrina Devereux, and Danaé Chisholm. The other two were family members, Cassidy and Catalina Winters. It didn’t bode well for Alec’s case, but it was all the lawyer could do since popular opinion was against the family. Even Catalina could see that the deck was stacked against her brother. She worried constantly and with good reason.

Much later, after the jury had deliberated and were about to give their verdict, Catalina surprised everyone, including her family. She leaped to her feet and her wild, frenzied statements caused Alec to jump to his feet in protest. He wanted to stop her, but she was too far away and he couldn’t reach her. The bailiffs held him back, threatening to take him to holding if he didn’t sit down and shut up.

“I killed him,” Catalina yelled out. The courtroom grew deathly silent in order to hear this latest tidbit. “He violated me for the last time. I killed the sorry bastard! I’m glad I did it and I’d do it again!” She turned to face the courtroom of guests, reporters, and curious faces, “Gawd used me to punish him! Gawd gave me the strength to stop his heart. Gawd answered my prayers! Gawd Almighty ordained his death at my hand!” Catalina yelled as she outrageously emphasized the words of her confession like an old-time, country revival preacher.

“Catalina, stop!” Alec yelled across to his sister, but she refused to stop.

“No, they need to hear the truth!” she madly responded as she turned to look at Alec, then the judge, and finally all those gathered to hear. Her long, white-blonde hair wildly swirled around her with each movement. “They need to know what a wicked, evil man he was and that Gawd wanted him dead at my hand!”

The courtroom erupted in chaos after Cat’s outburst stopped and the wooden gavel clattered noisily and repeatedly on the bench as Judge Yelverton yelled, “Bailiffs, clear the court immediately!” It was difficult to hear the judge over the loud clamoring, chattering and confusion by those present for the trial. “I said clear the courtroom now!” she screeched in an attempt to be heard. “I won’t have such mockery and nonsense disrupting any trial I oversee. Get them out of here! Everyone except the family…Out, now!”

Detective Boudreaux, sitting in the back of the courtroom, was also tempted to jump to his feet in protest. He was shocked to the core as he watched the bizarre scene play out. Sadly, he shook his head wondering if he had put too much pressure on Catalina. He wondered if he was responsible for this sudden, intense display. Why didn’t she let the jury give their verdict? Had he frightened her the last time they spoke? Had he made her brother’s case seem hopeless? Was this a direct result of his interference?

“Oh my god,” he silently groaned as he accepted responsibility for this chaos. “This is my fault; I pushed her too hard.”

It was possible that the jury would have acquitted Alec Winters, but Boudreaux wasn’t sure about that. Even though he believed Alec to be innocent, so many others did not. The weary detective only knew in his heart that he was the reason Catalina Winters cracked. He had caused this explosive response. He had made the situation sound so dire that Catalina couldn’t take the chance her brother would be found guilty. Her love was too strong.

The younger sister would do anything for her brother, just as Alec would do the same for her. She was even willing to go to jail to protect him even though she had proclaimed his innocence. Boudreaux watched everything, including her brother’s response to his sister’s insane ramblings. Alec could protect her from an incestuous father, but he couldn’t protect her from herself.

As Boudreaux lingered in the hallway with the others, he was unbelievably disheartened by the turn of events. He sat on a bench just to steady himself. To pass the time, Detective DeVry angrily paced the area between the stairs and doorway while reporters checked their scribbled notes and pagers. Each one there waited to see how the judge would handle the situation.

After a lengthy conference at the bench, the judge reluctantly released Alec. The charges against him were dropped while Catalina, sweet little Cat, was charged with Buck’s murder and arrested. Her ravings were so bizarre and otherworldly, the superstitious judge feared the girl possessed. The judge wanted her gone from sight as soon as possible.

“Please, Judge Yelverton,” Alec pleaded. “No one is responsible for this crime. It isn’t even a crime. My father died of a heart attack. He was ashamed that I caught him raping Catalina. He was in poor physical health. As a result, his heart gave out. You can’t possibly believe that a ninety pound child killed him.” However, his pleas and objections fell on deaf ears and were ignored.

“Mr. Winters, a man is dead and someone killed him,” the honorable judge obstinately responded. “Not just any man either. He was your father and he’s dead. Someone is responsible for his death. Your sister just confessed to the murder, and although I personally consider her a lunatic, she will pay for the heinous crime of patricide. This court disapproves of such insane actions and outbursts. She will be remanded into custody, but you are free to go. Now, please, get the hell out of my courtroom!”

It was ludicrous. Moreover, when his sister was taken into custody, there was nothing he could do. The heavy-set bailiffs ushered him out the double doors and into the hallway along with Cassidy and Sabrina. Cassidy distraughtly cried into her hands while Sabrina comforted Alec. None of them knew what to do or how to handle the unexpected turn of events. Their attorney assured them that there wasn’t anything to be done…Catalina Winters had sealed her fate.

When DeVry saw that Alec was free, and cleared of all charges, he stomped off in a huff. The lingering reporters rushed to broadcast the news. Boudreaux held his head in his hands and silently vowed that he wouldn’t stop until he had some answers. It occurred to him that perhaps others had witnessed an angelic presence. Perhaps this very entity had intervened in other cases. He was determined to find out, and if possible, he’d do what he could to save the daughter.

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