The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 10, A.D.A. Blantyre-Tattershall

They were sitting in the cafeteria, all three of them. It was hours past lunch, but none of them had eaten much that day. Funny what a few gruesome murders did to your appetite.

“Here’s the best I’ve found so far.” She pulled a file out of her bag and put it on the table. Sam was the first to pick it up.

“Colin Ferguson. Name rings a bell.”

“Yeah. He was convicted back in March of ninety-five for the Massacre in Long Island. Most people don’t recall it because the O.J. trial was running out in California at the time and nothing else seemed to make the news. In normal times, this one would have been the talk of the town, real front-page stuff.”

Sam was flipping through the file, passing each page to Dr. Alexander as he finished with it.

“Hey – I remember this guy!” Walt chipped, after getting a look at the photo of Ferguson. “I studied him – his case I mean. The guy got convicted and is serving time in Attica. He dismissed his council, representing himself instead if I remember correctly. Way out there. Amazing he was not declared incompetent.” He looked up at the other two. “Maybe our guy thinks the system is overdue?”

“Or maybe our guy is just a friggin lunatic,” Chloe countered. “Anyway, this guy killed six and injured nineteen after he opened fire on a crowded commuter train. He used an automatic pistol.” She looked over at Walt, gave him a saucy smile while the Lieutenant wasn’t looking. “And you’re right about the controversy. The whole trial was a circus – freak-show might even be a better description. Said he fell to sleep on the train and that a white guy pulled the gun out of his bag and did the shooting then escaped. Ferguson’s black.”

That got their attention. The two men stopped what they were doing and looked up at her. She continued, “The court-appointed attorneys, the ones he fired based on some nonsense about racial conspiracy, believed him mentally incompetent based on his paranoia and delusional state and therefore unable to stand trial. He dropped their insanity defense and refused to be examined by psychiatrists, insisting he was not insane.”

“You will have to take some time to explain to me, Miss Blantyre, how our legal system allows things like this to happen,” the Doctor said, shaking his head.

“It would be my pleasure,” she answered, attempting to keep her voice even, reduce the chance of rumors. Then added, “But that’s not the half of it, the trials where things seriously became unhinged. His courtroom behavior was way out there – bizarre, to say the least. He would cross-examine the officers that arrested him and the victims he shot, asking them things like, ‘Did you see Colin Ferguson – blah, blah, blah?’ To which the witness would reply ’I saw – you – shoot me.′ He also argued that the ninety-three counts he was charged with were in relation to 1993, that had it been 1925 he would have been charged with only twenty-five counts.”

She had to laugh. The two faces before her were motionless, frozen – stunned. “Honestly! I’m not making this shit up! Here, let me see that for a second.” She took the file back, flipping swiftly through the pages. “Here, it gets better, listen to this. He also argued that a mysterious man named Mr. Su had information concerning a conspiracy against him and found another man who was willing to testify that the government implanted a computer chip in his brain. Though at the last minute decided not to call him to the stand. It goes on and on, each action more out-there than the last, but here is the piece de-la-resistance!” She paused a moment for effect, making sure both men were paying attention, then smiled, waving her hands in an elaborate ta-da motion. “Among the defense witnesses Ferguson requested was President Bill Clinton.” Chloe waited for the statement to register.

Walt recovered first, having as he’d already mentioned, been familiar with the case. “And they still convicted this guy and sent him to prison?” His face was a picture of puzzlement.

“Yep. He’s still there too – Attica – will never get out. Something like a bazillion consecutive sentences – over three hundred years, I think.”

Sam was stunned. “Was the guy crazy – do you think Doc? I mean, it doesn’t excuse what he did but if he’s really nuts, what kind of society are we to lock him away with hardened criminals?” The Lieutenant was rummaging about for his cigar, abstractly patting pockets. His subconscious mind appeared to be taking over as he began to puzzle the inconceivable questions it was struggling with.

“There is no way for me to tell. Sam. Let’s just make sure we don’t make the same mistakes here.”

Each of them nodded agreement. Each deep in thought.

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