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“Ask him if he didn’t intend to kill Noah when he went to the bar with that loaded gun, just what did he intend to do? It could be important, so you need to ask him and to get an answer.”
Richard Dandridge has left a big city Manhattan law firm to open up his own small private practice in his hometown of Rochester, NY. He is eking out a meager living representing small clients, but he is content to play golf and no longer be part of the scandals and notoriety of the big city law firms. Now, however, he has been thrown back into the big leagues by a huge local murder case. Lieutenant Vincent Trapp has shot and killed businessman Noah Arietta at the Foundry Café, in front of witnesses. There is no question that Trapp has done the murder and he certainly had motive, as Arietta had violently raped and beaten Trapp’s wife Paige. Lieutenant Trapp has requested that Richard Dandridge represent him.
Richard debates about taking the case—defending a guilty person can be professional suicide. But if he wins, the rewards would be huge. He will position himself as the top defense lawyer in Monroe County, and he will also have the personal satisfaction of defeating prosecutor Randall Walker, who has beaten Richard in his run for District Attorney. However, this case sure looks like a loser. Even the rape is in question: a rape kit performed on Paige is negative for sperm, although the woman clearly has been beaten.
Richard is therefore drawn to the case because of the positive effects a win would have on his career and the future of his firm. He meets with Trapp, who confirms the known facts: the death of Arietta was not accidental or a suicide and Trapp caused it, in front of witnesses. The Lieutenant meets all the qualifications for felony first degree murder. Against his better judgment and going with a gut feeling, Richard agrees to represent Trapp. Richard knows that he needs to design a case around the known facts, as damning as they are. He knows that Trapp is well-to-do, a decorated serviceman, and has never been in trouble before. Richard therefore sees the act committed by Trapp as completely out of character, even though the man has a clear jealous streak when it comes to his beautiful wife. The thought keeps coming back to him: Trapp must have been out of his mind to do this crime.
Richard realizes that this is a distinct possibility, and also the basis for a valid defense strategy—Trapp had acted while in a dissociative state psychiatrists referred to as the “irresistible impulse.” Now it is up to Richard to craft the compelling body of evidence that points so clearly to first degree murder into a case for a man so shaken and traumatized by the brutal attack on his wife that he unwittingly killed her attacker while in a dissociative state. Richard must use all his knowledge of the law to convince a jury that the Lieutenant was temporarily insane when he fired five bullets into Noah Arietta. It’s a defense recognized by the State of New York, but the odds of pulling it off are huge. Richard not only has to get an acquittal for a guilty man using an insanity defense, but he also has to successfully prosecute a dead man for rape.
Body Of Evidence is available for purchase in both print and ebook formats.