A Time to Kill

Chapter Twenty-Eight

They gathered at Ozzie's car in front of Mrs. Pickle's house. Jake answered questions,

"That's not your Volkswagen under there, is it, Jake?"

Jake stared in stunned silence at Carla's landmark. He shook his head.

"I didn't think so. Looks like that's where it started."

"I don't understand," said Jake.

"If it ain't your car, then somebody parked it there, right? Notice how the floor of the carport is burnin'? Concrete don't normally burn. It's gasoline. Somebody loaded the VW with gasoline, parked it and ran away. Probably had some kinda device which set the thing off."

Prather and two volunteers agreed.

"How long's it been burning?" Jake asked.

"We got here ten minutes ago," the chief said, "and it was well involved. I'd say thirty minutes. It's a good fire. Somebody knew what they's doin'."

"I don't suppose we could get anything out of there, could we?" Jake asked in general, knowing the answer.

"No way, Jake. It's too involved. My men couldn't go in there if people were trapped. It's a good fire."

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, look at it. It's burnin' evenly through the house. You can see flames in every window. Downstairs and up. •That's very unusual. In just a minute, it'll burn through the roof."

Two squads inched forward with the lines, shooting water in the direction of the windows by the front porch. A smaller line was aimed at a window upstairs. After watching for a minute or two as the water disappeared into the flames

with no noticeable effect, the chief spat and said, "It'll burn to the ground." With that he disappeared around an engine and began shouting.

Jake looked at Nesbit. "Will you do me a favor?"

"Sure, Jake."

"Drive over to Harry Rex's and bring him back. I'd hate for him to miss this."


For two hours Jake, Ozzie, Harry Rex, and Nesbit sat on the patrol car and watched the fire fulfill the chiefs prediction. From time to time a neighbor would stop by and extend sympathies and ask about the family. Mrs. Pickle, the sweet old woman next door, cried loudly when informed by Jake that Max had been consumed.

By three, the deputies and other curious had disappeared, and by four the quaint little Victorian had been reduced to smoldering rubble. The last of the firemen smothered any sign of smoke from the ruins. Only the chimney and burnt frames of two cars stood above the remains as the heavy rubber boots kicked and plowed through the waste looking for sparks or hidden flames that might somehow leap from the dead and burn the rest of the wreckage.

They rolled up the last of the lines as the sun began to appear. Jake thanked them when they left. He and Harry Rex walked through the backyard and surveyed the damage.

"Oh well," Harry Rex said. "It's just a house."

"Would you call Carla and tell her that?"

"No. I think you should."

"I think I'll wait."

Harry Rex looked at his watch. "It's about breakfast time, isn't it?"

"It's Sunday morning, Harry Rex. Nothing's open."

"Ah, Jake, you're an amateur, and I'm a professional. I can find hot food at any time of any day."

"The truck stop?"

"The truck stop!"

"Okay. And when we finish we'll go to Oxford to check on Row Ark."

"Great. I can't wait to see her with a butch haircut."

Sallie grabbed the phone and threw it at Lucien, who rumbled with it until it was arranged properly next to his head.

"Yeah, who is it?" he asked, squinting through the window into the darkness.

"Is this Lucien Wilbanks?"

"Yeah, who's this?"

"Do you know Clyde Sisco?"


"It's fifty thousand."

"Call me back in the morning."

Sheldon Roark sat in the window with his feet on the back of a chair, reading the Memphis Sunday paper's version of the Hailey trial. On the bottom of the front page was a picture of his daughter and the story about her encounter with the Klan. She rested comfortably in the bed a few feet away. The left side of her head was shaved and covered with a thick bandage. The left ear was sewn with twenty-eight stitches. The severe concussion had been downgraded to a mild concussion, and the doctors had promised she could leave by Wednesday.

She had not been raped or whipped. When the doctors called him in Boston they were short on details. He had flown for seven hours not knowing what they had done to her, but expecting the worst. Late Saturday night, the doctors ran more X rays and told him to relax. The scars would fade and the hair would grow back. She had been frightened and roughed up, but it could have been much worse.

He heard a commotion in the hall. Someone was arguing with a nurse. He laid the paper on her bed and opened the door.

A nurse had caught Jake and Harry Rex sneaking down the hall. She explained that visiting hours started at 2:00 P.M., and that happened to be six hours away; that only family members were allowed; and that she would call security if they didn't leave. Harry Rex explained that he didn't give a damn about visiting hours or any other silly rules of the hospital; that it was his fiancee and that he would see her one last time before she died; and that if the nurse didn't shut up he would sue her for harassment because he was a lawyer and hadn't sued anybody in a week and was getting anxious.

"What's going on here?" Sheldon said.

Jake looked at the small man with the red hair and green eyes, and said, "You must be Sheldon Roark."

"I am."

"I'm Jake Brigance. The one-"

"Yes, I've been reading about you. It's okay, nurse, they're with me."

"Yeah," Harry Rex said. "It's okay. We're with him. Now would you please leave us alone before I garnishee your check."

She vowed to call security, and stormed down the hall.

"I'm Harry Rex Vonner," he said, shaking hands with Sheldon Roark.

"Step inside," he said. They followed him into the small room and stared at Ellen. She was still asleep.

"How bad is she?" Jake asked.

"Mild concussion. Twenty-eight stitches in her ear, and eleven in her head. She'll be fine. Doctor said she might leave by Wednesday. She was awake last night and we talked for a long time."

"Her hair looks awful," Harry Rex observed..

"They yanked it and cut it with a dull knife, she said. They also cut her clothes off, and at one time threatened to bullwhip her. The head injuries are self-inflicted. She thought they would either kill her or rape her, or both. So she banged her brains out against the pole she was tied to. Must have scared them."

"You mean they didn't beat her?"

"No. They didn't hurt her. Just scared the hell out of her."

"What did she see?"

"Not much. Burning cross, white robes, about a dozen men. Sheriff said it was a pasture eleven miles east of here. Owned by some paper company."

"Who found her?" Harry Rex asked.

"The sheriff received an anonymous phone call from a fella by the name of Mickey Mouse."

"Ah yes. My old friend."

Ellen moaned softly and stretched.

"Let's step outside," Sheldon said.

"Does this place have a cafeteria?" Harry Rex asked. "I get hungry when I get near a hospital."

"Sure. Let's have coffee."

The cafeteria on the first floor was empty. Jake and Mr. Roark drank black coffee. Harry Rex started with three sweet rolls and a pint of milk.

"According to the paper, things aren't going too well," Sheldon said.

"The paper is very kind," Harry Rex said with a mouthful. "Jake here is gettin' his ass kicked all over the courtroom. And life ain't so great outside the courtroom, either. When they're not shooting at him, or kidnapping his law clerk, they're burning his house."

"They burned your house!"

Jake nodded. "Last night. It's still smoldering."

"I thought I detected the smell of smoke."

"We watched it burn to the ground. It took four hours."

"I'm sorry to hear that. They've threatened me with that before, but the worst I've had was slashed tires. I've never been shot at either."

"I've been shot at a couple of times."

"Do y'all have the Klan in Boston?" asked Harry Rex.

"Not'that I know of."

"It's a shame. Those folks add a real dimension to your law practice."

"Sounds like it. We saw the television reports of the riot around the courthouse last week. I've watched it pretty close since Ellen became involved. It's a famous case. Even up there. I wish I had it."

"It's all yours," said Jake. "I think my client is looking for a new lawyer."

"How many shrinks will the State call?"

"Just one. He'll testify in the morning, and we'll have closing arguments. The jury should get it by late tomorrow afternoon."

"I hate that Ellen will miss it. She called me every day and talked about the case."

"Where did Jake go wrong?" Harry Rex asked.

"Don't talk with your mouth full," Jake said.

"I think Jake has done a good job. It's a lousy set of facts to begin with. Hailey committed the murders, planned them carefully, and is relying on a rather weak plea of insanity. Juries in Boston would not be too sympathetic."

"Nor in Ford County," added Harry Rex.

"I hope you have a soul-stirring final summation up your sleeve," Sheldon said.

"He doesn't have any sleeves," said Harry Rex.

"They've all been burned. Along with his pants and underwear."

"Why don't you come over tomorrow and watch?" Jake asked. "I'll introduce you to the judge and ask that you have privileges of chambers."

"He wouldn't do that for me," Harry Rex said.

"I can understand why," Sheldon said with a smile. "I might just do that. I had planned to stay until Tuesday anyway. Is it safe over there?"

"Not really."

Woody Mackenvale's wife sat on a plastic bench in the hall next to his room and cried quietly while trying to be brave for her two small sons seated next to her. Each boy squeezed a well-used wad of Kleenexes, occasionally wiping their cheeks and blowing their noses. Jake knelt before her and listened intently as she described what the doctors had said. The bullet had lodged in the spine-the paralysis was severe and permanent. He was a foreman at a plant in Booneville. Good job. Good life. She didn't work, at least until now. They would make it somehow, but she wasn't sure how. He coached his sons' Little League team. He was very active.

She cried louder and the boys wiped their cheeks.

"He saved my life," Jake said to her, and looked at the boys.

She closed her eyes and nodded. "He was doing his jotx. We'll make it."

Jake took a Kleenex from the box on the bench and wiped his eyes. A group of relatives stood nearby and watched. Harry Rex paced nervously at the end of the hall.

Jake hugged her and patted the boys on the head. He gave her his phone number-office-and told her to call if he could do anything. He promised to visit Woody when the trial was over.

The beer stores opened at noon on Sunday, as if the church folks needed it then and would stop on the way home from the Lord's house to pick up a couple of six-packs, then on to Grandmother's for Sunday dinner and an afternoon of hell-

raising. Oddly, they would close again at six in the afternoon, as if the same folks should then be denied beer as they returned to church for the Sunday night services. On the other six days beer was sold from six in the morning until midnight. But on Sunday, the selling was curtailed in honor of the Almighty.

Jake bought a six-pack at Bates Grocery and directed his chauffeur toward the lake. Harry Rex's antique Bronco carried three inches of dried mud across the doors and fenders. The tires were imperceptible. The windshield was cracked and dangerous, with thousands of splattered insects caked around the edges. The inspection sticker was four years old and unseen from the outside. Dozens of empty beer cans and broken bottles littered the floorboard. The air conditioner had not worked in six years. Jake had suggested use of the Saab. Harry Rex had cursed him for his stupidity. The red Saab was an easy target for snipers. No one would suspect the Bronco.

They drove slowly in the general direction of the lake, to no place in particular. Willie Nelson wailed from the cassette. Harry Rex tapped the steering wheel and sang along. His normal speaking voice was coarse and unrefined. With song, it was heinous. Jake sipped his beer and searched for daylight through the windshield.

The heat wave was about to be broken. Dark clouds loomed to the southwest, and when they passed Huey's Lounge the rains fell and showered the parched earth. It cleansed and removed the dust from the kudzu that lined the roadbeds and hung like Spanish moss from the trees. It cooled the scorched pavement and created a sticky fog that rose three feet above the highway. The red baked gullies absorbed the water, and when full began to carry tiny streams downward to the larger field drains and road ditches. The rains drenched the cotton and soybeans, and pounded the crop rows until small puddles formed between the stalks.

Remarkably, the windshield wipers worked. They slapped back and forth furiously and removed the mud and insect collection. The storm grew. Harry Rex increased the volume of the stereo.

The blacks with their cane poles and straw hats camped

under the bridges and waited for the storm to blow over. Below them, the still creeks came to life. Muddy water from the fields and gullies rushed downward and stirred the small streams and brooks. The water rose and moved forward. The blacks ate bologna and crackers and told fishing stories.

Harry Rex was hungry. He stopped at Treadway's Grocery near the lake, and bought more beer, two catfish dinners, and a large bag of Cajiin-spiced red-hot barbecue pork skins. He threw them at Jake.

They crossed the dam in a blinding downpour. Harry Rex parked next to a small pavilion over a picnic area. They sat on the concrete table and watched the rain batter Lake Chatulla. Jake drank beer while Harry Rex ate the catfish dinners.

"When you gonna tell Carla?" he asked, slurping beer.

The tin roof roared above. "About what?"

"The house."

"I'm not gonna tell her. I think I can have it rebuilt before she gets back."

"You mean by the end of the week?"


"You're cracking up, Jake. You're drinking too much, and you're losing your mind."

"I deserve it. I've earned it. I'm two weeks away from bankruptcy. I'm about to lose the biggest case of my career, for which I have been paid nine hundred dollars. My beautiful home that everyone took pictures of and the old ladies from the Garden Club tried to get written up in Southern Living has been reduced to rubble. My wife has left me, and when she hears about the house, she'll divorce me. No question about that. So I'll lose my wife. And once my daughter learns that her damned dog died in the fire, she'll hate me forever. There's a contract on my head. I've got Klan goons looking for me. Snipers shooting at me. There's a soldier lying up in the hospital with my bullet in his spine. He'll be a vegetable, and I'll think about him every hour of every day for the rest of my life. My secretary's husband was killed because of me. My last employee is in the hospital with a punk haircut and a concussion because she worked for me. The jury thinks I'm a lying crook because of my expert witness. My client wants to fire me. When he's convicted, every-

body will blame me. He'll hire another lawyer for the appeal, one of those ACLU types, and they'll sue me claiming ineffective trial counsel. And they'll be right. So I'll get my ass sued for malpractice. I'll have no wife, no daughter, no house, no practice, no clients, no money, nothing."

"You need psychiatric help, Jake. I think you should make an appointment with Dr. Bass. Here, have a beer."

"I guess I'll move in with Lucien and sit on the porch all day."

"Can I have your office?"

"Do you think she'll divorce me?"

"Probably so. I've had four divorces, and they'll file for damned near anything."

"Not Carla. I worship the ground she walks on, and she knows it."

"She'll be sleeping on the ground when she gets back to Clanton."

"Naw, we'll get a nice, cozy little double-wide trailer. It'll do us fine until the bankruptcy is over. Then we'll find another old house and start over."

"You'll probably find you another wife and start over. Why would she leave a swanky cottage on the beach and return to a house trailer in Clanton?"

"Because I'll be in the house trailer."

"That's not good enough, Jake. You'll be a drunk, bankrupt, disbarred lawyer, living in a house trailer. You will be publicly disgraced. All of your friends, except me and Lucien, will forget about you. She'll never come back. It's over, Jake. As your friend and divorce lawyer, I advise you to file first. Do it now, tomorrow, so she'll never know what hit her."

"Why would I sue her for divorce?"

"Because she's gonna sue you. We'll file first and allege that she deserted you in your hour of need."

"Is that grounds for divorce?"

"No. But we'll also claim that you're crazy, temporary insanity. Just let me handle it. The M'Naghten Rule. I'm the sleazy divorce lawyer, remember."

"How could I forget?"

Jake poured hot beer from his neglected bottle, and

opened another. The rain slackened and the clouds lightened. A cool wind blew up from the lake.

"They'll convict him, won't they, Harry Rex?" he asked, staring at the lake in the distance.

He quit chomping and wiped his mouth. He laid the paper plate on the table, and took a long drink of beer. The wind blew light drops of water onto his face. He wiped it with a sleeve.

"Yeah, Jake. Your man is about to be sent away. I can see it in their eyes. The insanity crap just didn't work. They didn't want to believe Bass to begin with, and after Buckley yanked his pants down, it was all over. Carl Lee didn't help himself any. He seemed rehearsed and too sincere. Like he was begging for sympathy. He was a lousy witness. I watched the jury while he testified. I saw no support for him. They'll convict, Jake. And quickly."

"Thanks for being so blunt."

"I'm your friend, and I think you should start preparing for a conviction and a long appeal."

"You know, Harry Rex, I wish I'd never heard of Carl Lee Hailey."

"I think it's too late, Jake."

Sallie answered the door and told Jake she was sorry about the house. Lucien was upstairs in his study, working and sober. He pointed to a chair and instructed Jake to sit down. Legal pads littered his desk.

"I've spent all afternoon working on a closing argument," he said, waving at the mess before him. "Your only hope of saving Hailey is with a spellbinding performance on final summation. I mean, we're talking about the greatest closing argument in the history of jurisprudence. That's what it'll take."

"And I assume you've created such a masterpiece."' "As a matter of fact, I have. It's much better than anything you could come up with. And I assumed-correctly- that you would spend your Sunday afternoon mourning the loss of your home and drowning your sorrows with Coors. I knew you would have nothing prepared. So I've done it for you."

"I wish I could stay as sober as you, Lucien."

"I was a better lawyer drunk than you are sober."

"At least I'm a lawyer."

Lucien tossed a legal pad at Jake. "There it is. A compilation of my greatest closing arguments. Lucien Wilbanks at his best, all rolled into one for you and your client. I suggest you memorize it and use it word for word. It's that good. Don't try to modify it, or improvise. You'll just screw it up."

"I'll think about it. I've done this before, remember?"

"You'd never know it."

"Dammit, Lucien! Get off my back!"

"Take it easy, Jake. Let's have a drink. Sallie! Sallie!"

Jake threw the masterpiece on the couch and walked to the window overlooking the backyard. Sallie ran up the stairs. Lucien ordered whiskey and beer.

"Were you up all night?" Lucien asked.

"No. I slept from eleven to twelve."

"You look terrible. You need a good night's rest."

"I feel terrible, and sleep will not help. Nothing will help, except the end of this trial. I don't understand, Lucien. I don't understand how everything has gone so wrong. Surely to God we're entitled to a little good luck. The case should not even be tried in Clanton. We were dealt the worst possible jury-a jury that's been tampered with. But I can't prove it. Our star witness was completely destroyed. The defendant made a lousy witness. And the jury does not trust me. I don't know what else could go wrong."

"You can still win the case, Jake. It'll take a miracle, but those things happen sometimes. I've snatched victory from the jaws of defeat many times with an effective closing argument. Zero in on one or two jurors. Play to them. Talk to them. Remember, it just takes one to hang the jury."

"Should I make them cry?"

"If you can. It's not that easy. But I believe in tears in the jury box. It's very effective."

Sallie brought the drinks, and they followed her downstairs to the porch. After dark, she fed them sandwiches and fried potatoes. At ten, Jake excused himself and went to his room. He called Carla and talked for an hour. There was no mention of the house. His stomach cramped when he heard

her voice and realized that one day very soon he would be forced to tell her that the house, her house, no longer existed. He hung up and prayed she didn't read about it in the newspaper.

Clanton returned to normal Monday morning as the barricades were put in place around the square and the ranks of the soldiers swelled to preserve the public peace. They loitered about in loose formation, watching as the Kluxers returned to their appointed ground on one side, and the black protestors on the other. The day of rest brought renewed energy to both groups, and by eight-thirty they were in full chorus. The collapse of Dr. Bass had been big news, and the Kluxers smelled victory. Plus they had scored a direct hit on Adams Street. They appeared to be louder than normal.

At nine, Noose summoned the attorneys to chambers. "Just wanted to make sure you were all alive and well." He grinned at Jake.

"Why don't you kiss my ass, Judge?" Jake said under his breath, but loud enough to be heard. The prosecutors froze. Mr. Pate cleared his throat.

Noose cocked his head sideways as if hard of hearing. "What did you say, Mr. Brigance?"

"I said, 'Why don't we get started, Judge?'"

"Yes, that's what I thought you said. How's your clerk, Ms. Roark?"

"She'll be fine."

"Was it the Klan?"

"Yes, Judge. The same Klan that tried to kill me. Same Klan that lit up the county with crosses and who knows what else for our jury panel. Same Klan that's probably intimidated most of those jurors sitting out there. Yes, sir, it's the same Klan."

Noose ripped off his glasses. "Can you substantiate that?"

"You mean, do I have written, signed, notarized confessions from the Klansmen? No, sir. They're most uncooperative."

"If you can't prove it, Mr. Brigance, then leave it alone."

"Yes, Your Honor."

Jake left chambers and slammed the door. Seconds later Mr. Pate called the place to order and everyone rose. Noose welcomed his jury back and promised the ordeal was almost over. No one smiled at him. It had been a lonely weekend at the Temple Inn.

"Does the State have any rebuttal?" he asked Buckley.

"One witness, Your Honor."

Dr. Rodeheaver was fetched from the witness room. He carefully situated himself in the witness chair and nodded warmly at the jury. He looked like a psychiatrist. Dark suit, no boots.

Buckley assumed the podium and smiled at the jury. "You are Dr. Wilbert Rodeheaver?" he thundered, looking at the jury as if to say, "Now you'll meet a real psychiatrist."

"Yes, sir."

Buckley asked questions, a million questions, about his educational and professional background. Rodeheaver was confident, relaxed, prepared, and accustomed to the witness chair. He talked at great length about his broad educational training, his vast experience as a practicing physician, and more recently, the enormous magnitude of his job as head of staff at the state mental hospital. Buckley asked him if he had written any articles in his field. He said yes, and for thirty minutes they discussed the writings of this very learned man. He had received research grants from the federal government and from various states. He was a member of all the organizations Bass belonged to, and a few more. He had been certified by every association remotely touching the study of the human mind. He was polished, and sober.

Buckley tendered him as an expert, and Jake had no questions.

Buckley continued. "Dr. Rodeheaver, when did you first examine Carl Lee Hailey?"

The expert checked his notes. "June 19."

"Where did the examination take place?"

"In my office at Whitfield."

"How long did you examine him?"

"Couple of hours."

"What was the' purpose of this examination?"

"To try and determine his mental condition at that time and also at the time he killed Mr. Cobb and Mr. Willard."

"Did you obtain his medical history?"

"Most of the information was taken by an associate at the hospital. I reviewed it with Mr. Hailey."

"What did the history reveal?"

"Nothing remarkable. He talked a lot about Vietnam, but nothing remarkable."

"Did he talk freely about Vietnam?"

"Oh yes. He wanted to talk about it. It was almost like he had been told to discuss it as much as possible."

"What else did you discuss at the first examination?"

"We covered a wide variety of topics. His childhood, family, education, various jobs, just about everything."

"Did he discuss the rape of his daughter?"

"Yes, in great detail. It was painful for him to talk about it, the sam as it would have been for me had it been my daughter."

"Did he discuss with you the events leading up to the shootings of Cobb and Willard?"

"Yes, we talked about that for quite a while. I tried to ascertain the degree of knowledge and understanding he had about those events."

"What did he tell you?"

"Initially, not much. But with time, he opened up and explained how he inspected "the courthouse three days before the shooting and picked a good place to attack."

"What about the shootings?"

"He never told me much about the actual killings. Said he didn't remember much, but I suspect otherwise."

Jake sprang to his feet. "Objection! The witness can only testify as to what he actually knows. He cannot speculate."

"Sustained. Please continue, Mr. Buckley."

"What else did you observe concerning his mood, attitude, and manner of speech?"

Rodeheaver crossed his legs and rocked gently. He lowered his eyebrows in deep thought. "Initially, he was distrustful of me and had difficulty looking me in the eye. He gave short answers to my questions. He was very resentful of the fact that he was guarded and sometimes handcuffed while at our facility. He questioned the padded walls. But after a while, he opened up and talked freely about most

everything. He flatly refused to answer a few questions, but other than that I would say he was fairly cooperative."

"When and where did you examine him again?"

"The next day, same place."

"What was his mood and attitude?"

"About the same as the day before. Cool at first, but he opened up eventually. He discussed basically the same topics as the day before."

"How long did this examination last?"

"Approximately four hours."

Buckley reviewed something on a legal pad, then whispered to Musgrove. "Now, Dr. Rodeheaver, as a result of your examinations of Mr. Hailey on June 19 and 20, were you able to arrive at a medical diagnosis of the defendant's psychiatric condition on those dates?"

"Yes, sir."

"And what is that diagnosis?"

"On June 19 and 20, Mr. Hailey appeared to be of sound mind. Perfectly normal, I would say."

"Thank you. Based on your examinations, were you able to arrive at a diagnosis of Mr. Hailey's mental condition on the day he shot Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard?"


"And what is that diagnosis?"

"At that time his mental condition was sound, no defects of any nature."

"Upon what factors do you base this?"

Rodeheaver turned to the jury and became a professor. "You must look at the level of premeditation involved in this crime. Motive is an element of premeditation. He certainly had a motive for doing what he did, and his mental condition at that time did not prevent him from entertaining the requisite premeditation. Frankly, Mr. Hailey carefully planned what he did."

"Doctor, you are familiar with the M'Naghten Rule as a test for criminal responsibility?"


"And you are aware that another psychiatrist, a Dr. W.T. Bass, has told this jury that Mr. Hailey was incapable of knowing the difference between right and wrong, and,

further, that he was unable to understand and appreciate the nature and quality of his actions."

"Yes, I am aware of that."

"Do you agree with that testimony?"

"No. I find it preposterous, and I am personally offended by it. Mr. Hailey himself has testified he planned the murders. He's admitted, in effect, that his mental condition at the time did not prevent him from possessing the ability to plan. That's called premeditation in every legal and medical book. I've never heard of someone planning a murder, admitting he planned it, then claiming he did not know what he was doing. It's absurd."

At that moment, Jake felt it was absurd too, and as it echoed around the courtroom it sounded mighty absurd. Rodeheaver sounded good and infinitely credible. Jake thought of Bass and cursed to himself.

Lucien sat with the blacks and agreed with every word of Rodeheaver's testimony. When compared to Bass, the State's doctor was terribly believable. Lucien ignored the jury box. From time to time he would cut his eyes without moving his head and catch Clyde Sisco blatantly and openly staring directly at him. But Lucien would not allow their eyes to meet. The messenger had not called Monday morning as instructed. An affirmative nod or wink from Lucien would consummate the deal, with payment to be arranged later, after the verdict. Sisco knew the rules, and he watched for an answer. There was none. Lucien wanted to discuss it with Jake.

"Now, Doctor, based upon these factors and your diagnosis of his mental condition as of May 20, do you have an opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, as to whether Mr. Hailey was capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong when he shot Billy Ray Cobb, Pete Willard, and Deputy DeWayne Looney?"

"I have."

"And what is that opinion?"

"His mental condition was sound, and he was very capable of distinguishing right from wrong."

"And do you have an opinion, based upon the same factors, as to whether Mr. Hailey was able to understand and appreciate the nature and quality of his actions?"

"I have."

"And what is that opinion?"

"That he fully appreciated what he was doing."

Buckley snatched his legal pad and bowed politely. "Thank you, Doctor. I have no further questions."

"Any cross-examination, Mr. Brigance?" Noose asked.

"Just a few questions."

"I thought so. Let's take a fifteen-minute recess."

Jake ignored Carl Lee, and moved quickly out of the courtroom, up the stairs, and into the law library on the third floor. Harry Rex was waiting, and smiling.

"Relax, Jake. I've called every newspaper in North Carolina, and there's no story about the house. There's nothing about Row Ark. The Raleigh morning paper ran a story about the trial, but it was in real general terms. Nothing else. Carla doesn't know about it, Jake. As far as she knows, her pretty little landmark is still standing. Isn't that great?"

"Wonderful. Just wonderful. Thanks, Harry Rex."

"Don't mention it. Look, Jake, I sorta hate to bring this up."

"I can't wait."

"You know I hate Buckley. Hate him worse than you do. But me and Musgrove get along okay. I can talk to Mus-grove. I was thinking last night that it might be a good idea to approach them-me through Musgrove-and explore the possibilities of a plea bargain."


"Listen, Jake. What harm will it do? None! If you can plead him guilty to murder with no gas chamber, then you know you have saved his life."


"Look, Jake. Your man is about forty-eight hours away from a death penalty conviction. If you don't believe that, then you're blind, Jake. My blind friend."

"Why should Buckley cut a deal? He's got us on the ropes."

"Maybe he won't. But let me at least find out."

"No, Harry Rex. Forget it."

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