A Time to Kill

Chapter Twenty-Five

"He was dead," she said, wiping tears with a Kleenex.

"I'm very sorry," Buckley offered. "No further questions," he added, eyeing Jake carefully.

"Any cross-examination?" Noose asked, also eyeing Jake suspiciously.

"Just a couple," Jake said.

"Mrs. Willard, I'm Jake Brigance." He stood behind the podium and looked at her without compassion.

She nodded.

"How old was your son when he died?"


Buckley pushed his chair from the table and sat on its edge, ready to spring. Noose removed his glasses and leaned forward. Carl Lee lowered his head.

"During his twenty-seven years, how many other children did he rape?"

Buckley bolted upright. "Objection! Objection! Objection!"

"Sustained! Sustained! Sustained!"

The yelling frightened Mrs. Willard, and she cried louder.

"Admonish him, Judge! He must be admonished!"

"I'll withdraw the question," Jake said on his way back to his seat.

Buckley pleaded with his hands. "But that's not good enough, Judge! He must be admonished!"

"Let's go into chambers," Noose ordered. He excused the witness and recessed until one.

Harry Rex was waiting on the balcony of Jake's office with sandwiches and a pitcher of margaritas. Jake declined and drank grapefruit juice. Ellen wanted just one, a small one she said to calm her nerves. For the third day, lunch had been prepared by Dell and personally delivered to Jake's office. Compliments of the Coffee Shop.

They ate and relaxed on the balcony and watched the carnival around the courthouse. What happened in chambers? Harry Rex demanded. Jake nibbled on a Reuben. He said he wanted to talk about something other than the trial.

"What happened in chambers, dammit?"

"Cardinals are three games out, did you know that, Row Ark?"

"I thought it was four."

"What happened in chambers!"

"Do you really want to know?"

"Yes! Yes!"

"Okay. I've got to go use the rest room. I'll tell you when I get back." Jake left.

"Row Ark, what happened in chambers?"

"Not much. Noose rode Jake pretty good, but no permanent damage. Buckley wanted blood, and Jake said he was sure, some was forthcoming if Buckley's face got any redder. Buckley ranted and screamed and condemned Jake for intentionally inflaming the jury, as he called it. Jake just smiled at him and said he was sorry, Governor. Every time he would say governor, Buckley would scream at Noose, 'He's calling me governor, Judge, do something.' And Noose would say, 'Please, gentlemen, I expect you to act like professionals.' And Jake would say, 'Thank you, Your Honor.' Then he would wait a few minutes and call him governor again."

"Why did he make those two old ladies cry?"

"It was a brilliant move, Harry Rex. He showed the jury, Noose, Buckley, everybody, that it's his courtroom and he's not afraid of a damned person in it. He drew first blood. He's got Buckley so jumpy right now he'll never relax. Noose respects him because he's not intimidated by His Honor. The jurors were shocked, but he woke them up and told them in a not so subtle way that this is war. A brilliant move."

"Yeah, I thought so myself."

"It didn't hurt us. Those women were asking for sympathy, but Jake reminded the jury of what their sweet little boys did before they died."

"The scumbags."

"If there's any resentment by the jury, they'll forget by the time the last witness testifies."

"Jake's pretty smooth, ain't he?"

"He's good. Very good. He's the best I've seen for his age."

"Wait till his closing argument. I've heard a couple. He could get sympathy out of a drill sergeant."

Jake returned and poured a small margarita. Just a very small one, for his nerves. Harry Rex drank like a sailor.

Ozzie was the first State witness after lunch. Buckley produced large, multicolored plats of the first and second floors of the courthouse, and together they traced the precise, last movements of Cobb and Willard.

Then Buckley produced a set of ten 16 x 24 color photographs of Cobb and Willard lying freshly dead on the stairs. They were gruesome. Jake had seen lots of pictures of dead bodies, and although none were particularly pleasant given their nature, some weren't so bad. In one of his cases, the victim had been shot in the heart with a .357 and simply fell over dead on his porch. He was a large, muscular old man, and the bullet never found its way out of the body. So there was no blood, just a small hole in his overalls, and then a small sealed hole in his chest. He looked as though he could have fallen asleep and slumped over, or passed out drunk on the porch, like Lucien. It was not a spectacular scene, and Buckley had not been proud of those photo-

graphs. They had not been enlarged. He had just handed the small Polaroids to the jury and looked disgusted because they were so clean.

But most murder pictures were grisly and sickening, with blood splashed on walls and ceilings, and parts of bodies blown free and scattered everywhere. Those were always enlarged by the D.A. and entered into evidence with great fanfare, then waved around the courtroom by Buckley as he and the witness described the scenes in the pictures. Finally, with the jurors fidgeting with curiosity, Buckley would politely ask the judge for permission to show the photographs to the jury, and the judge would always consent. Then Buck-ley and everybody else would watch their faces intently as they were shocked, horrified, and occasionally nauseated. Jake had actually seen two jurors vomit when handed photos of a badly slashed corpse.

Such pictures were highly prejudicial and highly inflammatory, and also highly admissible. "Probative" was the word used by the Supreme Court. Such pictures could aid the jury, according to ninety years of decisions from the Court. It was well settled in Mississippi that murder pictures, regardless of their impact on the jury, were always admissible.

Jake had seen the Cobb and Willard photographs weeks earlier, and had filed the standard objection and received the standard denial.

These were mounted professionally on heavy pos-terboard, something the D.A. had not done before. He handed the first one into the jury box to Reba Betts. It was the one of Willard's head and brains taken at close range.

"My God!" she gasped, and shoved it to the next juror, who gawked in horror, and passed it on. They handed it to one another, then to the alternates. Buckley took it, and gave Reba another one. The ritual continued for thirty minutes until all the pictures were returned to the D.A.

Then he grabbed the M-16 and thrust it at Ozzie. "Can you identify this?"

"Yes, it's the weapon found at the scene."

"Who picked it up at the scene?"

"I did."

"And what did you do with it?"

"Wrapped in a plastic bag and placed in a vault at the jail. Kept it locked up until I handed it to Mr. Laird with the crime lab in Jackson."

"Your Honor, the State would offer the weapon, Exhibit S-13, into evidence," Buckley said, waving it wildly.

"No objections," Jake said.

"We have nothing further of this witness," Buckley announced.


Jake flipped through his notes as he walked slowly to the podium. He had just a few questions for his friend.

"Sheriff, did you arrest Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Wil-lard?"

Buckley pushed his chair back and perched his ample frame on the edge, poised to leap and scream if necessary.

"Yes I did," answered the sheriff.

"For what reason?"

"For the rape of Tonya Hailey," he answered perfectly.

"And how old was she at the time she; was raped by Cobb and Willard?"

"She was ten."

"Is it true, Sheriff, that Pete Willard signed a written confession in-"

"Objection! Objection! Your Honor! That's inadmissible and Mr. Brigance knows it."

Ozzie nodded affirmatively during the objection.


Buckley was shaking. "I ask that the question be stricken from the record and the jury be instructed to disregard it."

"I'll withdraw the question," Jake said to Buckley with a smile.

"Please disregard the last question from Mr. Brigance," Noose instructed the jury.

"No further questions," said Jake.

"Any redirect examination, Mr. Buckley?"

"No, sir."

"Very well. Sheriff, you may step down."

Buckley's next witness was a fingerprint man from Washington who spent an hour telling the jurors what they had known for weeks. His dramatic final conclusion unmis-

takably linked the prints on M-10 to those of Carl Lee Hailey. Then came the ballistics expert from the state crime lab whose testimony was as boring and uninformative as his predecessor on the stand. Yes, without a doubt, the fragments recovered from the crime scene were fired from the M-16 lying there on the table. That was his final opinion, and with the charts and diagrams, it took Buckley an hour to get it to the jury. Prosecutorial overkill, as Jake called it; a debility suffered by all prosecutors.

The defense had no questions for either expert, and at five-fifteen Noose said goodbye to the jurors with strict instructions against discussing the case. They nodded politely as they filed from the courtroom. Then he banged his gavel and adjourned until nine in the morning.

The great civic duty of jury service had grown old rapidly. The second night in the Temple Inn had seen the telephones removed-judge's orders. Some old magazines donated by the Clanton library were circulated and quickly discarded, there being little interest among the group in The New Yorker, The Smith-sonian, and Architectural Digest.

"Got any PenthousesT Clyde Sisco had whispered to the bailiff as he made the rounds. He said no, but he'd see what he could do.

Confined to their rooms with no television, newspapers, or phones, they did little but play cards and talk about the trial. A trip to the end of the hall for ice and a soft drink became a special occasion, something the roommates planned and rotated. The boredom descended heavily.

At each end of the hall two soldiers guarded the darkness and solitude, the stillness interrupted only by the systematic emergence of the jurors with change for the drink machine.

Sleep came early, and when the sentries knocked on the doors at 6:00 A.M., all the jurors were awake, some even dressed. They devoured Thursday's breakfast of pancakes and sausage, and eagerly boarded the Greyhound at eight for the trip back home.

For the fourth straight day the rotunda was crowded by eight o'clock. The spectators had learned that all seats were taken by eight-thirty. Prather opened the door and the crowd filed slowly through the metal detector, past the careful eyes of the deputies and finally into the courtroom, where the blacks filled the left side and the whites the right. The front row was again reserved by Hastings for Gwen, Lester, the kids, and other relatives. Agee and other council members sat in the second row with the kinfolks who couldn't fit up front. Agee was in charge of alternating courtroom duty and outside demonstration duty for the ministers. Personally, he

preferred the courtroom duty, wnere ne ieu miss the cameras and reporters which were so abundant on the front lawn. To his right, across the aisle, sat the families and friends of the victims. They had behaved so far.

A few minutes before nine, Carl Lee was escorted from the small holding room. The handcuffs were removed by one of the many officers surrounding him. He flashed a big smile at his family and sat in his chair. The lawyers took their places and the courtroom grew quiet. The bailiff poked his head through the door beside the jury box, and, satisfied with whatever he saw, opened the door and released the jurors to their assigned seats. Mr. Pate was watching all this from the door leading to chambers, and when all was perfect, he stepped forward and yelled: "All rise for the Court!"

Ichabod, draped in his favorite wrinkled and faded black robe, loped to the bench and instructed everyone to have a seat. He greeted the jury and questioned them about what happened or didn't happen since yesterday's adjournment.

He looked at the lawyers. "Where's Mr. Musgrove?"

"He's running a bit late, Your Honor. We are ready to proceed," Buckley announced.

"Call your next witness," Noose ordered Buckley.

The pathologist from the state crime lab was located in the rotunda and entered the courtroom. Normally, he would have been much too busy for a simple trial and would have sent one of his underlings to explain to the jury precisely what killed Cobb and Willard. But this was the Hailey case, and he felt compelled to do the job himself. It was actually the simplest case he had seen in a while; the bodies were found as they were dying, the weapon was with the bodies, and there were enough holes in the boys to kill them a dozen times. Everybody in the world knew how those boys died. But the D.A. had insisted on the most thorough pathological workup, so the doctor took the stand Thursday morning laden with photos of the autopsies and multicolored anatomy charts.

Earlier in chambers, Jake had offered to stipulate to the causes of death, but Buckley would have no part of it. No sir, he wanted the jury to hear and know how they died.

"We will admit that they died by multiple wounds from bullets fired from the M-16," Jake had stated precisely.

"No, sir. I have a right to prove it," Buckley said stubbornly.

"But he's offering to stipulate to the causes of death," Noose said incredulously.

"I have the right to prove it," Buckley hung on.

So he proved it. In a classic case of prosecutorial overkill, Buckley proved it. For three hours the pathologist talked about how many bullets hit Cobb and how many hit Willard, and what each bullet did upon penetration, and the ghastly damage thereafter. The anatomy charts were placed on easels before the jury, and the expert took a plastic, numbered pellet that represented a bullet, and moved it ever so slowly through the body. Fourteen pellets for Cobb and eleven for Willard. Buckley would ask a question, elicit a response, then interrupt to belabor a point.

"Your Honor, we would be glad to stipulate as to the causes of death," Jake announced with great frustration every thirty minutes.

"We won't," Buckley replied tersely, and moved to the next pellet.

Jake fell into his chair, shook his head, and looked at the jurors, those who were awake.

The doctor finished at noon and Noose, tired and numb with boredom, awarded a two-hour lunch break. The jurors were awakened by the bailiff and led to the jury room where they dined on barbeque specials on plastic plates, then struck up card games. They were forbidden to leave the courthouse.

In every small Southern town there's a kid who was born looking for the quick buck. He was the kid who at the age of five set up the first lemonade stand on his street and charged twenty-five cents a cup for four ounces of artificially flavored water. He knew it tasted awful, but he knew the adults thought he was adorable. He was the first kid on the street to purchase a lawn mower on credit at the Western Auto and knock on doors in February to line up_yard work for the summer. He was the first kid to pay for his own bike, which

he used for morning and afternoon paper routes. He sent Christmas cards to old ladies in August. He sold fruitcakes door to door in November. On Saturday mornings when his friends were watching cartoons, he was at the flea markets at the courthouse selling roasted peanuts and corn dogs. At the age of twelve he bought his first certificate of deposit. He had his own banker. At fifteen, he paid cash for his new pickup the same day he passed his driver's license exam. He bought a trailer to follow the truck and filled it with lawn equipment. He sold T-shirts at high school football games. He was a hustler; a millionaire to be.

In Clanton, his name was Hinky Myrick, age sixteen. He waited nervously in the rotunda until Noose broke for lunch, then moved past the deputies and entered the courtroom. Seating was so precious that almost none of the spectators left for lunch. Some would stand, glare at their neighbors, point at their seats and make sure everybody knew it was theirs for the day, then leave for the rest room. But most of them sat in their highly treasured spaces on the pews, and suffered through lunch.

Hinky could smell opportunity. He could sense people in need. On Thursday, just as he had on Wednesday, he rolled a shopping cart down the aisle to the front of the courtroom. It was filled with a wide assortment of sandwiches and plate lunches in plastic containers. He began yelling toward the far end of the rows, then passing food down to his customers. He worked his way slowly toward the rear of the courtroom. He was a vicious scalper. A tuna salad on white bread went for two dollars; his cost, eighty cents. A plate lunch of cold chicken with a few peas went for three dollars; his cost, a buck twenty-five. A canned soft drink was one-fifty. But they gladly paid his prices and kept their seats. He sold out before he reached the fourth row from the front, and began taking orders from the rest of the courtroom. Hinky was the man of the hour.

With a fistful of orders, he raced from the courthouse, across the lawn, through the crowd of blacks, across Caffey Street and into Claude's. He ran to the kitchen, shoved a twenty-dollar bill at the cook and handed him the orders. He waited and watched his watch. The cook moved slowly. Hinky gave him another twenty.

The trial ushered a wave of prosperity Claude naa never dreamed of. Breakfast and lunch in his small cafe became happenings as demand greatly exceeded the number of chairs and the hungry lined the sidewalk, waiting in the heat and haze for a table. After the lunch recess on Monday, he had dashed around Clanton buying every folding card table and matching chair set he could find. At lunch the aisles disappeared, forcing his waitresses to maneuver nimbly among and between the rows of people, virtually all of whom were black.

The trial was the only topic of conversation. On Wednesday, the composition of the jury had been hotly condemned. By Thursday, the talk centered on the growing dislike for the prosecutor.

"I hear tell he wants to run for governor."

"He Democrat or Republican?"


"He can't win without the black vote, not in this state."

"Yeah, and he ain't likely to get much after this trial."

"I hope he tries."

"He acts more like a Republican."

In pretrial Clanton, the noon hour began ten minutes before twelve when the young, tanned, pretty, coolly dressed secretaries from the banks, law offices, insurance agencies, and courthouse left their desks and took to the sidewalks. During lunch they ran errands around the square. They went to the post office. They did their banking. They shopped. Most of them bought their food at the Chinese Deli and ate on the park benches under the shade trees around the courthouse. They met friends and gossiped. At noon the gazebo in front of the courthouse attracted more beautiful women than the Miss Mississippi pageant. It was an unwritten rule in Clanton that an office girl on the square got a headstart on lunch and did not have to return until one. The men followed at twelve, and watched the girls.

But the trial changed things. The shade trees around the courthouse were in a combat zone. The cafes were full from eleven to one with soldiers and strangers who couldn't get seats in the courtroom. The Chinese Deli was packed with foreigners. The office girls ran their errands and ate at their desks.

At the Tea Shoppe the bankers and other white collars discussed the trial more in terms of its publicity and how the town was being perceived. Of particular concern was the Klan. Not a single customer knew anyone connected with the Klan, and it had long been forgotten in north Mississippi. But the vultures loved the white robes, and as far as the outside world knew, Clanton, Mississippi, was the home of the Ku Klux Klan. They hated the Klan for being there. They cussed the press for keeping them there.

For lunch Thursday, the Coffee Shop offered the daily special of country-fried pork chops, turnip greens, and either candied yams, creamed corn, or fried okra. Dell served the specials to a packed house that was evenly divided among locals, foreigners, and soldiers. The unwritten but firmly established rule of not speaking to anyone with a beard or funny accent was strictly enforced, and for a friendly people it was awkward not to smile and carry on with those from the outside. A tight-lipped arrogance had long since replaced the warm reception given to the visitors in the first few days after the shootings. Too many of the press hounds had betrayed their hosts and printed unkind, unflattering, and unfair words about the county and its people. It was amazing how they could arrive in packs from all over and within twenty-four hours become experts on a place they had never heard of and a people they had never met.

The locals had watched them as they scrambled like idiots around the square chasing the sheriff, the prosecutor, the defense lawyer, or anybody who might know anything. They watched them wait at the rear of the courthouse like hungry wolves to pounce on the defendant, who was invariably surrounded by cops, and who invariably ignored them as they yelled the same ridiculous questions at him. The locals watched with distaste as they kept their cameras on the Kluxers and the rowdier blacks, always searching for the most radical elements, and then making those elements appear to be the norm.

They watched them, and they hated them.

"What's that orange crap all over her face?" Tim Nunley asked, looking at a reporter sitting in a booth by the window. Jack Jones crunched on his okra and studied the orange face.

"I think it's something they use for the cameras. Makes her face look white on TV."

"But it's already white."

"I know, but it don't look white on TV unless it's painted orange."

Nunley was not convinced. "Then what do the niggers use on TV?" he asked.

No one could answer.

"Did you see her on TV last night?" asked Jack Jones.

"Nope. Where's she from?"

"Channel Four, Memphis. Last night she interviewed Cobb's mother, and of course she kept on pushing till the old woman broke down. All they showed on TV was the cryin'. It was sickenin'. Night before she had some Klansmen from Ohio talkin' about what we need here in Mississippi. She's the worst."

The State finished its case against Carl Lee Thursday afternoon. After lunch Buckley put Murphy on the stand. It was gut-wrenching, nerve-wracking testimony as the poor little man stuttered uncontrollably for an hour.

"Calm down, Mr. Murphy," Buckley said a hundred times.

He would nod, and take a drink of water. He nodded affirmatively and shook negatively as much as possible, but the court reporter had an awful time picking up the nods and shakes.

"I didn't get that," she would say, her back to the witness stand. So he would try to answer and get hung, usually on a hard consonant like a "P" or "T." He would blurt out something, then stutter and spit incoherently.

"I didn't get that," she would say helplessly when he finished. Buckley would sigh. The jurors rocked furiously. Half the spectators chewed their fingernails.

"Could you repeat that?" Buckley would say with as much .patience as he could find.

"I'm s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-sorry," he would say frequently. He was pitiful.

Through it all, it was determined that he had been drinking a Coke on the rear stairs, facing the stairs where

the boys were killed. He had noticed a black man peeking out of a small closet some forty feet away. But he didn't think much about it. Then when the boys came down, the black man just stepped out and opened fire, screaming and laughing. When he stopped shooting, he threw down the. gun and took off. Yes, that was him, sitting right there. The black one.

Noose rubbed holes in his glasses listening to Murphy. When Buckley sat down, His Honor looked desperately at Jake. "Any cross-examination?" he asked painfully.

Jake stood with a legal pad. The court reporter glared at him. Harry Rex hissed at him. Ellen closed her eyes. The jurors wrung their hands and watched him carefully.

"Don't do it," Carl Lee whispered firmly.

"No, Your Honor, we have no questions."

"Thank you, Mr. Brigance," Noose said, breathing again.

The next witness was Officer Rady, the investigator for the Sheriffs Department. He informed the jury that he found a Royal Crown Cola can in the closet next to the stairs, and the prints on the can matched those of Carl Lee Hailey.

"Was it empty or full?" Buckley asked dramatically.

"It was completely empty."

Big deal, thought Jake, so he was thirsty. Oswald had a chicken dinner waiting on Kennedy. No, he had no questions for this witness.

"We have one final witness, Your Honor," Buckley said with great finality at 4:00 P.M. "Officer DeWayne Looney."

Looney limped with a cane into the courtroom and to the witness stand. He removed his gun and handed it to Mr. Pate.

Buckley watched him proudly. "Would you state your name, please, sir?"

"DeWayne Looney."

"And your address?"

"Fourteen sixty-eight Bennington Street, Clanton, Mississippi."

"How old are you?"


"Where are you employed?"

"Ford County Sheriff's Department."

"And what do you do there?"

"I'm a dispatcher."

"Where did you work on Monday, May 20?"

"I was a deputy."

"Were you on duty?"

"Yes. I was assigned to transport two subjects from the jail to court and back."

"Who were those two subjects?"

"Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard."

"What time did you leave court with them?"

"Around one-thirty, I guess."

"Who was on duty with you?"

"Marshall Prather. He and I were in charge of the two subjects. There were some other deputies in the courtroom helpin' us, and we had two or three men outside waitin' on us. But me and Marshall were in charge."

"What happened when the hearing was over?"

"We immediately handcuffed Cobb and Willard and got them outta here. We took them to that little room over there and waited a second or two, and Prather walked on down the stairs."

"Then what happened?"

"We started down the back stairs. Cobb first, then Willard, then me. Like I said, Prather had already gone on down. He was out the door."

"Yes, sir. Then what happened?"

"When Cobb was near 'bout to the foot of the stairs, the shootin' started. I was on the landing, fixin' to go on down. I didn't see anybody at first for a second, then I seen Mr. Hailey with the machine gun firin' away. Cobb was blown backward into Willard, and they both screamed and fell in a heap, tryin' to get back up where I was."

"Yes, sir. Describe what you saw."

"You could hear the bullets bouncin' off the walls and hittin' everywhere. It was the loudest gun I ever heard and seemed like he kept shootin' forever. The boys just twisted and thrashed about, screamin' and squealin'. They were handcuffed, you know."

"Yes, sir. What happened to you?"

"Like I said, I never made it past the landing. I think

one of the bullets ricocheted off the wall and caught me in the leg. I was tryin' to get back up the steps when I felt my leg burn."

"And what happened to your leg?"

"They cut it off," Looney answered matter-of-factly, as if an amputation happened monthly. "Just below the knee."

"Did you get a good look at the man with the gun?"

"Yes, sir."

"Can you identify him for the jury?"

"Yes, sir. It's Mr. Hailey, the man sittin' over there."

That answer would have been a logical place to end Looney's testimony. He was brief, to the point, sympathetic and positive of the identification. The jury had listened to every word so far. But Buckley and Musgrove retrieved the large diagrams of the courthouse and arranged them before the jury so that Looney could limp around for a while. Under Buckley's direction, he retraced everybody's exact movements just before the killings.

Jake rubbed his forehead and pinched the bridge of his nose. Noose cleaned and recleaned his glasses. The jurors fidgeted.

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

"Just a few questions," Jake said as Musgrove cleared the debris from the courtroom.

"Officer Looney, who was Carl Lee looking at when he was shooting?"

"Them boys, as far as I could tell."

"Did he ever look at you?"

"Well, now, I didn't spend a lotta time tryin' to make eye contact with him. In fact, I was movin' in the other direction."

"So he didn't aim at you?"

"Oh, no, sir. He just aimed at those boys. Hit them too."

"What did he do when he was shooting?"

"He just screamed and laughed like he was crazy. It was the weirdest thing I ever heard, like he was some kinda madman or something. And you know, what I'll always remember is that with all the noise, the gun firin', the bullets

whistlin', the boys screamin' as they got hit, over all the noise I could hear him laughin' that crazy laugh."

The answer was so perfect Jake had to fight off a smile. He and Looney had worked on it a hundred times, and it was a thing of beauty. Every word was perfect. Jake busily flipped through his legal pad and glanced at the jurors. They all stared at Looney, enthralled by his answer. Jake scribbled something, anything, nothing, just to kill a few more seconds before the most important questions of the trial.

"Now, Deputy Looney, Carl Lee Hailey shot you in the leg."

"Yes, sir, he did."

"Do you think it was intentional?"

"Oh, no, sir. It was an accident."

"Do you want to see him punished for shooting you?" • "No, sir. I have no ill will toward the man. He did what I would've done."

Buckley dropped his pen and slumped in his chair. He looked sadly at his star witness.

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean I don't blame him for what he did. Those boys raped his little girl. I gotta little girl. Somebody rapes her and he's a dead dog. I'll blow him away, just like Carl Lee did. We oughtta give him a trophy."

"Do you want the jury to convict Carl Lee?"

Buckley jumped and roared, "Objection! Objection! Improper question!"

"No!" Looney yelled. "I don't want him convicted. He's a hero. He-"

"Don't answer, Mr. Looney!" Noose said loudly. "Don't answer!"

"Objection! Objection!" Buckley continued, on his tiptoes.

"He's a hero! Turn him loose!" Looney yelled at Buck-ley.

"Order! Order!" Noose banged his gavel.

Buckley was silent. Looney was silent. Jake walked to his chair and said, "I'll withdraw the question."

"Please disregard," Noose instructed the jury.

Looney smiled at the jury and limped from the courtroom.

"Call your next witness," Noose said, removing nis glasses.

Buckley rose slowly and with a great effort at drama, said, "Your Honor, the State rests."

"Good," Noose replied, looking at Jake. "I assume you have a motion or two, Mr. Brigance."

"Yes, Your Honor."

"Very well, we'll take those up in chambers."

Noose excused his jury with the same parting instructions and adjourned until nine Friday.

Jake awoke in the darkness with a slight hangover, a headache due to fatigue and Coors, and the distant but unmistakable sound of his doorbell ringing continually as if held firmly in place by a large and determined thumb. He opened the front door in his nightshirt and tried to focus on the two figures standing on the porch. Ozzie and Nesbit, it was finally determined.

"Can I help you?" he asked as he opened the door. They followed him into the den.

"They're gonna kill you today," Ozzie said.

Jake sat on the couch and massaged his temples. "Maybe they'll succeed."

"Jake, this is serious. They plan to kill you."


"The Klan."

"Mickey Mouse?"

"Yeah. He called yesterday and said something was up. He called back two hours ago and said you're the lucky man. Today is the big day. Time for some excitement. They bury Stump Sisson this morning in Loydsville, and it's time for the eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth routine."

"Why me? Why don't they kill Buckley or Noose or someone more deserving?"

"We didn't get a chance to talk about that."

"What method of execution?" Jake asked, suddenly feeling awkward sitting there in his nightshirt.

"He didn't say."

"Does he know?"

"He ain't much on details. He just said they'd try to do it sometime today."

"So what am I supposed to do? Surrender?"

"What time you goin' to the office?"

"What time is it?"

"Almost five."

"As soon as I can shower and dress."

"We'll wait."

At five-thirty, they rushed him into his office and locked the door. At eight, a platoon of soldiers gathered on the sidewalk under the balcony and waited for the target. Harry Rex and Ellen watched from the second floor of the courthouse. Jake squeezed between Ozzie and Nesbit, and the three of them crouched in the center tight formation. Off they went across Washington Street in the direction of the courthouse. The vultures sniffed something and surrounded the entourage.

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