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Blood & Bourbon

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Emmett I, Chapter XII

I Killed Who?

“I hope the fun has been worth it.”
Lena Merinelli

Sunday night, 13 September 2015, PM

GM: Less than a day after his sister has all but disowned him, two uniformed police officers stride into Em’s hospital room. They give their names as Jessica White and Marco Rizaffi. For the second time since he first checked into Tulane Medical Center, Em is placed under arrest and handcuffed to his bed. The charges are drug distribution and murder.

Emmett: “…what?” He’s more perplexed than worried.

GM: “You have the right to remain silent,” the younger female officer recites. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”

Emmett: “Uh. Yeah. Are you sure you have the right room?”

Monday morning, 14 September 2015

GM: Em knows better than to go to Bert Villars for legal representation by now, and he couldn’t afford the grimebag lawyer’s fee even if he wanted to. A weary-eyed public defender, whose full caseload only permits him seven or so hours per client, tersely lays out the facts. A dead body was found in Emmett’s apartment on Royal Street, along with 30-some grams of cocaine. Further cocaine samples from the same batch were also found in a run-down apartment complex in Mid-City, which blood spatter analysis indicates was the scene of at least several other probable murders.

The police are going to question him, the defender continues. They want to know where the other bodies are. They want names for Em’s accomplices. “Just tell them everything you know and take the plea deal,” the tired-looking man advises Em.

Emmett: “Yeah, and you aren’t going to believe me, but I can’t. You think I killed a guy from the hospital? Legless?”

GM: The defender gives Em an annoyed look and informs him the murders took place prior to that date, though the body in his apartment and matching cocaine samples were only just discovered. “The fact you lost your legs and were found guilty of drug possession around the same time as the original violence only further helps prosecution’s case.”

Emmett: “Ah. I still didn’t do it. Do you have a name on the body?”

GM: The short, unruly-haired man sighs. His face bears the pockmarks from a bad case of teen acne, and he truthfully doesn’t look much older than Em. “Miguel Rodriguez.”

Emmett: “Never heard of him. So, uh. Your life is going to get difficult. Sorry about that.”

GM: “Take the plea bargain, and you’ll face fewer years than when a jury finds you guilty anyway,” the young man sighs.

Emmett: “I seriously would, dude. I mean, I’m probably headed to prison anyway, but I actually have no idea what the fuck this even is. Nothing to give them.”

He rolls his eyes. “Look, you obviously aren’t going to believe me. But I’ve got nothing on a plea.” He does try to communicate his sincerity, if only to accelerate things.

He sighs. “What’s your name?”

GM: “Robert,” the public defender answers.

Emmett: “Robert. You’re fired. Save yourself the trouble.”

GM: The short man raises his eyebrows. “You are waiving your right to legal counsel and choosing to represent yourself?”

Emmett: “No way out, right?”

GM: “You do have a way out. Spare the state the time and expense of a needless trial, and you’ll face fewer years.”

Emmett: “Yeah, except for the fact that there’s nothing for me to give them. I guess I could just say, ’I’m guilty,’ fuckers, but have nothing to give you,’ but I don’t think that would help.”

GM: Em’s defender explains that while offering substantive information on the murders will get him a better deal, if he doesn’t want to rat out his fellows, the police ultimately can’t force him to talk. He can still get a deal better than a trial’s likely outcome if he agrees to spare the courts the needless time and expense.

Emmett: “Oh. Okay.”

Whoosh, whoosh, goes the car window.

Tuesday morning, 15 September 2015

GM: There’s another bedside arraignment. The same clerk, the same uniformed officer, the same assistant DA. Same everyone except for Bert Villars. Judge Underwood looks even less pleased to see Em than last time.

Emmett: “Oh, hi.”

GM: The iron-haired judge levels an icy stare over the rim of her glasses.

“Mr. Delacroix, you are acting in a manner which disrupts this tribunal and prejudices the administration of justice, and are in contempt of court.”

Emmett: “Oh. Sorry.”

GM: Judge Underwood’s stern face grows sterner yet when the cripple neglects to address her as “Your Honor.” After informing Emmett that he is now guilty of two counts of contempt of court, she states that while a guilty plea is binding, the court is not bound to honor the plea bargain negotiated by Em’s lawyer. She is now summarily throwing out the entire deal and proceeding to his now-unmitigated sentencing.

Emmett: Em’s eyes narrow.

GM: The following legal proceedings are all very confusing. Underwood states that, as part of Emmett’s plea bargain, he has forfeited the right to a trial by a jury of his peers. She asks him if he understands what that means, whether he knows he has waived his privilege against self-incrimination, whether anyone has forced him into making this settlement, and whether he is pleading guilty because he killed Miguel Rodriguez while engaged in the perpetration of aggravated kidnapping and the attempted exchange of a controlled dangerous substance listed under the Schedules II, section A.4., of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law. All Em can mostly manage is an uncertain “yes” with the occasional “no,” where appropriate, to Judge Underwood’s and the prosecuting DA’s pointed queries. When he tries to deflect or sidestep, they relentlessly assault him and his counsel with a further gamut of twisting, head-pounding questions they already seem to know the answers to.

Em wonders what Villars would do here. As treacherous and underhanded as the cottonmouth-like lawyer was, he always seemed to have some way of slithering out of trouble—or at least fangs to sink into the hands of anyone who grabbed him. Em’s defender mostly just wearily takes everything the judge and prosecution dishes out. In fact, he looks as if he wants to rip off his necktie and strangle the mouthy cripple who is his client right then and there.

The ADA states that there are a host of charges Emmett is facing besides Miguel Rodriguez’ murder, all of which he duly enumerates, but murder in the first degree already carries the maximum possible sentence in Louisiana. Judge Underwood sentences the guilty-pleading young man to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. He is also to be placed on death row and will be executed by lethal injection.

“…as part of your plea in mitigation, you have forfeited the right to appeal any and all aspects of this judgment and conviction,” the white-haired woman levelly intones.

“We are adjourned.”

Emmett: Cool, Em he wants to say. He wants to smile up at the judge and do his best sear himself into her memories. I hear some guys who get the needle die with a boner, but I’ll just think of you, he wants to taunt.

He says nothing.

He told Lena he didn’t care what happened. She’s safe. That’s what matters. He’s all right with this, isn’t he?

So why is he crying? Crying, like the brat they all think he is?

GM: Em can’t make out much past his now-blurry vision. The clerk, doing something with the tape recorder. People getting up from their seats. Underwood, exchanging a few words with the ADA, both heedless of his tears. His defender, saying something to him that flies in one ear and out the other.

Look where we are now, Lena had said.

I hope the fun has been worth it.


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