Read an #excerpt from DEAD BURN by @JChaseNovelist

Dead Burn

Emily Stone Series

by Jennifer Chase

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“After thoroughly reviewing the evidence of this case, the court has determined that there’s insufficient evidence to proceed.”

Low muffled cries filtered throughout the courtroom.

Judge Christensen peered over his reading glasses at the defendant and his high-priced attorney. Disdain was evident in his voice inflection with the distinct syllable emphasis on the word in-suf-fi-cient.

He took a stilted breath and continued, “Timothy Devlin, you are released from these proceedings, and free to go.” The young man grinned and eagerly shook his attorney’s hand. He stood up, dramatically turned to the courtroom gawkers, and raised his hands in a cheesy victory salute. His sinister grin turned into a full-faced smile. It was obvious he loved every minute of the attention he garnered. He had beaten the system with the help of his pit-bull lawyer.

A commotion broke out in the courtroom galley among onlookers. A few angry voices boomed above the escalating noise, “Rapist! Rapist!” and “Evil shouldn’t be allowed to go free!”

Murmurs, gasps, and cries continued to echo throughout the courtroom. It made it difficult to differentiate statements between the angry words and oppositions.

The prosecutor tried to compete with the crowd’s outbursts as he stated to the court, “With prejudice your honor.”

“Noted,” replied the judge. He stood up. “Clear the courtroom now!”

Four sheriff’s deputies moved from their strategic vantage points to guide the men and women from the courtroom. It took a few minutes, but they accomplished their arduous task.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Richards bypassed most of the crowd, skirted out of the courtroom, and did not pause to hear more critiques about his job performance. There were a few additional shouts of profanity and evil doom-wishers before the only remaining occupants were the defense counsel and the defendant.

The noise level instantly ceased to that of an abandoned classroom.

Chad Bradford slipped the rest of his court notes back into his designer brief case, still with a look of smug satisfaction on his face. That made fourteen rape cases acquitted in the past six months. It didn’t matter that this case was pro bono; more high profile cases with a heavy price tag would soon follow. His smile still radiated as he slipped the lucky gold pen back inside his jacket pocket.

Everything that any halfway decent attorney needed stared right into their faces; they just had to know where to look, and how to slant it to their advantage. It was simple. He had the best job in the world – power, money, and an endless supply of sex.

Who could ask for anything more?

A cell phone buzzed from inside his pocket. Quickly he retrieved it, and the text read: Baby meet me – u won’t be sorry

“You off to celebrate?” The newly freed defendant asked.

“Maybe for an hour and then it’s on to the next case,” reflected Chad. “You going to be okay getting out of the courthouse without being mobbed? I could have a deputy escort you.”

“Nah, I’m outta here.” The young man smoothed his hair, which seemed to stoke up his smirk once again. “It’s been real.” He shook Chad’s hand again and then sauntered from courtroom.

Chad took a moment to breathe as he gathered his thoughts on some of the upcoming cases currently sitting on his judicial plate. He had an interview at Soledad State Prison with a serial rapist charged in seven cases, and the victims kept mounting; it could be as many as thirteen by the end of the week. Without DNA evidence, the case did not scare Chad in the least, but amped his adrenaline with a new manipulative courtroom challenge. He would have his private investigator Zig Rodriquez gather dirt on all of the female complainants. By his estimation, the district attorney’s case would soon crumble and blow away in the wind. He would play the criminal justice system and win once again.

His cell phone buzzed again.

This time the text message instructed Chad to an address in the downtown area. It made him smile. A quickie in the afternoon was what he needed to refocus his energy.

He left the empty courtroom.