An unfaithful wife is found dead in her lover’s bed. Tommy's Defense by Ralph Shamas


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Tommy's Defense

Written by Ralph Shamas


A promiscuous, unfaithful wife is found dead in her illicit lover’s bed. The lover had been shot several times with a .22 caliber firearm. The wife had been stabbed multiple times and her throat had been brutally sliced.

Circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a neighbor lead the police to arrest the husband, Tommy Beloit.

Attorney Jake Madow is retained for the defense. The trial compels surprise and suspense. The ending of this story suggests how elusive the pursuit of justice can become and how truth is rarely all that clear.


She was undoubtedly the most unfaithful wife I had ever encountered or heard of in my many years as a criminal defense lawyer. She would make some lame excuse to get away from the house and then be gone for the rest of the night. Her husband, a rather docile man named Tommy Beloit, would inevitably make dinner those evenings for the two children, read them to sleep, and then wait in his recliner chair until she would finally return. It would be early morning, more often than not, before she found her way home. Usually drunk and foul-mouthed, she would hide nothing. She would taunt Tommy—“Yeah, I had sex with the guy last night, and I loved it.” She would howl and laugh at Tommy hurtfully. The kids often were awakened and would run from their bedroom and grab their mother’s legs. She generally ignored them, and even pushed them away at times. Ultimately, Tommy would take the hysterical children to their room and get them back to sleep. By the time he would return to the living room, his abusive wife would typically be passed out, fully clothed, in the middle of the floor. Tommy would gently undress her, and put her in bed. He would sleep in his recliner.

I know these facts because Tommy told them all to me the first time we met. My later investigation, including discussions with neighbors and family, generally confirmed the truth of his accounts. I even talked to a few people, including Tommy’s brother, Aaron, who had witnessed her nasty late night diatribes. They had seen the kids crying, had heard her abusive language, and were struck by how patient and caring Tommy remained throughout those awful, unpleasant incidents.

My first meeting with Tommy in fact took place at the Maricopa County Detention Center. His adulterous wife, Sarah, had been brutally murdered and Tommy was charged with the crime. Tommy’s family and friends put together all they could spare, and borrow, and had retained me the day before. Tommy swore to me at the very beginning of our meeting that he had been home all that night, with the children, and therefore, could not have walked in on Sarah and her lover as the killer had done. He sobbed uncontrollably when I told him that Sarah had been stabbed 28 times, and that her neck was sliced wide open. Tommy was still weeping when I went on to tell him that Sarah’s lover that night, a redneck named Bret Brower, had been shot four times with a .22 caliber firearm. The bodies were found in Brower’s trailer house, laying side-by-side in a bed saturated with blood.

Tommy’s small frame was shaking quite noticeably and he was bent over, almost in a fetal position. I could not help but be struck by the contrast to his brother, Aaron, who was a quite large man, and obviously very strong. I surmised that Tommy must have been sickly as a child.

By the way, my name is R. Jake Madow. I have been practicing law for more than 20 years. Murder cases are my cup of tea—I admit that I love the action. I do handle many other types of criminal cases—including assault, rape, kidnapping, and more. Those cases are often very interesting; I don’t complain about having them and I certainly never complain about the fees I earn from those cases. I really enjoy practicing law, period, but murder cases are at the top and are easily the most exciting.

Back to Tommy Beloit, I knew right away that his case was going to be especially challenging. The police reports identified an alleged eyewitness—an elderly woman who lived in a neighboring trailer. Her name was Maxie Barton, and while she did not actually see the murders, she claimed to have seen “a man” hiding behind a tree near Brower’s trailer around midnight. She even said she could see a gun in the man’s hand. After she gave that initial statement to the police, she picked Tommy’s booking photo from among five photos shown to her the next morning. She unequivocally identified Tommy as the man she had seen. I fully realized that her testimony and the validity of the photo array were going to be a big part of the trial.

There was more. Following Maxie Barton’s photo ID of Tommy as the lurking figure behind the tree, the police obtained a warrant and went to Tommy’s apartment. When they announced their authority and purpose, Tommy let them in. The lead detective, a crusty veteran named George Akers, immediately spotted a small baggie full of a green leafy substance sitting on the table next to the recliner. It was obviously marijuana. Additionally, an empty pistol holster was found under a mound of dirty clothing in the master bedroom closet. The reports were clear that the investigation was ongoing.

At home that evening after visiting with Tommy, I was jotting down notes, making plans for his defense. My mind strayed for a moment and turned to my own personal circumstances. I had devoted so much of my time to my law practice that my wife had given up on our marriage almost ten years ago. I was able now to find occasional companionship but had never remarried. No doubt, I was still fit for a middle-aged man, six feet two inches tall, only one-hundred seventy-five pounds, and a full head of bushy black hair, but I could not help myself. I allowed no time for a serious relationship. “Oh well,” I thought, I did love my work. Tommy’s case would fully occupy my time for the next several months, and that suited me just fine.