The 37th Amendment - A Novel By Susan Shelley - Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.
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You are reading "The 37th Amendment," a novel by Susan Shelley. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished, retransmitted, printed, copied or distributed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written consent of the author. Permission is granted for publication of short excerpts in the context of a review or commentary, provided the material is appropriately credited.

Chapter Four

Wednesday, May 17, 2056

Emily Rand sat motionless as she listened to the witness describe the murder scene.

"And there were these steel pipes on the ground," the woman was saying, "About three feet long, maybe two inches in diameter. They looked like they were for some sort of railing. Right in the corner of the parking lot."

Merritt Logan turned a page in his notebook and rested his hand on the podium. "What were you doing at the time, Ms. Clybourne?"

"It's Mrs. Clybourne," the witness said icily.

"I'm sorry. Mrs. Clybourne." Logan smiled apologetically.

"I'm proud to be married. I don't agree with this idea today that no one gets married anymore."

John Morley Jackson, seated at the defense table between Robert Rand and Dobson Howe, wrote something on his legal pad.

Logan tried again. "What were you doing in the parking lot, Mrs. Clybourne?"

Mrs. Clybourne leaned in to the microphone and spoke loudly, as if she were ordering lunch at a drive-through window. "I was backing out of a parking space," she said.

"And what did you see?"

"I saw a man bending over the pile of pipes."

"You saw this in your rear-view mirror?"

"Well," Mrs. Clybourne adjusted her scarf. "At first I saw him through the side window in the back seat but then I pulled forward and headed away from him. That's when I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw him stand up with one of these steel pipes in his hand."

"And then what happened?"

"I had to drive around the parking lot and come back in order to go out of the driveway where the stoplight was. I had to make a left turn. And when I came around I heard a woman scream."

Merritt Logan scribbled something in his notebook. "Mrs. Clybourne, how old are you, ma'am?"

"I'm sixty-seven."

"Do you wear glasses?"

Mrs. Clybourne looked insulted. "Only for reading," she said. "I can see distances fine."

"Would you recognize the man you saw in that parking lot?"

"Yes, I certainly would."

"Do you see him in this courtroom?"

"Yes, I do."

"Can you point him out?"

Mrs. Clybourne pointed a pale blue acrylic fingernail directly at Robert Rand. "That's him," she said.

Logan closed his notebook. "For the record, the witness has identified the defendant, Robert Rand," he said. "No more questions."

Emily looked over at Rob, thin and drawn after a sleepless week in the county jail awaiting trial. There had been no bail, not for the man the mayor called a vicious predator, a savage barbarian and an irredeemable monster. He looked shrunken in his dark blue suit, his skin a colorless gray, his eyes rimmed with black circles.

John Morley Jackson picked up his notes and stepped to the lectern.

"How do you do, Mrs. Clybourne," Jackson said warmly. "My name is John Morley Jackson and I represent Mr. Robert Rand." He smiled. Mrs. Clybourne nodded stiffly.

"Let me ask you, Mrs. Clybourne," Jackson began, "The man you saw was bending over a pile of steel pipes on the ground?"

"That's right," Mrs. Clybourne said into the microphone.

"So his head was down." Jackson leaned forward to illustrate.

Mrs. Clybourne hesitated. "I could see him," she said. She shifted slightly in her chair.

Jackson rubbed a finger thoughtfully against his chin. "What time of day was this, ma'am?" he asked.

"About seven o'clock."

"Seven a.m. or seven p.m.?"

"Seven p.m."

"And this was in February. It gets dark pretty early in February. Was it dark outside?"

"There are lights in the parking lot," Mrs. Clybourne huffed.

"I see," Jackson said agreeably. "So he was facing down, and you were backing your car out of a parking space. You saw him through the car's back-seat side window."


"Are the windows of your car tinted, ma'am?"

Mrs. Clybourne looked at him quizzically. "They're just regular," she said.

"What year and make of car is it?"

"A 2052 BMW."

"And it has the standard windows that came on the car?"


"You know the government requires all automobile back-seat windows to have a UV-blocking tint to protect the passengers, especially children, from the sun, which can cause skin cancer."


"So your windows are tinted."

"Yes, I guess they are." Mrs. Clybourne was becoming impatient.

"So you saw a man with his head down, in the dark, through a tinted window, while you were backing your car out of a parking space. Were you moving fast?"

"No, I was very careful. It was a tight space."

"Would you say you were concentrating on backing up?"

"Certainly," Mrs. Clybourne said.

"So your attention wasn't focused on the man you saw."

Mrs. Clybourne's eyes narrowed. "I know what I saw," she said.

"And when you pulled forward and you saw the man in your rear-view mirror, you were further away from him than you had been before, is that right?"

"I was driving away from him, yes," Mrs. Clybourne snapped.

"One more thing," Jackson said, glancing down at his notes. "You mentioned that you don't approve of couples who don't get married. Are you aware that Rob and Emily Rand are not legally married?"

"Objection," Merritt Logan fired out, "Relevance."

"Your honor," Jackson said innocently, "The right to impeach the credibility of a witness with evidence of prejudice is a foundation of the Anglo-American legal tradition."

"Your honor, Mrs. Clybourne could not possibly have known Mr. Rand's marital status at the time she identified him for police," Logan countered.

The judge looked uncomfortable. "Objection sustained," he said. "Let's move on."

"No more questions, your honor," Jackson said. He returned to the defense table.

"Redirect?" the judge asked Logan.

Logan stepped to the podium without his notebook. "Mrs. Clybourne," he said, "Would you say you got a good look at the man with the steel pipe in his hand?"

"Absolutely," the witness said quickly. "I recognized him the moment I saw him in the line-up. I have no doubt at all."

"Thank you," Logan said, stepping back.

John Morley Jackson stood up at the defense table. "Mrs. Clybourne," he said clearly, "Are you aware that my client is an actor?"

"I didn't know it before this trial," Mrs. Clybourne said.

"But you do know that Mr. Rand is an actor, and that he sometimes appears on television shows and in commercials."


"Is it possible that you recognized his face, not from the parking lot, but from seeing him on television?"

"Absolutely not," Mrs. Clybourne said in a frosty tone. "I never watch television."

"Thank you, Mrs. Clybourne." Jackson sat down again.

The judge made a note. "The witness may step down," he said.

Emily leaned back against the wooden bench and closed her eyes. For an instant, it was all gone, and she was back with Rob and the kids at home, making chunky peanut butter sandwiches and negotiating over which movie to watch.

"Your honor," the voice of Merritt Logan brought Emily back with a start, "The people call Bara Salvacion."

Emily heard the clack-thap-clack-thap sound of high-heeled slides on the tile floor behind her. A young woman walked past her down the aisle and toward the witness stand. Emily had been right about the shoes. They were five-inch heels attached to a single band of black leather across the instep. Pencil-thin legs in nude stockings connected the shoes to a narrow body in a black elastic dress.

Bara Salvacion stepped up to the witness stand and turned around. The sight of her neckline drew an approving, if involuntary, sound from a male voice somewhere in the courtroom.

The witness was sworn in and immediately Merritt Logan was at the lectern, notebook open in front of him. "Would you state your name and spell it for the record, please?" he asked.

Bara Salvacion leaned forward toward the microphone and did so.

"Thank you," Logan said. "Ms. Salvacion, are you acquainted with the defendant, Robert Rand?"

"Yes, I am."

"And how do you know Mr. Rand?"

"He used to come over to my apartment two or three times a week."

"What is the first date that he visited your apartment?"

"I don't remember the exact date. It was in the fall. Last fall. September or October."

"Do you remember the last date on which he visited your apartment?"

"Yes, I do. It was the day before he was arrested."

"That was Wednesday, May 10th, of this year, is that correct?"


"Why did Mr. Rand visit your apartment?"

"So we could.... We were having an affair."

"An affair." Merritt Logan paused and looked at the woman with a visible trace of skepticism. He liked to get all the bad news out early. "He would come over to your apartment and you would have sex, is that right?"


"Did Mr. Rand ever give you money?"

"Yes, but I am not a prostitute."

"I see, so you would have sex, and sometimes he would give you money, but the money was not for the sex. Is that right?"

"That's right."

"Why did Mr. Rand give you money?"

"Because sometimes he would have packages of heroin delivered to my apartment."

Emily Rand felt the courtroom detach from the ground and start to spin. She caught a moving image of Rob scribbling furiously on a legal pad. She gripped her temples and closed her eyes.

Merritt Logan turned a page in his notebook. "And what did you do with these packages of heroin once they were delivered?" he asked.

"I would keep them in a box inside my closet until he came over to pick them up."

"Okay," Logan said. "Have you ever sold heroin yourself?"

Bara Salvacion frowned. "Yes," she said.

"Have you ever been arrested for selling heroin?"


Merritt Logan patiently took the witness through a complete description of her arrest record. There was a lot of bad news to get out.

Emily Rand felt a hand touch her arm. A young assistant to John Morley Jackson was crouched in the aisle, handing her a folded piece of paper from a yellow legal pad. She took the note and opened it. Written on the page in two-inch-high block printing were the words, "IT'S ALL LIES." She looked up. Rob was staring directly at her. "It's all lies," he mouthed. Emily's eyes filled with tears. "I love you," she mouthed back.

Bara Salvacion was describing her arrest in the early morning hours of May 12th. "And I didn't think I should serve no more time when I'm not the only one in this," she said. "So I told the officer who arrested me that I wanted to testify."

"Ms. Salvacion, have you been promised anything in return for your testimony?"

"They told me if I came in here today and told the truth I would get probation instead of jail time."

"Who told you that?"

"Mr. Gonzales."

"Is that Deputy District Attorney Carl Gonzales?"


"So it is your understanding that by testifying against Mr. Rand, you will receive a more lenient sentence."


"Okay." That was the end of the bad news. Logan turned a page in his notebook. "Did Mr. Rand visit your apartment on February 21st of this year?"


"Did anything unusual happen?"

"He asked me to go for a ride with him. He said he was going to meet somebody."

"What time was this?"

"About seven o'clock."

"In the evening?"

"Yes." Bara Salvacion sounded incredulous that seven o'clock could occur at any other time of day.

"And then what happened?"

"We drove to a parking lot near downtown."

"Who drove?"

"He drove, but we took my car because I was parked behind him."

"Your car was parked behind his car in the parking garage of your building?"


"You weren't home when he arrived that day?"

"I got there right afterwards."

"Was he in your apartment?"

"No. He was sitting in his car waiting for me in the garage."

"Okay. So you're both in your car, and he drives to a parking lot near downtown. Do you know precisely where it was?"

"It was at 4th and Alameda."

"And then what happened?"

"He pulled up to the automatic gate and took the ticket and then he parked against the wall in the back row of the lot."

"And then what happened?"

Bara Salvacion took a deep breath. "Then he told me to come around to the driver's side and get behind the wheel and stay there and keep my eyes straight ahead."

"Straight ahead looking at what?"

"At a wall."

"Okay. Then what happened?"

"He got out of the car and I didn't see what happened."

"Did you hear anything?"

"I heard a woman screaming. And then I heard some shots. And then he came back and got into the car and told me to drive home again."

"Did you notice anything different about him?"

"His clothes were all full of blood."

"Did he say anything?"

"He said people shouldn't take what don't belong to them."

"Okay. And then what happened?"

"I drove us back to my apartment and he showered and changed his clothes."

"Did he have clothes in your apartment?"

"No, he took a bag out of the trunk of his car when we got back."

"And what happened to the bloody clothes?"

"I stuffed them in a garbage bag and threw them away."

Merritt Logan closed his notebook. "Thank you, Ms. Salvacion. No more questions, your honor."

John Morley Jackson stood up, picked up a file of loose-leaf pages and walked to the lectern. "Good afternoon, Ms. Salvacion," he said warmly.

"Hi," the witness replied.

"Ms. Salvacion, do you have a television set in your apartment?"


"How many hours a day would you say your television set is on in your apartment on a typical day when you're at home?"

"Oh, it's always on. I turn it on when I wake up and it's just on all day. You know, I don't really watch it, because everything on is so stupid, but it's always on. My dog likes it."

"Oh, you have a dog?"

"Yes, a German Shepherd."

"Ah, they're great dogs, aren't they? Let me ask you this, Ms. Salvacion, when Robert Rand allegedly visited your apartment and gave you money, how did he pay you?"


"Ah. So there wouldn't be any record of that, is that right?"

"That's right."

"Did you ever write down any lists of how much he gave you or how much he owed you?"


"And when these packages of heroin were delivered to your apartment for him, did his name appear anywhere on the bags or boxes or cartons?"

"No. He had everything sent to me."

"I see. Did you ever run into any of your neighbors in the building when you were with Mr. Rand? Did anyone ever see you together?"


"Did any of your neighbors ever mention that they saw Mr. Rand in his car in your parking space, waiting for you?"


"So there's no one, besides yourself, of course, who can verify that Mr. Rand was ever in your apartment."

"As far as I know."

"All right, then. On the evening of February 21st, when the two of you drove to the parking lot at 4th and Alameda, you said Mr. Rand took the ticket from the automated gate when you pulled into the parking lot. Did you pay when you left the parking lot?"


"Did you slide a card through the card reader?"

"No, he handed me a twenty-dollar bill and I fed it into the machine."

"I see. So you didn't use a city parking pass or a credit card."


"So there's no record that you were in the parking lot."

"That's right."

John Morley Jackson looked down at his notes and shuffled the pages. "Ms. Salvacion, where is your car today?"

"It was stolen."

"Oh, that's a shame. When was it stolen?"

"I don't remember the exact date. Like a month or two ago."

"Did you file a police report?"


"Why not?"

Bara Salvacion looked irritated. "Why do you think?" she asked sarcastically.

"Oh," said the lawyer. "You didn't want to talk to the police?"

"That's right."

"Is that because you're a convicted heroin dealer and you had a closet full of heroin in your apartment at that moment?"

The witness didn't answer.

Jackson smiled pleasantly, and waited.

"Yes," she said finally.

"I see," Jackson said. "So if we wanted to test your car to see if there was any blood on the carpet or the seats or the door handle, there would be no way to do so because you don't know where your car is. Is that right?"

"That's right."

"That is a shame. So no one saw Mr. Rand in your apartment building, there's no record your car was in the parking lot at 4th and Alameda, the car that you drove back in is gone, and all the heroin packages were sent to your name. Do you know of any way, other than our just taking your word for it, to prove that anything you're saying here today is the truth?"

"It's the truth," Bara Salvacion said firmly.

"As it happens, Ms. Salvacion," John Morley Jackson said politely, "Anyone with a television set knows exactly as much about the murder of Maria Sanders as you've told us here today. Did you see the news coverage of Mr. Rand's arrest a few hours before you were arrested yourself and decide that making up a story about him might get you out of trouble?"

"Everything I told you is the truth. May God strike me dead right here if it's not the truth."

John Morley Jackson took a half step backwards as if trying to stay clear of any sudden lightning bolts. "No more questions, your honor," he said, glancing nervously at the ceiling. The faint sound of suppressed laughter rippled through the courtroom.

You are reading "The 37th Amendment," a novel by Susan Shelley. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished, retransmitted, printed, copied or distributed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written consent of the author. Permission is granted for publication of short excerpts in the context of a review or commentary, provided the material is appropriately credited.

It was 10:05 Thursday morning when Robert Rand took the witness stand. He looked haggard. Emily Rand was seated directly behind the defense table, upright and well-rested, a living tribute to modern psychopharmacology.

"Good morning, Mr. Rand," John Morley Jackson began. "You know, under the Constitution of the State of California you cannot be required to testify in this trial. Why do you want to testify here today?"

"Because I did not kill Maria Sanders." Rand's voice quavered a little.

"Mr. Rand, where were you on the evening of February 21st of this year?"

"I was at Chick Hearn Arena to see the Lakers play the Matterhorns."

"And when did you arrive at the arena?"

"Just before the tip-off."

"So that was approximately 7:25 p.m.?"

"That's right."

"And where were you before you went to the game?"

"I was at Santa Monica beach."

"And what were you doing there?"

"I was reading a script for a play I was offered."

"I see," Jackson said. "Why were you doing that at the beach?"

"It's peaceful out there. No telephones. I can concentrate. I have two wonderful children and it can get a little hectic at home."

"I see. So you were out at Santa Monica beach reading a script. Were you alone?"


"Where did you park?"

"At a meter on Pacific Coast Highway."

"How long were you there?"

"About an hour and a half. I had two hours on the meter but it wasn't expired yet when I left to go to the game."

"And about what time was that?"

"About six o'clock. It was getting dark."

"So you left Santa Monica beach at about six o'clock and it took you an hour and twenty-five minutes to drive to the Chick Hearn Arena?"

"I'd say about an hour, an hour and fifteen minutes. It took some time to find a place to park and walk inside to my seat."

"Did you have any conversations with anyone when you arrived at the arena?"

"No, the lights were going down for the player introductions so I just walked to my seat and sat down."

"All right." John Morley Jackson shuffled some pages in front of him. "Mr. Rand, do you know Bara Salvacion?"


"Have you ever seen her at any time before you saw her in this courtroom yesterday?"


"Have you ever used heroin?"


"Have you ever sold heroin?"


"Have you ever asked anyone to sell heroin for you?"


"Have you ever, as an adult, used or sold any illegal drug?"


"Have you ever, as an adult, caused any other person to use or sell any illegal drug?"


John Morley Jackson looked up from his notes. "Mr. Rand," he said, "Were you ever arrested for drug use as a juvenile?"

"Yes, I was," Rand answered.

"When was that?"

"When I was fifteen I was arrested on charges of cocaine possession."

"Did you ever use cocaine again after that incident?"

Rand shook his head. "No, I didn't," he said. "That cured me."

Jackson closed the folder in front of him. "Mr. Rand, were you in a parking lot at the corner of 4th and Alameda on the evening of February 21st?"


"Did you attack Officer William Szafara with a steel pipe, causing his death?"


"Did you kill Maria Sanders?"


"Thank you, Mr. Rand," Jackson said with a nod. "No more questions."

Merritt Logan picked up his notebook and walked to the lectern.

"Mr. Rand, what do you do for a living, sir?"

"I'm an actor."

"Does that account for your entire income?"

"No, I'm a part-time magician. I entertain at parties, that kind of thing."

"I see. Mr. Rand, would you tell the jury in your own words what it is precisely that actors do in the course of their work?"

"Objection." John Morley Jackson's voice was even and calm. "Relevance."

"Overruled," the judge said quietly. "Answer the question, please."

Rand hesitated. "They play a part," he said. "They perform a part written by a playwright or screenwriter."

"Or a lawyer?" Logan asked.

"Objection!" Jackson shouted.

"Sustained," said the judge. "The jury will disregard Mr. Logan's last question."

"And would you tell the jury in your own words," Logan continued, "what it is that a magician does?"

Rand sighed. "They perform illusions," he said.

"Illusions?" asked Logan. "Would it be fair to say that magicians persuade an audience to believe something that is, in fact, not real at all?"

"Objection!" Jackson repeated.

"Overruled," the judge said. Rand looked over at his attorney, then at Logan. "It would not be fair," he answered, "because people know the difference between what is true and what is not true, no matter how it appears at that moment."

Logan looked irritated. He scanned his notes for a long moment. "No more questions," he said, turning abruptly and walking back to his seat.

"Redirect?" asked the judge.

"No, your honor," Jackson said. "We're ready to call our next witness."

The judge nodded. "Go ahead, then," he said.

"Your honor," Jackson said, "The defense calls Ted Braden."

Ted's testimony did not take long. Under the precise questioning of John Morley Jackson, he pinpointed exactly when Robert Rand arrived at the Laker game on February 21st. It was just minutes after the murder of Maria Sanders was committed.

Jordan Rainsborough began her cross-examination immediately. "Mr. Braden," she said, "Is it true that Mr. Rand owes you $500?"

Ted was startled. Had Rand told her that? "Well, not really," he said. "It was just a basketball bet. I'm not trying to collect from him." He looked over at the defense table. Rand smiled. Dobson Howe was frowning and John Morley Jackson was staring at Ted with unusually focused eyes.

"You made a $500 bet on a basketball game with the defendant?"

"On the playoffs, yes."

"Do you generally make bets with strangers, Mr. Braden?"

"No, of course not."

"The person you'd make a bet with is generally someone you know, someone you see regularlyit's kind of a guy thing, isn't it?"

"I suppose it is."

"Is it also kind of a guy thing to stick together when somebody's in trouble?"

"Objection!" Jackson shouted.

"Sustained," said the judge.

"Withdrawn," said Jordan. "No more questions."

You are reading "The 37th Amendment," a novel by Susan Shelley. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished, retransmitted, printed, copied or distributed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written consent of the author. Permission is granted for publication of short excerpts in the context of a review or commentary, provided the material is appropriately credited.

The jury deliberated for two hours Thursday afternoon. At 4:35 p.m. they returned a verdict of guilty on two counts of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of the murder of a law enforcement officer. At 4:45 p.m. Judge William Bryce, acting under California's mandatory sentencing guidelines, sentenced Robert Rand to die by lethal injection at 9:00 a.m. the following Wednesday. The execution was stayed by order of the United States Supreme Court pending a decision in the case of Owens v. United States.

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You're reading The 37th Amendment, a novel by Susan Shelley. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished, retransmitted, printed, copied or distributed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written consent of the author. Permission is granted for publication of short excerpts in the context of a review or commentary, provided the material is appropriately credited.

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