Lone Witness(9)

By: Rachel Dylan

“Detective Scott, what is the name of your eyewitness?”

“Her name is Sophie Dawson.”

Ashley turned and looked at Patrick, her eyes wide and mouth slightly parted in surprise, before she looked toward the back of the courtroom. “Detective Scott, are you talking about Assistant District Attorney Sophie Dawson?”

Audible gasps went up throughout the courtroom. It wasn’t a packed house, but given the high profile nature of the case and the gang involvement, there were local media present.

“Yes, ma’am. Well, let me back up. I’m actually not sure if that is her exact title at this point, but Ms. Dawson is a prosecutor.”

“So you’re telling me, Detective, that your eyewitness in this case against my client is a Fulton County prosecutor?”

“Yes, ma’am,” the detective said without batting an eye.

“How convenient is that, Detective?”

Patrick shot up from his seat. “Objection, Your Honor. I don’t think defense counsel’s side comments are appropriate.”

The judge nodded. “Ms. Murphy, please stick to the questions. There’s no need for theatrics at a preliminary hearing. There’s no jury here for your performance.”

Patrick held back a smirk.

Ashley turned and looked at Sophie before directing her attention back at the judge. For a moment she didn’t say anything, but Patrick could tell she was plotting something.

“Your Honor, since I see that Ms. Dawson is present in the courtroom today, I’d like to call her to the stand and hear the words directly from her.”

Patrick rose to his feet again. “Your Honor, it would be highly irregular to have the eyewitness actually testify at a preliminary hearing—and called by the defense, no less.”

“Your response, Ms. Murphy?”

“Nothing about this case seems normal, Your Honor. I would submit that I have the right to hear Ms. Dawson’s testimony today. She’s sitting right there, so it’s not like we’re putting her or the Court at any inconvenience.”

“Ms. Murphy is right on this count. Irregular, yes, but there’s nothing prohibiting it. Ms. Dawson, if you are indeed in the courtroom, please stand.”

Patrick should have known Ashley would try something crazy like this. He kicked himself for not preparing for such a contingency. He hadn’t done any of the typical witness preparation with Sophie that he would normally do before she was called to the stand. Now he could only hope that his case wasn’t about to go up in smoke.

Sophie stood up as the judge had ordered, and she could feel every single eye in the room staring at her. While she was accustomed to being in front of the courtroom, it wasn’t under these circumstances. Her palms became sweaty, and she felt her cheeks flush. This was no time to have a panic attack.

You can do this, Sophie. You’ve been in court a million times.

“Ms. Dawson, please come up to the witness stand,” the judge said.

Her legs felt unsteady as she made the walk down the aisle toward the front of the courtroom. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined that the defense would call her to the stand at the preliminary hearing. To say that was unorthodox was an understatement.

Patrick hadn’t prepared her for the possibility, but as a prosecutor, she should’ve known better. Any contingency was possible, especially when you were dealing with a formidable defense attorney like Ashley Murphy.

Sophie had been opposite Ashley multiple times and had never been able to break through on a personal level with her. She was on friendly terms with many defense attorneys, and she understood the importance of having good lawyers on the defense bar. Everyone needed fair representation. It was a pillar of the American judicial system. But Ashley had built a wall around herself, and they’d never had a personal conversation before, only business. And now Sophie was about to be examined by her.

She shouldn’t have come to the hearing today.

Sophie smoothed down her navy suit jacket as she made her way into the witness box. As she was sworn in, she prayed that she would be able to keep it together.

“Ms. Dawson, please state your full name and job title for the record,” Ashley said, not wasting any time.