Victoria Cross, United Federation Attorney
After Crawford sat down, Victoria took the witness.
“Mr. Chambers, how much were you paid to testify for the defense today?”
He cleared his throat.
“Ten thousand terros. That isn’t unusual, by the way. I’ve been paid to testify in other criminal cases before this one.”
“I see. Does the fact that the defense is paying you affect your testimony in any way?”
“I’m not sure I understand the question.”
“Well, you are obviously saying what the defense wants you to say. But if I had hired you instead of Mr. Crawford, would your testimony be different? Would you be saying what I want to hear?”
“No, of course not.”
“Good. I’m glad to hear that. Tell me, Mr. Chambers…do you still beat your wife?”
The witness looked stunned. His face blanched white, then fused red.
“What! No, of course not!”
“When did you stop?”
He jerked upright in his chair, mouth open and eyes wide.
“Now wait a minute! I never said—”
“Objection! Your Honor, what the hell is Miss Cross trying to pull here?”
Victoria turned and smiled at him.
“What took you so long, counselor? I expected you to object after the first question.”
Crawford ignored her.
Van Wert’s face was almost as red as the witness’s.
“Approach! Both of you!”
Crawford, puffing with anger, stomped toward the bench. Victoria joined him, her hands clasped innocently in front of her. She tried to suppress a smile, but failed.
“What the hell are you doing, Miss Cross?” van Wert demanded. “Are you fishing or do you have something?”
“I have something, your Honor.”
Van Wert’s eyes expanded a fraction in surprise.
“What’ve you got?”
Victoria told her.
“All right, step back. The objection is overruled.”
Still steaming, Crawford returned to the defense table. Victoria returned to the witness. Jay Chambers stared at her as if she were a rattlesnake.
“Mr. Chambers, you said you no longer beat your wife.”
“No! I said I have never beaten my wife! You’re putting words in my mouth!”
“I would never do that, Mr. Chambers. It’s unsanitary and spreads germs.”
“Objection! Counsel is mocking the witness.”
“Withdrawn. Mr. Chambers, isn’t it true that on July 13, 0442, your wife called police to your house to settle a domestic dispute?”
Chambers stared at her. He swallowed.
“I never beat my wife. I’ve never laid a hand on her.”
“Please answer the question, Mr. Chambers. Were the police called to your residence on July 13, 0442?”
“Yes.” His response was barely audible.
“Who called the police on that occasion?”
“My wife did.”
“Why did she call the police?”
“We were having an argument.”
“Did the argument get violent?”
“No. It got noisy, but not violent.”
“Were you arrested?”
“No. I was detained and questioned, but not arrested.”
“Why weren’t you arrested?”
“My wife refused to press charges.”
“Your wife refused to press charges. For what, Mr. Chambers? If there was no violence, why would she even consider pressing charges? You can’t be arrested for merely yelling at her, can you?”
Chambers glanced toward Crawford for help, but Crawford only glared back at him with pursed lips. He looked agitated.
“I might have put a bruise on her,” Chambers admitted in a quiet voice.
Victoria walked to the prosecution table and returned with a flat photo.
“Approach the witness, your Honor?”
“Mr. Chambers, do you recognize the person in this digital?”
She held it up for him to see. He stared at it, his face slowly burning red.
“Is this a picture of your wife, Mr. Chambers?”
Victoria strolled to the defense table and showed the picture to Crawford, then strolled down the jury box so they could see it as well. The photo depicted a woman whose face looked like one solid blood blister; one eye was swollen shut and the other was barely open. Three cuts had been sutured.
She returned to the witness.
He avoided her gaze.
“Mr. Chambers, the next time you sell your services as an expert witness, may I suggest that you offer a discount? I don’t think Mr. Crawford got his money’s worth today.”
“Objection! That’s just petty, your Honor.”
“Withdrawn. Nothing further.”
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