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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO
Wednesday morning — 9:10 a.m.
“Yes, your honor,” the Defense Attorney said. “We agreed to the scheduling change. We also agreed to allow Ms. Delgado assistance to the witness stand.”
“I appreciate your change in attitude,” the judge said in a wry voice. The Defense Attorney opened his mouth but decided against it. Noting the Defense Attorney’s restraint, the judge said, “Good thinking.”
He nodded to Samantha Hargreaves.
“Go ahead,” the judge said.
Samantha got up from the District Attorney’s table and went to the door to the courtroom. The judge had sealed the courtroom today. Sissy could only have one family member with her. They’d decided on Aden because he could help Sissy get in and out of there. Samantha held the door open. Leaning on Aden’s arm, Sissy made her way into the courtroom. With each painful step, the mood in the courtroom shifted. The jury’s eyes were riveted on her. Even the Defense Attorney gawked.
Sissy was very simply stunning. Her long hair was loose and lightly curled at the bottom. Her long neck and trim figure were accentuated by a simple ankle-length dress. Her beauty and her pain gave her the look of a fragile Ophelia on the verge of full womanhood with all the innocence and strength of a child.
While Aden helped Sissy onto the stand, the Defense team mumbled back and forth. Samantha stood in front of the witness stand to help Sissy into the seat. Aden set her small oxygen tank onto Sissy’s lap. He kissed her cheek and went to sit in the back. When Sissy was situated, Samantha moved aside. The Defense team stopped talking.
For a moment, the courtroom was completely silent.
“I want to be clear,” the judge said. “I will not accept any harassment of this witness. None. If any member of your team even attempts it, the entire team will spend the night in my jail. Got it?”
He pointed to the defense team and then the prosecuting table. No one dared to blink.
“Ms. Delgado, if you have any questions, you just ask me,” the judge said. “Ms. Hargreaves will be here as well. But if you have any problems or trouble, you let me know. I’m good friends with your Uncle, Judge Howard Alberts. He’d never forgive me if anything happened to you on my watch.”
“Yes, sir,” Sissy said.
Samantha returned to the prosecution table while Sissy was sworn in. The District Attorney stood up.
“Please state your name,” the Defense Attorney said.
“Mitzi Delgado,” Sissy said. “But everyone calls me ‘Sissy.’”
“We have agreed that Ms. Delgado can be identified by ‘Sissy Delgado,’,” said The Defense Attorney stood.
“So noted,” the judge said.
“Ms. Delgado,” the District Attorney said. “Have you ever seen the defendant before?”
“Which one is he?” Sissy asked.
“The defendant will rise,” the judge said.
A young man in an expensive suit and cowboy boots stood from the defense table.
“No, sir,” Sissy said. “I’ve never seen him before.”
“What if he was wearing a beard or his hair was longer or shorter?” the District Attorney asked.
“No, sir, I’ve never seen him before,” Sissy said. “Plus, that stuff wouldn’t matter.”
“Why is that, Ms. Delgado?” the District Attorney asked.
“I study ballet,” Sissy said. “I look at people by body type and how he moves. The other stuff doesn’t matter.”
“You study ballet?” the District Attorney asked.
“The defendant may be seated,” the judge said.
“My sister says that I came out wanting to be a ballerina,” Sissy said. “I’ve been dancing ballet since I was four.”
“You mean you took lessons at the recreation center?” the District Attorney asked. “Kiddy ballet?”
“Oh no, sir,” Sissy said. “I’ve had individual lessons every day after school. My teacher was the youngest soloist in the Bolshoi Ballet. He is on contract with the New York Ballet Association and has taught here in Denver for the Denver Ballet.”
“Sound like an expensive indulgence,” the District Attorney said.
“Probably,” Sissy said. “My Godfather pays for everything.”
“Your Godfather?” the District Attorney asked.
“He was my dad’s partner at the Denver Police Department,” Sissy said. “Seth O’Malley? He and my dad were the ‘Magic team,’ detectives who cleared more cases than anyone ever in the Denver Police Department.”
“Your father is…”
“Was. He’s dead,” Sissy said.
“I’m sorry,” the District Attorney said. “Who was your father?”
“Mitch Delgado,” Sissy said. “He and Seth have been friends since they met at East High School.”
“We acknowledge the tremendous accomplishments of Mitch Delgado,” The Defense Attorney stood. “And everyone knows Seth O’Malley.”
“So noted,” the judge said. “Get on with it.”
“We were talking about ballet,” the District Attorney said.
“What would you like to know?” Sissy asked. “Ballet is my entire life. I’ve spent every moment, that I wasn’t in school, dancing. All summer, every summer. I’ve been in many professional shows. At the beginning of this year, I moved to New York City to apprentice to a big ballet company in New York City. I live there now.”
“I’d like to submit into evidence this article from the New York Post concerning Ms. Delgado’s apprenticeship,” the District Attorney said. “Attached is an article regarding the extraordinary talent of Ms. Delgado’s teacher.”
The judge looked at the Defense table. When no objection came, he banged his gavel and the Defense Attorney gave the articles to the bailiff.
“So you didn’t do so well in school,” the District Attorney said.
“That’s right, sir,” Sissy said. “I only had a 3.8. I’m not great at math. But now that I’m getting tutored, I’m starting to get a hang of it. Maybe. It’s not natural for me.”
The District Attorney let the silence linger.
“Why are you here?” the District Attorney asked.
“Because you asked my sister Sandy if I could come,” Sissy said.
The jury and audience chuckled. The judge banged his gavel and the courtroom became silent again.
“Rephrase the question,” the judge said.
“Ms. Delgado, this is a trial regarding the guilt or innocence of the defendant,” the District Attorney said. “You’ve never seen him before. So I’m sure the court is wondering why you’re here.”
“Oh,” Sissy said.
She stopped talking and looked down at her hands.
“Please answer the question, Ms. Delgado,” the judge said.
“What if I start crying?” Sissy whispered to the judge.
The sound was picked up by the judge’s microphone and everyone became very silent. The judge put his hand over the microphone.
“Then you cry,” the judge said. “We can handle it.”
“Ms. Hargreaves?” the judge asked into the microphone. “We need tissues.”
Samantha hopped to her feet. She brought a box of tissues to Sissy. She squeezed Sissy’s hand and went back to her seat.
“District Attorney?” the judge asked. “Can you repeat the question?”
“It’s okay,” Sissy said. “I know what he’s asking.”
Sissy tried to take a breath. Her chest rattled and she began to cough. Aden ran from the back of the court. He vaulted the wooden gate and was confronted by the bailiff. The judge nodded and Aden came to Sissy’s side. He helped her slow her breathing.
“Sir, my client is simply too fragile for…” Samantha started.
“No,” Sissy roared. “I can do it.”
Aden returned to the audience.
“Sorry,” Sissy said. “I just got out of the hospital. I’m not breathing very good.”
She gestured to the oxygen tank.
“Please continue,” the judge said.
“I was shot,” Sissy said. “The shooter came for my step-sister Noelle and me. We were just getting home from dinner and he…”
Sissy looked up for the first time. All of the adults were standing at the tables. The District Attorney’s mouth was open. The Defense Attorney seemed stunned. Unwilling to look at her, the defendant looked down.
“I was shot twice in the ribs,” Sissy said. “I died on the sidewalk, but they got me going again. Then last Friday, a piece of bone got loose and I hemorrhaged. My family came to New York because they thought I was going to die. I fooled them.”
She gave a slight smile.
“I’ve been really sick,” Sissy said.
“What does this incident have to do with this trial?” the District Attorney asked.
“The shooter tried to kill us to keep Noelle from testifying in this trial,” Sissy said. “He tried to kill me so my brother Charlie wouldn’t testify in this trial.”
“Objection,” the Defense Attorney said. “Assumption on the part of the witness.”
“No, sir,” Sissy said. “That’s what the shooter said. Ms. Behur’s guards caught him right after he shot at us. He confessed right away.”
“I’d like to enter into evidence the confession of the man who attempted to murder the two children — Ms. Sissy Delgado and Ms. Noelle Norsen,” the District Attorney said.
The District Attorney gave a packet of papers to the bailiff. The bailiff gave the testimony to the judge and another copy to the defense.
“We apologize for the delay in admitting this evidence,” the District Attorney said. “We only received this testimony at seven this morning. It was faxed to us from the New York Police at their start of business.”
The court was silent while the judge and the defense attorney flipped through the testimony. When the judge looked up at the District Attorney, he nodded.
“The New York Police were holding this testimony as part of a larger trial,” the District Attorney said. “They only agreed to release the testimony to us when they were sure that the courtroom was closed and everyone was sworn to not to divulge what happens here.”
The judge nodded.
“Defense?” the judge asked. “May we proceed?”
The Defense Attorney looked up. He looked at Sissy and then at the jury. He nodded.
“Why would anyone want to keep your brother from testifying?” the District Attorney asked.
“I don’t know, sir,” Sissy said. “The shooter is a paid assassin. It’s only for the grace of God that I’m not dead but…”
Tears fell down Sissy’s cheeks.
“I…” Sissy said.
“Ms. Delgado?” the District Attorney asked.
“I’ll probably never dance again,” Sissy said. “I…”
She stared at the defendant until he lifted his head.
“You should have just killed me,” Sissy said in a ragged voice. “You’ve done it just the same.”
The Defense Attorney was on his feet. Samantha Hargreaves was yelling at him. The District Attorney gave Sissy an amused look and went back to his table to sit down. The judge banged his gavel. The whole time Sissy stared down the defendant. After a few minutes, everyone stopped yelling.
“Do you have any more questions for this witness?” the judge asked the District Attorney.
“We’d like to be able to recall her if we need to,” the District Attorney said.
“So ordered,” the judge said. “Defense?”
“We have a few questions,” the Defense Attorney said.
“Ms. Delgado? Are you up to a few questions or should we take a break?” the judge asked.
“I can do it,” Sissy said.
The Defense Attorney stood from the table. He walked toward Sissy and stopped.
“Do you know of your own knowledge that my client was connected to your shooting?” the Defense Attorney said.
“That’s just dumb,” Sissy said. “He’s the only one who would benefit from my brother Charlie not testifying.”
The Defense Attorney glanced at the jury. He nodded as if he’d heard them say something to him.
“You’re just being dramatic when you say you’ll not dance again,” the Defense Attorney said. “Aren’t you?”
Sissy looked like she’d been slapped. Tears returned to her cheeks. She opened her mouth to say something, but the only thing that came out was a sob. She closed her mouth and looked down.
“Ms. Delgado?” the Defense Attorney asked.
When Sissy kept looking down, Samantha jumped to her feet.
“Your honor,” Samantha Hargreaves said. She gestured to Sissy. “The Defense Attorney is asking…”
“I just don’t know what to say.” Sissy looked up at Samantha. “You’re a person who helps liars and rapists get out of being punished. This guy thought it was okay to kill me so he didn’t have to take responsibly for his own actions. How could you possibly understand what’s in front of me? I have a year to get dancing again or lose my apprenticeship. If I lose my apprenticeship, I will lose my chance at dancing, probably anywhere. That’s how ballet works. Am I going to give it my all? Sure. Am I going to work my ass off? Sure. But how could you possibly understand that? You make money off of scumbags.”
Sissy turned to the judge.
“I think I need to go home now,” Sissy said.
“Motion to strike,” the Defense Attorney said.
“Jury, you will disregard Ms. Degado’s last statement,” the judge said. “Do you release this witness?”
“Yes, your honor,” the Defense Attorney nodded.
“We’re going to take a break,” the judge said. “In this time, I want you each to think about what the hell we’re doing here.”
As the jury filed out of court, Samantha helped Sissy down from the witness box. Aden arrived just as Sissy was stepping down. With Samantha on one side and Aden on the other, Sissy made her way out of court.
“How did I do?” Sissy asked.
“I thought you were brilliant,” Samantha said. “I particularly liked your last statement.”
“But it won’t matter,” Sissy said. “The judge told the jury to disregard it.”
“They still heard it,” Samantha said. “You should have seen their faces. They looked at the Defense Attorney like he was scum.”
“He is scum,” Sissy said.
“You’ve got that right,” Samantha said.
At the door of the courtroom, Samantha let go of Sissy.
“I’ll see you tonight,” Samantha said.
“What’s happening tonight?” Sissy asked.
“Oh, they didn’t tell you?” Samantha asked.
Sissy shook her head. Samantha looked at Aden.
“The Denver Ballet is running through their production,” Aden said. “They’ve invited us to come to watch.”
“How fun!” Sissy said. She visibly brightened.
“So go home and rest,” Samantha said.
Sissy gave Samantha a sincere nod. With Aden’s help, they made it to the car.
“Meds?” Aden asked.
“Please,” Sissy said.
Aden gave her a pain med, her antibiotic, and a bottle of water.
“Are you up for seeing people or should we go home?” Aden asked.
“Home, definitely home,” Sissy said.
“As you wish,” Aden said.
Sissy held on until they reached the Castle.
“Can I just…?” Sissy asked.
She gestured to the couch in the main Castle living room.
“Of course,” Aden said.
He whistled for Buster, who came trotting down the stairs. Buster jumped up on the couch and Sissy laid next to him. She was asleep in a moment.
“How did she do?” Delphie asked.
“She’s amazing,” Aden said. “Truly amazing.”
Wednesday afternoon — 12:25 p.m.
Sandy was sitting in the den area of Seth’s house reading a magazine. Sitting on the couch next to her, Charlie was practicing his French with Anjelika. He stopped talking when Sandy’s cell phone rang.
“Hello?” Sandy asked.
“Hi, it’s Samantha.”
“What’s the word?” Sandy asked. “Should I bring Charlie or not?”
“The Defense is asking if they can make a deal,” Samantha said.
“Sissy must have been really good,” Sandy said.
“Sissy was fantastic,” Samantha said. “She’s set the tone for the entire trial.”
“What do we need to do?” Sandy asked.
“We need to get the victims together to see if they will accept a deal,” Samantha said.
“We spent all Sunday doing that bullshit,” Sandy said.
“I know,” Samantha said. “They claim to be serious this time.”
“You tell them that I’ll get everyone together when and if they have a deal,” Sandy said.
Samantha didn’t say anything.
“Can you make that happen?” Sandy asked.
“Why is that funny?” Sandy asked.
“Because I can most certainly make that happen,” Samantha said.
“Thanks,” Sandy said.
“As always, Sandy, I’m amazed with you,” Samantha said.
“Well, let’s just see if they’re not just torturing us some more,” Sandy said.
“I’ll call when I know something,” Samantha said.
“Thanks,” Sandy said and hung up the phone.
“What’s the word?” Charlie said.
“The word is bullshit,” Sandy said.
“La connerie,” Anjelika said.
“La connerie?” Charlie asked. “What does that mean?”
“Bullshit,” Anjelika said.
Sandy laughed. Charlie smiled.
“Make a sentence,” Anjelika said.
“C’est la connerie,” Charlie said.
“Ce sont des conneries,” Anjelika said.
Charlie repeated the sentence and Sandy looked back at her magazine. They settled into wait.
Wednesday afternoon — 1:20 p.m.
They heard Samantha’s voice from the front door.
“In here,” Sandy called from the den area of Seth’s house.
“Sorry,” Samantha said. “I rang but no one came. I knew you were here so I just let myself in.”
“The bell’s broken,” Sandy said.
“And the foxy workman didn’t fix it?” Samantha asked.
“The foxy workman has been taking care of Sir Charles here,” Dale said as he walked into the room with a bowl of hot buttered popcorn. “Plus, Seth doesn’t want it fixed. He’d rather people didn’t come here. How did you get in?”
“Maresol gave me a key when Charlie first got here from the hospital,” Samantha said.
“We were just about to watch a movie,” Sandy said.
“Sorry, we need to get to court,” Samantha said. “That’s why I’m here.”
“Why?” Charlie asked. “I thought they were getting a plea bargain.”
“The District Attorney turned down their offer,” Samantha said. “He feels confident that we’ll win.”
“Oh,” Charlie said.
“Is that okay, Charlie?” Samantha asked. “If it’s not, I’ll call him and tell him we want this to be done with.”
“Oh, no,” Charlie said. “I’m just nervous, you know?”
“You can do this, Charlie,” Anjelika said.
He glanced at her and nodded to her smile.
“Well, help me up,” Charlie said.
Dale got Charlie to his feet. He gave Charlie his crutches. They all took a bathroom break before heading to court. Charlie was likely to testify for a couple of days.
“You okay, Charlie?” Sandy asked.
“I’m ready,” Charlie said.
He gave Sandy a broken toothed grin and they set off toward the car.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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