Chapter Three, Part Three.
Apologies for not updating for over half a year. I lost all the documents for this story and had to start over from scratch. Anyway, this is a continuation of the previous chapter, and is the trial phase for Case Three: Digital Turnabout. All main characters are owned by me. There may be references to characters that I do not own. In such cases, please refer to the disclaimer.
As always, please read, comment, and criticize.
CHAPTER THREE: DIGITAL TURNABOUT
Day Three: Trial
July 25, 9:30 AM; District Court, Defense LobbyIt was the first day of the trial… As usual, I was in the lobby, checking all the evidence I had, and trying to form patterns in my head. Even though my ability made a dramatic comeback two months before the current date, it wasn't permanently present, and I had to make do without it. During that time, my ability was with me, but I still couldn't figure everything out yet… My client, Sander Porter, who was accused of murdering Toby Fanners by electrocuting him inside the Virtual Reality Testing Room in the GaruruGame Media Center, obviously had a motive… yet I still had reason to believe that he was innocent.
I knew I would end up confusing myself more, so decided to close the Court Record.
"Hey, whatcha doing, noob— I mean, Mr. Lawyer?"
"Haha, not even close, Eddy," I smirked, and looked up. "If you wanna sound like Mr. Porter, you gotta add more hatred and gruffness."
"Yeah, sure, hatred and gruffness," Eddy said. "So… Reviewing evidence?"
"Yep," I said. "It's been a while since I've been in court, so I need some ammo for this one. Man, I really don't like the fact that our client's got a motive. A lot of the evidence we've got so far isn't helping either…"
"Well, we've got two pieces of evidence that might not implicate him," Eddy said. "But then again, we're not sure of those either."
"Guess I'll just have to spot some good contradictions, then," I sighed. "Huh. We still don't have any info on the murder weapon yet, do we?"
"Hey, yeah I forgot about that," Eddy said, thinking. "Detective Razor's most likely gonna tell the court today."
(Yeah. With no info on the murder weapon, we're not gonna get through this easily!)
"Oh yeah, I just remembered something!" Eddy suddenly said as we were going inside the courtroom.
"Yeah…" I said. "What is it?""Well, I did a little research last night, and guess what I found out?" Eddy said. "According to one of the online archives I found about the GaruruGame Media Center, Mr. Porter was actually a high admin himself two years ago! In fact, that grouchy lady we met yesterday… she used to be his subordinate!"
"Really?" I said, finding the thought of Porter being a supervisor kinda… out there. "Are you sure about that?""Positive!" Eddy said with an energetic nod. "Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners, at the time, also received the highest possible individual employee effort points. That was also how Mr. Fanners got promoted to admin."
"Highest possible individual employee effort points?" I asked. "What are those?""They're kinda like reward points or Effort Values," Eddy said. "Employees who work super hard gain those, and get promoted immediately. Actually, I think that nobody's been able to beat that record yet; Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners' points, that is… Y'know, I think that even that grouchy admin, Terra Everett, hasn't been able to achieve that either!" He let out a small snicker.
"That's great and all," I said, "But how do you think that'll help with today's trial?"
"I honestly don't know!" Eddy admitted with a sheepish grin, "But I've got the archive statistics article with me, just in case."
"Uh… sure," I said as I updated the evidence.
Media Center Statistics Article added to the Court Record.
MEDIA CENTER STATISTICS ARTICLE
- Both Sander Porter and Toby Fanners were admins two years ago, and apparently also achieved the highest possible employee effort points.
(Well, this is some interesting info… I just hope it's useful in today's trial. :Gulp:)
July 25, 10:01 AM; District Court, Courtroom #2
"Court is now in session for the trial of Mr. Sander Porter," the Judge said.
"The defense is ready, Your Honor," I said, secretly trying to check if Bladeston had the sword with him again. He looked like his normal self on the outside, complete with the piercingly creepy eyes. Strangely enough, though, he looked like he was kinda spaced out; like he wanted the trial to end right away.
"The prosecution is ready, Your Honor," Bladeston said, "And if I may, I would like to get on with my opening statement already."
"Er… Yes, of course, Mr. Bladeston," the Judge said.
"Sander Porter, the defendant and an employee of the GaruruGame Media Center, has been accused of murdering his colleague Toby Fanners inside the Virtual Reality Testing Room, or VRT Room for short," Bladeston said, seemingly in a hurry. "Initial investigation at the murder scene has revealed that the victim died of electrocution. The Autopsy Report is right here."
(Bladeston seems like he's in a rush today. Wonder why?)
Autopsy Report added to the Court Record.
(Okay. Now that I've got the Autopsy Report with me, I better update the Court Record.)
- The victim's Autopsy Report. Death was caused by electrocution.
"Electrocution?" the Judge asked. "Is that right?"
"Yes, Your Honor," Bladeston replied. "The body was found with strange marks on the skin that could not have been caused by anything other than an electric shock: around 5000 volts with high ampere readings. Also, the victim was apparently knocked out beforehand, and then finished off with the electric shock. Your Honor, I would now like to call forth the detective in charge of the investigation."
"Y-Yes, carry on," the Judge said.
"The prosecution calls on Detective Thurston Razor," Bladeston said.
Detective Razor was at the witness stand only a few seconds later.
"Your Honor, I would like to skip any unnecessary procedures and let Detective Razor begin his testimony immediately," Bladeston said.
"Um… Of course," the Judge said, starting to look confused. "Please begin your testimony, Detective."
"Gotcha," Razor said.
"Mr. Toby Fanners was killed by means of electrocution inside the VRT Room during a time period between 8 PM and 8:20 PM," Razor began. "There was a convention ongoing at the Media Center that night, so almost all of the people in the Media Center were inside the Convention Room. From the info we've gathered, Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners were both inside the VRT Room sometime around 7:50 to 8 PM."
"Please extrapolate on the murder weapon, Detective," Bladeston said.
"That ain't gonna be easy," Razor said with a fox-smirk. "See, all the cables inside the VRT Room were intact. Nothing was pulled off the main generator."
"Wait. Cables? Main Generator?" the Judge said. "I'm not sure I follow?"
(You can never have a speedy trial with this Judge around. :Sweatdrop:)
"Oh, yeah, I forgot," Razor said, presenting a piece of folded paper. "We were able to obtain floor plans of the murder scene from the receptionist. You can clearly see that there's a drawing representing all the machines and stuff found in the room, like the analysis computers and the main generator. That's the battery-like thing with the cables that connect to the rest of the machinery."
VRT Room Floor Plans added to the Court Record.
"This is exactly what we saw yesterday," Eddy said. "All the cables were intact, so they couldn't have been used to electrocute Mr. Fanners."
(So, we still don't know what the murder weapon is…?)
"There was no live wire present at the crime scene," Razor continued. "We're still trying to figure out what the murder weapon is."
"So, the thing that electrocuted the victim is still unknown?" the Judge asked. "Then what killed the victim?"
"Keep in mind, Your Honor, that the location of the murder was a testing room," Bladeston said. "There are more possible sources of electric shock than just a mere cable. Now, I think this matter should be discussed later, when it is needed. Right now, I believe that Mr. Turner's cross-examination should begin. Your Honor, if you please."
(Huh? Bladeston wants to skip talking about the murder weapon? What's wrong with him today?)
"Oh, right! The defense may now begin the cross-examination," the Judge said.
"Mr. Toby Fanners was killed by means of electrocution inside the VRT Room during a time period between 8 PM and 8:20 PM."
"Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners were the only ones inside the VRT Room at the time, right?" I asked.
"Yep," Razor said. "They were discussing stuff about the company."
"What time was the body discovered again?" I asked.
"I'd say it was a little bit past 9 PM," Razor said. "The victim had been dead for over 40 minutes then."
(Nothing new here. That's the same info we got yesterday.)
"Were any other employees near the area?" the Judge asked. "This… Game Company thing… Surely there were more people around?"
"Yeah, there were more people around," Razor said. "But they weren't really anywhere near the VRT Room."
"There was a convention ongoing at the Media Center that night, so almost all of the people in the Media Center were inside the Convention Room."
"The G-34 Convention," I said. "So, uh, you'd say that the other employees were in the Convention Room, too?"
"Uh-huh," Razor nodded. "Most of 'em, that is. Of course there's the receptionist: she stayed in the lobby the whole time."
"Ms. Sienna Birchwood, you mean," Bladeston said.
"Hmm…" I said, thinking, "Do you suppose Ms. Birchwood saw anyone else go inside the VRT Room at the time?"
"She said that she only saw Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners go through the hallway that leads to the room," Razor said. "She also said that she saw only Mr. Porter leave the room ten minutes later."
(Crud. This statement's a dead end, too!)
"From the info we've gathered, Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners were both inside the VRT Room sometime around 7:50 to 8 PM."
"They were initially talking about the company," I said, "And then—"
"The defendant and the victim got into a fight," Bladeston interrupted.
"A… A fight, you say?" the Judge said.
"Correct, Your Honor," Bladeston said. "The defendant and the victim were not on good terms with each other. Apparently an argument ensued between the two when they were inside the Virtual Reality Testing Room, and the defendant, Sander Porter, attacked Toby Fanners!"
The people inside the courtroom started murmuring again. I hate it when they do that!
"Order!" the Judge said, and told Bladeston to continue. "Ah! So, this fight is what made the victim unconscious before he was electrocuted?"
"Yes, Your Honor," Bladeston continued. "And I believe that Mr. Turner here has some evidence to prove it. Well? Would you care to present it right now?"(Ack! The goggles! I should've seen this coming:Urk:)
"Mr. Turner!" the Judge said. "You had evidence that proves that the defendant knocked the victim unconscious all along?"
"I… well…" I stuttered.
"I do believe that you should present this evidence to the court," the Judge shook his head. "Unless of course you'd rather receive a penalty!"
"Y-Yes, Your Honor!" I said out of pressure. "Presenting it right away!"
"These are the victim's goggles," I said, presenting the evidence. "Uh… Mr. Porter's fingerprints are on them… in a shoving position—"
"Thus, we have already established a motive!" Bladeston cut in again, and presented his own copy of the photo of Porter's fingerprints on the main generator. "Another interesting thing I'd like to point out is this: the defendant's fingerprints clearly imprinted on the main generator. Your Honor, I do believe this trial is already over!"
(WHAT?! NO WAY!)
"Um, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you, Mr. Bladeston," the Judge suddenly said. "I admit you have a very nice point, well, actually a set of clear and very well-rounded points… But I can't hand down a Guilty Verdict yet. See, the defense has not yet finished the cross-examination. Let's let Mr. Turner finish asking all his questions…"
(Wow, who'd have thought that the Judge would save my butt—?)
"… And then I can hand over the Guilty Verdict," the Judge said, and a sheepish grin sliced through his muttonchops.
(… I spoke too soon.)
"Very well," Bladeston said with a small bit of annoyance in his voice. "Detective Razor, would you care to move on to your next statement?"
"Sure, sure," Razor said.
"There was no live wire present at the crime scene. We're still trying to figure out what the murder weapon is."
"Since all the cables were intact," I said, "What do you suppose delivered the electric shock?"
"There're lots of things inside the VRT Room that could've done that," Razor said.
"As I've already said, the murder scene was a testing room," Bladeston said. "Everything inside had an electric current running through one way or another."
"Unfortunately we haven't had much luck in finding out which one," Razor added.
(Yeah, and I'm not having much luck with this cross-examination!)
"Well, Mr. Turner," the Judge said, readying his gavel, "Your Cross-Examination is now over. Now, unless you have a problem with any of the statements…"
(Damn it! Is it over already?! No! There's gotta be something I overlooked!)
THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH THE TESTIMONY
… NO PROBLEM
I tried thinking about whatever it was that I overlooked. I needed to find something, or it would've meant bad news for us down the line. I tried to remember everything that had to do with the time of the murder, since, for some reason, something about that was bugging me… Then I found it.
"Your Honor, there's a problem with the testimony!" I said, and did a desk slam. "There's something wrong with the time period between the argument and the time of death!"
"Mr. Turner!" Bladeston said, "Haven't we already established that the victim had been dead for over 40 minutes—?"
"That's not what I'm talking about, Mr. Bladeston," I cut in. "Maybe we should review the testimony. Detective Razor said that the victim was killed between 8 PM and 8:20 PM. The body was found a little after 9 PM, so yes Mr. Fanners had been dead for over 40 minutes. That means that the time of death was approximately at 8:20 PM… However, the time that Mr. Fanners actually spent inside the VRT Room with Mr. Porter was only ten minutes, which was from 7:50 to 8 PM!"
"Hmm, and Mr. Fanners was knocked out at 8 PM," Razor said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
"Ah! I see!" the Judge said. "It appears there's a 20-minute gap between the time that Mr. Fanners was knocked unconscious, and the time that he was actually murdered!"
"That's right, Your Honor!" I nodded. "The defendant was only responsible for knocking the victim out!"
The crowd got noisy again… I was too relieved by the little loophole I found to get irritated by them.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
"Order in the court!" the Judge said, and turned to Bladeston. "Mr. Bladeston. The defense has made quite a claim. Can you provide anything to counter this?"
"No, Your Honor," Bladeston said, shaking his head. He stayed silent for a couple of seconds, and continued, "I am afraid I overlooked this as well. However, the 20-minute gap is only a minor oversight, and I would like to provide a remedy for it."
"A remedy?" I asked, confused. "Mr. Bladeston, do you still think Mr. Porter committed the murder, even if he left the crime scene?!"
"Yes," Bladeston said coolly. "See, you have yet to substantiate your claim with the proper evidence, Mr. Turner. Right now, the only thing you have is this convenient little time break. The defendant still has a motive, and is already guilty of assault on the victim." He adjusted his green glasses and said, "I think we should take care of this matter by viewing it from another perspective."
"Another perspective?" I said, "You mean—"
"Detective Razor," Bladeston said, "I believe you've already met who I'm going to call forth next?"
"Yeah," Razor said. "She actually agreed to talk, did she? Whaddya know?"
"Who?" the Judge asked, "Who are we talking about again?"
"The witness, Your Honor," Bladeston said, as Detective Razor left the witness stand. "I would now like to call forth the next witness."
(I think I know who's coming… I just hope she's in at least a slightly better mood today. :Gulp:)
Some moments later, Terra Everett, the grumpy admin Eddy and I met the day before, was at the witness stand. She had that stern look on her face again, the one that just screams "I-Don't-Allow-For-Uncertainties" at you, even when her mouth is completely shut. And the freaky thing was the fact that the Judge was looking at her in a googly-eyed way. Disturbing…
"Here comes the grouch," Eddy muttered. "Think she'll lie about something, Griff?"
"Dunno," I said, and turned on the blue wristwatch on my left hand. "But we better play it safe."
"Please state your name and occupation," Bladeston said.
"My name is Terra Everett," Everett said, "And I am a high official at the GaruruGame Media Center; a company administrator, to be specific."
"I understand you were the very first to stumble upon the victim's body on the night of July 23rd," Bladeston said. "Please testify about what happened.
"I had just come down from the Meeting Room up on the fourth floor," Everett began, "And I was on my way home then. While passing through the corridor on the ground floor, I noticed that the Virtual Reality Testing Room door was open. The room seemed empty to me, but I went inside anyway. It was then that I discovered Toby Fanners on the floor. I… got into a bit of a panic, especially since the lights suddenly went out afterwards."
"That must've been quite an experience," the Judge said. "You weren't hurt, were you?"
"No, thankfully not," Everett said. "I'm quite capable of handling any situation, unless of course it's something similar to what happened the other night."
"I see," the Judge nodded. "You seem like a very responsible lady. No wonder you're a company administrator!"
"Thank you," Everett said. "It's the blatant truth, after all."
"Ohoho, yes indeed!" the Judge, who was beginning to blush, said. I could see that even Bladeston was starting to look embarrassed at that awkward situation.
"Griff…" Eddy said with a disturbed look on his face. "What the heck does the Judge think he's doing?!"
(Ugh. Okay, can you two lovebirds stop right now and let me do my cross-examination?)
"Uh, Your Honor," I said. "Can I cross-examine the witness now…?"
"What? Oh, yes, of course," the Judge said after snapping back to his senses for a while, "You may begin your cross-examination."
"I had just come down from the Meeting Room up on the fourth floor and I was on my way home then."
"There was a meeting?" I asked, "But weren't the other admins too busy minding the convention?"
"It was a special meeting," Everett replied, "For other high-ranking company officials such as myself. I had absolutely no time to bother myself with things such as the G-34 Gaming Convention. I think of it as a distraction."
"Yes, yes, a distraction!" the Judge said, nodding in approval.
(Oh boy… This isn't gonna be easy.)
"So, around what time was this?" I continued asking, "When you came down from the Meeting Room, that is."
"Two minutes to nine," Everett replied without even pausing.
"Are you sure about that?" I asked.
"Please do not question my memory, Mr. Turner," Everett said, and glared at me and Eddy the same way she did the day before. "My memory is as sharp as ever. I don't forget things easily, even in such circumstances as the incident the other night. After all, I am a professional."
"Again with the 'professional' thing?!" Eddy snapped, "Why I oughtta—"
"Eddy, sit," I said. "Good boy. Let's try not to get too intimidated by her. I can sense she's hiding something."
"While passing through the corridor on the ground floor, I noticed that the Virtual Reality Testing Room door was open."
"Wait a second!" I said, and presented the Guide Maps, followed by a small desk slam. "How could you have passed through that hallway when the only elevator's located in the lobby?"
OBJECTION!"That's not much of a point, Mr. Turner!" Bladeston said, followed by his own desk slam. "How the witness was able to get down from the fourth floor to the ground floor is not necessary to this case!"
"I agree with the prosecutor," Everett added. "Besides, we high administrators have our own special elevators."
"Uh…" I muttered, embarrassed at objecting to such a statement.
"Perhaps you should practice thinking before acting, Mr. Turner!" the Judge said, and shook his head again. "Overruled!"
(Shoot! I got a penalty… Ack! I lost 10 EP's!!!)
"Griff, try not to present evidence against those kinds of statements!" Eddy said. "You've got the Wahrheitron on, remember! Don't lose your remaining 45 EP's!"(Damn! I didn't know I could lose EP's even outside the Interrogation Phase. :Urk:)
"The room seemed empty to me, but I went inside anyway."
"Why did you decide to go in, even when you thought the room was empty?" I asked.
"Security check," Everett replied. "I needed to make sure that everything was in order inside."
"But wouldn't you just think of closing an open door to an empty room if you see one?" I asked again.
"If it were a normal door, yes," Everett said, starting to look annoyed. "But the door to the Virtual Reality Testing Room doesn't exactly fit into that category, you know. May I continue now?""Please do," Bladeston said, arms folded.
"It was then that I discovered Toby Fanners on the floor. I… got into a bit of a panic, especially since the lights suddenly went out afterwards."
HOLD IT!"The lights went out a few minutes after nine," I said. "What do you specifically remember seeing about Mr. Fanners' body before the blackout?"
"Well, he wasn't moving, obviously," Everett said, and glared again. "However I remember seeing how he was just lying there. His eyes were closed and I couldn't tell whether he merely fainted or… you know."
(So she remembers his facial expression… Wait a minute.)
"Wait, so, you, uh, saw his face?" I asked with a little hesitation. "Clearly?"
"Yes," Everett said. "He was lying on the floor on his back."
"Please add this to you testimony, Ms. Everett," the Judge said.
"Mr. Fanners was just lying there on his back, not moving."
(This is definitely a contradiction!)
"Ms. Everett," I said, and pointed at her. "Are you sure that, when you stumbled across the victim's body, he was lying on his back?"
"What kind of question is that?" Everett sneered. "Of course I'm sure of what I saw!""If that's the case, then how do you explain this?" I presented the Crime Photo of Fanners after his death. It clearly showed him lying facedown!
"AH!!!" Everett said, shocked. "That's…""The body of the victim!" I said. "This photo was taken after Mr. Fanners was electrocuted to death. It's very evident that he died lying facedown, and not on his back!"
"Do you mean to say, Mr. Turner," Bladeston said, "That the witness is lying about what she saw?"
"Not at all, Mr. Bladeston!" I replied, shaking my head. "I'm only saying that there's something to doubt about when the witness stumbled upon Mr. Fanners." I did another desk slam and looked Everett in the eye. "Ms. Everett! Did you come across Mr. Fanners in the VRT Room after he was killed, or only after he got knocked out?!"
"I… about the body position…" Everett tried to make excuses. "See, there was a power outage, was there not? The position… I probably just forgot because of the aftershock."
"If that were the case, then you're losing credibility, Ms. Everett!" I said.
OBJECTION!"Is that so?" Bladeston said, "Well, would you like to give us a basis on why you believe the witness is losing credibility?"
"That's simple," I said. "A while ago during the cross-examination, the witness clearly stated that she had a 'sharp memory'. Now that she's claiming to have forgotten the details because of the power outage, well… that's something that tells me her testimony can't be trusted!"
"T-That was only a fluke!" Everett snapped. "It must have slipped my mind!"
(Everett's beginning to get overly defensive about this… My best bet to progress this trial is to just keep on pressing!)
"I'll ask you again!" I said, and did a desk slam. "Did you really come across the victim after he was killed, or only after he got knocked out?!"
"Wha-What difference does it make?" Everett looked nervous. "Porter is still the guilty party!"I shook my head and said, "You're not answering the question properly, Ms. Everett. A while ago you stated that you were very sure of the time when you came across the victim: a few minutes past nine. But that can't be true. Mr. Fanners got knocked out at 8 PM and was killed at 8:20 PM! Therefore, when you saw the victim, it was actually ONE HOUR BEFORE the time you claimed it was!"
Everett didn't say anything. She continued to glare in my direction, but I felt that I was getting somewhere.
"This… This is just a pathetic joke, isn't it?" Everett said.
(Terra Everett… What exactly are you trying to hide?)
"Very well then," Bladeston suddenly said, "How do you explain the body's change in position from when the victim was unconscious to when the victim had actually died, Mr. Turner? I suppose you have a good explanation for that as well?"
"That's actually pretty easy," I said. "When Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners got into a fight, Mr. Porter shoved Mr. Fanners backwards. That explains why the victim was lying on his back after he fainted.""And do you have any evidence to support this?" Bladeston insisted.
TAKE THAT!"This is my evidence!" I said, presenting the orange goggles again. "You don't seem like yourself today, Mr. Bladeston. If I recall, it was you, who, only a few moments ago, asked me to present this very evidence that proves that the defendant attacked the victim. I'm sure you would've already known that based on Mr. Porter's fingerprints on these goggles, he pushed Mr. Fanners backwards!"
OBJECTION!"Yes, yes, I know!" Bladeston said, "But what I'm asking is how Mr. Fanners ended up facedown after his electrocution—"
"It's not for me to answer that," I said, and looked at Everett, who was starting to sweat. "How about we ask the person who was the first to stumble upon the victim? She was there 20 minutes before the actual murder. Maybe she had something to do with how the body changed position!"
"I have no idea what you're talking about!" Everett snapped."Mr. Turner!" the Judge exclaimed, "You're not suggesting that the one who murdered Mr. Fanners is…"
"THAT'S PREPOSTEROUS!" Everett yelled, finally losing her composure. I didn't even say anything yet, and there she blows: Volcano Everett erupted!
The crowd got noisy once more. The Judge had to bang his gavel around four times to get everyone to settle down.
"That's enough!" the Judge said. "Mr. Turner, are you saying that Ms. Everett… is the murderer?!"
"I didn't say anything yet, Your Honor," I admitted, "However the fact that she was inside the VRT Room at the time that the victim fell unconscious is kinda suspicious to me. Also, the fact that the body changed position seems sorta weird. Your Honor, if I may, I'd like to have Ms. Everett testify for the court again."
"What do you think, Mr. Bladeston?" the Judge asked Bladeston."It could end up being a waste of time," Bladeston shrugged. "This procedure is unnecessary, in my opinion, however I'll allow Mr. Turner to continue with his line of questioning provided that it progresses this trial."
"Alright then," the Judge said, "Ms. Everett, please give us another testimony."
"F-Fine…" Everett muttered.
"Alright, I'll admit it," Everett said, "I came across Mr. Fanners when he was still unconscious. I had a feeling that Porter had something to do with it, so I left the room and tried to chase after him. I asked Birchwood, the receptionist, if she saw Porter exit, and she said that he headed to the Employee Lounge. But when I got there, he was already gone."
"You just left Mr. Fanners there?" I asked.
"I was able to find someone to look after Mr. Fanners while I was out searching for that numbskull Porter," Everett said. "I was more focused on finding Porter so I could give him the pink slip for assaulting a company administrator! There! That's all I have to say."
"You returned to the scene of the crime some time later as well?" Bladeston asked.
"Yes," Everett said. "That was when the blackout occurred and I… panicked."
(Really? You sure you're telling the truth?)
"Mr. Turner, you may now cross-examine the witness," the Judge said.
"Yes, Your Honor," I said.
"I came across Mr. Fanners when he was still unconscious. I had a feeling that Porter had something to do with it, so I left the room and tried to chase after him."
"Why did you immediately assume that Mr. Porter had something to do with it?" I asked.
"Hmph. Short term memory?" Everett sneered. "Fanners and Porter weren't on good terms with each other, remember? And since I knew that Porter had a grudge against Fanners, and not to mention has a nasty temper, I hypothesized that the roughhousing was done by Porter."
(Oh, right. I forgot about that.)
"Please continue," Bladeston said.
"I asked Birchwood, the receptionist, if she saw Porter exit, and she said that he headed to the Employee Lounge."
"You were really chasing after Mr. Porter then, were you?" I asked.
"Of course!" Everett said. "That idiot's actions already cost the company quite enough, and I wanted to make sure he didn't compound them. Also, assault on a company administrator is an extreme offense at the Media Center!"
"So you were on pursuit of the defendant," Bladeston said. "How did your chase end?"
"But when I got there, he was already gone."
"Do you think the defendant purposefully ran away from the scene of the incident?" I asked.
"Isn't that a given already?" Everett sneered again. "Being guilty, that would have been, to him, the best thing to do."
"How long do you think it took you trying to track down Mr. Porter?" I asked.
"Ten minutes, more or less," Everett replied. "Had I been faster, I would've caught Porter!"
"But wasn't he arrested at the Media Center?" I pressed on. "He couldn't have been that far away, now could he?"
"The GaruruGame Media Center is a multilevel building with elevators serving as the only form of transport upwards or downwards," Bladeston interrupted. "The defendant could have been on any floor after leaving the Employee Lounge. Taking the elevator to check each floor one by one would have wasted more time… Like how this is going right now."
(Again with the "waste-of-time" thing! What's the rush?)
"Either way, I couldn't find Porter, and had no choice but to go back down," Everett said.
"And what about the victim?" the Judge asked.
"I was able to find someone to look after Mr. Fanners while I was out searching for that numbskull Porter."
"And who was this person?" I asked.
"Oh, just a teenager working part-time at the Media Center as an errand girl," Everett said blankly. "I didn't have enough time to look for a more professional one to look after Fanners, per se, so I had to settle with that girl."
(Errand girl, huh…?)
"Could you please describe this girl's appearance?" I asked.
"Oh, looking for more superfluous details, are we?" Everett said.
"Please just answer the question," I said, sweatdropping.
"Hmph. Whatever," Everett said. "I don't exactly remember what she looked like, but she has shoulder-length hair and was wearing a silly light purple hat."
"Anything else?" I pressed on.
"Bubblegum," Everett muttered without a thought. "I could tell she wasn't a true employee of the Media Center because of that. She kept chewing and chewing as I was giving her instructions. Quite annoying, really."
(Okay, now I know who she's talking about.)
"What was this girl's name?" I pressed further.
"How should I know?" Everett said. "I don't hinder myself with such miniscule details like the names of coffee-and-donut people. She was twenty minutes late, anyway."
"You just left Mr. Fanners in the care of someone you didn't even know?!" I yelled. "WHAT?!"
"I'd prefer you stop questioning my methodology," Everett glared at me again. "Besides…"
"I was more focused on finding Porter so I could give him the pink slip for assaulting a company administrator! There! That's all I have to say."
"You were more concerned about firing Mr. Porter?" I said.
"Yes," Everett admitted. "He was a nuisance to the company, and I thought the situation to be the best time to get rid of him. Moreover, I believed that Fanners would be just fine and awaken once I had gotten back… But that wasn't the case."
"This cross-examination is now over," the Judge said. "Mr. Turner, do you still find Ms. Everett's actions on the night of the murder suspicious?"
"Well…" I tried to think of something to say, but couldn't.
"Then your claim was unfounded," the Judge said. "You know what the consequence of that is, don't you?"
(Wha… NO! NOT AGAIN! WAIT!!!)
"Just a minute, Your Honor!" I said, trying to get myself out of receiving a penalty. "Actually, yes, I still think Ms. Everett's actions are suspicious!"
"What?" Everett said, "Oh, you just won't accept the fact that you're wrong, won't you? Pathetic."
"Griff, are you sure about this?" Eddy asked. "You know, if they find out you're bluffing, you're done for!"
"I'm just playing it as I go, okay?" I said, and turned to Everett and the Judge again. "I, uh, noticed something… uh… not right with the, er, testimony."
"Would you care to tell the court what it is you find 'not right', Mr. Turner?" Bladeston said.
"S-Sure," I said. "I'd like to ask Ms. Everett a question…"
"Oh? And that is?" Everett asked. I braced myself, hoping to get the response I needed.
"Do you bear a grudge against both Mr. Sander Porter and Mr. Toby Fanners?" I asked.
"A grudge?" Everett laughed. "Ha! Against those types of characters? Of course not!"
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
THAT'S A LIE!!!
WAHRHEITRON INTERROGATION PHASE
I had a sigh of relief after my trap worked. Thankfully, I remembered that little bit of info Eddy gave me that morning, though I had some doubts about its importance to the case earlier. All I had to do then was get Everett to tell the truth and bring her EP's, a total of 80, down to zero. It wasn't too easy, yet wasn't too hard. All I had to do was ask the right questions, make the right guesses, and present the right evidence.
- My treasured Attorney's Badge. Having it on makes me feel like a real man!
GUIDE MAP (Floor 1)
- A guide map for the ground floor of the GaruruGame Media Center.
GUIDE MAP (Floors 2-6)
- A guide map for floors 2 to 6.
- Snapshot of the victim, Toby Fanners, after death.
- The victim's orange goggles. Bears Porter's fingerprints and appears to have been shoved along with Fanners.
- A bottle of aluminum flake powder and a small brush. Used for finding fingerprints.
- Scans witnesses' hands and enters their fingerprint pattern into the memory. Used to match fingerprints to their respective owners.
- The machine that powers all the equipment inside the Virtual Reality Testing Room. Bears Porter's fingerprints.
- Fingerprint of the defendant, Sander Porter. Found on the main generator inside the VRT Room.
- Porter's Card Key. Opens the door to his office.
- A case for a universal media disk. Found inside a folded towel in Porter's office.
FANNERS TEAM PHOTO
- A crumpled old photo of Sander Porter, Toby Fanners, and an unknown woman.
MEDIA CENTER STATISTICS ARTICLE
- Both Sander Porter and Toby Fanners were admins two years ago, and apparently also achieved the highest possible employee effort points.
- The victim's Autopsy Report. Death was caused by electrocution.
VRT ROOM FLOOR PLANS
- Floor plans to the Virtual Reality Testing Room.
(C'mon, Court Record! Don't fail me now!)
"A lie?" Everett taunted, "Don't make me laugh. I have absolutely no reason to bear ill will towards the both of them!"
"Sorry, but I know that's not true!" I said. "The reason you bear a grudge against both the defendant and the victim is because…"
"They really were both nuisances."
"Both of them achieved something before you did."
"Both Mr. Fanners and Mr. Porter were able to achieve something important even before you were able to!" I said.
"… What of it, then?" Everett didn't budge, but I saw her Corpus Meter lose 5 EP's. "I am a high official. I need not bother myself with such minor annoyances like subordinates getting their own little doggie biscuits—"
"Subordinates?" I said, presenting the Media Center Statistics Article. "Maybe your memory really has gotten fuzzy, because according to these statistics two years ago, YOU were the subordinate… and you were working under the defendant, Sander Porter, who was then your superior!"
"HAGH!!!" Everett croaked, as she lost 10 EP's, "W-Where did you get those?!"
"Online archives!" I heard Eddy say in a smug way.
"I'd like to know," Bladeston stated, "Why exactly you insist on presenting unrelated evidence, Mr. Turner!"
"I'm afraid this evidence is anything but unrelated, Mr. Bladeston!" I retaliated. "See, the fact that the witness does bear ill will towards both the defendant and the victim leads me to this: she has a motive to frame the defendant!"
"Oh?" the Judge suddenly butted in, obviously trying to defend Everett. "And how would the witness possibly base a motive for framing the defendant on those statistics?!"
"I would like to find out for myself!" Everett said.
"Hmm. As do I," Bladeston added.
(Sheesh! What is this, "Gang-Up-On-The-Little-Defense-Attorney" Day:Sweatdrop:)
"The basis for the witness wanting to frame the defendant is also in this article," I said, presenting the evidence again. "Two years ago, both Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners were high administrators, and both were able to achieve the highest possible individual employee effort points. Currently, no one in the Media Center has been able to break that record, even Ms. Everett!"
"Grr…" Everett growled, trying to look unaffected, even though she lost another 10 EP's. "I… I don't care about those stupid things…"
"Nope, not this time!" I said, watching 5 more EP's drain away from Everett's Corpus Meter. "That expression you're wearing right now tells me that you do care about those figures, and that you do want to break that record!"
"Argh!" Everett croaked again, "I can't stand meddlesome fools like you! You want an answer? Fine! I'll admit it then! I do bear a grudge against those two, true, but that doesn't mean I had anything to do with this murder other than being a witness!"
"Sorry, but that's hard to believe as well—" I started to say, but Bladeston cut me off again.
"We are starting to drift away from the main matter here!" Bladeston said somewhat angrily, and did a desk slam. "Please get to the point!"
(Okay, okay! Geez, are you late for your date with your sword or something?)
"Alright, I'll get to the point," I nodded. "So we now know that, in actuality, the witness bore ill will towards both Mr. Porter and Mr. Fanners. This leads me to two conclusions: one, she wanted to frame Mr. Porter; and two, she did this… by murdering Mr. Fanners and putting the blame on Mr. Porter!"
"…" Everett stayed silent for a while, and let out a creepy witch cackle.
(GAH!!! Scary! I knew it! Everett's really a witch!)
"How amusing!" Everett began to leer again. "Looks like the tables have turned on you, Mr. Turner!"
(… Or not. Uh-oh, this doesn't look good:Gulp:)
"There is a flaw with your second claim, Mr. Turner," Bladeston said. "See, without having sufficient information on the murder weapon and not finding any fingerprints whatsoever on the victim's body other than those of the defendant's… the witness COULD NOT have been the murderer!"
"ACK!!!" I couldn't help but yell. "B-But… Maybe she wore gloves?"
"Oh, how I love how the tide rises and falls," Everett taunted as I saw myself lose 20 EP's. "Such a baseless assumption is why you are far from a professional! You might as well be that little boy who likes pretending to be a scientist that follows you around!"
"OKAY, NOW THAT'S GOING BELOW THE BELT!!!" Eddy tried to yell out to the entire courtroom, but I restrained him.
"We gotta stay calm, Eddy!" I said, even though I myself was getting pissed off at Everett's attitude.
"But Griff!" Eddy complained. "She's taking it too far! Implicate her now!"
(Argh… I wish I could… If Everett's not the murderer, then there's gotta be another reason why she moved the body! I know she did it!)
"Mr. Turner, I think I've had enough of these shenanigans for today!" the Judge said angrily. "You have failed to prove that Ms. Everett was associated with the murder in a way other than witnessing it. Perhaps holding you under contempt of court will be helpful towards your sudden impulses!"
"C-C-CONTEMPT?!" I screeched. "N-No, wait! I…"
(What the… Bladeston?!)
"Just a minute, Your Honor," Bladeston said calmly. "I would just like to ask the witness a question before you allow her to leave the witness stand. As I am already late for my prescheduled plans, I think we have enough time to spare for this…"
(Oh, so now we have more than enough time? What the hell is wrong with you, Bladeston?)
"Ah, all right," the Judge, ever on the prosecution's side, said. "What is this question you'd like to ask Ms. Everett?"
"Ms. Everett," Bladeston began, "You mentioned a while ago that you left the unconscious Ms. Fanners in the care of an errand girl. Are you absolutely certain that you did not alter the scene of the crime before leaving to chase after the defendant?"
"Of course I didn't alter anything!" Everett said. "Even if I did, I wouldn't have had any time to do so. I was preoccupied with catching Porter—"
"Yes, yes, I know," Bladeston interrupted. "But you see, I just noticed a rather interesting thing whilst I was checking my own evidence during the defense's time-buying…" He presented his own copy of the Crime Photo. "I'd like to turn everyone's attention to the background. Unless I am mistaken, to whom does that little strand of hair belong to?"
"H-Hair?" Everett said, confused.
"It's obviously feminine hair," Bladeston said, and pointed to a really tiny spot on the photo that I didn't notice before. "Would you care to enlighten us as to who the owner of that is…?"
"I… I…" Everett stammered, starting to look nervous again. "I have n-no idea who that belongs to…"
(Huh? The Wahrheitron's picking up a voice pattern fluctuation! That means…)
"That strand of hair belongs to YOU, Ms. Everett!" I yelled, pointing at Everett. "You WERE around at the victim's time of death!!!"
"GAH!!!" Everett shrieked as she lost a whopping 50 EP's and drained her Corpus Meter down to zero. "No, that's not true!!!"
The crowd was at it again…
(Did Bladeston just… help me out a while ago…?)
END WAHRHEITRON INTERROGATION PHASE
BANG! BANG! BANG!
"ORDER!!!" the Judge hollered. "Ms. Everett! Were you really at the scene of the crime when the victim was killed? And… More importantly! Mr. Bladeston, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were helping out the defense!"
(You make it sound like the defense is the bad guy, Your Honor…)
"I'm going to have to disagree with you, Your Honor," Bladeston said. "See, the little strand of hair in the photo that conveniently was able to benefit the defense is an oversight on both the prosecution and the investigation team's part. I merely wanted to point that out. It would have also helped me in making sure that the witness today would not lie under oath. Helping the defense was a mere coincidence."
"Ah, I see…" the Judge was at a loss for words. "So, Ms. Everett… You really were at the murder scene when the victim was finished off by the electric shock?"
"That isn't true!" Everett said, and got overly defensive again. "B-Besides… Mr. Fanners had been dead for over 40 minutes. And I had returned there from my chase later than that… Someone else could have left that strand of hair there! I… I, um… I re… re… refuse… to test—"
(Oh no! She's gonna refuse to testify! I need to act quick!)
"Now is not the time to just stay quiet, Ms. Everett!" I said. "You—"
"N-No, wait," Everett suddenly said, and began to look more confident. "I take back my refusal to testify… Actually, I just remembered something… about that errand girl…"
(Shoot! She found a loophole!)
"Remember when I said that she was 20 minutes late?" Everett said. "Hmph… I don't suppose the defense is going to need higher mathematics for this one. I left at around 8, and the girl arrived at 8:20."
"8:20 is the victim's time of death!" the Judge said. "You can't be saying…"
"Yes, Your Honor!" Everett said. "That errand girl with the silly light purple hat… is the real murderer!!!"
"B-But… who is this errand girl?" the Judge asked.
"It slipped my mind earlier, but I remember her name now!" Everett said with a sinister grin. "CASSANDRA PORTER!!!"
"C-CASSANDRA?!" I yelled in shock.
"P-PORTER?!" the Judge was shocked as well. "Is she… a relative of the defendant?"
"Yes, Your Honor," Everett replied. "She's actually the defendant's niece."
"Witness, I am not sure you understand how this courtroom works," Bladeston said. "This 'Cassandra Porter'… The prosecution denies your implication of this person as the real murderer. We have received no information whatsoever on her relevance to this case. In fact, we have received no information on her at all. You cannot just walk in and say that this person is the real murderer!"
"Y-yes, I have to agree with Mr. Bladeston," the Judge said reluctantly.
"Hmph," Everett sneered, and looked at Bladeston. "I'm not sure you understand what your duties as a prosecutor are."
"You don't understand my point," Bladeston said coolly. "Under these circumstances, this trial cannot continue. Both the defense and the prosecution will need more time to prepare for this case, what with this sudden bringing-up of the defendant's niece."
"Y-Yeah, what he said!" I blurted out. "We, uh… Need more, er, time to prepare!"
"Hmph…" Everett muttered. "Incompetent fools."
"I believe this is all we can do for today," the Judge said. "In lieu of this unexpected circumstance, I shall extend this trial one more day. I trust both the prosecution and the defense will have ample time to organize their cases?"
"Yes, Your Honor," Bladeston said.
"And what about you, Mr. Turner?" the Judge eyed me suspiciously.
"Uh… Yes, Your Honor," I said.
"Very well!" the Judge said, and banged his gavel. "Court is now adjourned!"
July 25, 1:34 PM; District Court, Defense Lobby
"That sneaky, no-good grouch Everett!" Eddy said, "How dare she put the blame on Cassandra Porter? She didn't even do anything!"
"Hey, I agree with the nooblet!" I heard Porter say.
"M-Mr. Porter!" Eddy said. "You heard about what happened during the trial?"
"Yeah, I heard about it!" Porter fumed. "That friggen witch Terra Everett's gone way outta line this time! Why, if I was still a high admin… I'd not only give her fifty infraction points, hell no! I'd make sure she got every pink slip in the Media Center, kick her out, and have her transferred to the branch in Mojave Desert! What the friggen hell did my niece ever do to her, huh?!"
(Boy, he sure is angry…)
"Well, she admitted that she had a grudge against you and Mr. Fanners," I said. "Maybe she's just trying to think of a way to get back at you or something."
"Well, why'd she hafta involve Cassandra?!" Porter bellowed.
"Well at least you're not under suspicion anymore, right?" Eddy said in attempt to calm down Porter.
"…" Porter glared at Eddy like a bull staring at a red sheet of cloth.
"… Or maybe not," Eddy said, and hid behind me.
"Look, we didn't like how things turned out either," I said. "But right now we need to make the best use of our time and find all the evidence we can to figure out who the real murderer is."
"Ain't it obvious?!" Porter growled. "Terra Everett!"
"Yeah, but nothing was found at the crime scene that could incriminate her, except for that strand of hair," I said. "And even then, that's not enough since we're not really sure about it yet."
"I swear…" Porter said again, "If I was still a high admin… I'd skin that snooty, good-for-nothin'-but-drillin'-holes-on-rotating-chairs woman alive!"
(Note to self: do not go anywhere near Sander Porter whenever he threatens to skin someone alive. :Gulp:)
"Say…" Eddy suddenly said, "How come you were demoted from being a high admin anyway, Mr. Porter?"
"… That's really nothing important to talk about," Porter said. "Right now I suggest you two go find Cassandra!"
Porter was really angry at the time, so we had no choice but to find Cassandra. I had my suspicions that the police already arrested her and put her in the Detention Center, so Eddy and I decided to go there first. A lot of things still bugged me, though, like what exact role Terra Everett played in that murder, why Porter was demoted from his previous position and how he and Fanners stopped being friends, why Bladeston was acting so weird during the trial, and that unknown woman from the photo…
(I think I need an aspirin.)