"Damn, it's freakin' cold out here," said Officer Watters of the NYPD Harbor Patrol Unit.
"It's the end of November, it's supposed to be cold," said his partner Officer Farris.
"Not this cold!" said Watters. "January and Feb are going to be rough."
Officer Thomas Watters brought his cup of coffee to his mouth and gently blew away the steam. Of course, the boiling cup of coffee was still too hot to drink, even in the freezing dawn.
"Here she comes," said Farris.
A small tugboat was pulling into the dock. Officers Watters and Farris had been waiting for its arrival for the past ten minutes. As the tug's crew walked onto the dock, the two officers approached the only male of the crew.
"Captain Shee-uh?" said Watters.
The male took a second to register that he was being called upon. He turned around to face the officers.
"Sir, please come with me."
"Is something wrong?" the male asked.
The captain's three crewmembers were watching to see what was going on.
"Sir, I'm placing you under arrest for the murder of Francis Marshall. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say can and will be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?"
Captain Vincent Shea nodded his head. He was well aware of his rights. He was placed under arrest by Officers Watters and Farris and taken to holding.
"Your Honor, the people request remand," said Catherine Peale.
"Your Honor," objected Jimmy Brogan. "Mister Shea is a not a flight risk."
"He is being tried for murder of a city official."
"Captain Shea owns a seafaring vessel. The murder occurred five days ago. If he had the intention of fleeing, he would not have returned."
"All the more reason why we can't allow bail. Who's to say he won't flee after today."
"Captain Shea is also a former officer of the court. I think we can trust him."
Vincent Shea had been an attorney for three years and worked at one of the high powered firms of Manhattan before the economic crisis of 2008 caused major downsizing at his firm.
The judge flipped through a few papers.
"Bail is set a one million dollars," the judge ordered, and banged her gavel. "Impound the captain's vessel. And put on a monitoring anklet. Next!"
"Who do we have here?" asked Terrence Edgecomb as he looked over the file describing the suspect of the murder of Marshall. "The name looks familiar."
"He was one of the office's summer interns several years ago. Back in summer '04. He worked in the environmental crimes division."
"We have an environmental crimes division?" asked a surprised Edge.
"It's some weird support office for the State Attorney General's office."
"I'm sure that's not where I know this name," said Edge. "Any relation to Shea Stadium, the former Mets stadium?"
"Not that I know of. Pronounced the same; rhymes with bay or may. Family is semi-wealthy. He went to law school at Columbia. Went to a corporate firm and was a litigation associate there for two and a half years before being downsized."
"Why'd he pick Brogan. This kid must have more powerful connections."
"Brogan was his mentor during one of his defense clinics while he was a second year law student."
"I see," said Edge. "Well, keep me informed."
"We're strong on motive," said Peale. "And we have the opportunity."
"We just need the weapon," said Chad Griffin, a young Assistant D.A. and Peale's current underling.
Vincent Shea was the last person to see Francis Marshall alive. The two of them had dinner at Marshall's apartment in the Upper East Side a few days before Thanksgiving. Marshall had been Shea's department chair at the powerhouse law firm Sullivan Armstrong. The two of them had been relatively friendly even though Marshall made the decision to cut Shea at one of the firm's three rounds of downsizing. Or, "rightsizing" as management called it.
"Well, since the guy's been out on the Hudson for a few days after the murder, I suppose that gun is gone by now."
"If I had been fired from a 200k a year job, I'd be pretty ticked off as well," said Griffin.
With bonuses a third year associate at one of New York's top firms would probably have earned over 200 thousand. Some of the prosecutors at the D.A.'s office thought that was ridiculous. Catherine Peale never gave it a second thought. She loved her job and knew she was doing something much more worthwhile than helping a couple of mega-corporations merge.
"Found the gun!" said Griffin.
A police sweep of the area turned up the murder weapon at a dumpster near Marshall's apartment.
"That's interesting…" said Peale.
"Good news, isn't it?"
"We'll see after the lab techs look over it."
"What are you worried about?" asked Griffin.
"Well, that makes no sense. Shea would have probably disposed of the weapon somewhere out at sea. He's smarter than this."
"Maybe he just panicked. He wasn't thinking straight. Or maybe he just didn't want to get caught with a weapon while walking somewhere between the apartment and his boat. It's not too much of a stretch."
"Right," said Catherine with a forced smile.
"I had no reason to kill him," said Shea.
"You had hundreds of thousands of reasons to kill the guy," said Alejo Salazar, one of Jimmy Brogan's senior associates.
"Look, my family has money. So what if I was laid off? I'm ten times happier doing what I do now. Feeling the sea breezes. Captain of my own boat. That's the life."
"And yet, you went to work for Sullivan Armstrong in the first place," said Brogan. "I'm sure there was a reason."
"Okay, fine. I wanted to prove to my parents that I could make millions on my own. But so what? It didn't happen. I don't care, and my parents certainly don't. All my mom ever wanted was for me to be happy. And that's where I am."
"You were the last person in his apartment before his body was found by his family. That doesn't look good."
"Then look into his family!" said Shea. "Look, I didn't do this. I wouldn't kill him. We were friends. I've had dinner at his place before. Why not kill him before? Why now?"
"Good news," said Lena Boudreaux, another of Jimmy Brogan's associates. "They found the murder weapon."
"And…?" asked Brogan.
"Our client's prints are not on the gun. However, there were partials and smudges of other prints."
"Gotcha!" said a smiling Jimmy Brogan. He clapped his hands together and then slam dunked a tiny nerf basketball into the hoop he had in his office.
"Dr. Emile, how long have you been running the NYPD's forensics lab?" asked Assistant D.A. Catherine Peale.
"I have been a shift captain for 10 years. I am the presently the deputy director of the lab and I have been in that position for the past year and a half." He was sitting on the witness stand and kept looking back and forth between the judge, the jury, and Peale. Soon, he decided to stick to looking in Peale's direction.
"Please tell us your conclusions about the weapon the police recovered from near the murder scene."
"Sure. The weapon had been fired and ballistics confirmed it was the same weapon that killed the victim, Mr. Marshall. We were able to lift several prints from the weapon."
"Did any of them match the defendant's prints?"
"What does that tell you about the shooter?"
"Does it exclude the defendant?"
"But you have prints on the weapon and they do not match his."
"The defendant could have worn a glove."
"The defense has argued that in order for Mr. Shea to be guilty of this murder, he would have had to wipe the gun of his fingerprints and then somehow convinced someone else to hold the gun so their prints would get on them. What do you think of this?" asked Peale.
"We also found various smudges on the weapon. That indicates to me that someone may have held the gun after the prints were on. Meaning, a person held the gun and their prints got on the gun. Then, a second, perhaps gloved, person held that same gun, and smudged some of the previous prints."
"Thank you, sir. I have no more questions."
"Counsel, cross-exam?" said the Judge to Jimmy Brogan.
Brogan leapt up from his seat.
"Thank you your honor."
"That's an interesting theory you came up with, doctor," said Brogan. "How do you know that's what happened?" he said with a confused look on his face.
"I don't. It's just a possible scenario."
"So… it's just as likely that nobody wore any gloves? That there was one person who held the gun, and perhaps shot it, or didn't. And then another person got their hands on the gun and smudged the first person's prints. Is that true?"
"Let me ask you this: how many different prints did you find on the gun?"
"By that, you mean, several different people?"
"At least two different people."
"Were you able to identify those prints?
"Thank you. No further questions."
"Vinny is very happy with his life," said Carol Kline, Vincent's fiancée, on the witness stand. "He loves what he does. And we've been engaged for a year. Our wedding is scheduled for February, in between both of our birthdays."
"Is Vincent mad at his former boss for letting him go?" asked Jimmy Borgan.
"Maybe at first, but not anymore. He's much happier now. In fact, he often says that being let go was the best thing that could've happened to his career. He didn't much like being an attorney at Sullivan Armstrong. They paid a reasonable severance. We were more than okay financially."
"Would Vincent ever hurt anybody?"
"Never," said Carol adamantly. "Once, there was a roach in the kitchen of our apartment. You wouldn't expect such things in luxury buildings, but apparently once in a blue moon, when it rains extremely heavily, a roach or two will climb up the pipes. I was freaking out! Vincent was a little freaked out too. But he managed to turn a plastic cup upside down and trap the little sucker. He wouldn't kill it! He slid a piece of paper under the cup to trap it and then used scotch tape and taped the paper to the cup. He then threw it into a trash bag and into the dumpster. But he didn't kill it."
"Has Vincent ever gotten mad?"
"I'm sure he has, but never violent. You can ask anyone who knows him."
"Thank you, Ms. Kline."
Jimmy Brogan returned to the defense counsel table and Catherine Peale took her turn at cross-examination.
"Ms Kline, when did you meet Mr. Shea?"
"We went to grad school together. He was taking classes on the weekends while working his job at the firm."
"I see. And what type of classes did you both take."
"Anatomy and physiology."
"Did you both have anatomy lab together?"
"With human cadavers?"
"So is it fair to say that Mr. Shea is comfortable around dead bodies?"
"No. In fact, he almost puked at the sight! Our first time in the lab, he turned pale as a ghost! Our professor had warned all of the students that if they felt queasy, they should get down onto their knees so that if they fainted or fell, it would be a substantially shorter fall. Vinny joked that he should crawl around the lab just in case."
"But he didn't?"
"No. He tried his best. You could tell he didn't like it though. As the professor passed us some of the organs, and I was about to pass him a lung, he said 'I see with my eyes, not with my hands!' I can't believe he's such a baby."
Carol seemed to be having a pleasant effect on the jury. Although one could say she was insulting her fiancé, she was a loving person and made Shea a human being.
"Prior to meeting Mr. Shea, do you know what his career goals were? I mean, he didn't always dream of being an attorney, right?"
"No. I believe he wanted to be a sailor, which is what he does now."
"Specifically, he wanted to be a naval officer. Is that correct?"
"That sounds right. Well… first when he was very very little, he wanted to be an astronaut. Then a navy fighter pilot. Then a submarine officer. So yes."
"Does he have military training?"
"I don't think so…"
"I think he said he had a medical condition that prevented him from be commissioned as an officer. It's the navy's loss."
"Actually, when he was in undergrad, he was an ROTC cadet for two years before he dropped out of the program because of his medical condition. Are you surprised to learn that?" asked Peale.
"Oh. Right. I knew that. I've met one of his friends who is an Army captain. He served in Iraq a few years back."
"Do you know if Mr. Shea has ever handled a gun?"
"I think so. An M-16 rifle, I think. He told me about it. He's not a very good shot."
"So, Ms. Kline. Your fiancé has training in handling weapons and wanted to be a military officer, meaning he would have been comfortable killing someone he deemed a threat."
"Objection!" said Brogan as he stood up. "Your honor, is the prosecution seriously comparing joining the military with murdering a former colleague?" said a disgusted Brogan.
"Counselor," said the Judge to Peale, "I get your point, but please be careful how you say it. Continue."
"Ms. Kline, is it true that Mr. Shea has the training to shoot someone and would shoot someone he deemed necessary to shoot?"
"Well, I guess. But he would never shoot an unarmed person. It's not in him."
THE CLOSING ARGUMENTS
Vincent Shea is happy where he is: Being the captain of his own tugboat, and sailing around on the Hudson. Everyone around him could tell you that he was happier now than when he was an attorney at Sullivan Armstrong. Yes, his job paid him well. Very well. And yes, he had made a long time investment spending three years in law school. But in the end, being an attorney just wasn't what he wanted. While you might disagree, and the prosecution might disagree, and perhaps even I might disagree, Vincent Shea was happy to no longer be an attorney.
Vincent Shea remained friends with Francis Marshall, even after he was laid off. They hung out on multiple occasions and had dined together a few times prior. Mr. Shea may have been upset about being laid off at first. Who wouldn't be? But it had negligible financial impact on him. He ahd substantial savings, his parents supported him after the incident and helped him buy his tugboat. He was able to keep his luxury condo. He was doing just fine. In fact, he was making close to six figures once again as a tugboat captain. Most importantly, he understood that the layoff was not personal. He knew that his boss, Mr. Marshall, had to lay off dozen of junior associates because of the downturn in the economy.
The prosecution would have you believe that Vincent killed his boss in some type of premeditated scheme for revenge. That he planned it all, somehow obtained a gun with several different unknown fingerprints on it, then wore a glove and killed his friend. Then, instead of dumping the weapon in the Hudson River, where he worked, he leaves it in a nearby dumpster. Does that make sense?
The prosecution's theory is that someone wearing a glove smudged fingerprints that were on the gun prior to the shooting. That may be. But it's their burden to prove that this mysterious gloved person was Vincent Shea. The prosecution didn't even come close.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I know that you will all come to the right conclusion and find Vincent Shea not guilty of this crime.
This case may seem complicated, but in fact, it is very simple. It's a tale that's old as time. Person is wronged. Person seeks revenge. Period.
So, let me sum up the major points:
One. The defendant was laid off by Mr. Marshall. Now, maybe he knows it was because of the economy. Maybe he forgave Marshall. Or… maybe he was mad, like the rest of us would be. So what if Mr. Shea was financially secure. Pure unadulterated hatred has led to murders regardless of the absense of financial reasons.
Two. The defendant is trained in the use of weaponry, and has the mindset to use force when it is deemed appropriate. Who is to say that he didn't deem revenge an appropriate use of force?
Three. Most importantly, the defendant was the last person to see the victim alive. They had a meal together. He was seen entering the victim's apartment building. He admits he was there. He is seen leaving the building around 8:30 pm and less than an hour later, the victim's family finds the victim there dead. Nobody else was seen exiting the building in that time period.
As a person, I happen to like the defendant. He appears to be an intelligent and charming individual. But the facts are the facts. I am sure after some deliberation, you will come back and find the defendant guilty of the murder of Frank Marshall.
"How's everything at your new job?" asked Shea.
"Great, I really enjoy no longer being in the rat race at Sullivan," said Marshall. He had recently joined New York City's revenue office as the agency's general counsel. "How about you?"
"Not bad," said Shea. "Business isn't quite as great as it could be, but it's fun being on the water. I wouldn't trade it."
"Not even for a corner office on the 33rd floor?" asked Marshall.
"No," said Shea. He smiled. He remembered that his old office on the 28th floor had a view of the Hudson River. He would often look out the window at the various ships moving up and down the river and wonder what his life would be like if he were the captain of one of the giant cruise ships.
Someone knocked on the door. Marshall rose from the dining table and threw his napkin which was previously on his lap down next to his plate.
Carol was at the door and barged into the apartment extremely angry.
"You son-of-a-bitch!" she shouted and pushed Marshall into one of the walls.
Carol had just found out from one of her friends at Sullivan that Francis Marshall personally "saved" two associates from his department who happened to be children of friends that he went to law school with. Both of these associates had lower performance reviews than Shea and if they had been let go, Shea probably would not have been.
Carol pulled out a small pistol and aimed it at Marshall. She had been wearing gloves because it was so cold outside. She had just bought the pistol from a drug dealer less than an hour ago.
"You think it's right to kill the career of a hard-working associate just so save the careers of the kids of two of your buddies?" she screamed. It was generally accepted that any junior associates who had been laid off from the corporate firms were pretty much never going to find their way back, regardless of how well the economy recovered. Those laid off were often coined the forgotten generation or the "lost" generation. The layoffs fell heavily on the young tiers, and they would be replaced by people coming out of law school, if the firms hired at all.
Shea was startled by the unfolding events and tried to calm his fiancée down.
"Carebear," he said. "It's not his fault." He had two hands up in front of him trying to signal that Carol should put the gun down.
"Yes it is!" Carol insisted. She was crying and was shaking.
Marshall saw that Carol was now looking in Shea's direction. Marshall thought Carol was too unpredictable, and decided to take matters into his own hands. He lunged at Carol and tried to take the gun away from her. As they were wrestling on the ground, the gun fired once. Marshall was mortally wounded.
Carol was on the floor, sobbing. Shea rushed to her side and tried to calm her down.
He put both of his hands on her face, and looked into her crying eyes.
"Carebear, listen to me," Shea said softly but forcefully. "You're going to go to your sorority sister's apartment on the 12th floor, you got that?"
Carol nodded as she heard what Shea had to say.
"You're going to stay there until tomorrow afternoon. Okay? You stay there until the police find the body. Don't let anyone see you. Stay there until tomorrow and then leave through the building's freight elevator, okay?"
"I'll take care of this. You'll be okay. I'll take care of this."
Carol was still crying, but she ran out of the apartment.
Shea walked over to the dinner table and grabbed one of the linen napkins. He wrapped the napkin around the gun and then placed it into his coat pocket.
Marshall was still alive, but would soon pass. Shea walked over to him.
"Francis. I'm really sorry this happened. Carol is a really not like this," said Shea. He too now had tears in his eyes.
"Vincent, it's not your fault," said a dying Francis, his words stuttering.
"I'm so sorry," said Shea one last time before Francis passed. Shea put his hand to Francis' eyes and closed them.
It took Shea a couple of minutes to compose himself. He cleaned his face, combed his hair, and straightened out his disheveled clothing. He made sure there was no blood on him anywhere or on his clothing or footwear.
15 minutes later, the building's lobby camera showed Shea walking out nonchalantly.