It came down to seconds.
Gumshoe had really hoped to enter the courtroom without much notice, to somehow discreetly hand Wright the information he'd recovered and – an even bigger miracle – Wright be able to understand his handwriting. Unfortunately, there was no time for that. As he'd walked in, the gavel was in the judge's hand, and the look of sheer disappointment on both the lawyer and his assistant's faces told the detective everything he needed to know.
"Wait!" he yelled. Just like the day before, all eyes turned to him, but this time he was much less concerned about it. "Please, I've found some more evidence, you can't declare a verdict yet sir! This proves what happened!"
He pointedly ignored where Franziska was, eyes locked on Maggey. "Your honour, these files explain everything," he said. "Could we have a recess, just a quick one?"
He was thankful that the judge seemed to appreciate the drama of the situation. However, they weren't given the recess. Franziska spoke before he could even consider it.
"If this is such… decisive evidence, then you won't need a recess, will you Scruffy?" Her whip cracked against the bench in front of her, lips turn upwards in a patronising manner. "You have two minutes to explain what the foolery you've discovered is."
"The witness has a motive," the detective began, wasting no time. He'd learned from experience that Franziska's threats were always serious.
"Oh? What exactly is this motive, then?" the judge asked, wide-eyed and attentive.
"It turns out that both him and the victim were training to be software engineers at two of the state's top colleges," Gumshoe explained.
Franziska waved her finger in the air, expression deepening. "That's not a motive, Scruffy," she said, as though she was explaining it to a child. "Merely a connection, most likely a coincidence."
"I'm not done yet, sir," he replied. He found himself beaming. "Both of them were the top students of their class, and were known pretty well among their community. But that's still not everything." He tapped his noise. "Both of them applied for a position in Blue Screens, Inc., and apparently the results depended on who scored better on their final exam. Only one would get in."
"…He was getting rid of the competition?" Phoenix asked. He was now looking more hopeful; relaxed even.
"What a foolish concoction of a motive," Franziska responded. Gesturing to Randall, she shook her head. "Would you have killed somebody to receive your position as a detective in this division, knowing that other opportunities lay out there?" Scoffing slightly, her whip attacked her desk ferociously. "That was a poor example. How you received your position as a detective at all is a mystery."
Ignoring her, Gumshoe continued. "More importantly, Magg- the defendant couldn't have killed the victim! When the witness left, he borrowed a book, right? Each librarian has a separate computer that keeps track of who borrows what… what would happen if it was Maggey who had scanned his book?"
Franziska stepped back, the weight of his words hitting her. "N-No…"
"That's where I recognised him from!" Maggey exclaimed, rising. "Now I remember! Just before I went out the back to fetch something, he came and borrowed a book, sir!"
"Scruffy! Do you have the evidence to back up what you're saying?" Franziska tugged at the whip in her grasp, her rage bubbling. "Evidence is the only thing this court will be convinced by, not your babbling!"
That was the trickiest part.
"Maggey's computer was wiped," he said regretfully. "I called the library just before arriving here and they told me that the whole system has been removed from hers. But the thing is, that just proves things even more, doesn't it? Who could have known what to do in order to clear a whole program and all the records with it?"
"Fool. That means nothing!" Franziska was fast recovering from her shock, gaining ground. "Computers are always at risk of glitches and viruses! The only 'proof' about what you're arguing are the defendant's words just now, and of course she would say that! It doesn't mean that Miss Byrde really checked out the book."
"Yes it does." Phoenix stood up straighter, smiling as he locked eyes with Gumshoe. "A process of elimination, Prosecutor von Karma. If the book was borrowed and there's no record of it on any other computers, then it must have been Maggey's computer that scanned it. This creates a massive hole in the witness's testimony!"
The courtroom was suddenly in a state of chaos, and Gumshoe managed a look at Maggey. Her eyes were bright and hopeful, and that was worth everything in the world. They were so close…!
"Wait!" Randall rose in panic, looking back and forth between the prosecution and defense. "Just because a computer was wiped it doesn't mean I did it! It doesn't mean I killed someone either!"
The judge nodded. "I do have to agree here. While I understand where you're coming from in terms of a motive, it doesn't seem strong enough to kill somebody over."
Gumshoe felt his blood run cold. He opened his mouth, but quickly discovered he had nothing to say.
"See? Nothing but foolery," Franziska told them. She smiled over at the judge. "I'm pleased Your Honour has such a sound judgement on the matter."
"Hang on." That came from Phoenix. He was staring intently at a file about Randall, a realisation dawning on him. "I thought your name sounded strange from the beginning… Randall Ladnar. Now I know why." He looked up urgently, fire in his eyes. "It's the same backwards as it is forwards, a palindrome!"
"And that means what precisely, Phoenix Wright?" Franziska snapped.
"As weird as it sounds, most Blue Screens employees have palindrome names. Lisa Basil and Glen Elg, for example. But Randall Landar's not the name this witness was born with." He checked the file again. "Until a month ago, he was Randall Schafer." His hands slammed against his desk. "This man is a complete and utter Blue Screens fan boy; he'd do anything to join the company, even change his name!"
A sullen silence filled the room for a minute, in which all heads turned to the witness. He had a blank look on his face.
"It. Proves. Nothing." The crack of Franziska's whip brought everybody's attention back to her.
"Witness," the judge said cautiously, "do you have anything to say in response to the accusation against you?
Slowly, a small smile crept to Randall's lips. "I'm sorry. That data is SuPer Admin Restricted Desktop Access password-protected," he recited, voice free of emotion.
"Nick! He's just like the robot lady!" Gumshoe heard Maya whisper.
"You do not have the correct access code to retrieve the information in the file labelled; 'Response to Accusation'. A further search of the hard-drive has confirmed that such a file does not exist. Please try again." Randall's eyes had now become glassy.
"What about a file for murder, pal?! And lying about it, too!" Gumshoe almost yelled, chest heaving. He couldn't believe what he'd had done, all for a stupid job! Maggey could have been falsely sent to prison because of him.
There was a pause, and Randall frowned. "File labelled 'Murder and Lying' has been found. Please stand by as we try to access the information it contains." He remained frozen for another moment, and eventually shook his head. "I'm sorry. That data is SuPer Admin Restricted Desktop Access password-protected. You do not have the correct access code to retrieve the information in the file labelled; 'Murder and Lying'. Please try again."
"…If the file exists in the first place, then I'd say that's a confession Your Honour," Phoenix stated.
"Oddly enough, I think you're correct," the judge mused, staring at the witness in wonder. "I believe a verdict under these strange circumstances can be safely handed down. This court finds the defendant, Maggey Byrde… not guilty."
And those words were the sweetest Gumshoe had ever heard.
A/N: Heyo! Sorry for the late update, school's just gone back so I'm trying to work out a balance in my life.
I hoped you've enjoyed, because there's only one chapter left. I'm pretty sure you can all guess what happens, but I hope you'll stay tuned regardless.