Palms sweating, she reached into the right pocket of her black hoodie. Her fingers felt around until they found something smooth and hard. She clasped her hand around a small, round pin and took it out of her pocket. With her thumb, she rubbed the ridged frame of a little badge reminiscent of a sunflower. I'm ready for this. Dahlia Hawthorne attached her attorney's badge to her lapel.

"Hey Dollie, feeling nervous?" Dahlia turned around and saw her older cousin Mia Fey standing behind her.

"Heh, me nervous? Not today, Fey," Dahlia said, hoping she didn't look nervous.

"Just checking," Mia said, smiling. "Are you ready for the trial, then? Your first client's counting on you."

"I know my client is innocent," Dahlia said, meaning every word. "All I have to do is prove it. And as long as I have my badge, I can do that."

"I suppose so," Mia said, uncertainty in her voice. "But maybe you could have worn more appropriate clothing; this is your first trial after all."

Dahlia shrugged. She was wearing a black hoodie over a blue shirt and red pants. "This is what I'd wear to second trial, my third trial, my eighth trial, why make it any different for my first one?"

Mia opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted by a female voice with a heavy southern drawl.

"Hey y'all!" Lotta Hart came bursting into the defendant's lobby of the courthouse.

"Hello, Lotta," Dahlia said, conversationally. "How have you been?"

"It wasn't me! I didn't kill nobody!" Lotta said, her temper as red hot as her voluminous puff of curly hair.

Mia nonchalantly stepped back. Dahlia glared at her for a brief second, then turned her attention to her client. "Of course you didn't Lotta. That's why I took your defense, remember?"

Lotta crossed her arms and pouted. "Yeah, but those darn officers locked me up anyway. What's their problem? I was just minding my own business then BAM! 'You're under arrest,' they said. I'm no crook!"

"Don't worry," Mia said, in a calm voice. "Dahlia knows what she's doing, right Dahlia?"

"Sure, you can bet on it," Dahlia said. "I spent all night preparing for this case. I can do this."

"You'd better!" Lotta said.

A few minutes later, the judge slammed his gavel on the podium. "Court is now in session for the trial of Lotta Hart."

"The prosecution is ready, Your Honor," Winston Payne said in his whiny voice.

"The defense is ready," Dahlia said.

"Forgive me, but are you Ms. Hawthorne?" the judge said to Dahlia.

"Um, yes, Your Honor," Dahlia said, wondering why he asked.

"I'm sorry, it's just I've never seen a defense attorney wear such… casual clothes during a trial," the judge said.

"Told you," Mia said.

Dahlia ignored Mia. "My clothing has nothing to do with the trial, Your Honor. Honestly, I've seen lawyers wear much more unique clothing then this."

"Heh, kids these days. Don't even know how to dress properly like they did in my days," Payne said, making his oddly styled hair bounce.

"Not many people dress in petticoats like they must have in your day," Dahlia said.

"Resorting to those tactics already, Ms. Hawthorne?" Payne said.

"Dahlia, don't let him get a rise out of you," Mia said. "He's called the Rookie Killer for a reason."

Dahlia huffed, but stayed quiet.

"If we could get back to the trial," the judge said. "Mr. Payne, your opening statement?"

"Yes, Your Honor," Payne said. "A murder occurred at Ivy University, a student named Billy Bob Johns. However, he was studying performance arts to be a magician so everyone called him by his stage name Max Galactica. Here is a picture of how the crime scene looked when the police found it.

"The court excepts this into evidence," the judge said.

"The murder weapon was atroquinine, which was found in the victim's drink and inside the victim himself. Also found on the body was a Ten of Hearts card with a message written on it," Payne said.

"What was this message?" the judge said.

"Here's your hearts back," Payne said, making his hair bounce again. "The victim used to date the defendant, you see. One of the victim's gimmicks was to have someone pick a card, and would guess it. The card's suit was always hearts, so he would say the person had "stolen his hearts." Apparently he did that quite often with the defendant before their relationship ended."

"Is that why you arrested Lotta?" Dahlia said. "That's hardly incriminating."

"That's not the only reason we arrested the defendant," Payne said. "She has a motive, and there was a witness who saw the defendant poison the victim's drink."

"Really now?" the judge said.

"Yes, but before I call her I'd like to call the detective in charge of the case to the stand," Payne said.

Moments later, a scruffy-looking detective with a big old coat stood behind the witness stand. Payne asked for his name and occupation.

"Dick Gumshoe, Homicide Detective," Gumshoe said.

"Detective, please testify about your investigation," said the judge.

"Yes sir, Your Honor," Gumshoe said.


Students at Ivy University were having a get together outside campus, that's where the victim died.

The time of death was between 8:30 and 9PM and we found traces of poison in his drink.

Also found at the scene was a Ten of Hearts card with "Here's your hearts back," written on it.

The victim died away from the crowd, near a bunch of speakers, so no one actually saw him die.

However, several of the other students said that the defendant had been fighting with the victim lately.

The judge nodded his head. "I see. Ms. Hawthorne, you may begin your cross-examination."

"Yes, Your Honor," Dahlia said. Here goes nothing.


Students at Ivy University were having a get together outside, that's where the victim died.

"Hold it!" Dahlia said. "You're saying the victim died at a party?"

"Yeah, a bunch of student were out on campus," Gumshoe said. He lifted his chin and smiled. "Maybe we could do something like that this Friday, pal. You are quite the beautiful lady I must say."

Dahlia crossed her arms over her chest and stepped back. My first cross-examination and I get hit on. "Err, sorry I can't. But Mia's available," Dahlia said, gesturing to her co-counsel.

Mia slapped Dahlia upside the head. "Ow!"

"Perhaps we could put this conversation on hold and get back to the testimony?" the judge said.

"Okay, I mean yes Your Honor," Dahlia said, trying to casually rub her head.

The time of death was between 8:30 and 9PM and we found traces of poison in his drink.

"Hold it!" Dahlia said. "Where is this cup the victim drank the poison from?"

"Right here, pal. But it's actually the victim's water bottle," Gumshoe said and showed the court a purple plastic water bottle.

"The court accepts this into evidence," the judge said. "What else did you find?"

Also found at the scene was a Ten of Hearts card with "Here's your hearts back," written on it.

"Hold it!" Dahlia said. "This is suspected to be a reference to the victim's "you've stolen my heart" gimmick, correct?"

"Sure is, pal," Gumshoe said. He opened his mouth again and Dahlia gave him a warning glare. The detective caught her drift and closed his mouth.

"So, Detective," Dahlia said. "Tell me again exactly how the victim died."

"Well, according to the autopsy it was atroquinine poisoning," Gumshoe said.

"Did they find anything else?" Dahlia asked.

Gumshoe thought about it, his eyebrows moving around. "I don't think they mentioned anything."

"Is this relevant, Ms. Hawthorne?" the judge said.

Dahlia considered it. "You know," she mumbled. "I thought it might be, but now I'm not so sure."

"Dahlia," Mia said. "Look at the court record again. See if you can find something."

"Really?" Dahlia said. Heeding her cousin's advice, Dahlia checked everything in the court record. Finally, she knew what Mia was talking about.

"Ms. Hawthorne?" said the judge. "I repeat, is this statement relevant?"

"Yes, Your Honor. I fact I'd like it added to the testimony," Dahlia said with renewed vigor.

"Very well, witness?" the judge said.

The victim died of atroquinine poisoning, that's all.

"Objection!" Dahlia said. "Detective why have you yet to explain this mark on the victim's neck?"

"What mark?" Gumshoe said.

"Look at the photo of the crime scene! There's a burn mark on the victim's neck, the size of a quarter!" Dahlia said, slamming her desk.

"Seriously?" Gumshoe said.

How could you miss it? Dahlia pressed further. "Just how quickly was that autopsy report made?"

"Well," Payne said, sweating. "I suppose once they found the poison we considered it done. I mean, the poison had been found in the victim's drink. And the victim's nervous system showed signs of paralysis, which is what atroquinine does."

"What if that burn mark means something more?" Dahlia said. "I'm no professional, but to me it looks like the victim was electrocuted!"

"Objection!" Payne said. "Electrocuted? What could have possibly electrocuted the victim?"

"Look at the photo again!" Dahlia said. "Nearby the victim are electrical cords plugging in speakers!"

"What?" Payne said.

"The investigation leading to the defendant's arrest was incomplete!" Dahlia said. "This brings serious doubt that she is guilty!"

"Wait, wait!" Payne said. "Perhaps the police did neglect the mark on the victim's neck, but that doesn't mean the defendant is innocent! The prosecution has more witnesses to prove her guilt!"

Eh, it was worth a shot. Dahlia put her hands in her hoodie pockets and waited to hear what the prosecution was going to do next.

"The prosecution would now like to call the next witness," Payne said.

"Very well. But first we will take a ten minute recess. In that time the prosecution is to send an investigation team to look into the possibility of electrocution and prepare the next witness, understood?"

"Yes, Your Honor," Payne said.