TWISTS AND STONES (Episode 8)

TWISTS AND STONES (Episode 8)

Previously on TWISTS AND STONES…

*

The preliminary hearing was before Judge Clement, a strict disciplinarian. It was rumored that he was in favour of bringing criminals to justice so far as the evidence placed before him was solid and convincing.

At eight-thirty, Segun Odunsi arrived at courthouse to begin the defense in the case of The State against Charles Udoh. The crowd outside at the entrance was unbelievably much and the barrister’s first thought was that there had been an accident. He saw a battery of television cameras and microphones teeming everywhere, and the moment he was spotted and recognized, the crowd of reporters avalanched over him and microphones were shoved in his face. Questions were hurled at him.

“Mr. Odunsi, what do you think will be the outcome of today’s trial?”

“This is your first court case in years after you fouled up the hospital case for the government. Do you think you’ll be able to handle the pressure that comes with this new case?”

“Mr. Odunsi, do you think your client killed his friend?”

“Is it true that your client and the man he murdered were gay lovers?”

In that moment, Segun Odunsi – not his client – was the most popular man in the country, as camera lights and microphones were trained on him. The details of this case had been leaked to the press, gained traction and fled with a rapacity unto the newspapers and television, to be devoured by titillated Nigerians. And today, on this first day of the trial, the media was here as vultures, and him their prey.

Shoving his way with restrained annoyance through the mob of reporters, Odunsi kept on muttering “No comment.”

Then somebody fired, “Mr. Odunsi, the hospital representative from your last case issued a statement last week that you’ll lose this case. Do you think you’ll be able to prove her wrong?”

The lawyer stiffened with outrage, stopped and whirled around, ready to spit fire. The baying stopped and the news crew waited with bated breath. In a flash, Odunsi saw what the next headline would be, and it wouldn’t be an attractive one for him. So he tightened his lips over gritted teeth, ground out another “No comment”, and turned around to enter the courthouse.

He stomped his way toward the courtroom, pushing open the door to let himself into a room buzzing with noise. The room was filled and the air was stuffy and hot, unrelieved by the ceiling fans whirring lazily from above. Odunsi swept a quick glance around and caught sight of the person he was looking for. Their gazes clashed and held, and Odunsi gave a curt nod before proceeding to his seat.

The prosecutor, a slender, aquiline-featured woman, glanced at Odunsi as he put his briefcase on his table. She raised a penciled eyebrow at him, the arched look of one who was confident in her victory. Her expression seemed to say to him: I’m going to put your client away for a long, long time.

We’ll see about that, Odunsi stared his response back at her.

***

“COURT!” the bailiff bellowed.

There was a hubbub as everyone in the room stood up just as the presiding judge walked into the courtroom and approached his bench.

“This is the matter of the People of the State versus Charles Udoh, charged with the murder of Beeko Adeniyi.”

And so it began.

***

With my hands in handcuffs, I am led into the courtroom by a police officer. I avoid eye contact with my father and sister, even though I can feel the heat of my father’s stare and the icy stab of Moira’s. She must really hate me, Moira. I do not blame her. Before I knew what I knew about Naya, if someone had taken a knife to her, I would want him to hang too. Just before I get up on the dock, I meet my mother’s gaze. I see no anger or disappointment there, just sadness. She offers me a small smile, and suddenly, there is something else in her expression. I feel at once warmed and weirded out by her countenance. I smile back at her, before assuming my position in the dock.

Standing there, in full view of the court, an open target to their judgment and speculation, I feel naked. I also feel an unease wind its way up my back, like a frisson raising goose bumps as it skitters up my spine. I feel a presence, eyes trained on me. I know there are lots of people in the courtroom looking at me but – Oh God, it all feels weird. I glance around slowly and hesitantly, to see if I will discover the eyes that has my insides in knots. Before I can do a proper scan of the faces in the stuffy courtroom however, I hear the judge’s boisterous voice cut through the silence that had settled before I entered the courtroom.

***

The first thing he noticed as Charles Udoh was ushered into the courtroom was his drawn countenance and leaner frame.

We’ll get you out of this, Charles, he muttered to himself as the defendant was finally settled in the dock. From where he was sitting, he could see Charles looking around, as if he could sense there was something, someone, a phantom in the courtroom also.

Yes, I’m here, friend. I’m here.

***

“Will both attorneys please approach the bench and identify themselves?” the judge boomed from his high table.

Both lawyers moved swiftly from their seats to their summoner.

“My Lord, I am Odunsi S., senior council representing the defendant,” Odunsi said primly.

“Maupe Y. K., senior state council representing the Lagos State Government, my Lord,” the prosecutor followed up after him.

The registrar read out the charges and the judge turned to Odunsi and said brusquely, “I’m well aware of your reputation, Mr. Odunsi. So I’m going to tell you right now that I do not intend to waste the court’s time. I will brook no delays in this case. I want to get on with this preliminary hearing over and done with. I intend to set a trial date as speedily as possible. That said, what does the prosecution have to say?”

Odunsi blinked, startled by the caustic manner of what seemed to be an unfriendly judge.

“My Lord,” Yele Maupe was saying, “we have enough evidence that points to the defendant as the sole perpetrator of the attempted murder on Beeko Adeniyi. And we’d like for the court to bring the defendant to justice.”

“Very well, how does the defendant plead?”

“We are not pleading to anything, my Lord,” Odunsi said stiffly, “because I don’t think there’ll be an arraignment.”

The prosecutor stared at him like he’d gone mad. “You can’t be serious.”

“But I am. In my opinion, you don’t have enough evidence to bring the client to trial.”

Maupe snapped, “Clearly, you need another opinion!” Turning to the judge, she continued, “My Lord, the government has a very strong case. The defendant stabbed his friend in cold blood with a shard of glass. The victim’s neighbour heard shattering and argument coming from the victim’s apartment, with the defendant yelling that he’d kill the victim. The defendant’s sister and his girlfriend, my witnesses, in their statements to the police, confirmed that there was blood on the carpet and the defendant’s hands were soiled with blood. The victim’s blood. The prosecution has no intention of dropping the case against him.”

Judge Clement turned to Odunsi. “It looks like the court has enough prima facie evidence here to have an arraignment and a trial. Do you have anything more to say?”

“I do, Your Honour. There isn’t one single witness who can positively identify my client as the one that issued the threat. In fact, the only thing that links the defendant to this crime is the active imagination of the prosecutor’s witness, the late victim’s neighbour.”

The judge, staring down at Segun Odunsi, said with ominous softness, “What about the statement of the other two witnesses? Surely, that ought to count as something.”

Odunsi sighed. “All they saw was the victim lying in his own blood.”

“Does the defense intend to challenge the credibility of the witnesses?”

“Certainly, My Lord. The court can’t end the life of an innocent man as he knows it simply because of what a neighbour thinks he heard and what two others think they know from what saw.”

“What if I told the court that there’s a fourth witness? And he’s ready to tell us exactly what happened that day?” Maupe turned to Odunsi, smirked and arched an eyebrow.

“By all means, I’ll still challenge your witness.”

“And who is this witness? Is he or she the courtroom right now?” the judge queried.

“Yes, my Lord,” the prosecutor answered.

“Then I will hear his testimony and thereafter decide whether there’s enough to arraign the defendant,” the judge declared.

The lawyers turned away from him. While Odunsi started back for his seat, Maupe gestured at someone seated in the far corner of the pews. The witness rose and began moving toward the front of the courtroom. The courtroom began to buzz lightly, as gasps and whispered questions trailed the emergence of the witness.

“…isn’t that…”

“…it can’t be…”

“…that was what the press had said…”

When the witness was settled in the witness box, he glanced fleetingly in Odunsi’s direction. Both the defendant lawyer and the prosecutor’s witness shared a knowing look. Then the witness turned his head to settle his gaze on Charles. Charles stared back; his eyes had widened to the limit of the sockets and he looked like he was about to pass out.

The witness just then heard the prosecutor say: “”My Lord, this is Beeko Adeniyi, the victim and my fourth witness.”

Written by Vhar & Eros

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18 Comments

  1. pete
    March 03, 05:45 Reply

    Thought Beeko died in the last episode?

  2. Mandy
    March 03, 06:47 Reply

    The ‘now you see him, now you don’t’ twist you two are plotting with Beeko eh… Hmmph.

  3. ambivalentone
    March 03, 06:53 Reply

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. This life sef. I was really really hoping they’d salvage Odunsi’s career. The witches from his village ehn…

    • Pink Panther
      March 03, 06:55 Reply

      But it looks like he’s got an ace up his sleeve that the prosecutor might be shaken out of her smugness with.

      • ambivalentone
        March 03, 07:38 Reply

        oh. I possibly skimmed that part and assumed it was the witness n prosecutor who’d shared d look

  4. Kenny
    March 03, 06:55 Reply

    Huh? I thought Beeko died!

  5. Dubem
    March 03, 07:07 Reply

    Exactly what is the trial for if Beeko is still alive?

    • ambivalentone
      March 03, 07:36 Reply

      Attempted murder, intent to kill…I’m sure these legal ppl can draw up something. Something simple like using broken bottle to stab becomes a 200 count charge

      • Mandy
        March 03, 13:21 Reply

        Hahahahahahahaa!!! Trystham, you sound a tad disdainful of lawyers.

        • ambivalentone
          March 03, 14:36 Reply

          Nah!!! Its just shock at how something simple like “I spit on you” becomes “I, with cruel intent, expelled the hackings of my buccal cavity onto your irritating persona” or its equivalent in latin just to slam jail terms on innocent ppl. Hian!!”

  6. Mr. Anonymous
    March 03, 09:16 Reply

    I thought this was a murder trial? How are they trying someone for murder when the victim is apparently still alive? Is that even legal?

    • Mandy
      March 03, 13:22 Reply

      Refer to ambivalentone’s comment above. 🙂

      • Mr. Anonymous
        March 03, 14:28 Reply

        That would make sense except that you can’t try a defendant for a crime you haven’t charged him with. The charge is for murder, and he hasn’t committed any murders yet. Unless that prosecutor adjusted to attempted murder, putting the victim on the stand blows her case out of the water.
        But this is fiction, so let’s not make a mountain out of this molehill.

        • ambivalentone
          March 03, 14:41 Reply

          the charge is attempted murder na. Its written there in d story

  7. Handle
    March 03, 11:24 Reply

    Thabk God its Fiction cos nothing is legal or possible about what just transpired in that courtroom.

  8. Brian Collins
    March 04, 16:36 Reply

    This was very much over the place. I thought Beeko didn’t die. Then the reporters are asking questions about a murdered gay lover and then the prosecutor said something about attempted murder and it all clicked into place when I saw this part
    “…that was what the press had said…”
    Silly press men and their blowing up stories out of proportion.
    Many pple in here are just like my friends when it comes to watching The Originals – they never listen. All they wanna see is Klaus snap necks and not listen to him being emotional with Cammie. Pay attention more guys. Sheesh.
    Beeko is not dead, so he can very well be a fourth witness in this case.
    I rest my case.

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