Escaping the Paradox of Justice
Something didn’t feel right as she pulled into her driveway, having just gotten home from work. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a neighbor peering through the venetian blinds, and then saw them quickly close as she began turning her head in that direction. An uneasy feeling crept over her as she made her way up the small set of steps that led to the partially opened front door. Pushing the door opened and stepping through the same way she had for the last 8 years, since she and Michael moved there, Josephine pulled the door closed behind her. As she did, she could hear the faint sounds of sirens in the distance. A common sound in the city of Denver, she paid no attention to it as she called out to her husband.
“Michael, I’m home. I’d like to talk about what happened earlier today.” There was no response.
Standing at the bottom of the stairs, she hollered up, “Michael, are you here?”
Josephine set her purse on the hallway table as she made her way to the kitchen. As she stepped in she looked across to the den and saw her husband on the floor. The knife was sticking up out of his chest a little higher than his sternum and slightly to the left. Her hands covered her mouth, as the words escaped her quivering lips. “No Michael!” She ran to his side and knelt to him. She yanked the knife from him and tossed it aside. His body was still warm as she tried to shake him to life. There was no response, as Josephine cried and whimpered for her husband to come back to her.
The sirens that she’d heard earlier were growing louder, but she still paid them no mind as she hugged her bloodied companion of 12 years. She sat there on the floor and held his head and neck in her lap. She was crying and running her fingers through his hair. So sorry, she was, that her last words to him had been so bitter. They’d argued and were shouting at each other when she had left to go back to work from her lunch break. Those last words echoed in her mind as the police cruisers began filling the yard around the front and back of the house. She heard the words she shouted as she’d last walked out of the very room she now sat in. Oh Michael, either get a life or die.
The tears were rolling off her cheeks and splashing on to his, when the front door blasted open and uniformed police officers filled the house. The plain clothed cop stepped through the kitchen holding a 9mm in his right hand and a badge in his left. As he approached her he spoke out.
“Mrs. Morgan? Could you tell us what happened here?”
“I don’t know.” She looked up at him, barely able to focus through her water-filled eyes, “My husband is dead. Somebody killed my husband.”
“Sir, the body is still warm.” A uniformed cop stood after feeling Michael Morgan’s wrist and then his neck to check for a pulse. Then glancing to the other side of the room he saw the bloodied knife by the coffee table. He pointed to it and the plain clothed man in charge spoke again.
“Mrs. Morgan? Whose knife is that?”
“What?” She looked up from Michael’s face for the second time, then realized the question and said, “Oh, it’s ours.” And then, “Who would do this?” Her sobs were growing now as the reality of the moment started to hit her.
“Mrs. Morgan? Josephine, isn’t it? Could you please stand up ma’am?” “No, I’m not letting go of my Michael.” She clung to him as one of the officers took her upper arm and pulled her to a standing position. She laid her husband’s head on the carpet and wrapped her arms around herself crying and pleading for an answer. “Who would do this? Michael is a good man. Why would somebody kill my husband?” She was crying right out loud now. Richard Baker, the police detective gestured to one of the officers and the next thing Josephine Morgan knew, hand-cuffs were being clicked in place around her wrists.
“Mrs. Morgan. Why would a killer come into your house and use one of your kitchen knives to kill your husband? Most killers I’ve come in contact with have their own weapons.”
She started to speak out but was interrupted.
“Josephine Morgan. I am placing you under arrest for the murder of your husband Michael Morgan.”
“What? This is insane!”
“Mrs. Morgan, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney being present during any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?”
“I did not kill my husband. You freaking people are crazy!”
“We’ll let the court decide that ma’am.”
She was escorted out of the house and into the back of one of the police cruisers. She could see curtains and blinds moving in all the windows in the neighborhood now. None of this made any sense. Less than an hour ago she had been pulling into her driveway, sitting in the driver’s seat of her own car. Yet, now, here she was, sitting in the back of a cop car, hand-cuffed and being arrested for the murder of her husband. She sat back now, in a definite state of shock. This was a nightmare and she was sure she’d wake up at any moment and roll over to give her husband a kiss. None of this was real. There’s no way it could be. She decided to sit back and let the dream play out.
Josephine Morgan was 36 years old. She had served in the U.S. Army for 6 years. After leaving the life of being a soldier, she immediately went to college and received an undergraduate degree in business. Now working for a local bank as a loan officer, she felt her life had been good. But right now that life was falling apart.
The cruiser pulled to a stop outside of the police station and Josephine was escorted into a holding cell inside after being booked. She sat in the cell, staring at the floor and rubbing the finger-printing ink from her fingers. This was all happening so fast. She knew she got at least one phone call. At least that’s the way it was in the movies. She’d use that call to get in touch with a friend she knew was a lawyer. Paul would know what to do.
“What are you in for?” Another woman asked as she sat opposite Josephine.
“I was arrested for killing my husband. But, I didn’t do it.”
“Well, no matter now. Now you’re going to have to prove it.”
“That’s not true. I’m innocent until proven guilty.” Josephine was annoyed.
“Ha! Girly, you watch too much TV. If they brought you in here, they already have enough to prove you guilty. Now it’s up to you to prove them wrong. Good luck.”
Josephine began considering this. Her prints were all over the knife. She had seen no other indications that somebody else had been there, and saying the door was already opened when she got home would just be her word against theirs. How was she going to prove her innocence, when everything pointed to her as being her husband’s killer?
Detective Baker came in and another police officer opened the cell door and escorted Josephine to an interrogation room. As she sat down, the detective asked her if she had a lawyer.
“Yes I do, if you people will ever allow me to call him.” Josephine made no attempt toward friendliness with this detective whom she already couldn’t stand.
Detective Baker nodded to the uniformed officer at the door who promptly brought her a cordless phone. She called the number she had memorized. Paul was a good friend of her husband, and he and his wife had dinner with them many times. Paul answered on the second ring.
“Paul, somebody killed Michael. The police have arrested me for it and they are about to question me. I need you.”
“Don’t answer any questions Jo. I’ll be there in 20 minutes.”
She hung up the phone and set it on the table.
The officer took it and Detective Baker promptly opened up.“Well, Mrs. Morgan, I must say I’m impressed. Not many of us have our attorney’s number memorized. Is this the first time you’ve ever been in trouble?
Josephine just stared at him, refusing to speak.
“I might have known you wouldn’t answer that. We’ll just wait for your friend the lawyer to show up and we’ll proceed with the questioning then. Officer, could you please get our guest a cup of water or something?”
Sitting with her arms crossed, she decided to focus on the center of the table and await Paul’s arrival. After about twenty-five minutes Paul came in and set his briefcase on the floor next to a chair, taking a seat beside her. He cupped one off her hands in his and asked her if she was okay. Upon her nodding, he turned to the detective and said, “I’d like a moment alone with my client.”
Detective Baker reluctantly got up and left the room, with the guard right behind him. The door was shut and locked from the outside.
“Christ Jo, what in the Hell is going on here? This is all over the news, the radio, the TV. For God’s sake it’s on my internet home page.”
“News travels fast.”
“So, what happened here Jo?”
She explained things just the way they happened and as she finished up she noticed he was shaking his head.
“Jo, this is really bad. We may have to hire our own Private Investigator on this one. Everything points to you. And I just got word, on my way in here that the neighbor next door was questioned by a news reporter. They said they heard you tell Mike to ‘Just Die!’”
“Yeah, they said something about the two of you being home at lunch time and you were standing in the doorway hollering back those words to Mike.”
“Oh my God Paul, that’s not the way it happened.”
She repeated to him what she had said to her husband before heading back to work following her lunch break. Again, he shook his head, which gave her a very uncomfortable feeling.
“We’ll see how the questioning goes Jo, but I have to tell you, this is going to take a miracle.”
Paul knocked on the door, indicating he was ready. He took his seat next to Josephine and awaited the beginning of what he knew was going to be a nightmare of questions for the wife of his very good friend.
“Can I get you anything Mr. …,?"
“Schultz. Paul Schultz. And no, I’m good thanks.”
He held out his hand in a friendly gesture, but the detective ignored it and took his own seat.
“Josephine Morgan, I’m about to begin my questioning and I need you to know that this entire conversation is being recorded, both in audio and visual. You’re in a lot of trouble ma’am. Would you mind telling me where you were prior to getting home and, as you say, finding your husband with a knife in his chest?"
“I was at work.”
“What time did you get home?”
“About 3:40. The same time I always get home.”
“I see. Is it true that you and your husband had an argument earlier in the day?”
“That’s irrelevant,” Paul said. “This isn’t a court room detective.”
“Perhaps you’re right. Maybe we should just skip the whole line of questioning and await the coroner’s report. Rigor mortis hadn’t even started to set in when we found you with your husband. We also have you clearly stating that the murder weapon was yours. If a killer had gone after your husband, it is reasonable to believe that they’d bring their own tools for the job. We have scoured your house for traces of any other DNA at the scene.”
“Detective, you and yours may as well set a court date. My client will not be answering any more of your questions until we are in front of a judge, jury and prosecuting attorney.”
“Very well then Mrs. Morgan. You will remain in custody here until the preliminary hearing. If the judge at the hearing orders you held, you will be moved to the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility until your trial.” As for you Mr. Schultz, I’m a little surprised you would be defending Mrs. Morgan for killing a friend. Don’t you find that a little strange?”
“Sometimes things aren’t always as they seem Detective. You should know that.”
“Whatever. I’ll see you folks at the hearing.” Then, looking at Josephine, he said, “Enjoy your stay.”
Paul followed the detective out of the room. Josephine stood and the officer was re-cuffing her hands behind her when she glanced toward the miniature window in the door where Paul and Detective Baker had just gone through. At a perfect angle to see them, she saw the detective and Paul shaking hands and wasn’t sure, but she could have sworn detective Baker winked at her lawyer.
What in the hell is going on? She thought to herself. I’m missing something here. She was ushered through the back door to the interrogation room that led down a hallway of holding cells. She was put back in with the same woman she was in with before. This time she got a better look at her cell mate. With tattoos on her arms, a pierced eyebrow and a look as if she must belong to Hell’s Angels, when she spoke, the expression in her voice was very contradictory of her appearance. She seemed gentle and caring. She might even pass for being human.
“Well, honey, how did it go?”
“Let’s just say, I think you’re right. It doesn’t look too good for the home team, that’s for sure.” And then she added, “I’d give anything if my father was still alive.”
“Special Forces; my dad was a Green Beret in the Army.”
“What happened to him?”
“You ask a lot of questions. My dad died 10 years ago. He had cancer.”
“You’re right. I talk too much. It’s none of my business. Sorry about that.” The woman who appeared to be in her mid to late forties was now staring at the floor herself, seeming to be ashamed at her own behavior.
“Don’t worry about it. By the way, I’m Josephine. Friends just call me Jo.”
“Well, Jo, I’m Maggie. Guess we’ll be roomies for the weekend.”
“Yeah, it sure looks that way. I don’t suppose they hold hearings on the weekends huh?”Josephine laid back on her bunk with one arm over her stomach and the other resting across her forehead. Staring up at the ceiling her mind began replaying the events of the afternoon. She started crying and as the tears flowed over her cheeks her cell mate noticed her apparent sadness.
“You loved him didn’t you?”
“Yes, with all my heart.” Jo started. “None of this makes any sense.”
“What did your husband do for work?”
“Well, he was security guard of all things.” There was more to it than that, but rather than divulge too much information to someone she didn’t even know, Jo decided it best to refrain from being too honest. After all, she was still trying to make sense of what she saw when looking through the window of the interrogation room. Did Paul think she was guilty? Was he going to help the police put her away because his friend, her husband, was killed? It was obvious that her attorney didn’t believe her. She knew that if convicted, she’d be retirement age before she saw the outside prison walls again. There must be something she was overlooking. There had to be a reason for her husband’s death. Were the police in on it? It wouldn’t be the first time she’d heard of corruption in the law enforcement world.