Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons Page 43

“Did Mr. Decker tell you that he saw the victim in the hardware store while he was there to rob it?”

“Yes, but—”

“And did Mr. Decker show you the murder weapon?”

“Yeah, but—”

“Did you in fact, Mr. Moore, help Bruce Decker hide the murder weapon under his house?”

David Moore frowned and looked down at his lap. “Yes.”

Mason Deveraux spun around to return to his seat wearing the hint of a wicked grin. “That will be all.”

Mr. Yates stood and approached the witness stand, now wearing a scowl of his own. The court was full of a bunch of cranky men.

“David, did Bruce tell you that he killed Frank Mitchell?”

The witness shook his head. “No, he said he didn’t kill him.”

“Did he tell you why he had the murder weapon?”

“He said when he got to the store, the back door was unlocked and he snuck in and heard two men arguing. One was Frank Mitchell, but he didn’t know who the other guy was. He hid behind some shelves and watched and then the other guy grabbed a crowbar and hit Mitchell.”

Deveraux leaned across his table. “Objection, Your Honor. Hearsay.”

“Overruled. Continue, Mr. Moore.”

David Moore looked at Mr. Yates, who nodded.

“So then what did Bruce say happened?”

“He said they scuffled around a little and then the other guy hit Mitchell in the head and he fell to the ground, bleedin’ everywhere. The other guy went into the office and then came back out and went out the back door. After the other guy left, Bruce freaked out and checked on Mr. Mitchell, but he was already dead. But Bruce figured they’d blame him for the murder and he took the crowbar with him when he left.”

“Why would he do such a thing?”

“Well…” he looked at Bruce. Bruce nodded. “He was pretty stoned and wasn’t thinkin’ straight. By the time he got home, he realized he’d screwed up but wasn’t sure what to do about it. So he called me and we hid the crowbar under his house.”

“And why would you help hide a murder weapon? Did you know that helping Bruce hide the crowbar would make you an accessory to a crime?”

“No, I didn’t really think about that. I only knew that Bruce needed my help.”

Mr. Yates walked toward the witness box. “David, do you think that Bruce Decker killed Frank Mitchell?”

“Objection, Your Honor. The defense is asking the witness to hypothesize.”

“Your Honor, these two men have been friends for years. Mr. Moore knows the defendant’s character. His answer has relevance.”


It was Mr. Yates’ turn to gloat. The animosity between the lawyers convinced me that I was right about Mason Deveraux picking me for the jury just to tick off Mr. Yates. But the joke was on him, since I irritated Mr. Deveraux too.

“David,” Mr. Yates said. “Do you believe Bruce? Do you believe he’s innocent?”

“Yeah. He can’t even swat a fly without feelin’ bad about it. He could never kill anybody.”

Mr.Yates faced the jury and smiled.

David Moore left the stand and Bruce looked relieved until Mr. Deveraux called the next witness. “Elmer Burnett.”

Bruce’s face paled and I turned to get a look at the witness who’d caused him so much distress. My own face must have turned white when I caught a glimpse.

Limping down the aisle and leaning on a cane was Frank Mitchell’s neighbor. The one I’d talked to the night before.

Oh, crappy doodles.

Elmer Burnett took the stand and was sworn in while sweat trickled down my neck. I sat in the front row, stuck in the middle. There was no way he could miss me. Anxiety prickled every hair follicle on my body.

Mr. Deveraux began to pace. “Mr. Burnett, how did you know the victim, Frank Mitchell?”

“I was his next-door neighbor for forty-two years.”

“And you also know the defendant, Bruce Decker?”

“You already know all this so why’r ya askin’ me?”

Mr. Deveraux’s eyes bulged with irritation.

A few people in the audience snickered, including the juror on my right. Who still needed a shower.

Judge McClary banged his gavel several times. “Order in the court. If you can’t restrain yourself from such sophomoric behavior I’ll toss every last one of ya outta my courtroom. Got it?” The judge glared at Mr. Yates, who suddenly found the notes in front of him interesting. He looked down at Mr. Burnett in the stand. “Mr. Burnett, I know this might seem redundant to you… I mean it might sound like it’s been said before.”

“I know what redundant is. I’m not a half-wit.”

The judge looked aghast that anyone dared to speak to him in such a hateful tone. “No one’s saying you are. But you have to answer the questions, no matter how ridiculous they seem.” He pointed his gaze at Mason Deveraux. “Or no matter how many times the lawyers object.” He smirked as he looked at Mr. Yates. “You need to act like no one’s ever heard this before.”

“I done already told him everythin’ I know. This is cotton-pickin’, boll-weevil-rotting—”

“I understand your frustration,” the judge said in a tight voice. “But you still have to answer the questions.”

“Then let’s get this over with.”

“Yes, let’s.” Judge McClary agreed.

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