While Olu and company waited for Dr. Obochi in Lagos, AIG Saranja was making calls to ensure that the Tricia case was heard on Monday. It was a good thing that none of his other colleagues in the force saw the import of this case and merely saw it as something he was obsessed with because he had lost a grip on the real juicy parts of police business. He was happy to let them believe that. An hour later, he had secured assurances that the case would be heard at noon at the Lagos High Court, he called Olu. He didn’t bother with pleasantries “It was hard and I had to pull strings, but I’ve secured it. You jump the queue and will have the case heard on Monday. Now, you had better deliver. I need a guilty judgment for first degree murder for this case within one month. Is that clear?”
“Yes sir,” Olu said quietly, even though he had stepped away from Dr. Obuchi’s office, he was still conscious of the company he had.
Olu wanted to explain to the AIG that the Monday hearing would be mainly to take the plea and then have the case adjourned for another two months before it was argued and if they were lucky sentenced on the same day. However, what was typical was that the case would then be adjourned further for sentencing. He knew the AIG knew this but it seemed the man was bent on getting the impossible out of him. Yet deliver, he must. He strolled back into the office just as Dr. Obuchi was emerging from the theatre with Tricia.
“Ha, detective, we were just waiting for you to return. My assistant is putting together the final report from my examination notes, but if you like, I can give you my general conclusions from examining the young lady,” the doctor said to him
“We’d be glad to hear, doctor,” he replied curtly.
“First, there is evidence of forced penetration of her vagina. There is bruising consistent with penetrating an unlubricated vagina forcefully. This and other observations therefore rule out the likelihood of consensual intercourse.”
Even as he spoke, Maro visibly let out a sigh of relief and Taju’s face lit up with a huge smile. Only Olu’s face remained stolid in the room. “Continue,” he said to no one in particular but the doctor guessed it was meant for him and so he did.
“Secondly, there are bruises on her face that indicate she was hit with considerable force which is consistent with her story of being hit, except,” he turned to Dudu as he said this “you would like us to conclude that she came about the bruises in your custody.”
“You give the facts and leave the interpretations to the court, doctor,” Olu growled at the little man.
“Doctor,” Taju asked, “surely you will be available to testify in court this Monday, wouldn’t you?”
“Most definitely,” the doctor responded, clasping his hands as if to say he was done and then turning to the door, he said “the report will be forwarded to your offices by tomorrow morning. Now, you will see my cashier to make the necessary payments.” With that, he was gone.
Olu turned to Dudu and with that they moved Tricia towards the squad car. At the door, he turned to the duo left in the room “I will see you in the court,” he said coldly and then turned away slowly.
Taju and Maro arrived at Kofo’s office one hour later. The traffic had gotten worse since morning. Maro wondered how many man hours were lost in Lagos traffic daily.
“How did it go?” Kofo asked as they sat in her office, grateful that she at least had air-conditioning compared to the regular police office.
“Very well,” Maro responded, beaming with a smile. Kofo stood up to get them cold water from the small fridge in the corner of her office as Taju gave her the details of how it had gone with the Doctor Obuchi. “He is always dependable,” Kofo said and then turned to Taju “since the case will be heard on Monday, I have a niggling feeling someone is pulling strings for Olu to speed it up. Cases like this normally take longer to come to court, so they are anxious about something. How are you doing for witnesses?”
“None of the neighbors heard anything useful, so it comes to your testimony and the doctor’s. That at least will establish rape and we can then argue that there was provocation and maybe she acted in self-defense. Has time of death been confirmed?”
Kofo produced a manila file, “I had to pull strings to get this but get it I did. Time of death, 2A.M. Using her text message as reference for when the rape occurred, that puts it in a 30minute time frame. Close enough for the provocation to hold. How do we prove self defense though? He was killed just outside his room, not in hers?”
Taju rubbed his chin “that is a problem. She doesn’t remember him coming back or going after him herself.”
“Well, it could be because she was in temporary shock right after the trauma of rape, or that she is blocking out those memories unconsciously now to preserve some of her sanity. I did see the body right after Bruno was killed and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Today is Thursday, so we don’t have the time to get any psychiatric evaluation before Monday. Plus we’d have to fund that ourselves. The state prosecution is typically on a stringent budget and they won’t spend any money that they don’t absolutely have to.”
“Hmmm,” Taju said, his hand still on his chin, his brow furrowed in deep thought. “I always wondered about this. Would that be why the fingerprints on the knife that’s the murder weapon have not been taken?”
Kofo nodded a yes and both men shook their heads.
“I’m going to apply for an administrative bail for her on health grounds, since we are pleading rape. Of course, there can be no prosecution for the rape, seeing that Bruno is dead and hence a suit cannot be brought against him. But,” he paused and placed a hand on Maro’s shoulder, “we can at least leverage it to get her out of police custody for the duration of the trial.”
“I like all the things I’ve heard so far, except for one small problem,” Maro said, in a quiet voice that drew Kofo and Taju away from their brainstorming conversation into listening to him. “And what might that be?” Kofo asked.
“You seem to accept as a fact that Tricia killed Bruno and your defense is to justify why she killed him. She on the other hand keeps saying she didn’t kill him.”
Olu sat in his office, browsing through a stack of files, searching meticulously for something. Each time he got to the end of one document and didn’t find what he was looking for, his eyes darkened with disappointment. After working into the early hours of Friday, and depleting his coffee stock considerably, his eyes lit up. He had found it at last. He cleared his table and set out for home. He would plan his assault in court from there. He left instructions with Dudu to buy Tricia a new outfit. Her look in court was crucial to his case.
Three hours after Olu left for his house early Friday morning, Teju put a call through to Peter. He had made a return visit to the mortuary where Bruno was being held on Thursday and had parted with some more thousands of Naira before he could collect the samples he needed and had then called Peter to impress the criticality of this piece of evidence was. Somehow, he felt that doing his job would be intricately linked with sorting this Tricia’s case out. Now, as he called again he imagined that Peter ran his hand through his blond hair as he answered in a clear crisp voice “Hello Teju, how are you today?”
Ever polite Brit, Teju thought “did you get my package and my message?”
“Yes,” he responded, “but processing DNA samples that fast, over the weekend is going to cost us quite a bit.”
“I’m sure you’d gladly spend what you have to, to save nice insurance company four million pounds,” Teju responded with a chuckle, and then he added “I need the results by Sunday morning, latest.”
“You’ll get it without fail, Teju. Now I have to go into a meeting. We will talk on Sunday.” With that, he ended the call and Teju put another call through to Kofo. “Hi Kofo, how are you doing today?”
“Fine, fine,” she responded. “Any luck with my request?”
“Ah, thankfully, the money involved was enough to get Peter to pull all the stops and oblige me, so yes, we will have it on Sunday evening, in time for Monday. Now, I’ve got an appointment at Wintonton Hospital to see our dear doctor today. Let’s see what I will find.”
“Okay Teju, we’ll keep in touch. Thanks for all the help.”
“My pleasure ma’am. Just doing my job.”
The proceedings began in the Igbosere High Court at 10A.M even though Tricia’s trial had been slated to be the second case on that day. The court clerk called the court to order as Justice Toboriye Douglas sat down. She was a massive woman with streaks of grey hair interlacing the originally brown hair. She had built a reputation for herself as a judge every lawyer labored hard to be prepared in her court. After thirty eight years on the bench, ten of which had been spent in this high court, Taju quietly thanked his stars. He could at least be sure of one thing – his client would get a fair trial. Taju noticed that special care had been taken to make sure Tricia looked okay and cleaned up.
The preliminary introductions were quickly over and then the question was asked “how does the defendant plead?”
Taju was up on his feet “my Lord, my client pleads not guilty of all the charges brought against her by the state.”
In a normal case, once the plea was taken, the case would be adjourned for hearing. But this was no ordinary case – AIG Saranja had made sure of that. Justice Douglas towards Olu and invited the prosecution to begin arguing its case. Olu looked towards Taju with a shark-like smile on his face. The boy had better be prepared for a roforofo fight in this case or he would be torn to pieces.
Taju saw the smile on Olu’s face. He was glad he had Kofo on his side. He would not have survived the battle with Olu otherwise.
Kofo smiled where she sat with Maro behind Taju and Tricia. Her preparations had paid off. Olu and team had predictably tried to play a fast one. But they were ready for him.
“My lord,” Olu began as he stepped into the centre “this case is a straightforward case of first degree murder. All the facts and evidence points to the fact that the accused indeed was the only person who could possibly have killed the deceased in the manner he died at the time. She was the only one present in the house, and there was no sign of forced entry. The defense will try to make a case for provocation. This is immaterial…”
“Objection my lord,” Taju said, rising to his feet
“Sustained,” the judge said. “Prosecution will stay within the facts of the case without preempting the materiality of the defenses’ argument.”
Olu continued “We have filed all necessary evidence with the court, and will call no witnesses simply because Miss Tricia here was alone with the deceased when he was murdered. There were no witnesses for the crime, except for the perpetrator of the crime.”
He then adjusted his wig and walked briskly to his seat. The judge called the defense and Taju got up.
“My lord, my client, a young hardworking lady has been accused of murder.” He paused briefly and then continued “However, the prosecution has not made any effort to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Tricia killed the deceased. All the evidence that has been presented against her has been circumstantial. The fact that the door to her room was broken down was not considered. The prosecution has not attempted to determine that the murder weapon was used by my client that night or even ever at all. The basis of her guilt is purely her presence there from the prosecution’s perspective. There is no law that makes presence at a crime scene equal to being guilty of that crime. The defense would like to call its first witness. The defense now calls Police Superintendent Kofoworola Denton to please take the stands.”
The clerk led Kofo in taking the oath and then Taju approached her and then asked “Superintendent Kofo, please tell this court your recollection of the events of the morning of the 5th”
“I received a call from my office at 6A.M that morning of a rape report at Number 5, James Robertson Street, Surulere. Thirty minutes later, I arrived at the venue with two of my detectives, and we knocked on the door to gain access as the door was locked from inside. Miss Tricia came to open the door for us, and I immediately observed the swelling and bruising on her face. I could see from the doorway that the door to a room which we later discovered to be hers had been forcefully broken down as with blunt force. We moved into the apartment to ascertain if her assailant was still in the flat, when we observed Mr. Bruno on the far side of the living room, right at the door of his room. I went over with one of my detectives for a closer inspection of the body and ascertained he was dead. There was a big kitchen knife sticking out of his left breast, and we observed that there was knife cuts on his hands as if he had tried to ward off blows and on his throat too. I immediately reported the case to the Homicide Division, secured the perimeter and arrested Miss Tricia.”
Taju asked “would your observation as the first officer at the site, and with your experience in such cases agree with Miss Tricia’s report that she had been raped?”
Kofo nodded “in my opinion, yes. There was evidence of forced entry into her room, as well as evidence that there had been a struggle in her room. Also, the bruising showed she had struggled with someone stronger than her.”
“What would you consider normal procedure to confirm a rape case?” Taju asked, turning dramatically towards Olu. Olu was making notes while Dudu behind him was furiously fiddling with his blackberry. Taju guessed they were researching something. His question had caused Olu to pause on the scribbling and look up.
Kofo answered evenly “in rape cases handled by my special unit, getting a doctor’s opinion is absolutely vital to the case.”
Taju strolled to his sit and picked up two pieces of paper “My lord, I present these two as exhibits.” Copies of the documents were circulated to the prosecution desk and the judge who scanned it quickly. “This,” Taju said, holding up the first of the documents is Detective Kofo’s initial report. It clearly states the incidence of rape. No action was taken by the prosecution to get my client examined by a physician. It took a memo to superior authorities and then the defense literarily stampeding the prosecution to get this done. One begins to wonder why such a salient issue was being swept under the carpet by the prosecution except for ulterior motives”
Olu jumped to his feet at that instant “objection my lord. That constitutes a malicious attempt to undermine the integrity of the state based on conjecture only.”
“Sustained. Defense counsel, stick to the facts of the case.”
Taju smiled and bowed slightly and then turned back to Kofo “one last question detective – observing Tricia’s frame as compared to Mr. Bruno’s physique, would you consider her physically capable of killing him in such a manner as you have described that he died?”
Kofo shook her head “Tricia is about 5feet 6inches tall, with a slight build. Bruno is over 6feet, with a heavy build and apparently in great physical condition before he died. It would have been impossible for her to overpower him and slash him repeatedly like that with a knife. The only way Tricia could have successfully killed him would be a sneak attack with a weapon like a gun which would kill him in one shot, or knocking him out with a huge object. There was no blunt force trauma as the autopsy shows, so that also didn’t happen.”
Taju turned to the judge and said “I have no further questions for this witness, my lord,” and then he turned around and took his seat.
Olu gathered the notes he had been writing and walked to the center. “Detective Kofo, you were the first officer at the crime scene. And the first person you arrested for the murder of Mr. Bruno was the defendant. Why is that so, if you believed that she was not the murderer?”
“At that point, she was the only person physically present at the time of murder. It was the logical thing to do, until the evidence was properly analyzed and she was eliminated as a suspect. You will agree that arresting her as a suspect is different from deeming her guilty under the law.”
Taju smiled. Kofo had this covered.
Olu then asked further “I recall that you inferred that Tricia was raped by the deceased because you saw bruises on her face and other evidences of rape at the crime scene. Following your logic, can we infer that Tricia killed Bruno since there was evidence of her presence at the time of death and you clearly saw that Bruno was dead when you arrived?”
It was Taju’s turn to shout “Objection my lord. That is not a question but a statement.”
“Overuled,” the judge responded.
Olu smiled as Kofo answered his query “in my response, I said the evidence pointed to the fact that Tricia had been raped, but didn’t conclude on who raped her. I also mentioned that only a doctor’s report could confirm that she had been raped. This is quite different from your inference where you concluded on Tricia’s guilt by circumstantial evidence only. Her presence there doesn’t mean she killed him.”
Taju heaved a sigh. She had managed it quite well again.
“Was it possible for Bruno to have killed himself in the manner you observed he died?” Olu asked casually.
“No, except his hand was detached from him and acted on its own that is.”
Olu laughed, “Of course not. He seemed to have been a perfectly normal human being with no alien DNA.” He paused and the continued his questioning “You said the door was locked when you got there. Was it locked from inside, or outside?”
Kofo responded “It was locked from inside, yes.”
“And from your observation and all the police reports on the issue, there was no sign of forced entry?”
“Yes” Kofo answered.
“SO, we can conclude on the following.
1. Bruno did not kill himself
2. Nobody else had accessed the house. There was no record of anyone breaking in, so we can assume the only other person with Bruno was Tricia
3. Except a phantom killed him therefore, we can conclude that Tricia alone was the one that killed him”
“Your second inference in wrong sir. Someone who had the key could have gained access, killed Bruno and left.”
“Detective, I know you are used to asking questions, but in this court, I’m the counsel and I ask the questions,” Olu said coldly.
“The witness will do well to be guided,” the judge iterated.
“You also were of the opinion that there was no way someone of Tricia’s size could have killed someone of Bruno’s size the way he died. Is my recollection correct?”
“Yes it is,” Kofo replied tersely.
“Have you heard of Shock-Induced Super Strength?
“No,” Kofo responded.
“Allow me to read the report of the Smithsonian Institute to you on the matter and educate you.
‘Individuals have been found to be able to lift twice the expected maximum based on muscle mass calculations when in sufficient state of shock (flight or fright shock)’
It is not scientifically impossible therefore for Tricia to have in a state of shock, or adrenaline induced rage to gain the strength needed to commit this murder.”
“Objection my lord!” Taju interjected again, looking up from googling the report on his blackberry. “This report is disputed by the mainstream medical circuits, and while Smithsonian is a reputed institution in historical circles, they are hardly an authority amongst medical practitioners.”
“Sustained. Such opinions can only be admissible as expert opinions and the prosecuting attorney is not a doctor.”
Olu bowed and then moved towards his seat. Then as if remembering something, he turned towards Kofo and asked “I wonder, since this is a murder trial, why the defense is bent on translating it into a rape trial against the deceased. Could it be because of the special unit that you head, detective?”
“I beg your pardon sir, I volountarily transferred the case to the homicide department the moment I confirmed that Mr. Bruno was dead, even while at the crime scene,” Kofo replied, in an even tone which did not reveal the anger at his question.
“Then could it be because you are yourself a rape victim and have declared a personal vendetta against men because one man repeatedly abused you twenty years ago?”
Kofo lurched forward, the anger bursting through to the surface her being, uncontrollable and raging. She did not even hear Taju screaming “Objection my lord. She did not see anyone else in the courtroom but Olu. She had carefully kept this hidden from everyone and had never mentioned it to anyone, not even her mother or siblings.
“You viper,” she said to Olu at the top of her voice “I will make sure you are finished.”
Olu did not acknowledge her. He just turned to the judge and said “I have no further questions for this witness,” and walked calmly back to his seat.