Comments can be sent to:  kerryok@aol.com

 

An Innocent Man

(Hutchinson for Murder One What If Story)

by

Kerry OK

 

"That was the ex Mrs. Hutchinson on the phone, wasn't it?" Starsky asked not requiring an answer.

"Yeah."

"And?"

Hutch grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and replied, "Well she uh, wants to see me, after five years."

"You gonna go?"

"I guess so." Hutch left the squad room.

Hutch sat at the bar at The Pits waiting for Vanessa to arrive.

"Hutch, man you are one tight closet." Huggy said, as he tried to pull a beer glass from Hutch's grip.

Hutch was nervous, it had been five years after all. Then he smiled to himself remembering that Van said it was four years six months and twelve days. It didn't really

matter if it was four and a half years or five, what could he possibly have to say to the lady who had left him, because she felt being married to a cop held no future? He tried not to think about that. He tried to think about the good times. He would be polite, follow her lead. Nothing to be worried about.

Vanessa arrived. She looked beautiful. Perhaps even more beautiful than the last time he saw her. She joined him at the bar. They ordered drinks and then sat a table, to talk. He tried, he felt he tried to talk, but she could still push his buttons even after five years. She raised her hand to strike him but he blocked her move, unlike when they were married when he would have allowed her to smack him across the face, and she dragged her long nails down the back of his hand. He wasn't going to let her hurt him anymore. Hutch made a hasty retreat.

He was almost to his car when she called after him. "Ken, Ken, please, please, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

"Forget it will ya, just forget it."

"Listen uh, let me come home with you tonight."

"You gotta be kidding."

"Look uh I have to… I don't want to be alone tonight."

"So what's so special about tonight?"

"I'm going into the hospital tomorrow."

"What for?"

"A biopsy. They want to uh check to see if it's malignant or not and you know me with doctors and hospitals and I'm just a scared little girl when it comes to that." Vanessa said with just the right amount of tears and tremble in her voice.

"Get in will ya. Get in."

Hook, line and sinker. Vanessa still knew what buttons to push.

They pulled in front of Hutch's apartment.

"This is it?" Vanessa said with an air of disdain in her voice at her ex-husband's humble abode.

"It's upstairs." Hutch replied letting her rudeness go unnoticed.

"It would have to be." Another dig from Vanessa that Hutch let pass.

They walked up the stairs to the front door and Hutch reached above the door to the ledge where he kept his key.

"That's where you keep your key? Is that a good idea?" Vanessa chuckled.

"Sure, it's as good a place as any. You should remember how I always would misplace my keys. I don't get locked out of my apartment anymore."

"I guess since you are armed you aren't worried about a burglar finding the key. You've never been robbed?"

"Nope. You know what they say, hide in plain sight. The obvious is usually the last place someone will look." Hutch opened the door and they entered the apartment.

"Hmmm. I suppose you're right."

Conversation at Hutch's apartment was easier. They actually talked. Not a harsh word passed between them. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was Hutch's genuine concern for Vanessa's well being. Whatever the reason, it was nice to be able to talk to the person you were once married to.

Vanessa told him all about her latest venture, the jewelry business, buying and selling on the international market and that she was going to become a very wealthy woman. She asked him if he would like to be her partner. Hutch just smiled, he really didn't take her seriously and said, "Well Van if you're serious it's probably shady and I'm a cop." He dismissed the whole conversation as just hot air, another one of Vanessa's get rich quick schemes.

Ever the gentleman, Hutch set Vanessa up in his bedroom and he made himself comfortable on the couch for the night. The combination of beer and wine helped the blond fall into a deep sleep very quickly.

Vanessa looked down at the sleeping beauty and thought to herself that she couldn't have a better bodyguard for the night. She was just ten hours away from a million dollars once she got on that flight to Amsterdam. She took a velvet pouch out of her purse and placed it on the ledge above the door. 'Hide in plain sight.' She thought to herself and then she went to bed.

CHAPTER TWO

Vanessa woke up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. She looked at the clock, six thirty, some things never change. Same old Ken. Up at six fifteen, splash some water on his face, cup of black coffee and go for a mile run then back for a shower.

Hutch entered the bedroom with a cup of coffee for Vanessa. "What time to you have to be at the hospital?"

"Ten. But please, I don't want you to drive me. I will take a cab."

"Come on Van, I'll drive you."

She looked at him with her deep blue eyes and gave him an icy stare, which he was very familiar with. "No. Thank you. I will take a cab." Her tone said loud and clear that that was the end of the discussion.

"Suit yourself."

"You go out for your run. I'll have breakfast ready when you get back. Scrambled medium."

"You've got a good memory."

"Eight minutes?"

"Well I've slowed down a bit, you'd better make that ten."

Hutch left the apartment.

As soon as he left Vanessa made a call to Hans Steen a fence in Amsterdam to confirm their arrangement to have a diamond cut.

Vanessa had barely begun to start breakfast when Boyle and Cardwell, associates of her employer Avery Wheeler, a fence, entered the apartment. They were looking for a seventy-karat diamond that Vanessa was supposed to bring to London for Wheeler. She promptly produced a velvet pouch from her purse and handed it to Boyle.

Boyle was pleased that he was going to be able to return the diamond to Wheeler. Cardwell found Hutch's badge and gun and showed them to Boyle. It just didn't get any better than this. Wheeler had told Boyle to kill Vanessa. He would do just that with Hutch's gun and when the smoke cleared the cop would be the prime suspect. Boyle placed a pillow over the magnum and shot her point blank in the chest.

Hutch finished his mile run in just under ten minutes. He was smiling as he climbed the stairs to his apartment. He opened the door and looked in shock at the sight of Vanessa lying still on the floor. He knelt beside her, he saw the bullet wound in her chest. Vanessa was dead. For a brief moment he was a cop and quickly surveyed the room. No one was there. He fell back onto the floor, stunned. After a few minutes, he gathered himself and called Starsky.

Starsky was still in bed shaking off the last remnants of blissful sleep when the phone rang.

"Hello." Starsky said through a yawn.

"Starsk, you gotta come over here, right away." Hutch's voice was weak and strained.

The distressed sound of Hutch's voice was all Starsky needed, "I'll be right there."

Starsky pushed open the door to Hutch's apartment. He saw the body on the floor that Hutch had covered with a blanket. The detective was certain it was Vanessa. He walked over to the body and pulled the blanket back and his heart fell when he saw her face. He then got a bottle of brandy from the cabinet. Hutch, obviously distraught, was sitting at the kitchen table, looking at some items he had gotten out of Vanessa's pocketbook.

Starsky poured him a glass of brandy and told him to drink it. Then he asked Hutch what happened. Hutch told him the events of the prior evening and this morning the best he could under the circumstances. When he was finished, Starsky called for a coroner's team and a crime lab. He also called Captain Dobey and apprised him of the situation.

Boyle gave Wheeler the diamond he had gotten from Vanessa. It took Wheeler ten seconds to eye up the diamond and realize it was a fake. He told his associates they would have to make another trip to the detective's apartment to look for the stone.

The detectives met with Dobey in his office. Dobey offered Hutch his condolences and then told him that Internal Affairs had to talk to him. Starsky protested on his partner's behalf, then Dobey reminded him that it was just routine, whenever someone was killed by a police officer's weapon Internal Affairs had to get involved. Hutch didn't like it any better, but he knew he had to go through the drill.

Hutch met with Simonetti and Dryden, two IA detectives that had all the warmth and personality of rattlesnakes. He told them what had happened. They were not impressed. Especially Simonetti. He decided to launch a full investigation. Dryden reminded him of what a good cop Hutch was. Simonetti reminded him of the face and body of the victim. A woman like that was the undoing of many good cops.

The first stop of the salt and pepper IA team was the Coroner's office. The Coroner, Dr. Morgan, told them the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the heart.

"We can see that doc." Simonetti wanted more from her than the obvious. "Hutchinson said she was going into the hospital to have a biopsy on a tumor."

"Tumor? No. This lady had no tumors. Actually she was very healthy. If that bullet hadn't come along, I'd say she had a very good chance of rocking great grandchildren to sleep."

"Hmmm." Simonetti said rubbing his chin and looking over at Dryden.

"There's more." The Coroner said waving her report at Simonetti.

"What is it?" Simonetti asked anxiously.

"Well the victim had skin and blood under the fingernails of her right hand. Blood type B-, skin texture Caucasian, Nordic type, most likely between the ages of 25 - 35.

Simonetti made a call and found out that Hutch's blood type was B-.

Simonetti crossed his arms in front of his chest and looked over at Dryden. "You go check out The Pits, see if you can find out anything about Hutchinson's rendezvous with his ex."

"Will do." Dryden turned and left the Coroner's office.

Extracting information from Huggy turned out to be pretty easy. Once Dryden pulled out the "brother to brother" card coupled with, I'm just a cop trying to help out a cop, well the combination made Huggy feel at ease talking about Hutch and Vanessa. He did get a little uneasy when Dryden pulled out a notepad, but he assured him it was a cop thing, they had to write everything down.

"So you did see them here last night?" Dryden asked.

"Sure. Hutch was a little nervous about seeing her."

Dryden laughed, "I guess he would be. Seeing your ex after five years can't be easy." He continued, "So they seemed to be getting along?"

"At first, then I dunno what happened but Hutch left in a hurry. He didn't even want the drinks they ordered."

"So you'd say they had a fight?"

"Well I don't know if I'd call it a fight, they had words."

"You don't consider "having words" a fight?"

"No, a fight to me means a lot of yelling and screaming and where I come from maybe fists." Huggy explained.

"Yeah, I hear ya. Well thanks for all your help Huggy."

"No problem. Take care."

Dryden reported his conversation with Huggy to Simonetti. They both agreed that Hutch's lie about Vanessa having a tumor and now the fight at The Pits was enough to have Hutch put on suspension. They walked into Dobey's office to tell him to do just that.

Dobey was livid. How dare these two headhunters come into his office and tell him to suspend one of his best detectives.

"Hutchinson is innocent, and I'd bet my badge on it!" Dobey shouted.

"Don't do it Captain, there are too many things starting to add up." Dryden calmly countered.

"And it warrants temporary suspension, until the investigation is concluded he should hang up his badge and gun." Simonetti continued.

Starsky and Hutch entered the office. Starsky started to say that Hutch had remembered something Vanessa had said but stopped when he saw Simonetti and Dryden in the office.

Dobey told Hutch that if he had something pertaining to the case he should lay it out.

"Well it isn't much," Hutch began. "Vanessa was talking about getting into some big money."

"From where?" Simonetti asked.

"I don't know where!" Hutch replied angrily.

"Didn't you ask?" Dryden questioned.

"Captain, I thought she was kidding or was into something shady, I didn't push it." Hutch said directly to Dobey.

"You're a police officer and you didn't push it when you thought she was into something illegal." Was Simonetti's snide remark.

"What are you trying to say Simonetti!" Hutch spat back.

"I'm just trying to decide whether you are lying, delinquent or just plain stupid."

Hutch started to go after Simonetti when Starsky stopped him, "Take it easy, come on, you're walking a thin line with these dudes."

"Yeah, okay." Hutch backed down.

"But I'm not." Starsky wheeled around and landed a punch on Simonetti's chin sending him crashing to the floor.

"Starsky!" Dobey yelled. "Now all of you cool it. You all right Simonetti?"

Simonetti pulled himself up off of the floor, "All right Captain, all right, it's your move. We're going full speed ahead with our investigation. Any other cop would've been suspended by now and you know it. If you don't want to make the decision the commissioner will."

Simonetti and Dryden left the office.

Dobey knew what he had to do. That was the problem with duty, it didn't always let you do what your heart told you.

"Huchinson I'm going to give you a couple of days off, no make it a week."

"What are you telling me."

"You don't make it easy, but as long as Internal Affairs is investigating this case you are temporarily suspended."

Hutch turned to leave the office.

"Hutchinson, Hutchinson!" Dobey yelled and he met him at the door. "I'll have your weapon and your shield."

Hutch placed his gun on Dobeys' desk and handed him his shield and then walked out of the office.

CHAPTER THREE

Hutch found Simonetti and Dryden searching his car. "Hey that's my car you're rousting. You got a warrant?"

That question piqued Simonetti's curiosity, "No, do we need one?"

"No, it's all right, search all you want. I got nothing to hide."

"Find anything Dryden?"

"Nothing."

"Be seeing you around Hutchinson."

Starsky met up with Hutch just as Simonetti and Dryden were leaving. "What were they doing?"

"Searching my car."

"Did they find anything?"

"No, but I would like to know what they thought they might find."

Hutch started to get into his car, "Where you going?"

"I'm gonna launch my own investigation. You go home. Sit tight. I'll catch up with you later."

Hutch saw that the door to his apartment had been jimmied. He carefully opened the door and saw Cardwell tearing up the place. He rushed in and grabbed him but was knocked unconscious by Boyle.

The thugs were not happy that they were unable to find the diamond. They knew Wheeler would be furious. They left Hutch; Wheeler hadn't given them specific instructions on what to do with him.

Starsky spent the remainder of the day following in Simonetti's and Dryden's shadow. He talked to the Coroner. He read Vanessa's address book and daily planner. It read like a Who's Who of the jewelry underworld. Fences, known thieves and unscrupulous jewelers. Avery Wheeler's name was written in red. There was also an appointment with Mr. Hans Steen of Amsterdam for the day she was killed. There was an appointment with Niles Cornwall for the day before she was killed. He found out that she exchanged a ticket for a flight to London for a ticket for a flight to Amsterdam. Vanessa kept excellent records of every stone she ever handled for Wheeler and included on her list was the Dallas Diamond.

Starsky was convinced that the evidence he gathered showed that Vanessa worked for Wheeler and was supposed to deliver the diamond. And when she didn't he had her murdered. This, to Starsky, proved Hutch was innocent. To Simonetti and Dryden it proved his guilt. Unfortunately there was one piece of evidence that Starsky knew nothing about, that would be the final nail in Hutch's coffin.

Hutch had a splitting headache. He leaned against the wall and surveyed his trashed apartment. There was a knock at the door. "Who is it?"

"It's me."

Hutch let Starsky in.

"What happened, you have a party last night with some very rowdy guests?"

"Well I didn't get the number of the truck that hit me, but before it did, I had my hands on Cardwell."

"Cardwell? He wouldn't work for the fence, Avery Wheeler by any chance?"

"Yes sir, he sure does. Guess we know what Simonetti and Dryden were looking for."

"Yeah, the same thing Cardwell and the truck were looking for."

"I guess Vanessa was supposed to deliver a piece for him and changed her avaricious little mind."

Before Starsky could say anything more, Simonetti and Dryden walked in.

"What are you two doing here?" Starsky asked.

Dryden looked around the room. "We have a search warrant. But from the looks of this place, someone beat us to it."

"Yes, Vanessa's killers. Cardwell was here. Hutch had him but then he was hit from behind and knocked cold."

"That's interesting, even Wheeler thinks you have the diamond Hutchinson." Simonetti said.

"The diamond?" Hutch questioned.

"Yeah partner, I was getting to that before Laverne and Shirley showed up. In Vanessa's planner there was a reference to the Dallas diamond. From the information I gathered, she was bringing it to Amsterdam the day she was killed."

Hutch was quiet. He sat on the couch.

"Hutchinson knows all about the Dallas diamond. Two years ago, a robbery and a homicide." Dryden explained. "The diamond was never recovered."

"That's because it was fenced out of this city." Hutch replied.

"You worked that case Hutchinson." Simonetti goaded.

"No way," Starsky said shaking his head. "Hutch has been with me ever since he came into the department."

"Give or take a few." Simonetti continued.

"He's right Starsk. You were in the hospital. I worked that case alone."

"The way we figure it Hutchinson and his ex were playing a game. Sitting on the diamond until it was safe to make a move. They had planned to deal with Wheeler then changed their greedy minds. They were a team, until Hutchinson here decided he didn't want to share anymore."

Two uniformed officers entered Hutch's apartment. Starsky was disgusted with this whole situation and didn't like where he feared it was heading. "You guys are crazy."

"The DA doesn't think so." Simonetti began. "The victim was killed in Hutchinson's apartment with his weapon, they had been seen having a fight at The Pits and now a million dollar diamond at the center of it all. Weapon, motive and opportunity. I would love to find the diamond though. Wouldn't care to tell me where it is, Hutchinson?"

"I have no idea. I never saw the diamond."

Simonetti took the arrest warrant out of his pocket and placed it on the coffee table. He then looked at the uniformed officers; "Do your duty."

"The younger officer walked over to Hutch, "Would you assume the position please?" Hutch placed his hands on the wall and the officer patted him down. "You are under arrest for the murder of Vanessa Tyler." He pulled Hutch's hands behind his back and cuffed him. He started to read him his rights but Hutch stopped him. "I know my rights."

Starsky was beside himself. "This is crazy. Hutch didn’t kill anybody!"

"Starsk, it's okay. You stay here, with them. Lock up for me when they're done." Hutch smiled, he was trying to maintain a calm demeanor.

"Sure partner. I'll see you later."

"Well Starsk uh, don't come alone. Bring a lawyer. I'm gonna need one."

The officers led Hutch down the stairs and into the patrol car.

Starsky let loose on Simonetti and Dryden, "You idiots are not going to find a damn thing here! Hutch is innocent. He had nothing to do with Vanessa's scheme. I'm telling you Wheeler had her killed."

"Well detective, that is an interesting theory, I am sure his defense attorney will use it at his trial. I also doubt we will find the diamond, Hutchinson probably has it stashed." Simonetti pushed Starsky aside. "Now either you leave or you just sit down in a corner like a good boy and let me and my partner do our job."

Starsky didn't like it but he obliged. He would stay until they were done with their search. Where was he going to get a lawyer this late on a Friday night? He'd ask Huggy.

CHAPTER FOUR

Hutch was brought down to central booking. He was fingerprinted and photographed. Then he was brought to the county jail. He endured a strip search and got his new clothes, county jail yellow shirt and pants. The white knight was placed in a cell with two other inmates.

"Hiya Blondie. Welcome to the frat house." The burly man sneered as he shoved Hutch into the wall.

"Look, I don't want to get into anything with you. I just want to go to sleep." Hutch's calm demeanor was starting to crack.

"You think that was getting into something. Well I'll tell you Blondie, if I wanted to get into it with you I would work over your pretty boy face to the point where they would need dental records to identify you."

"Come on Frankie, leave the guy alone."

"Shut up Billy. Just having some fun with him." Frankie shoved Hutch into the wall again and punched him in the stomach.

"Frankie, stop it!" Billy yelled. His loud reprimand got the guards attention as it was intended to. Billy was an older man who wore on his face the hard life he had led. He was no stranger to a jail cell.

"What the hell is going on in here. Frankie you better cut the crap." The guard looked over at Hutch who was sitting on the floor with his legs drawn up to his chest. "Are you all right."

Hutch just coughed and nodded his head.

"It is lights out and that means sleep boys. Don't make me come down here again. You won't like what happens if I do." The guard barked and directed his final comment to Frankie.

Billy helped Hutch to his feet and gave him the bottom bunk. Hutch gave him a firm handshake to show his gratitude.

Frankie put his face right up to Hutch's and said, "Tomorrow's another day, Blondie."

CHAPTER FIVE

Starsky went by The Pits and told Huggy what had happened to Hutch.

"Sure Starsky, I know a great attorney. But don't you know any?"

"Huggy all the attorneys I know are prosecutors. I sit on the other side of the room, remember?"

"Yeah I dig."

"So uh who you got?"

"My cousin, Susan Brown Attorney at Law. She was Stanford undergrad and Harvard Law." Huggy said with pride.

"Very impressive Huggy. So can you call her?"

"Sure thing. She's been pretty busy since she graduated last year but she'll make time for Hutch cause she'll do anything for her cousin Huggy. I helped put her through law school."

"Whoa Hug, back it up. She just graduated last year? I don't know about this."

"Not to worry Starsky. The lady is goooood. She does a lot of righteous work for the brothers in the ghetto, who don't always get a fair shake from our criminal justice system. She's great at wrongly accused. She's had way too much practice." Huggy's light tone had turned bitter.

"Okay Hug, call her, she sounds perfect."

Huggy called Susan and she came right over to The Pits. Starsky told her Hutch's situation. She said she would meet with Hutch tomorrow morning. Starsky told her he would bring her.

Hutch woke up. It was still dark outside. He had been in a very light sleep. He was grateful for any sleep at all. For a second he forgot where he was. Only for a second though. He had hoped it was all a bad dream. Unfortunately it was a nightmare that hopefully would be over on Monday, when he made bail. Hopefully, but with the way his luck was going he didn't have much hope.

Hutch tried to fall back to sleep but it was useless. He just stared into the darkness going over the events of the passed few days in his head for the thousandth time. It was quiet, he liked the silence. The silence was broken by six thirty a.m. when the guards started banging on the cells to wake the inmates up.

It was time for breakfast. Hutch thought seriously about skipping the most important meal of the day, but thought better of it. He didn't need Frankie to smell fear. If he did, that would only make matters worse.

Billy jumped down from his bunk and sat next to Hutch. "Stick with me kid. My name is Billy."

Hutch shook his hand and said, "Glad to know you Billy, my name is Ken."

They headed for breakfast. Hutch stuck with Billy and his cronies. They were all four and five time losers, no violent crimes, burglaries.

During breakfast, Billy had become very chatty, "Yeah, I've been around the block a few times. Didn't get a damn thing this last time. They had a dog." Billy laughed and pulled up his pant leg to show Hutch the deep bite wound that the Doberman inflicted. "I figure after this one, I'm gonna spend my final days in San Quentin. You would think I would've figured out two arrests ago that crime doesn't pay." Billy let out a loud guffaw.

Hutch gave Billy a half smile, not sure how he should take what Billy said. He wanted to laugh along with him, but how could losing your freedom for the rest of your life be something to laugh about? Hutch had only lost his for less than twenty-four hours and he felt like crying.

"Hey it's okay kid. I'll get three square meals, a roof over my head and medical and dental care. I couldn't get that when I played it straight." Billy didn't laugh, but a wistful smile crossed his face. The rest of the gang nodded in agreement.

"So what are you in for Ken?" Billy winked at his pals. They all expected to hear about some white-collar crime.

"Murder. They think I killed my ex-wife." Hutch looked at the group; he had their total attention. Billy's eyes grew wide. He didn't expect that. "You didn't do it. I know. I know a guilty man when I see one and I know an innocent man. And you are as innocent as a newborn babe."

"Thanks Billy. Can I uh request you for my jury?" Hutch chuckled.

"That's the spirit kid, don't let it get you down. So you’re here waiting to be arraigned?"

"Yeah."

"Eh, you'll be outta here on Monday, guaranteed."

"I hope you're right Billy. Hey what is Frankie charged with?"

"Armed robbery that led to murder, cold-blooded murder of a cashier and a customer. He's been convicted. He's here waiting to be sentenced. He's guilty as sin." Billy shook his head. "I never carried a gun. Never wanted anyone to get hurt. Just take the money and run. Not saying that makes what I did acceptable, but at least I can say no one got hurt, except me." The band of thieves nodded in agreement.

"So all you guys waiting to be sentenced?" Hutch asked keeping in the spirit of the conversation.

"No. Maury and Sam are waiting to be sentenced. Bob and Lou are waiting to be arraigned on Monday like you. So we won't be seeing you guys after Monday. That's the thing about this place, you meet a lot of new people. Guys are coming and going all the time. They're either waiting to be sentenced or to be arraigned. Some are serving out short sentences, no more than six months. Then there's the poor slobs that can't make bail or didn't get it, so they are stuck here waiting for trial." Billy let out another loud guffaw. Yeah I'm one of those poor slobs, but at least I got something to eat." Billy lifted a fork full of what was supposed to be part of one of the four food groups and shoved it into his mouth.

"Hey Billy, you know me and Lou will be back. We sure as hell ain't making bail. So only Ken here will be getting out on Monday." Bob chimed in.

Bob lifted his cup of juice in a mock toast, "Here's to Ken's freedom on Monday."

Hutch smiled and lifted his cup, "Thanks fellas, I sure hope you're right."

Frankie was watching Hutch and his new found friends from across the room.

"Whatcha looking at Frankie?" Fat Rolly asked. He liked to hang around with the tough guys; it made him feel important but more than that he felt safe being on their team. Fat Rolly was a five-time loser. He was a fence but also did some strong arm work for the mob. Starsky and Hutch had busted him a few weeks ago for the latter, he busted up a bar pretty good. He was denied bail so he was waiting for his trial. He had hoped for a plea bargain, but one was not forthcoming as of yet.

"I'm looking at Blondie over there and thinking how I would love to tear his head off."

Fat Rolly turned around and couldn't believe his eyes. "I know that guy. He's a cop. His name is Hutch. Him and his partner busted me.

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I wonder what the hell he is doing in here. Hey Manny, look over there, it's Hutch." Fat Rolly tilted his head in Hutch's direction.

"Well whaddaya know. Hutch. I'd sure like a piece of him." Manny said biting on his lower lip.

"Don't worry guys, we'll get him. Let's just say tonight might be his last supper."

After breakfast the inmates were led back to their cells.

Hutch lied on his bed, sullen and quiet. Frankie glared at him from his bed on the opposite side of the cell.

Billy noticed Hutch's sullen mood. "Cheer up kid, you're halfway home. It's always darkest before the dawn."

Hutch smiled at Billy, "Words of wisdom huh Billy."

"That's right. With age comes wisdom, either that or a lot of catchy phrases." Billy guffawed again. He thought of himself as pretty funny.

Hutch laughed out loud this time. He thought Billy was funny too.

A guard named Barry came to the cell to bring Hutch to meet with his attorney.

"See I told ya, it's getting brighter by the minute." Billy gave Hutch the thumbs up.

CHAPTER SIX

Hutch was brought into the room where Starsky and Susan Brown were waiting.

"How ya doing pal?" Starsky said flashing his best smile.

"Great, just great. Got a private room with a view. And look at the great outfit they gave me. I told them yellow wasn't my color, green was, but they said yellow was the only color it came in." He sat across from them at the table.

"Very funny Hutch. I guess I asked for that. Well this is Susan Brown. She is a Harvard Law graduate. She's also Huggy's cousin."

Hutch reached over the table and shook the hand of the very pretty African American attorney. She was petite, 5'2" and 100 lbs soaking wet. She had big warm ebony eyes and the whitest straightest teeth and the most spectacular smile. She relaxed her dark brown hair so it draped on her shoulders.

 

She noticed him noticing her youthful appearance. "Yes I am young. I graduated from law school last year. But I am good at what I do."

Hutch raised his eyebrows, "What exactly do you do?"

"I have successfully defended nearly a fifty clients."

"Very impressive. And how many have you unsuccessfully defended?"

"A little less than that."

"Well at least you win more than you lose." Hutch rested his chin on his clasped hands and looked over at Starsky.

Starsky looked back and the two pairs of blue eyes met.

"Well if Starsky trusts you, then so do I."

"She knows how to handle the tough circumstantial evidence cases."

"Like mine."

"Exactly like yours detective. I'm not going to lie to you. The prosecution has a very strong case."

"Circumstantial!" Hutch pounded his fist on the table.

"Yes I know. But unfortunately, people go to prison based on circumstantial evidence. And the evidence against you is very convincing."

"Convincing? Are you convinced?"

"I'm convinced you are innocent."

"Hutch I told Susan that I believe Wheeler had Vanessa killed. I told her that we can prove that she worked for him. We know she was going to bring the diamond to Amsterdam."

"But?" Hutch heard the but in Starsky's voice.

Susan continued, "Your partner has very nicely connected Vanessa to Wheeler and the diamond, but unfortunately you are connected to Vanessa and the diamond. Unless we can…"

Hutch cut her off, "Yeah unless we prove that I wasn't connected to Vanessa prior to the moment she called me. Unless we can prove I never had the diamond." Hutch put his head in his hands in despair.

Susan reached over and touched him on the arm, "Hutch, we don't have to prove anything. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. We just need to raise some good old reasonable doubt. We can punch holes in the evidence. Starsky is headed in the right direction, with an alternate theory of the crime. He just needs to beef it up a little."

"I'm gonna do just that partner, don't you worry."

Hutch nodded. "Did the diamond turn up?"

"No, not yet. We'll know in a couple of days if Wheeler's guys found it in your apartment. Huggy figures if they didn't, he'll hear it through the grapevine that it's out there cause there are a lot of interested parties."

"Namely Avery Wheeler."

"Namely me Hutch, if I could get my hands on that stone, I could go to Wheeler with a deal and with a little luck get a confession out of him."

Susan threw her hands up, "Uh guys I really don't need to hear this, but a confession would be nice."

"Starsk, you know if you find that stone you've got to turn it in. If you're caught, oh God no buddy you don't want to be in this place."

Susan spoke up, "Speaking of this place, we would like to get you out of here on Monday. Let's talk about bail."

"Yes let's." The thought of bail put a little sparkle back in Hutch's eyes.

"Okay, you can expect a very high bail, I'd say half a million."

Hutch threw his head back and sank into his chair the sparkle in his eyes gone as quickly as it came. "Whaddaya mean half a million, why so high?"

"The charge is murder one. And you also have your fellow boys in blue to thank."

"Huh?" Hutch and Starsky said in unison.

"Remember the cops that were busted for killing that drug dealer and stealing the drugs from a bust, and I believe they were also suspected of bribery and receiving and selling stolen property." Susan continued shaking her head, "Yeah they were just LA's finest."

"So what’s the lesson here counselor?" Hutch knew the answer but he asked anyway.

"The lesson is those cops made bail and skipped. The blue wall has since gone up in their precinct and they are fugitives from the very laws they vowed to uphold. So my dear Hutch, the judge is going to be very cautious when setting bail for a cop accused of a crime. He is going to care more about the court of public opinion than a court of law."

"That stinks." Hutch said at the same time that Starsky sighed, "Terrific."

"Of course I will argue how wonderful you are and wave your exemplary record around like a flag. But I still expect a high bail. But let me warn you, you so much as look at someone cross-eyed, point you finger, raise your voice, you can kiss your bail goodbye. Don't even look sideways at anyone. Please Hutch. You have to be the model prisoner. Understood?"

"Of course. I'm not looking to pick any fights with anyone, but… "

"No buts. Even if someone comes after you, you mustn't strike back. You must not fight, please run away, so you can get bail on Monday."

Hutch laughed. It wasn't a laughing matter, but if he didn't laugh he'd cry. "You are definitely Huggy's cousin."

Barry the guard came in and told them that their time was up. Hutch rose from his chair and shook Susan's hand, "Glad to have you as my lawyer. Well I guess I'll be seeing you Monday morning."

Hutch extended his hand to his partner, who instinctively pulled him into a tight embrace. "I'll see you tomorrow Hutch, hang in there."

Barry watched the emotional exchange between the two men with intense interest. He led Hutch out of the room. He smacked Hutch on the rear end and leaned in close to him and whispered seductively, "Hang in there baby."

Hutch looked at the guard, his eyes wide as saucers, showed how stunned he was by what had just happened. Barry just laughed. Hutch was put back into his cell. He immediately tried to put the guard's actions out of his mind.

Susan was quiet on the ride back to her office.

"Great tune… Tramps like us, baby we were born to run." Starsky sang, drowning out Springsteen.

Susan laughed.

"That's better, I thought I lost you there for a minute. Is anything wrong?"

"Well Starsky, I am a little concerned about bail."

"Yeah I know, a half a mil is a lot, but hey we only need ten percent, right? I'll come up with it somehow."

"Well you know the judge doesn't have to accept ten percent." When Susan saw the dismayed expression on Starsky's face she quickly added, "But he most likely will."

"Oh please Susan, don't scare me like that." Starsky saw Susan was obviously concerned about something else, "There's something else, what is it?"

"I am very worried that something is going to happen in jail that will prevent Hutch from getting bail."

"Not to worry. Hutch, he's a good boy. He was a Cub Scout and a Sea Scout. He's got a temper, but he knows how to control it, better than me, that's for sure."

"That's not it. You see Starsky, jail can be a lot like grammar school."

"What?"

"You remember in grammar school, while the teacher was writing on the blackboard, little Johnny and little Mikey would be having a spitball fight. And little Johnny would accidentally spit one that hit the teacher square in the back. And she would turn around and ask who was responsible and of course no one would own up to it."

Starsky sighed, "Yeah, so the whole class would be punished because the teacher didn't know for sure who did it. And even if she did, she knew punishing everyone for Johnny's mistake would go a long way in teaching a lesson."

"Exactly and your blond, blue-eyed WASP partner is the type that gets hassled."

"So Hutch is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't."

"Maybe. Let's just hope for the best. You say he can control his temper?"

"Yes."

"Good. I'm a worrywart. I'm probably worrying for nothing."

CHAPTER SEVEN

Hutch decided to skip lunch. He knew Frankie was gunning for him and he didn't want to push his luck. He made his point at breakfast. There was still dinner and all day Sunday to get through. Hutch tried not to think that far ahead, one meal at a time.

"Hey kid, you want me to sneak you an apple or something?" Billy said concerned.

"Nah, it's okay Billy, I'm not hungry. Not really doing much of anything to work up an appetite."

"Sure kid."

After all Hutch's cell mates left for lunch, Barry entered the cell. "Not hungry, handsome?"

"No." Hutch said looking down at the floor; he didn't want to make eye contact.

"I guess that is how you keep that great physique of yours." Barry grinned at Hutch.

Hutch didn't answer.

Barry put his hand on Hutch's shoulder and said, "It will be okay." And left the cell.

Hutch didn't know what to make of this guy. But he wasn't going to give it too much thought.

Frankie and Billy returned from lunch. Billy brought Hutch a banana. Hutch thanked him for thinking of him and put the banana under his pillow.

An hour before dinner the inmates were allowed out into the prison yard. Hutch took a deep breath of the fresh air. 'The things we take for granted.' He thought to himself.

Frankie was determined to get Hutch. This was the opportunity. The guards were spread thin in the prison yard.

Fat Rolly decided to go right up to Hutch and ask him what the hell he was doing here.

Hutch couldn't hide his surprise as Fat Rolly approached him.

"Hey Hutch, surprised to see me? Can't understand why, considering the fact you and your partner put me here. I'm the one that should be surprised and believe me, I am."

"Yeah Rolly. I guess you would be."

"So Hutch, what the hell are you doing here?"

"I'm undercover. But I guess that ain't gonna last, you spotted me." Hutch hoped Fat Rolly would buy this story.

"And Manny did too." Rolly said pointing to Crazy Manny Suarez.

"Crazy Manny, I'm not worried about what he says. Everyone knows he's nuts. After just talking to the guy for two minutes you know he isn't playing with a full deck. I think he still gets flashbacks from the LSD he used in the sixties."

Rolly squinted his beady little eyes until they were almost slits and stared hard and long at Hutch trying to decide whether to believe him or not.

"I'll tell you Rolly, you keep this between us and back me up if Manny starts telling everyone I'm a cop and I promise I will see the DA on Monday."

Rolly's eyes got big real quick. He bought it. Not that it was hard to pull one over on Fat Rolly.

"Okay, okay. You got it." Rolly laughed. "I knew it had to be a scam. You'll see the DA on Monday, right?"

"Absolutely." Hutch waved to Fat Rolly as he walked away. Hutch drew in a deep breath and blew it out. Well it wasn't a complete lie; he was going to see the DA on Monday.

Rolly walked over to Frankie and told him he was mistaken about Hutch. It really didn't matter; he wanted to beat the crap out of Hutch even before he thought he was a cop.

Frankie and Manny approached Hutch. Manny knew Hutch was a cop and he didn't care if no one believed him. He was going to exact some revenge.

Manny shoved first. Frankie followed with a blow to Hutch's mid-section then a right hook into his chin. Manny started kicking him in the shins. Hutch just tried to protect his head and face. He could handle the bruises to his legs and body. He figured the assault should only last a couple of minutes. But minutes feel like hours when you are getting beat up. He just kept reminding himself of what Susan had said about fighting. He did not want to jeopardize his chance of getting bail.

Frankie clasped his hands together and with all his might struck a blow to the back of Hutch's head sending him to his knees. A few guys had gathered around obstructing the guards' view. Billy saw the assault on his friend and decided to take action. He told Lou to get a guard. Billy decided to join the fray. He saw that Hutch was not defending himself and he knew why.

Lou told a guard that Hutch was being attacked. In just a matter of moments the whole ordeal would've been over, but in those same moments Billy tried to pull Frankie off Hutch. Frankie wheeled around and landed a punch with great force into Billy's temple sending him crashing to the ground. That was it for Hutch. He couldn't hold back anymore. He uncoiled and with all his strength he landed an upper cut squarely on Frankie's chin. A knockout that Ali would've envied. And the guard was witness to it as he walked toward the fight. Then Hutch turned on Manny who threw a punch that Hutch easily blocked. Now a crowd had gathered and was chanting "Fight, Fight, Fight."

The guards broke through the crowd and broke up the fight by putting chokeholds on both Hutch and Manny.

The guard released Hutch from the hold when he realized he wasn't going to give him any trouble. Hutch ran over to Billy who was drifting in and out of consciousness.

"Hey kid. You okay?"

"Yeah Billy. Help's on the way. You really didn't have to jump in like that. I do appreciate you helping me out though. But I thought I had it under control." Hutch gave Billy the biggest smile he could muster.

"If that's what you call under control, I'd hate to see what you call taking a beating." Billy let out a weak guffaw. "Take care of yourself kid. Don't lose hope. It's all we got, it's what gets us up in the morning."

"More words of wisdom Billy." Hutch said fighting back tears.

"Nah, but how about another catchy phrase, There's no such thing as a free lunch." Billy had a tight grip on Hutch's hand, which now relaxed. His weary blue eyes closed for the last time.

The guard pulled Hutch to his feet. "Well now you did it pal. It's off to solitary for you. I hope you enjoyed your lunch cause you ain't getting dinner."

Manny and Hutch were placed in solitary confinement. Frankie was brought to the infirmary.

Hutch was thrown forcedly into the seven by six feet cell. There was only a mat on the floor and a toilet. There was no window and only a narrow slot in the door, like a mail slot, for the food trays. A light bulb hung from the ceiling and when that was shut off at ten o'clock, Hutch would be plunged into total darkness.

The battered blond sat on the mat with his legs crossed, his back leaning on the wall. He thought about his life, his happy childhood in Minnesota and his high school graduation. Boy voted most likely to succeed. How he made Dean's list every year in college. His graduation from the police academy and his marriage to Vanessa. So much promise, so much hope. He thought about the other women in his life that didn't stay. He thought about Gillian. She would've stayed. But she was murdered. "Vanessa was murdered, and I'm the prime suspect. Stop feeling sorry for yourself Hutchinson." Then he thought about Starsky, the one constant in his life. He could always count on Starsky. He was so very lucky to have a friend like him. Hutch fought the tears that kept building in his eyes.

Hutch was getting cold and he was hungry. "Should've eaten the banana Billy brought me." He thought about Billy. He could see his face clearly. And the tears that he tried so hard to fight, came flooding down his cheeks.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Starsky headed over to the jail around one o'clock. Visiting hours were from one to three. He couldn't believe what he was told.

"I'm sorry, Hutchinson isn't allowed any visitors."

"Why?" Starsky glared at the guard.

"Because he is in solitary. No visitors when an inmate is in solitary. Those are the rules."

"Why is he in solitary?"

"He was involved in an altercation yesterday afternoon. He attacked two inmates. A third inmate was killed."

"I want to speak to the warden." Starsky was determined to see Hutch. He was ready to use his badge.

"Fine." The guard brought Starsky up to the warden's office.

"I need to see Ken Hutchinson. It's police business." Starsky said with authority.

"Hutchinson is in solitary, no visitors, but you say it is police business?"

"Yes."

"Fred bring Sgt. Starsky to interrogation room B and then bring Hutchinson there."

"Yes sir."

Nothing could've prepared Starsky for what he saw when Hutch was brought into the room. He was in shackles. He was battered and bruised. He was in dire need of a shower and a shave. Mouthwash would've been nice too.

"Could you take the shackles off of him?"

"No. No can do. He was written up for a fight. The shackles stay on."

"Could you leave us alone please."

"I'll be right outside the door."

"Fine."

Hutch sat across the table from Starsky.

"Hutch what happened?"

"Two guys attacked me. One of them was Crazy Manny Suarez."

"Hutch but didn't you think, think about what Susan said?"

"Of course I did damn it. But he hit Billy. He killed him Starsky."

"Who is Billy and who killed him, Manny?"

"Billy was a nice guy, funny too. He lost his life because he tried to help me. Frankie killed him." Hutch wanted to wipe the few tears off his face that he felt falling, but he couldn't lift his hands above his waist, because the shackles that were handcuffs attached to a chain around his waist and linked by another chain to ankle cuffs.

"Easy Hutch. I guess you did what you felt you had to do." Starsky searched his pockets for a tissue but came up empty.

"That’s right. I did what I thought… oh I don’t know Starsky, maybe I didn't think; maybe it was a reflex. I don't know. But he hit Billy."

Starsky stepped outside the room and told the guard to bring him a box of tissues. The guard told Starsky he could not leave the door. Starsky told him that he'd better get the tissues if he knew what was good for him.

Fred called Barry to bring a box of tissues. Barry brought the tissues into Starsky, when he saw Hutch in the interrogation room he told Fred he would watch the door.

Barry watched as Starsky wiped the tears from his friend's face. He was getting excited. He wanted to be the one wiping Hutch's tears away.

"Starsk I know I blew any chance at bail. But I had no choice."

"I know, I know." Starsky squeezed Hutch's shoulder. "I'll call Susan and tell her what happened."

Hutch looked into Starsky's sad eyes. "I know things look pretty bleak right now. We'll just have to take it one day at a time."

"Yeah Hutch, but it could be months before your trial."

"No, you'll get me outta here before then. What's the matter give up on the case already?"

"Never. But Hutch just in case I can't prove who killed Vanessa, I've gotta work on that reasonable doubt."

"Glad to hear you've got all the bases covered." Hutch smiled. "Starsk, don't lose hope. It's all we got. It's what gets us up in the morning. It's always darkest before the dawn."

Starsky shook his head and chuckled, "Oh some parting words of wisdom for me?"

"Not words of wisdom, more like catchy phrases." Hutch laughed.

"What?"

"Never mind, I'll see you tomorrow."

"Hey Hutch, how did it get turned around that you're cheering me up?" Starsky smiled at his partner.

"It didn't get turned around. We cheered each other up."

Starsky helped Hutch up from the chair and gave him a hug. Starsky told the guard that their meeting was over.

Barry took Hutch back to his cell. "You're arraignment is tomorrow. You can take a shower later or tomorrow morning whichever you prefer."

"Can I have both?"

Barry brushed his hand down Hutch's cheek. "Maybe. I'll see what I can do." He removed the shackles. Hutch walked quickly into the cell.

Around eight o'clock Barry returned with two guards to bring Hutch to the showers.

"Because you are in solitary you get to shower alone. We'll be right outside of course so don't think of trying to escape." That was Barry's attempt at humor.

Barry and two other guards took Hutch to the showers. He couldn't shake the feeling like he was a Christian about to be fed to the lions. He seriously considered passing on the shower, but he needed and wanted it desperately.

They got to the shower area. "Okay, strip." Barry said smiling.

Hutch froze.

"What's the matter, you're not going to take a shower with clothes on, are you? Don't worry, I don't bite."

Hutch looked at the other two guards, who through all this maintained a stony fašade.

Hutch took off his clothes and handed them to Barry. He stepped into the shower. He could've stood there for hours just letting the hot water fall over his body.

"You need soap?" Barry tossed Hutch a bar of soap, low at his knees. Hutch was unable to catch it. "Well aren't you going to pick it up?"

Hutch squatted down and picked up the soap. He decided this was going to be a very quick shower.

Barry was getting very aroused watching Hutch wash himself. Barry thought his trim and muscular body was a work of art. He fantasized about caressing his firm buttocks and kissing his smooth chest. He wanted him so badly. But there was a time and a place for everything. He would be patient. Soon enough he would have his way with this blond god.

Monday morning finally arrived, but it no longer held the promise it did just a day ago. Hutch's bail hearing went as expected because of the fight. Bail was denied. Hutch was remanded to custody until the trial.

CHAPTER NINE

Hutch wasn't returned to a regular cell until Tuesday. He had three cell mates now. Two were waiting for trial. The third, a man named Roger Johnson, had been in prison since his arrest eight months ago but his trial was over and he was waiting for sentencing. By the end of the day, Roger and Hutch found out they knew someone in common, Susan Brown.

"I'd seriously think about getting a new lawyer man." Roger said with disgust.

"Why? I heard she's very good."

Roger laughed. "Good, if she was any good I'd be home with my wife and kids right now. But instead I'm looking at a possible life sentence. I'm telling you man, I am innocent. The cops railroaded me."

"How's that?" Hutch asked genuinely interested.

"They never even checked my alibi. Said they couldn't find the guys I was with. They let the other robber they caught make a deal, if he testified against me! I wasn't even there, but some white bitch drug addict hooker swears it was me. No way man. They say I was the triggerman. It may have been a brother, but not me. But a white bartender got killed, so someone has to take the fall and fast. So I was the first brother they could get their hands on. And that's all she wrote."

"I'll see what I can do. I know people. I'll have them reopen your case."

"Really man, you'd do that for me? And who do you know that can reopen my case? You just blowing smoke?"

"No, not at all. I can, really."

"Well that's great man, what have I got to lose."

Frankie and Manny had both been sentenced and were now at San Quentin. Because of the fight, and Hutch's K.O. of Frankie, nobody even thought about hassling him. Things were nice and calm for the blond cop, but that was going to change very soon.

Starsky came to visit Hutch every day. Huggy came as much as he could and so did Dobey.

"Hiya buddy. Hanging in there?"

"Yeah. Starsk uh, when you gonna bring me that cake with the file in it?"

Starsky gave a half smile.

"What's the matter Starsk."

"Hutch, I have been all over your neighborhood, hoping someone saw Boyle and Cardwell. No one saw them. A few ladies noticed you jogging though."

"Starsk, no one said it was going to be easy."

"Yeah well I guess if I can't prove who killed Vanessa, I just gotta beef up that reasonable doubt."

"You're sounding more like a lawyer than a cop."

"Well it's a lot easier to get reasonable doubt than proof positive. If I could find that diamond Hutch, I know I could get Wheeler. Huggy said the word is out, Wheeler is looking for it."

"Hey maybe you'll get lucky."

"Hutch tell me about that robbery/murder case."

"Okay, well I was the first one on the scene. I had been visiting you at the hospital that's why I was in that part of town. I was heading for the station when I heard the call that a gunshot was heard. The maid was shot once in the head."

"The fifth precinct was involved in the case too right?"

"Yeah, they rousted Fat Rolly, he had most of the stolen items, but not the diamond."

"No charges were filed against him."

"Right. I think Fat Rolly had the diamond Starsk."

"Yeah and when he was rousted, the cops at the fifth precinct took it."

"I thought that case stunk. I got the information on where to find the thief, Leo Fortier, from Fat Rolly. When I got to his place, he was dead, overdose. I didn't find the diamond, just a few of the stolen items. Everyone figured the diamond was the first thing he fenced. Detective Hodge from the fifth precinct was there. He said that Rolly told him where to find Leo. But Starsk, Rolly asked for me. He would only talk to me. He was pretty nervous. I really don't believe he told Hodge where Leo was. He said Leo was a friend, and that he knew I would give him a fair shake."

"You're thinking Hodge knew where Leo was holed up and killed him?"

"Yeah that was my gut feeling, but you can't arrest anyone on a feeling. Hodge had busted him a few months before the robbery, but the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. He was also never arrested on any drug related charges whatsoever. I thought the o.d. was pretty convenient. But with him dead, and most of the stolen property recovered, the case was closed."

"Maybe I should have a talk with Fat Rolly."

"I can do that. He's here."

Starsky looked surprised.

"Remember we busted him for busting up that bar?"

"Yeah, I guess he didn't get bail. Has he told everyone you're a cop?" Starsky asked nervously.

"Well I told him I was undercover and that if he kept it quiet I would see what I could do for him with the DA."

"And he bought it?"

"Yeah, he sure did."

"You know Hutch, Hodge is one of the cops on the lam now. And I found out they had pretty high bail, a quarter mil each and all three made it. I think they brought the diamond to Wheeler for fast cash. I'd love to punch a hole right through that blue wall at the fifth precinct."

"I think it would take a lot more than a punch to bring that wall down Starsk."

"Well when I was investigating the Johnson case you asked me to reopen, I spent some time at the fifth precinct. I think I found a weak link, a rookie, Mark Dillon. I had a nice long conversation with him, I hope he calls me."

"Starsk, how is it going with Johnson's case?"

"Well like I said, that little gem that was handled by the fifth precinct, Hodge and Geiger to be precise. Well buddy, I ran down Johnson's alibi, it really wasn't to difficult it was a nice day so I took the hour drive up the coast and found the guys who he said he was playing cards with. They said he was there all night. Then I interviewed the lovely eyewitness. She couldn't tell you and me apart if her life depended on it. I found three ladies that were listed as witnesses in the file but were never talked to. When I asked the arresting officer why, he said they were unreliable. Three secretaries out for a drink after work were unreliable, but the junkie hooker was. They say the triggerman was not Johnson, similar but not him. To black ladies, black men don't all look alike."

"Sounds like he'll get a new trial."

"Definitely. You see the only reason Johnson was picked up is because he fit the general description of the killer. Johnson also was a regular at the place. The cops had a mug shot of him because he was arrested years ago for stealing a car and going for a joy ride. They put his pic in an array and the first witness to pick him out won. Then of course they waved a deal in front of the accomplice so he would testify. The accomplice had no priors so I figure the other guy didn't either. The cops over at the fifth precinct couldn't be bothered trying to find him. They would actually have to do some work."

"Very impressive detective work Starsk."

"It gets better. I figured the real perp would be feeling lucky and try another robbery. Bingo. A few months ago he tried to rob Vinnie's Bar. Mistake. That is a big hang out for wise guys. He was busted; not just by the cops but Vinnie's pals as well. Well I brought the three secretaries down and they picked him out of the mug book immediately."

Hutch clapped, "Very impressive partner."

"Thank you, thank you. But Johnson really has you to thank."

"I guess he doesn't know any of this yet. He hasn't said a word to me."

"No he wouldn't, this all just came to fruition yesterday. Susan said after she filed the motion for a new trial, she would come here and tell him the good news. She figures that with all the new evidence, the DA won't re-file the charges. He'll be a free man."

"That's great." Hutch said a little melancholy.

"It will be your turn soon buddy, I promise. Have you seen Susan today?"

"No she was here a couple of days ago. She only comes if she needs to which is fine by me. Uh Starsk, I told Dobey and Huggy they didn't need to come too often either and well buddy, the same goes for you, everyday is not necessary. And maybe you guys could work something out where you come together, like say once a week?"

"What tired of my company?" Starsky saw Hutch's uneasy posture. "What's wrong?"

"Starsk, this is kind of embarrassing."

"Spit it out. It's me Starsk."

"Well every time I have a visitor, I have to go through a strip search. And there's a guard here that enjoys it way too much for my liking."

"Aw buddy, I didn't think about that. This guard he hasn't…"

"No, no he just makes me uncomfortable. It is not a pleasant thing to begin with." Hutch looked down at the floor.

"Okay, I'll see you next week. Call me if you need anything." Starsky reached out and touched Hutch's hand.

"You've been taking care of my plants?"

"Yes of course, every other day, well either me or Huggy. Oh I almost forgot. I have some checks you need to sign. Rent, gas and electric, phone and two credit card payments." Starsky slid the checks, along with a pen, across the table to Hutch.

"The phone bill is a little high."

"Yeah, well there's a call to Amsterdam on it."

"Oh great." Hutch sighed.

"Take it easy, Susan said it's not the end of the world."

"Sure." Hutch signed the checks. "I hope my finances hold up, if this drags on too long I'm going to run out of money."

"Don't worry about that Hutch."

Hutch started to protest but Starsky wouldn't hear it. "Hutch I've got you covered."

CHAPTER TEN

Lloyd Barry wanted Hutch back in solitary. He persuaded two inmates to attack Hutch. He promised there would be no retribution against them. They agreed. A guard could make an inmate's life either very pleasant or very miserable. Barry had extra clout. His father was the Superintendent of the Dept. of Corrections.

After the visit, Hutch was strip searched and returned to his cell. Roger was waiting anxiously for him. He had fantastic news.

"Hutch, you did it, man. I'm getting out of here in a couple of days. Thank you, thank you so much. I owe you big time. You ever need anything, anything at all, just name it."

"That's great news Roger, but you really have my partner to thank." Hutch wanted to pull back the words as soon as he said them.

"Partner? Whaddaya mean, partner?"

"Uh." Hutch didn't know what to say.

"Well either you're gay or a cop. I really don't think you're gay, so that leaves cop."

"Yeah, I'm a cop, I asked my partner, Dave Starsky to reopen your case."

"Well I am deeply indebted to you both."

"No problem at all. Glad we could help. You know most cops want to do their job."

"Yeah, I know."

The inmates were let into the prison yard as scheduled and hour before dinner.

Hutch took this opportunity to talk to Fat Rolly.

Rolly was being harassed by a couple of guys. Hutch got them to back off. They remembered the fight he was in and the knock out punch to Frankie.

"Hey Rolly."

"Hey Hutch, thanks. So did you talk to the DA for me?"

"Well Rolly, that's what I came over here to talk to you about. I need some information from you about that diamond that Leo brought you."

"I dunno what you're talking about."

"I know you had the diamond. Tell me, the cops took it right?"

"The cops got all the stolen stuff, there wasn't that much."

"The diamond wasn't turned in."

"I never had the diamond. Leo didn't bring it to me." Was Rolly's skittish reply.

"You're sweating Rolly. I have to know what happened to that diamond. You know the DA is building a case against those cops. If you tell him that you had it and the cops took it, he will give you a deal. You'll walk out of here the next day."

"I heard those cops skipped."

"They'll be caught, every cop in the country is looking for them."

"I dunno, no, no. Never had it." The sweat was pouring off Rolly's face.

"Come on Rolly, don't you want to see them put away. Hell they killed Leo. I thought he was your friend."

"Yeah he was. I told him not to mess with those guys."

"So what's the story Rolly, Hodge get Leo to rob the place. He knew the diamond was there?"

Rolly shook his head, "No man, Hodge wanted Leo to get some pictures and I think a tape. He told him he could have whatever else he ripped off, within reason."

"Yeah that was Juan Cabrera's house. It's his murder they were up for." Hutch thought how this was all starting to add up.

"Well Leo got the pictures and tape out of the safe and he hit the jackpot, the diamond. He figured it wouldn't be reported stolen cause he thought it was stolen to start out with. You know Cabrera was a drug dealer."

"But it was reported, because it belonged to his cousin who was visiting from Dallas, it was her stone." Hutch added.

"Yeah well the diamond was a little more compensation for Leo than Hodge had in mind."

"Leo brought you the stone?" Hutch asked intensely.

"What difference does it make?"

"It makes a lot of difference because they think I took it!" Hutch yelled and then quickly regained his composure.

"You're not undercover Hutch, are you?"

"Give the guy a cigar. Rolly, please, just tell me the truth."

"And you're gonna talk to the DA for me, ha ha."

"No, Starsky will. Rolly, you'll get a deal. Come on, have I ever crossed you? I give you my word."

Rolly thought about it a second, Hutch and Starsky never went back on their word. "Alright. Leo brought me the stone. I told him it was way out of my league. He told me to hold onto it. He was afraid Hodge might come after him. It was Hodge and his partner Geiger, they took it and told me it was in my best interest to say I never had it."

"Thanks Rolly. I'll call Starsky, I'm sure he'll be here tomorrow with the DA."

"Good. You know I'm doing this for Leo, right?"

"Yeah."

Before dinner the inmates were allowed to use the pay phone. Hutch was first in line.

"I need to speak with Starsky. This is Hutch."

"Oh hi Hutch, uh Starsky left." Was the uneasy reply.

"Well put me through to dispatch please, maybe he is in the car."

"Sure thing. How ya doing Hutch?"

"Just fine, Miller, thanks for asking."

"Hi Mildred, it's Hutch, could you see if you can raise Starsky, it is important."

"Of course Hutch, how are you?" She said with genuine concern.

"I'm doing okay, thanks for asking."

Starsky was on his way to meet Officer Mark Dillon. He called Starsky and said he was ready to talk. Starsky was to meet him at St. Matthew's Cemetery, section 12, plot 27.

"Zebra three, Zebra three this is control over."

"This is Zebra three over."

"Starsky, I have Hutch on the line."

"Put him through."

Hutch told Starsky about his conversation with Rolly. Starsky said he would talk to the DA when he was through with his meeting with Dillon.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Starsky pulled into the cemetery parking lot and then headed for section 12, plot 27. When he got there Dillon was placing some flowers on a grave.

"Hey Starsky."

"Dillon."

"My old man is buried here. He was killed in the line of duty."

"Yes I know. Your dad was a good cop."

"Yes he was. I asked myself what would he do. Then I called you."

"He'd be proud. I'm going to tape our conversation."

"Sure, well I can tell you where the three fugitive cops are. Hodge, Geiger and Pappas."

"You've got my total attention."

"You know I didn't want to go along with it. But I'm just a rookie, they are my superiors." Dillon paused to compose himself. "We took them to Mexico in a van. It's real easy for cops to take a van into Mexico."

"Yeah, so who's the we and where in Mexico?"

"Detective Jaworski and Detective Phillips. We brought them down to Tijuana, to a small house. The address is 1256 Calle de Blanco."

"You're sure they are still there."

"Yeah they're still there."

"Thanks Dillon." Starsky turned the tape recorder off.

"You know, I thought all for one and one for all and that I worked for the good guys."

"It's not easy kid, the bad guys don't always wear black hats."

"I know, but I never thought they wore blue."

CHAPTER TWELVE

Hutch got in line for dinner. A short but large Black man got in line behind him, he motioned to his friend, a tall muscular Hispanic man to cut in front of Hutch.

Hutch just rolled his eyes when the man cut in front of him. Soup was on the menu for this evening. Hutch got a bowl full of hot soup poured down his back by the Black man. Hutch's body stiffened with the pain. The Hispanic man dumped his food onto the floor and yelled at Hutch for dumping it. Hutch looked at him with amazement. Then the Hispanic slammed his tray into Hutch's stomach and slammed his foot onto Hutch's foot. When Hutch doubled over the Black man hit him on the back of the head with his tray. Hutch fell to the floor.

Barry motioned to a couple of guards to move in. They already knew what they were supposed to do. Barry was the head guard with powerful connections. He could make a guard's life very pleasant or very miserable.

The two guards pulled Hutch to his feet.

"Thanks guys." Hutch said.

"Don't thank us, you only have yourself to blame."

"What are you talking about?"

"You're going to solitary Blondie."

Hutch was thrown into the cell. His back hurt but the soup was hot, not boiling, he figured his back suffered a first-degree burn.

The light went out at ten o'clock sharp. With nothing to do but stare into the blackness, Hutch fell asleep. He was only asleep about an hour when the door opened and Barry accompanied by two guards stepped into the cell. Barry told the guards to put Hutch into the shackles and wait outside. They were not to come in unless he called for them.

Barry pushed Hutch up against the wall and pressed his billy club across his neck. "This can be pain or pleasure, it all depends on you." Barry took the club off of Hutch's neck. Hutch bent over and with all his strength hit Barry in the chest with his head sending him to the floor. Barry immediately retaliated with repeated blows to his prisoner's body.

Barry pushed Hutch onto his knees and grabbed him by the hair. Then he pulled him up again and pressed his gun to Hutch's temple. "I guess you prefer pain."

"What do you want from me?"

Barry kept the gun at Hutch's head and pulled his and Hutch's pants down. "This is what I want and I always get what I want." Barry started kissing Hutch's neck and cheek. He put his hands between his thighs. He caressed his buttocks. When Hutch tried to resist, which was very difficult with the restraints on, Barry hit him and pushed the gun into his temple.

"I will have you now." Barry whispered into Hutch's ear.

Hutch couldn't believe what was happening to him. He was being sodomized, raped.

When Barry was finished he pushed Hutch down onto the floor. "Just to let you know, you'll be in solitary for six days. That means you're mine for five nights. See you tomorrow night lover. Oh and don't think you can tell anybody about this. They won't believe you anyway nor will they care. When you are in here baby, you are mine."

Barry called for the guards and they removed the shackles.

Hutch huddled in a corner of the cell. He was filled with rage that manifested itself into uncontrollable sobs.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Starsky and the DA, Robert Gelman, got to the prison first thing in the morning. Gelman was more than happy to make a deal with Rolly. He wanted as much ammo as possible in his case against the cops from the fifth precinct. He greatly reduced the charges so that Rolly would be a free man; his time served being more than adequate for the reduced charges.

As Starsky was about to leave the prison, he seriously considered trying to see Hutch. It wasn't visiting hours, but he had his badge. But then he reconsidered after remembering what Hutch told him. Next week would be soon enough. Maybe by then he would have some really good news to tell his partner.

The next stop for Starsky and Gelman was the fifth precinct. Two detectives joined them there. They had an arrest warrant for Jaworski and Phillips. Starsky went up to the desk sergeant to ask where to find them. The sergeant was obviously distraught.

"What's the matter Sergeant?" Starsky asked.

"We lost one of our own last night. A rookie shot during a robbery. And what really stinks is the perps got away."

Starsky held his breath as he asked the next question, "Who?"

"Patrolman Mark Dillon."

Starsky's heart fell. He looked at Gelman, "Of course the perps got away, that was a hit dressed up as a robbery."

Starsky placed Jaworski and Phillips under arrest. He still had the tape. Patrolman Dillon did not die in vain.

In Tijuana, the Mexican police and Federal Marshals apprehended Hodge, Geiger and Pappas exactly where Dillon said they would be.

Now in custody, Geiger became very cooperative. Hodge and Pappas on the other hand maintained a stony silence.

A warrant was issued for Avery Wheeler's arrest.

Starsky burst in Dobey's office he was furious. He also looked very handsome, in full dress uniform; he had been a pallbearer at Mark Dillon's funeral.

"Captain!" He roared.

Before he could yell anymore, Dobey directed his attention to the corner of his office, where Robert Gelman was seated.

Starsky immediately directed his anger at him.

"What the hell is going on? I get a call that Wheeler has been picked up and he's gone before I get here."

"I made a deal with him."

"A deal."

"Yes Starsky, a deal. He will testify in the trial against the detectives from the fifth precinct."

"What do you need him for, you got Geiger and Rolly?"

"Hodge and Pappas are shut tight. I want more than just testimony from an accomplice and a two-bit fence. I want the man himself to say he bought the diamond from those cops."

"You could've kept him here long enough for me to take a run at him."

"Oh I see you were hoping that you could get a confession out of him." Gelman rolled his eyes. "I don't remember you complaining when I made a deal with Rolly, you wanted that deal."

"That was different."

"Sure it was, it benefited your partner. Well Wheeler's deal does too, it confirms that Hutch didn't have the diamond from the beginning."

"So you gonna drop the charges against Hutch?"

"No way, it also proves that Vanessa had the diamond and Hutch was the last person to see her alive."

"Oh I see, Wheeler will be testifying at Hutch's trial too? That was part of the deal, wasn't it? You and your damn deals."

"If it gets me what I want, a murderer in prison, yes I make deals. I don't like murderers, especially cops that murder. Bad cops, that disgusts me the most. I intend to get them all."

Starsky just glared at him.

"Don't look at me like that, you know you'd do the same, don't tell me that you've never chosen the lesser of two evils."

Starsky didn't respond.

"You know, I am prepared to make your partner a deal."

"Gelman, you can take your deal and put it where the sun don't shine. Hutch isn't gonna take any deal. Innocent men don't take deals."

"Some might, if they think they can't win."

Starsky exploded, "You bastard, this isn't about the truth, this is about winning!" Starsky lunged at Gelman.

Dobey sprung into action and put his large frame between Starsky and Gelman. "Starsky, calm down. I mean it, back off!"

Starsky walked away from Gelman.

"It is about taking evidence into a courtroom and proving to a jury that that evidence is the truth." Gelman shouted back.

"It’s not about the truth. It's about lawyers matching wits. Putting on their best performance for the audience, the jury. You aren't looking for a verdict, you are looking for an Academy Award for best performance by an attorney."

"You can't be a police officer and really believe that. Our system of justice may not be perfect, but it's still the best."

"Yeah, the system is fine, it's the people in it that are bad." Starsky said with disgust.

"No Starsky, imperfect. The people in it are imperfect." Dobey added.

"So we live with that Captain, just as long as most of the time, the guilty are imprisoned and the innocent go free." Starsky was near tears.

"I only prosecute when I have sufficient evidence to go forward. That is my duty. I have sufficient evidence to prosecute Hutchinson. Goodbye Captain Dobey, Starsky." Gelman left the office.

"Starsky I believe 99% of the time justice is served. I have to or I couldn't wear the badge. I believe justice will be served in Hutch's case."

"I hope to God you are right Captain."

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The second night in solitary was even worse for Hutch. Barry was incensed. Hutch had told a guard what happened and pleaded with him for medical attention and to contact the warden. The guard instead went to Barry. Barry would make Hutch pay for this. Barry repeatedly put Hutch in a chokehold and wouldn't release it until he nearly passed out. He burned his body with a cigarette. He used his body as a punching bag. When his prisoner was too weak to move, he raped him.

The third night, Hutch decided to play the passive lover. He hoped that if he could convince Barry that he realized it was useless to fight, so he was ready to cooperate, he wouldn't put the shackles on him. That was Hutch's only chance of ending the nightmare.

Barry entered the cell as usual, an hour after lights out. Hutch was put into the shackles. It took all the strength he could muster, but Hutch didn't flinch when Barry started kissing him and fondling him.

"Oh so you finally got it huh, Blondie. Resistance is useless."

"Yeah."

"Isn't so much nicer without the pain?"

"Uh huh." Hutch was trying to control his rage.

"Well show me how much you want me."

Barry told Hutch to get on his knees. "Kiss it baby."

'Oh God' Hutch thought to himself. Barry wanted oral sex. Hutch was certain he couldn't pull this off. He was right, he couldn't. He threw up. Barry was not amused but not angry either.

"I guess you never did that before huh?"

"No."

"It's alright, you get E for effort. Now bend over."

Barry was very aroused so it was over quickly.

"See you same time tomorrow night lover."

Hutch kissed Barry on the cheek. "You know Barry, I may not be able to give you oral sex, but if you don't put the shackles on me tomorrow night, I could show you other ways I can make you feel good." Hutch couldn't believe he actually said that.

Barry was intrigued. "I'd like that. We'll see. Goodnight, I'll send a custodian in here to clean that up."

All the next day Hutch hoped his performance was convincing enough so that Barry wouldn't put the shackles on him. He also wasn't feeling well. He feared he might have internal injuries from the beatings. He had discomfort in his abdomen, he was afraid his spleen was injured and could rupture at any time and that meant certain death. Hutch knew he had to end this tonight. It was no longer just a matter of him not wanting to be assaulted, it was a matter of life and death. He was able to keep a plastic knife from his dinner tray because he was accidentally give two. So when the tray was collected and the utensils were counted, they were all accounted for. Hutch broke the knife so the end was sharp and pointed. He had a weapon.

Barry entered the cell. He handed one of the guards his gun and told them the shackles weren't necessary. As soon as they left, Hutch lunged; he drove the knife into the side of Barry's neck. Hutch knew where to inflict the injury, so it would hurt him but not kill him. Barry yelled for the guards to come in. Hutch was ready for them. As soon as the first one stepped into the cell, Hutch put him in a chokehold and disarmed him. He had a hostage.

Hutch had only one demand. Starsky had to be there in twenty minutes. The guards reached Starsky at the station and they called the warden. Starsky arrived in fifteen minutes with Captain Dobey. The warden arrived a few minutes later.

As soon as Hutch saw Starsky and Dobey he released the guard. He showed them the massive bruises and burns. He told them how Barry had raped him for three days. He told them how he feared his spleen ruptured and that he had to get to the hospital right away.

Starsky had spent the night sleeping in a chair in Hutch's hospital room. The blond was right, his spleen had ruptured, without emergency surgery, he would've been dead in a few hours.

Hutch woke up first. His first instinct was to get out of the bed but he quickly discovered he was cuffed to it. A nurse came in to check his vitals. Her entrance woke Starsky.

Starsky looked over at his partner, "Morning."

"Morin." Hutch mumbled, he had a thermometer in his mouth.

"Don't talk." The nurse scolded. "It'll just be a minute."

After she left, Starsky and Hutch talked.

"Hutch, I spoke to the warden. He knows all about Lloyd Barry. He says the doc at the jail; well he's treated many men who were victimized by him. Though none as bad as you. But none of them would press charges. They were all headed for hard time so they didn't want it known that that they had been raped. And Lloyd is the son of Dennis Barry, the Superintendent of the Dept. of Corrections. The warden couldn't touch him."

Hutch was silent.

Starsky continued. "Well I told the warden Lloyd Barry's reign of terror was over. You would be pressing charges."

"Oh really. You told him that without asking me how I felt about it."

"What? Of course you're going to press charges. You have to."

Hutch didn't answer and he wouldn't look at Starsky.

"Hutch I know this has been hell for you. I can only imagine what you are feeling. But the only way to put it behind you, is to press charges against the bastard."

Hutch remained silent. His face turned away from Starsky.

"Hutch, buddy, look at me. Talk to me."

"I'm scared." Hutch closed his eyes and a single tear fell down his cheek.

"I know. But buddy if there ever was a 'who do we trust time', it's now."

Hutch opened his eyes and looked at Starsky and the two pairs of blue eyes met and he said, "Like always, me and thee."

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Starsky bounded into Gelman's office.

Gelman looked up from the file he was reading, "Sgt. Starsky, I've been expecting you."

"Damn it Gelman, you made a deal. You gave that low life bastard Barry a deal. What about Hutch and all those other men he victimized."

"Look, I didn't have all those men, I only had Hutch. I wasn't about to risk going to trial and having some high priced lawyer come in and twist your partner into a pretzel. My way he goes to prison. Starsky, you have been on my side of the courtroom countless times. You know how it can go down."

"Yeah I know. I've got a few nominees for best performance by a defense attorney."

"I'm sure you do."

"So what was the deal Gelman, five to ten?"

"No, twenty-five, minimum."

"You got him to agree to twenty-five?"

"Yes, when I explained that each count could carry a sentence of twenty years, and like you said there were so many men, I guess twenty-five looked like a bargain."

"Wait a minute, you said you only had Hutch."

"I did, but he didn't know that."

"So you lied." Starsky smiled.

"Not lied, embellished. Hey who's to say some of the other victims wouldn't have come forward."

"I guess I can go to Hutch and tell him he got twenty-five."

"Yes. You see Starsky, I'm not the enemy."

Starsky's smile vanished, "Oh yes you are. You are prosecuting Hutch. That makes you an enemy."

Gelman leaned back in his chair and shook his head, "Oh man, how did I not see it, your condemnation of the criminal justice system and ranting and raving about truth and justice. All your righteous indignation was never about any of that. It was always about Hutch."

"He's my partner."

"Well I guess that says it all."

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

It had been a few weeks since Hutch was released from the hospital and returned to the county jail. It was obvious that the abuse Barry had inflicted on him had taken a toll. A cold that he developed that he could usually shake in a few days was lingering. He had a nasty cough.

Hutch entered the visitors' room for his weekly visit with Starsky. He was surprised to see Susan with him.

"Hiya buddy, we've got great news. Go ahead Susan, tell him."

"Your trial is set to begin on Monday."

Starsky and Susan waited for Hutch to say something but he didn't.

"Hutch that's five days away." Starsky said holding up his right hand.

"I know how many days it is." Hutch coughed.

"Well you don't seem too happy. I expected a smile at least."

Hutch put his index fingers on either side of his mouth and pushed up the corners of his mouth into a smile. "How's that for a smile." Hutch coughed some more.

Susan scratched her head, "I don't get it either Hutch, we've been looking forward to this day for months."

"I know. But you know when you've waited and waited for that day that you think is gonna set things right and then its almost here and you realize well… I guess it's just nerves. I'm happy, but I'll really be happy after the trial is over." Hutch had a coughing fit.

"Hutch are you all right? You need a drink of water?" Starsky asked concerned.

Susan brought Hutch a cup of water. He drank it.

"Thanks. Yeah had a tickle in my throat. I had a cold a couple of weeks ago, just can't seem to shake it."

"You're sure that's all, just a cold?"

"Yeah, yeah. You know I think I'm gonna go back now and take a nap."

"Oh Hutch one more thing. I told him to shove it, but it is my duty as your lawyer to tell you about any offer the DA makes."

"Oh can't wait to hear this one."

"Murder Two, fifteen to twenty-five years."

Hutch laughed and coughed. "And you told him to shove it, good. Well guys I'm outta here." Hutch coughed. "I'll see you, what Sunday." He coughed some more.

"Yes, we will go over your testimony and go over the case in general."

"Hey pal, you better go to the infirmary and see about that cough. We want you healthy."

"Yeah I will. Don't worry I'll be fine. Wild horses couldn't keep me out of that courtroom on Monday."

Hutch was late meeting Susan and Starsky. After about twenty minutes Starsky was really worried. He was about to start asking questions when Hutch came in.

He looked terrible. He was pale, sweating and shivering from chills. He was still coughing.

"Hutch what's wrong?" Susan placed her hand on his forehead. "Oh dear, you're hot. You must have a fever."

"Hutch did the doctor say what it is, you did see the doctor?" Starsky jumped in.

"To answer both your questions I do - 101 and I did. I have bronchitis."

"Oh Hutch, maybe I should ask for a continuance."

"No way. I'll be fine. I do not want a continuance. Believe me I've been a lot sicker than this." Hutch gave a sideways glance to Starsky who smirked because he knew Hutch was referring to the plague that almost killed him.

"All right if you say so. You're the boss. Let's get started." Susan started reviewing the case with Hutch. They went over his testimony a dozen times. He had to be perfect; he was his best defense. She peppered him with questions like the DA would at trial. They were ready.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

"All rise. In the Matter of the People vs. Kenneth Hutchinson this court is now in session. The Honorable Edward J. Mathiason presiding."

Mr. Gelman's opening statement.

"The People intend to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant, Kenneth Hutchinson, killed his ex-wife Vanessa Tyler in his apartment with his .357 Magnum. A weapon that was entrusted to him by the people of the State of California through their public servant the Los Angeles Police Department. He killed her for a seventy-karat diamond worth one million dollars that the deceased received from a man, a fence, named Avery Wheeler. It is the People's contention that when Mr. Hutchinson found out about the diamond, he killed his ex-wife. We believe that after you, the jury, have heard all of the evidence in this matter you will find for the prosecution and hand down a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree."

Susan Brown's opening statement.

"The defense concedes that Vanessa Tyler was killed in my client's apartment with his .357 Magnum. But that is all we concede. It is our belief that the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client killed Vanessa Tyler. We believe that after the prosecution presents its case we will be able to show you, the jury, that the evidence is at best circumstantial and we will give you an alternative theory of the crime that is just as plausible as the People's theory. The defense believes that after closing arguments have concluded and you go into deliberations, you will realize that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and will have to find my client not guilty."

The prosecution's case began with the testimony of the Coroner, Dr. Morgan. She read directly from her report, "The victim was killed by a single gunshot wound to the heart. The victim had skin and blood under the fingernails of her right hand. Blood type B-, skin texture Caucasian, Nordic type, most likely between the ages of 25 - 35.

Autopsy revealed no tumors and the deceased was in good health at the time of death. No evidence of sexual relations."

Gelman asked her a few more questions, "Dr. Morgan please refer to the medical file of the defendant. What is his blood type?

"B-"

"His age?"

"34 years."

"And what were the findings of the skin sample taken from the defendant?"

"Defendant has skin texture Caucasian, Nordic type."

"No further questions your Honor."

"I just have one question for the witness your Honor." Susan said.

"Dr. Morgan in your expert opinion how many 34 year old Caucasians of Nordic descent with B- blood live in the Los Angeles area?"

"Maybe several hundred."

"Maybe several hundred?"

"Yes. I really don't know exactly how many."

"But you can say with certainty that my client is not the only one?"

"Yes."

"Thank you, no further questions."

A ballistics expert, Michael Rivera, Ph.D. testified that the murder weapon was the defendant's Colt Python .357 Magnum. And he could say it with certainty.

Next were the testimonies of Simonetti and Dryden. They basically gave the same testimony. That Hutch said Vanessa called him and wanted to meet with him. They met for drinks at a bar called The Pits. Hutch claimed that Vanessa said she had to go to the hospital the next day for a biopsy on a tumor. She asked him if she could spend the night. She did. They did not have sexual relations. The next morning Hutch said he went out for a mile jog, which was his routine and did not take his gun, and when he returned he found her dead.

"Detective Simonetti, what, if anything, during your interview of the defendant, made you suspicious of his story."

"When he told us that he didn't know what hospital the deceased was to have the biopsy because she was going to take a cab. I mean who has their ex-wife stay at their apartment because she has to have a biopsy and then doesn't take her to the hospital, doesn't even know what hospital?

"So that prompted your investigation?"

"Yes that and a gut feeling."

"Yes a cop's gut feeling is legendary," Gelman added. "What evidence led you to request that the defendant be suspended?"

"The coroner's report for one, she said there were no tumors in the deceased and that there was blood and skin under the fingernails of the deceased consistent with the blood type and skin type of the defendant. And then Detective Dryden's interview with Mr. Brown where Mr. Brown told him that the defendant and his ex wife had a fight in his bar."

"So then you went to the defendant's superior, Captain Dobey and asked for his suspension?"

"Yes."

"Did Captain Dobey immediately oblige?"

"No."

"No. Did he offer a reason for his reluctance to suspend the defendant?

"Yes, he said he believed the defendant was innocent and he'd bet his badge on it. Dryden advised him that wasn't a good idea because of the evidence we had so far."

"So then did he finally agree?"

"No, you see Hutchinson and his partner Starsky came into the office. Starsky said that Hutchinson had some information pertaining to the case but was reluctant to let Hutchinson talk about it in front of myself and my partner, Dryden."

"Did Hutchinson reveal this information?"

"Yes when Captain Dobey told him to."

"And what was the information?"

"That the deceased had told him that she was getting into some big money. But he didn't know from where and that he thought she was either kidding or into something shady so he didn't push it."

"Did you have any response to his statement?"

"Yes I said to him how could he be a police officer and think that his ex wife was into something illegal and not push it. I told him that he was either lying, delinquent or just plain stupid."

"I'm sure he appreciated that. What was his response?"

"He didn't have one. He did start to come at me, but his partner stopped him."

"Thank goodness his partner was there, right?"

"No, because Starsky punched me. A good shot to the jaw, sent me to the floor."

"Well you did insult his partner. I suppose you would've done the same thing if someone said those things about Dryden?"

"Only if I thought it were true."

"So Detective, after all this, did Captain Dobey suspend Hutchinson."

"Well I told him if he didn't I would go to the Commissioner. So he finally did."

Simonetti also testified that their investigation uncovered the fact the Vanessa had a ticket to London that she exchanged for a ticket to Amsterdam. Her planner and address book were entered into evidence. It was noted that the names in her book were the names of known fences, including Avery Wheeler, thieves and unscrupulous jewelers. It was noted that in her planner there was an appointment with Mr. Steen in Amsterdam for the day of her murder and one with Mr. Cornwall in London, for the day before her murder. It was also noted that under Avery Wheeler's name was a list of stones that included the Dallas Diamond.

Gelman asked Simonetti to explain what the "Dallas Diamond" was. He explained that the diamond was stolen from the home of Juan Cabrera. The diamond belonged to his cousin from Dallas so the press starting calling it the Dallas Diamond. Copies of newspaper articles about the robbery and a picture of the diamond were entered into evidence. Simonetti went on to testify that the maid was murdered and that Detectives Hutchinson, Hodge and Geiger investigated the case.

Hutch's phone bill with the call to Amsterdam that was made the morning of the murder was entered into evidence. Gelman asked Simonetti if he thought Vanessa was supposed to deliver the diamond at some point to London for Avery Wheeler and then changed her plans and was taking it to Amsterdam. Susan objected on the grounds that this was pure speculation because no proof had been offered that she had been given the diamond. Gelman argued that direct evidence would be forthcoming later in the trial so the judge overruled Susan's objection. So Simonetti testified that that is what he thought.

Dryden's testimony corroborated Simonetti's and included his conversation with Huggy. He took out his notepad where he wrote down what Huggy had told him about Hutch and Vanessa's meeting. That Mr. Brown said the defendant was nervous, that the defendant and the victim had a fight and the defendant left in a hurry, skipping the drinks he had ordered.

Susan's cross-examination basically tried to show that the evidence was circumstantial. That Simonetti and Dryden could only say with certainty that Vanessa had the diamond, not Hutch. That if it was as they testified, that Wheeler had given the diamond to Vanessa to deliver to London and then she changed her plans, Wheeler would have a motive to kill her. And since Hutch had left his gun in his apartment when he went for his run, a weapon was available. She also showed that the phone call could've been made when Hutch was out jogging, therefore he may not have known about it. She reminded them that since they testified that Hutch and Vanessa had a fight wasn't it possible that Vanessa told Hutch she had a tumor so he would take her back to his place. They said yes, it was possible. And if so, she would have to tell him not to take her to the hospital, since she was really going to the airport. They grudgingly agreed.

Huggy was called to the stand.

"Mr. Brown, you are the owner of a bar called The Pits."

"That is correct."

"You are a friend of the defendant's?"

"Yes."

"Can you tell about the fight between the defendant and the deceased?"

"Wait a minute, I never said they had a fight, I told Detective Dryden they had words."

"Mr. Brown isn't that just semantics. Having words, having a fight are the same thing."

"I don't think so. To me a fight is yelling and screaming. Having words is just a conversation that ain't going so well."

Laughter rippled through the courtroom.

"Fine Mr. Brown. They had words. Just tell me what happened on the night in question."

"Well Hutch came in, had a couple of beers at the bar. He told me he was meeting his ex-wife. She comes in and walks over to the bar. They order drinks. Hutch orders her a Brandy Alexander. I remember because my bartender didn't know how to make one so we had to look it up. She orders him a vodka and tonic with a twist. I remember that because I know Hutch to only drink beer. At that point they seemed happy to see each other. They go over and sit at a table. But when I come over with the drinks, well they weren't happy anymore. You could tell they had words. Vanessa looked upset and so did Hutch. He just told me to put the drinks on his tab and he left. And she followed after him."

"How long were they at the table?"

"They couldn't have been talking more than ten minutes."

"Did Hutch seem angry to you?''

"Well maybe a little. I just figured that they didn’t click after five years. They were divorced after all."

"No further questions your Honor."

Susan just asked a couple of questions. Huggy needed to say something about this on Hutch's behalf. He said that they never raised their voices and that they just looked a little upset.

Huggy felt terrible that he was a witness for the prosecution. He knew he'd be back as a character witness and that made him feel a little better. As Huggy stepped down from the stand, he looked over at Hutch. Hutch gave him a wink and a smile.

Court was recessed for lunch.

Hutch was taken to a holding cell and given a bologna sandwich for lunch. Starsky joined him.

"What are you doing here?"

"Whaddaya mean what am I doing here, I'm having lunch with my partner." Starsky plopped in a chair right outside the cell.

"Thanks. Where's your lunch?"

"It's coming." Starsky noticed Hutch's sad demeanor and thought a little pep talk was in order. "You know, I think Susan did a great job out there. She smeared reasonable doubt all over their evidence. I think its going great so far and we get last licks ya know."

Hutch just nodded.

"How ya feeling?"

"I feel a little better."

Huggy, Susan and Dobey came in with some Chinese food.

"Forget that bologna sandwich partner, lunch is here."

CHAPTER EIGTHTEEN

The prosecution called Avery Wheeler to the stand.

"Please state your name for the record."

"Avery Wheeler."

"Mr. Wheeler you are a fence, correct?"

"Yes. I prefer the term jewelry dealer though. I do also have a legitimate business."

"Could you explain to the jury, what a fence is?"

"A fence buys and sells stolen property. But I only deal in jewels. Very expensive jewels."

"Like the Dallas Diamond."

"Exactly."

"Did you ever have possession of the Dallas Diamond?"

"Yes."

"How did you gain possession, did you steal it?"

"No, I bought it."

"That's right, you are a fence. You don't steal, you buy things, jewels, that have already been stolen by someone else."

"Correct."

"So who did you buy the diamond from and when did you buy it?"

"I bought it from two police detectives named Hodge and Geiger, six months ago."

"How much did you pay for the diamond?"

"One hundred thousand dollars."

"I'd say you got a bargain considering it's worth a million. So what did you intend to do with your purchase."

"I was going to sell it to Niles Cornwall, a London jewelry dealer."

The prosecutor entered into evidence a sworn statement by Mr. Cornwall that he was indeed expecting Vanessa to bring him a diamond that he intended to purchase.

"How do you know the deceased Vanessa Tyler?"

"She worked for me."

"In what capacity and for how long?"

"As a courier, that is she delivered jewels for me to various associates. She worked for me about two years."

"Did you give Vanessa Tyler the diamond to bring to London."

"Yes."

"You trusted her?"

"Completely."

"I guess you would have to, to hand her a million dollar diamond. So you weren't worried when she missed her flight to London."

"Not at all."

"No further questions your Honor."

Susan began her cross-examination of Avery Wheeler; He had his testimony down pat and he was unflappable.

"Mr. Wheeler did you enter into a deal with the District Attorney in exchange for your testimony?

"Yes we made an arrangement so I could testify freely about my profession. But the deal you are referring to was also made in part for my testimony in the trial of Detective Hodge and Detective Geiger."

"Whatever, you made a deal?"

"Yes."

"Mr. Wheeler you would have this court believe that you would hand a million dollar diamond over to Vanessa Tyler and not be concerned when she failed to make the delivery you arranged?"

"That is correct. In the course of her two year employment I had given her millions of dollars worth of jewels to bring to various associates all over the world. She never failed me."

"She did this time."

"No, I didn't think so. Vanessa was a free spirit. She had changed plans before. If she decided to bring the stone to this Mr. Steen that meant she felt he was giving us a better deal."

"Oh so Vanessa was more than just a courier. You allowed her to make deals?"

"Yes, in the beginning she was a courier, but over time I found out what good business sense she had, she was very beautiful which didn't hurt when dealing with male associates, so I gave her a free hand."

"A free hand with a diamond worth a million dollars."

"Yes I did because I trusted her implicitly."

"Trust and criminals. They say crime makes strange bedfellows. So you are telling us Mr. Wheeler that there is honor among thieves?" Susan turned away from him and headed back to the defense table, it was a rhetorical question.

"Yes."

"Yeah right."

"One final question, Mr. Wheeler did you have Vanessa Tyler killed?"

"No. I did not."

"No further questions your Honor." She said from her seat.

Detective Geiger was brought in to corroborate Wheeler's testimony that he and Hodge did indeed sell the Dallas Diamond to Wheeler. And he admitted he did also enter into a deal.

The prosecution rested its case.

Court was adjourned for the day and would commence at nine o'clock the following morning.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

"All rise. This court is now in session. The Honorable Edward J. Mathiason presiding."

"The defense calls Detective Sergeant David Starsky to the stand."

"Please state your name for the record."

"David Michael Starsky."

"You are a detective with the rank of sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department, correct?"

"Yes."

"What is your relationship to my client?"

"Hutch is my partner."

"How long has Hutch been your partner?"

"Six years."

"That's a long time. Cops tend to be close to their partners. Would you describe your relationship with your partner as close?"

"Yes. Hutch is closer to me than my brother."

"So close that you would trust him with your life?"

"Yes."

"And he would trust you with his."

"Yes."

"That's pretty close. Starsky when did you first become aware of the crime my client is accused of?"

"When Hutch called me and asked me to come to his apartment."

"He called you and told you that he found his ex-wife dead and to come right over."

"No."

"No?"

"No, I could tell he was upset when he called so I just went over."

"When you arrived what did you observe, as a police officer?"

"Hutch was sitting at the kitchen table looking at some of Vanessa's things. Her body was on the floor covered with a blanket. I walked over, pulled back the blanket to look at the body, I saw the gunshot wound."

"Then what happened?"

"I got a bottle of brandy from the cabinet, poured Hutch a glass and asked him what happened. I also called for a coroner's team and a crime lab."

"And what did he tell you?"

"Hutch said that he let Vanessa spend the night because she had to go to the hospital, for a biopsy on a tumor. He told me he went out for his run, and when he got back he found her dead."

"Did you ask him if he killed her?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because it never ever crossed my mind at all that Hutch might have killed her."

"Why?"

"Because Hutch wouldn't kill anyone. I know this in my gut and in my heart and with every fiber of my being."

"You do know now Sergeant that the deceased didn't have any tumors?"

"Yes."

"How do you explain Hutch telling you she had a tumor?"

"Because Vanessa told him she did. Hutch can be overly trusting when it comes to women that he loves and he loved Vanessa. So if she told him she had a tumor he wouldn't question it, he'd believe her."

"I guess the same reason, him being overly trusting of women he loved, would explain why he didn't question her about her not wanting him to take her to the hospital or how she was getting into big money?"

"Yeah."

"Can you think of another time when Hutch was overly trusting of a women he loved?"

Starsky paused. He knew that this question was coming, he had gone over his testimony a dozen times with Susan. He also knew Hutch knew. But he still hated to have to bring it up in open court. He looked over at Hutch and the two pairs of blue eyes met and Starsky proceeded with his testimony.

"Yes. There was a woman that Hutch was in love with, she told him she was a writer."

"That wasn't the truth?"

"No. She was a … prostitute, a high priced call girl."

The courtroom was a buzz. The judge pounded his gavel and called for order.

"Did Hutch find out the truth on his own?"

"No, I told him."

"You told him, that must have been difficult."

"Yeah but I had to tell him the truth, he is my partner, my best friend. That's all Hutch and me deal in, the truth. If your gonna be partners you gotta know who you can trust." Starsky looked over at Hutch.

"Yes, so I guess that is why when your partner doesn't give you much to go on, he just says hey Starsky, what can I say, I went out for a jog and I came back and she's dead. You believe him because you trust him."

"Yeah. With my life."

"Starsky besides this unwavering trust you have as his partner, as a police officer, what convinces you that Hutch didn't kill Vanessa?"

"Avery Wheeler gave the diamond to Vanessa to bring to London. Vanessa exchanges the ticket to London for one to Amsterdam. Wheeler finds out that Vanessa doesn't make it to London with his million-dollar gem. Wheeler has his guys looking for Vanessa and they find her at Hutch's. And when Hutch goes out jogging his guys come in and kill her."

"What would be the motive for killing her?"

"Because she crossed Wheeler. Guys like Wheeler, criminals don't like to be crossed."

"How long would you say Hutch was gone?"

"Hutch, he can do a mile in eight to ten minutes."

"Do you think eight to ten minutes is long enough for someone to come in and kill someone?"

"Of course it is. It only takes a second to pull a trigger."

"Well just for argument's sake lets see how long eight minutes is. We'll say that Hutch ran well the morning of the murder." Susan took out a timer and set it for eight minutes.

"Well since we know that she was killed with Hutch's gun, that would mean they had to take some time to search the apartment to find the gun."

"Yeah, but Hutch keeps his gun in the top drawer of his dresser with his badge, it wouldn't take long to find it."

"So when they found his gun and badge, they knew Vanessa spent the night with a cop?"

"Yes, and I don't think that would have made them too happy either."

"Another reason to kill, thinking she went to the cops?"

"Sounds reasonable to me."

"Yes."

Susan looked at the timer. "We have a lot of time left. So how do you think the Dodgers did today?"

"I dunno."

Gelman jumped up. "Your Honor, please."

"Yes, Ms. Brown, you've made your point. Do you have any more questions for the witness?"

"No your Honor."

"Mr. Gelman your witness."

"Permission to treat this witness as hostile your Honor?"

"Permission granted."

"Well Sergeant you have made it quite clear that you and your partner are very, very close."

"Very."

"Yes well during this close six year partnership has the occasion ever arisen where you lied for your partner?"

"Lied for him?"

"Yes that was the question."

"It depends on how you mean lied?"

"Lied Sergeant, as in not told the truth."

"I would lie for him about things like calling in sick when he really wasn't, or cutting out early or breaking a date. There are many kinds of lies. Like the ones you tell so you don't hurt someone's feelings. But that kind doesn’t apply to Hutch and me I don't worry about hurting his feelings. If he asks me my opinion about something or even if he don't for that matter, I just tell him straight out what I think."

Laughter rippled through the courtroom.

"Sergeant Starsky let me rephrase the question, to what lengths would you go to protect your partner from truth and justice?"

"As for truth, I would never protect him from the truth. And I don't have to protect Hutch from justice, because he didn't kill Vanessa. "

"You really believe that, we know, but not everyone does. That must make you angry, right Sergeant?"

"Yeah you could say that."

"I know I can. So that is why I want to know how far you would go to make sure your partner was acquitted of a crime that you believe, with every fiber of your being, he did not commit."

Starsky was getting frustrated. "Look. If I saw Hutch kill Vanessa, I would arrest him myself."

"But you didn't Sergeant. So you believe that he didn't kill her. You believe him because you trust him, with your life. And you say he can trust you with his, correct?"

"Yes."

"Well he is on trial for his life, so how are you going to protect that life Sergeant!"

Susan had heard enough. "Your Honor, Mr. Gelman is badgering the witness, I think Sergeant Starsky has made himself clear on this matter."

"Yes I agree. Mr. Gelman move on."

"I have no further questions for this witness."

Starsky had just stood up when Gelman said, "Oh wait I'm sorry I do have one more question for the witness."

"Go ahead Mr. Gelman."

Starsky sat back down.

"Sergeant do you know where the diamond is?"

"No. I do not know where the diamond is."

"No further questions your Honor."

Starsky did manage to control his temper. There were a few close calls. His anger and resentment were obvious though, as well as his love and loyalty to his partner.

Susan called a few character witnesses. She called Captain Dobey, Huggy, Janet Perkowitz, a social worker, Kiko Ramos for whom Hutch was a big brother and Mrs. Ramos, Kiko's mother.

Captain Dobey's testimony was that Hutch was an excellent officer, one of the best detectives he had. Hutch gave honor to the badge. He thought of Hutch as a son. Yes he loved him. Hutch had integrity, which was beyond reproach. During his testimony, the timer went off.

"What was that?" The judge asked.

"The timer your Honor. That was eight minutes." Susan said coyly.

"Thank you so much Ms. Brown for letting us know how long eight minutes is. Please continue with your testimony Captain."

Captain Dobey was asked on cross-examination, by Gelman, about the events that occurred in his office when Simonetti and Dryden requested Hutch's suspension. Dobey corroborated Simonetti's testimony.

Huggy testified that Hutch was a loyal, dependable and true friend. He was trustworthy, honest and fair.

The social worker, Janet Perkowitz, testified that how last year, Hutch took a young girl named Molly Edwards into his home when her father was murdered two days before Christmas. Her foster family couldn't be located, so then rather then send her to juvenile hall, he suggested she stay with him.

Kiko Ramos testified to what a great big brother Hutch was. He told him that Hutch always made time for him, was always there when he need to talk about anything. He was a lot of fun to be with. He was never judgmental and he gave good advice. He was more than a big brother to him he was a father.

Mrs. Ramos testified how grateful she was to Hutch for all he did for Kiko. That he was a wonderful influence on her son.

All of the witnesses emphatically stated that there was no way Hutch murdered Vanessa.

Gelman's cross-examination of the character witnesses was light. He didn't want it to seem like he didn't like or trust cops, entrepreneurs, social workers, Latino teenage boys and single parents. He did suggest however that maybe Hutch should be canonized.

Susan called three witnesses to testify that they saw Hutch running in his Venice neighborhood. No one could give an exact time of when they saw him. It was determined it was approximately between 6:35 and 6:45.

On cross-examination Gelman asked the three women if they were positive it was Hutch they saw and were they sure of the time. They all said they would know that handsome man anywhere and were sure of the time give or take a few minutes.

CHAPTER TWENTY

It was only Susan, Starsky and Hutch at lunch today. They discussed Hutch's testimony over pizza.

Starsky was getting nervous. "You sure Hutch should testify?"

"Yes. The jury has to hear him tell what happened."

"I know but Gelman can twist things all around." Starsky was thinking how his testimony went and not liking the way Hutch looked.

Hutch wasn't saying anything. Susan looked at him and said, "Hutch it's your decision. It is always a risk for the defendant to take the stand. But I really think in your case you have to."

"I know. I'm ready, willing and able." He smiled and then had another coughing fit.

"You sure about the able?" Starsky asked seriously.

"Yeah." Hutch coughed out.

Susan and Starsky looked at each other and acknowledged each other's concern for Hutch's well being.

"Hutch, you really don't look so good. You're pale and sweaty. Your fever must be up again."

"Starsky I testify after lunch. I'll take two aspirins and Susan will make sure I always have a tall glass of water." He smiled at Susan and started coughing again.

She used a napkin to wipe his forehead. She was afraid of how him being pale and sweaty would appear to the jury. She was afraid that they would interpret it to mean he was very nervous or worse, lying. She would just have to tell them that he had bronchitis and hoped they believed it.

Before they entered the courtroom, she adjusted his tie and wiped his forehead one last time. "There you look great." She gave him a pack of tissues, which he put into his pocket.

He did look great. A dark gray suit, with a white shirt with green pinstripes and a green tie. Green was his color.

Starsky gave him a bear hug and assured him, "You're gonna do fine."

"All rise. This court is now in session, the Honorable Edward J. Mathiason presiding."

"The defense calls Kenneth Hutchinson to the stand."

"Please state your name for the record."

"Kenneth Hutchinson."

"First of all how are you feeling, I know you've been sick with bronchitis."

"Yeah, I'm feeling better, not 100% yet, but better."

"That's good."

"You are a detective with the rank of sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department correct."

"Yes."

"But you are currently suspended?"

"Yes."

"Hutch, please tell the court about the events leading up to when you found your ex-wife Vanessa Tyler murdered in your apartment."

"Vanessa called me at work. I hadn't seen her in nearly five years. She said she wanted to see me. I told her I would meet her at a bar called The Pits that is owned by my friend Huggy Bear. I had a couple of beers at the bar while I waited when she arrived we ordered a couple of drinks and went and sat down at a table."

"Okay. Now there has been testimony that you and Vanessa had words. Please tell the court exactly what transpired."

"We started making small talk, how you doing, how you feeling, you look good. Then she started talking about the love we shared." Hutch said with a tinge of sarcasm. "I told her if there had been that much love we'd still be married."

"How did she respond to that?"

"She said she still loved me." Hutch shook his head.

"You didn't believe her, why?"

"She left me on our wedding anniversary. I came home from work that day and she was gone. No note, no nothing. She took everything that was hers that she either bought or that was given to her, little things, pictures, knick-knacks, bookends. Like she was trying to erase that she was ever there." Hutch said the sadness evident in his voice.

"Why did she leave?"

"She left to go look for her pot of gold. She thought life with a cop held no future, or maybe she just thought life with me held no future. I could never make Vanessa happy."

"How long were you married?"

"Three years." Hutch started coughing. Susan gave him a glass of water.

"Testimony was given that you only talked for about ten minutes and you left in a hurry. Why did you leave?"

"We had nothing to say to each other. Or maybe I had nothing to say to her. I left because…because" His voice cracked.

"Take your time."

"I left because it hurt."

"She didn't say anything to upset you, that made you want to leave?"

"No, yes, it was just all her talk about the good times. Well I didn't remember them as being that good. I just didn't want to go back there, I guess.

"Because it hurt?"

"Yeah." Hutch paused and bit his lip and wistfully said, "She said she was sorry. It was just four years, six months and twelve days too late. I guess that I wanted to be the one to walk out this time."

"So you made your exit, but she followed you."

"Yes."

"What did she say?"

"She asked me to take her home with me. I told her she had to be kidding."

"And that's when she told you about the tumor?"

"Yes she said she had to go into the hospital to have a biopsy to see if it was malignant."

Hutch took a sip of water to try and ward off the coughing. He succeeded a little.

"You had no intention of letting her come home with you until she told you she had a tumor?

"Yes."

"Did things get better there?"

"Yes they did. We actually talked. Even laughed."

"But no romance rekindled?"

"It was brought up. I thought… that there was always tomorrow night."

"She did tell you about getting into some big money correct?"

"Yes, but I really didn't think anything of it. Vanessa could be full of hot air."

Hutch felt the sweat building on his brow and took out a tissue to wipe it.

"There has been testimony that you stated that you thought she might be into something shady?"

"I guess the thought crossed my mind. I just really didn't think much of it. To me it was just more talk."

"The testimony says that you didn't want to push it?"

"Yes, she was my ex-wife."

"So it was a matter of don't ask, don't tell?"

"Yes."

"If it came about that there was evidence that Vanessa was into something illegal, would you investigate it?"

"Yes."

"And the phone call to Amsterdam?"

"I didn't know about that call until I got the bill."

"How many phones do you have?"

"Two, one in the bedroom and one in the living room."

"So she could've either made the call when you out for your run or from the bedroom."

"Yes."

"So you went to sleep for the night, what were the sleeping arrangements?"

"I gave her my bedroom, I took the couch."

"Nice to know chivalry is not dead. So now it's morning, what happened?"

"I got up first at 6:15 and made a pot of coffee. Vanessa got up at 6:30. I asked her what time she had to be at the hospital, she said 10:00. I said I would take her. She insisted that she would take a cab. It was typical Vanessa. Clingy and needy one minute, strong and aloof the next. So I said fine she could take a cab."

"Then you went for your mile run that took you about eight minutes?"

"Yeah about that, it might have been more like ten."

"And what do you find when you return?"

"Vanessa's body on the living room floor shot in the chest with my gun lying beside her."

"What did you do first?"

"I called my partner, David Starsky."

"And he came over?"

"Yes."

"And what transpired after David Starsky arrived is as he testified?"

"Yes."

"Now lets move ahead a little, on the afternoon you are suspended, after you leave the station, where do you go?

"I went home, to my apartment."

"And what happened at your apartment?"

"I realized the door was jimmied, so I cautiously opened it and I see a man I recognize as James Cardwell tearing up the place. So I quietly go in, to try to get the drop on him, which I do, but I am hit on the back of the head and knocked unconscious."

"You didn't see who it was that hit you?"

"No." Hutch said coughing.

"Who is James Cardwell?"

"He works for Avery Wheeler."

"After you came to, what happened?"

"Starsky showed up. I told him about Cardwell breaking into my place and it was obvious he was looking for something. Then Simonetti and Dryden came in. And I was placed under arrest."

"It was at that time you found out about the Dallas Diamond?"

"Yes."

"Do you know where the Dallas Diamond is?"

"No."

"One final question, did you murder your ex-wife, Vanessa Tyler?"

"No."

"Thank you. I have no further questions."

Gelman began his cross-examination.

"Mr. Hutchinson, you are really asking this court to take a big leap of faith."

"I don't think so." Hutch started coughing. He took a sip of water.

"Well I do. You want us to believe that your ex-wife wants to see you after nearly five years to pick a fight, lie about a tumor and crash at your place and not make love. "What was the purpose of this reunion?"

"The purpose was just to see each other again. She called and said she wanted to see me and I obliged."

"Did you love your ex-wife?"

"I suppose I did."

"You suppose?"

"I know I loved her when I married her."

"Of course. But she hurt you, you must've wanted to get even?"

"No. I didn't want to get even."

"Then what did you want, not sex. I saw pictures of your ex wife; she was a beautiful young woman. Sex never came up?"

"It did, I didn't want to, not then. I thought we still had another night together."

"Okay then if the reunion was not about pleasure, it must have been about business? What did the deceased tell you about her getting into big money?"

"Nothing." Hutch had a coughing fit.

"Are you all right?"

Hutch sucked down a glass of water. "Yes, fine."

"You spent hours with her and you spoke about what?"

"Family, work, vacations."

"Work?"

"Yes."

"What did she tell you about her work?"

"She didn't tell me she was a courier for a fence if that what you mean."

"What did she say she did for a living?"

"She said she bought and sold jewelry on the international market."

"Would you say your ex wife was intelligent?"

"Yes."

"Then why would she tell you she sells jewelry and then make a phone call to a known international fence from your home, the home of a police officer?"

"I guess she figured she'd be long gone by the time I got the bill."

"Wouldn't you check out the number when you found it on your bill?"

"Yeah."

"And when you found out it was the direct line to Hans Steen, would you become suspicious, and really start to thinking about this big money she had mentioned? And wouldn't your cop instincts kick in and you would want to investigate it? Or would you decide that it might be shady so you wouldn't want to push it? So don't you think that she would be too smart to make that call, why risk it? Maybe she wasn't worried because of the way you fell for her lie about the tumor? Or maybe you thought you'd get away with murder. So tell us Hutch, are you lying, delinquent and stupid?"

"I'm not lying or delinquent or stupid. I just didn't take her seriously. I believed she had a tumor because I wouldn't think she would lie about something like that."

"There is that testimony that says you thought she might be into something shady so you didn't want to push it. Why?

"She was my ex-wife. That's why."

"So you only investigate strangers? What kind of cop are you?"

"No I don't only investigate strangers and I am a good cop."

"She wasn't concerned about making that call to Amsterdam because you were there when she made it, correct?

"No."

"The time of the call on the phone bill says 6:36 am and it lasted a minute. She made the call and then you went out for your run."

"No. She had to have made it after I left because I didn't know about it."

"You knew exactly what big money she was getting into, because she showed you the diamond, which you immediately recognized as the Dallas Diamond because you had worked that case, correct?

"No I didn't know what big money she was getting into because I didn't push it. No she never showed me the diamond. And yes, I worked that case."

"Then you decided you wanted all the money for yourself, so you killed her."

"No."

"And that story about the tumor, that was just a hasty cover you devised to explain why she stayed at your place for the night, right?"

"No."

"You did tell Detective's Simonetti and Dryden that Vanessa had a tumor?"

"Yes."

"And that statement was proved to be a lie."

"Yes."

"Can you offer any explanation as to how skin and blood consistent with your own got under the victim's fingernails?"

"No."

"Well we know it couldn't have happened during the throws of passion, because there was no passion, so it must've happened during a fight or when the victim was pleading with you for her life?"

"I told you I don't know how it happened."

"Where did you stash the diamond?"

"I didn't stash it anywhere. I never had it."

"I have no further questions for this witness your Honor."

Hutch stepped out of the witness box. His fever was raging now. He was able to keep complete composure though. He never appeared rattled at any time. He calmly answered every question, he may not have looked cool, he was sweaty, but he did look calm and collected.

Susan recalled Starsky, Simonetti and Dryden to corroborate Hutch's testimony that his apartment had been broken into.

On cross-examination, Gelman asked each witness if any charges had been filed against Mr. Cardwell for breaking and entering. The answer by all three was not as of yet."

Susan recalled Avery Wheeler to the stand. He said that James Cardwell did work for him. When she asked what his job was exactly, Wheeler said he was mostly a gopher. She asked him if he sent him to Hutch's apartment to look for the diamond. He replied no.

The defense rested.

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

Mr. Gelman's closing argument.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. You all know in any criminal case the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The People must prove there was a motive for the crime, that the defendant had the opportunity to commit the crime and the means to carry it out. You will most certainly hear the defense stress we must prove all this beyond any reasonable doubt. The People have.

We have proven that Avery Wheeler bought a diamond, known as the Dallas Diamond from two police detectives. He then in turn gave said diamond to his employee, Vanessa Tyler to bring to London to be sold to Niles Cromwell. She did not go to London. She instead exchanged her ticket to London for one to Amsterdam, then went to meet with her ex-husband, the defendant Kenneth Hutchinson. She went home with the defendant. They talked. What did they say exactly? Well only two people know for sure and one is dead. The other is the defendant, and ladies and gentlemen, he wasn't about to tell us that she told him about the diamond or showed it to him or anything like that. Why? Because that would be tantamount to a confession. So instead the defendant would like you to believe that they didn't talk about much of anything. The opportunity to commit the crime was present as long as the defendant and victim were alone in the apartment. And in that apartment was the weapon which the defendant used to kill the victim, his police issue .357 Magnum. On the morning of February 22, the defendant arose. He had thought about killing her the night before when she showed him the diamond and after sleeping on it he had made up his mind. He would murder her. The diamond would be his and his alone. Greed is a powerful motive.

Now the defense in their closing arguments is going to stress and stress and stress, prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense is going to try to convince you there is reasonable doubt. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury don't let the defense make you doubt your ability to reason. When you look at all the evidence and you piece it together you will get a clear picture of the defendant standing in his living room, pointing his gun at the victim and shooting her in the chest so he can have the diamond all to himself. You must find the defendant, Kenneth Hutchinson, guilty of murder in the first degree.

Susan Brown's closing argument.

Reasonable doubt. Yes ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The Prosecution is correct. I am going to stand here and stress and stress and stress reasonable doubt. Why, because if you have any reasonable doubt at all, you must acquit my client. And I want you to use your ability to reason. Reason that Avery Wheeler was very angry that Vanessa Tyler failed to bring the Dallas Diamond that is worth one million dollars to London for him as he had arranged. Reason that he had her followed by one or more of his employees, perhaps James Cardwell who my client testified broke into his apartment and was tearing it up when he arrived there. Detective Starsky, Detective Simonetti and Detective Dryden all testified that my client's apartment had been torn up. Reason that Mr. Wheeler wanted the victim killed because she stole his diamond. Anger, betrayal and revenge are powerful motives. Reason that while my client went out for his eight minute run, one or more of Mr. Wheeler's employees entered my client's apartment and found his gun and killed Vanessa Tyler.

The prosecution feels that when you look at all the evidence and you piece it together you get a clear picture of my client committing the crime. It is reasonable that the same evidence can give you a clear picture of others committing the crime.

I am going to stress reasonable doubt for the last time. If you have any reasonable doubt whatsoever you must hand down a verdict of not guilty. I am sure you have all heard these words, but they go to the very heart of these proceedings. It is better for ten guilty men to go free then an innocent man to spend even one day in prison. My client is an innocent man and he has spent the passed four and a half months in prison. It is time for him to go home."

Court was adjourned. The jury went into deliberations.

The jury consisted of one African American man age 25, one Latino man aged 31, one Latino man age 56, three White men ages 34, 50 and 62, one African American woman age 44, one Latino woman age 30, one Chinese woman age 65, three White women ages 28, 37, 41.

Their occupations were construction worker, mailman, accountant, electrician, custodian, retired sanitation worker, secretary, waitress, retired bookkeeper, medical secretary, homemaker and dental assistant respectively.

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

The jury deliberated for three days.

"All rise. This Court is now in session, The Honorable Edward J. Mathiason presiding."

"Has the jury reached a verdict?"

"We have your Honor."

The bailiff walked over to the foreman and got the verdict and brought it over to the judge who looked at it and handed it back to the bailiff who returned it to the foreman.

"Will the defendant please rise." Hutch and Susan rose in unison and held hands tightly.

The foreman read the verdict. "In the matter of the People vs. Kenneth Hutchinson, the charge murder in the first degree the jury finds the defendant guilty."

Hutch let out a gasp as if he had just been punched in the stomach. Starsky was trembling with anger. Dobey, Susan and Huggy were all stunned.

The packed courtroom erupted. Reporters were scrambling for position to get the best pictures. This was going to make headlines. COP CONVICTED. KILLER COP.

Susan made the obligatory request her voice strained, fighting tears, "Your Honor, defense requests the verdict be set aside."

"Request denied."

Judge Mathiason pounded his gavel. "Order, order in the court." The courtroom settled down." Mathiason continued. "I am ready to go into the penalty phase of this trial."

Susan spoke up, "Your Honor the defense needs…"

He cut her off, "The defense needs what Ms. Brown, time to traipse the same character witnesses into court that I already heard at trial. No, I don't think so. If the People have no objections I am ready to hand down the sentence."

"The People have no objection your Honor."

"Fine. Mr. Hutchinson, you have been found guilty of the charge of murder in the first degree, by a jury of your peers. Before I hand down your sentence do you have anything you would like to say to the court?"

Hutch was near tears. His voice trembling he said, "I am innocent. I didn't kill Vanessa. I didn't. I swear I didn't." His voice broke and the tears fell.

Judge Mathiason just sighed deeply; he had heard this before. "Mr. Hutchinson, I sentence you to life in prison without parole, you will live out the rest of your life at the California State Penitentiary at San Quentin. This Court is now adjourned."

Hutch looked at Starsky and two pairs of blue eyes met. "Buddy I'm gonna get Wheeler. I am. I promise." If there ever was a "who do we trust time" it was now.

Susan hugged Hutch tightly. She looked at him with tears in her eyes and said she was sorry. He brushed the tears off her cheek and told her it wasn't her fault.

A guard led Hutch away from his friends. He was put into shackles and loaded onto a bus for San Quentin with a few other prisoners. One of the convicted men was bawling, pleading his innocence. A guard sarcastically remarked that he would be in good company, didn't he know that prisons were full of innocent men?

On the ride to San Quentin Hutch felt sick. Not from the bronchitis, that was practically gone, he felt nauseous. He couldn't fathom spending the rest of his life in prison. Death, only for a brief moment, was welcome. But then he got a hold of himself. Life was always worth holding on to, because where there is life there is hope.

Once at San Quentin he was stripped searched and made to shower. He was given his new clothes, this time they were gray. He was placed into a cell alone and given some dinner. The sad blond stared out the small window. He tried to let his mind go free. He imagined he was sitting in the Torino with Starsky. They had just had a dinner break. They were laughing and talking. The detectives were making plans to go to the beach this weekend with Kathy and Tina, a couple of stewardesses that they would see whenever they came to town. He was gone for only a few minutes, then he came back to reality. It was really nice though. Maybe, he thought, in time, he'd be able to go for a few hours.

Dobey was extremely worried about his dark-haired detective. Starsky was a man possessed by grief and anger. Dobey and Huggy tried to persuade him to not be alone, but that is all Starsky wanted right now was to be alone.

Starsky drove around aimlessly for about an hour. He seriously considered quitting the force. How could he be a part of a criminal justice system that could convict his partner of a crime he didn't commit? He knew what Hutch would say, "You can't quit Starsk, you gotta keep fighting the good fight. You can make a difference." Sure pal, maybe with you I could, but alone. Me and thee that's the way it always was. How could it ever be any other way? Starsky thought to himself. Starsky drove to the beach and contemplated his future.

Starsky visited Hutch every week. Visitation at San Quentin was only weekly. It killed him to see the pain in Hutch's eyes. Those blue eyes that always shined with hope and joy were now dark with despair and sorrow.

When he told Hutch he wanted to quit the force, Hutch said just what he thought he would. Starsky agreed and swore he would never stop trying to get Wheeler for Vanessa's murder and the best way to do that was to stay on the force.

It had been a month since the sentence had been handed down and Hutch told Starsky it was time to give up his apartment and give his things away to the Salvation Army. He told him to take whatever he wanted for himself and the same went for Huggy. Starsky didn't want to hear any of it. But Hutch stood his ground and said it was what he wanted. Starsky grudgingly agreed. Hutch told him to head over to his place when he left and start packing his things up. It really hurt to hear Hutch say those words because it meant that he had given up all hope. But Starsky knew in his heart, it would take a miracle to prove Hutch's innocence.

Starsky dragged himself up the stairs to Hutch's apartment and leaned against the wall and sobbed. He reached above the door but didn't find the key. He kept feeling around back and forth over the area where it should be but it wasn't there. He remembered that Huggy was the last one in the apartment. He was about to stop looking, figuring that Huggy took the key with him instead of placing it in usual spot above the door, when he slid his hand across the entire ledge and couldn't believe what he found. A velvet pouch with the diamond in it.

This was a miracle. With the diamond, Starsky knew he could get a confession out of Wheeler. His first stop was Huggy's. He needed some help.

Huggy was more then willing to help. Starsky enlisted the help of Roger Johnson who was only too glad to be able to repay the detectives for what they did for him. He called Susan who just simply asked what did he want her to do.

Starsky called Wheeler and told him he had the diamond and was ready to deal. Wheeler told Starsky he wanted proof positive that he did indeed have the diamond. Starsky figured he would. He told him he would be at The Pits and to send alone, a jeweler of his choosing to verify that Starsky did indeed have the Dallas Diamond. Wheeler agreed and at nine o'clock at night the jeweler a small nervous man showed up. He examined the diamond and reported back to Wheeler that Starsky did indeed have the gem.

Starsky called Wheeler and told him to meet him at the Eastside Mortuary. Roger's uncle owned that mortuary. Starsky told Wheeler to meet him in the showroom. Huggy, Roger and Susan each hid in a casket. Starsky put a microphone in an arrangement of flowers that draped over the casket Susan was in with a tape recorder.

Wheeler entered with Cardwell and Boyle.

"So Detective you have the gem?"

"I do, if you have the money."

Wheeler presented Starsky with a briefcase. "$100,000 as agreed."

Starsky instructed Wheeler to set it down and open it. Then Starsky took the velvet pouch out of his pocket. Wheeler salivated at the thought of its contents.

Cardwell and Boyle both pulled out weapons and pointed them at Starsky.

"I thought we had a deal?"

"I detest paying for my own property."

"So you're going to kill me?"

"No, Boyle here is going to kill you."

"Oh that's right Wheeler, you don't like to get your hands dirty, you only order murders, Boyle here carries them out."

"That is correct. He is good at what he does. I gave him a raise for the way he killed Vanessa."

"Yeah pretty clever how I killed her with your partner's gun." Boyle smirked.

Cardwell jumped in, "Hey I found the gun, you were ready to pop her with your piece, good thing I took a look around."

Boyle nodded, "Yeah finding that gun was like Christmas."

"You know what fellas it feels like Christmas to me right NOW!"

On the word now, Starsky's three accomplices popped up out of their hiding places and pointed guns at the unsuspecting criminals. They had no choice but to surrender.

Starsky called Dobey who arrived with a couple of black and white units and took the trio into custody.

Huggy asked Starsky if he could take a last look at the stone. Starsky emptied the contents of the velvet pouch onto Huggy's hand and out fell a peach pit. Starsky explained to Huggy that he had turned the stone into Captain Dobey.

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

Starsky went directly to Gelman's house. It was ten o'clock but he wanted the wheels of justice turning immediately. He didn't want Hutch to spend one more minute in prison.

Gelman was amazed by what he heard on the tape. He was devastated that he had sent an innocent man to prison. He immediately got to work on the motion to have the verdict overturned.

First thing in the morning Hutch was brought over from San Quentin to appear before Judge Mathiason.

The courtroom was empty not like during the trial when it was standing room only. There were only the two attorneys, Starsky, Dobey, Huggy, and one reporter.

The judge spoke directly to Hutch.

"Mr. Hutchinson…"

"Excuse me your Honor but it's 'Officer'." Dobey said holding up Hutch's badge.

"I'm sorry you are right, Officer Hutchinson. When Mr. Gelman presented me with this motion I must say I was flabbergasted, we had just settled this matter last month. Then I read the motion. What can I say to you, the system failed you and for that I am tremendously sorry. It is times like this that make us take pause and sit back and think what can we do to prevent this from happening again. I wish I knew. But I can tell you there is one thing I know for sure, the motion is granted, Officer Hutchinson you are free to go."

"Surf and turf and champagne are on the menu tonight, party at The Pits!" Huggy yelled.

The reporter approached and asked if he could have a statement. Hutch told him he was a very happy man today and there are a lot of things he would never take for granted again.

Hutch, Dobey, Huggy and Susan headed out of the courtroom.

Starsky thought Hutch was being way too nice considering the situation and he was going to give this reporter an earful.

"Can I get a statement from you Detective Starsky?"

"Yeah you can get a statement, I hope your pencil is sharpened. First where are all your little friends, they were all over this place like vultures a month ago when a travesty of justice occurred."

"Well the trial is yesterday's news. But I'm sure each paper will print a retraction."

"Yeah and stick it on page 10."

"Well Detective blame the readership, they prefer stories that say a cop is guilty of murdering his ex-wife for money rather that not."

"Yeah. Well let me tell you this. The jury really screwed up on this one. They blew it."

"Wait a minute Detective, I was in this courtroom everyday and I heard all the testimony. I am a college graduate with a masters degree in journalism, I am trained to sort through the bullshit and find the truth and I'll tell ya I thought he was guilty."

"Well then you're an idiot."

The reporter chuckled, "Detective try for one minute to put yourself in the jury's place and pretend you don't know your partner, and really think about the evidence presented, come on, what verdict do you think you would come up with?"

Starsky looked at the reporter like he was nuts, he didn't even have to give that a second's thought, let alone a minute. "Hutch was innocent and they should've seen it. So what page is your retraction gonna be on?"

"I'm shooting for page two, but don't quote me."

Hutch popped his head back into the courtroom. "Hey Starsk, ya coming?"

Starsky turned and looked at Hutch and two pairs of blue eyes met. "Yeah, I'm right behind you partner."

 

End