Disclaimer: This story is written for entertainment purposes only. No profit is being made from it. No infringement on anyone's copyrights is intended.
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Sue David and Valerie Wells
We thank our technical consultant Hutchrules3
The two men were back in the courtroom the following morning. Both of them were grateful that Hutch's part would soon be over and they could sit back and watch the rest of the trial having surpassed the hurdle of their individual testimonies. The D.A. recalled Hutch to the stand for redirect.
"I remind you, Sergeant Hutchinson, you are still under oath."
Hutch nodded that he understood.
"Sergeant, you were asked about Gillian Ingram yesterday. Is it true that she was a prostitute?"
"Yes." Hutch already disliked the direction this was taking.
"Did you know what she did for a living when you were dating her?"
A little flash of relief crept into Hutch's eyes. Johnson was giving him a chance to recover from this situation in the eyes of the jury.
"No. She told me she was a writer."
"When did you find out about it?"
"After she was dead."
"Tell me about how you found out what she did for a living."
"Objection! What difference does that make, your honor?" Olin asked.
"You opened this line of questioning, Mr. Olin, and I'm allowing it. Please answer the question, Sergeant."
"Yes sir. My partner told me. He had just found out that day and was giving Gillian a chance to tell me herself. She was killed before she could tell me."
"Thank you, Sergeant."
He paced back to the table and withdrew a stack of papers from his briefcase.
"Did you know that the defendant has been writing letters to you threatening your life since his transfer back to San Quentin?"
Olin was on his feet instantly. "I object! Move to suppress those letters."
Hutch looked stunned. He found Starsky's eyes and received the message that his partner was also unaware of any threatening letters.
Suddenly, Starsky's danger sense was on full alert. The idea that crazy George Prudholm still harbored fantasies of hurting Hutch unnerved him.
Greanais looked at both attorneys and called them up to the bench. "Gentlemen?"
Olin looked furious. "Your honor, these letters were not disclosed to me."
Johnson responded that he had just been made aware of them the previous evening when they were delivered from the prison. He asked the judge to admit them into evidence and refuse the defense attorney's motion to suppress.
"Step back, gentlemen."
Hutch sat on the stand, quietly waiting for what he should do next. The judge turned to address the jury. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'm going to ask you to step outside for a few moments while I hear the Motion to Suppress. Please do not discuss the case at this time."
The jury having received its instructions, the bailiff approached them to escort the group into a waiting room. The bailiff was a heavyset, sixty-year-old man who had been in court service for many years. He didn't react fast enough to what happened next.
The bailiff was standing next to the defense table with his back to Prudholm. Before anyone knew what was happening, Prudholm jumped to his feet and grabbed the bailiff's gun right out of its holster. Starsky saw it happening and he yelled for Hutch to get down, but it was too late. Hutch was just starting to move when Prudholm swung the gun up, aimed and fired at the unprepared detective before the other guard accompanying Prudholm could tackle him and wrestle the gun out of his grasp.
Starsky watched in horror as Hutch grabbed the side of his head and crumpled to the floor of the witness box. He vaulted over the barrier in front of the witness gallery, calling his partner's name and hearing Prudholm's rantings in the background. Prudholm was hurling obscenities at Starsky and yelling about how he'd finally gotten Hutch as he was manhandled out of the courtroom.
Hutch lay unconscious, blood running through the fingers he held up to his temple. Starsky was terrified.
"Hutch? Oh God, Hutch?" He knelt beside Hutch; afraid of what he would see when he moved his partner's hand away from the wound. His heart was racing, remembering how Terry had looked lying on the stretcher in the liquor store with a bullet hole in her forehead. He heard someone yell for an ambulance over the pandemonium in the courtroom.
When he moved Hutch's hand, he was relieved to see the bullet had not gone into his head, but had clipped him in the temple and was now lodged in the wall behind the witness box. Starsky was still scared. The wound was bleeding profusely and Hutch was unconscious, but he didn't have a bullet in his brain. This wasn't going to be like Terry.
Starsky pulled Hutch's head onto his lap and ran his fingers through his blood-matted hair. "I'm here, Hutch. Paramedics will be here soon. Don't go away now, you're gonna be fine." He sat like that with Hutch, not caring that his clothes were being soaked with his partner's blood, until the paramedics came and made him let them take Hutch away.
That bastard! That slime! Starsky paced in the emergency waiting area, fuming, terrified, his heart pounding and his hands sweaty and his light tan dress pants stiffening with Hutch's blood. It had been over two hours and there was still no word about Hutch.
Huggy sat on a bench a few feet away, nursing a cold cup of coffee and watching the swinging doors, but Starsky couldn't sit still. Dobey was still at the jail, pressing further charges against Prudholm, but what good would that do? If he copped insanity for Terry again, he'd get off for hurting Hutch, too...
Starsky froze and turned. It was Dr. Quo and he remembered that tone of voice all too well. His heart stopped thudding. It might have stopped altogether.
"I've seen your partner," she said, coming closer.
"How is he?"
She reached out and took his hand. "He's going to be fine."
"Thank God," Huggy said fervently, but Starsky's eyes overflowed for a moment before he could control the tears and he couldn't speak.
"We're keeping him overnight," Dr. Quo went on. "He lost a lot of blood and we're giving him a transfusion. We also want to make sure there are no after-effects."
"A concussion, or convulsions from the trauma to his brain," she said gently.
"What do you mean?"
Hearing Starsky's panicked tone of voice, Dr. Quo squeezed his hand. "Nothing lasting, David. But the shock, the impact as the bullet struck, could have caused the same kind of injury as if he'd hit his head. It's nothing to worry about, I promise. You can pick him up in the morning, and I'll want him to be quiet for a couple of days."
"I wanna see him."
Starsky entered the room slowly, Huggy behind him. Hutch's room was darkened, with only a small light over the bed. He had a white bandage wound around his head, and his eyes were closed. An IV with a bag of blood on it stood next to the bed, with a tube running down to his left arm. Starsky crept over to the bed, while Huggy hung back, and reached down to touch Hutch's hand.
Hutch opened his eyes. He was groggy, but he recognized his partner.
"How ya doin', Hutch?"
"I've got one hell of a headache," Hutch said, and tried to smile. The lost, haunted look on Starsky's face almost broke his heart. "Other than that, I'm fine." Starsky smiled back. It was a little forced, but he hoped in the dimness Hutch wouldn't be able to tell.
"You gotta spend the night here. Dr. Quo likes your face."
Hutch gave a little snort of laughter. "The lady has taste."
"I'll be back for ya in the morning and then you get to be lazy for a couple of days," Starsky said. "Your place or mine?"
"Mine," Hutch said. He noticed Huggy standing near the door. "And maybe Hug'd be willing to bring me one of Angie's vegetarian omelettes."
Starsky made a face, but Huggy grinned. "You bet, Blondie. It'll be waitin' when you get there tomorrow."
The next morning, the whole side of Hutch's face was bruised and his left eye was black, but his headache had eased, and Dr. Quo prescribed some painkillers to keep it away. Starsky fussed over him, held onto his arm as he loaded him into the car, insisted on helping him walk up the stairs to Venice Place, and bedded him down on the couch with an afghan and a pillow for both his head and his feet. Huggy had left the omelette, as promised, and Starsky warmed it up and brought it to him with a cup of coffee, then sat down on the coffee table to watch him eat it.
Hutch stood it as long as he could, but finally had to say, "Starsk, buddy, I appreciate the nursemaid routine, but I'm okay. Really."
Starsky didn't speak right away, but he dropped his eyes and Hutch saw the movement as he drew and let out a very deep breath.
"I was so scared," Starsky said in a low voice, as if he was picking up an earlier conversation that had been interrupted. "When I saw you layin' there, with blood all over ya, in your hair and on your face, I --"
"Hey," Hutch sat up and put the plate aside. "I understand, but look. I'm fine."
"It's my fault. Again," Starsky said.
"No, it's not!" Hutch instantly regretted raising his voice. It made his head throb. But he didn't let on. "Starsky, that's just nuts. It's not your fault. Prudholm has wanted to kill us both for years. He's never succeeded yet. And it is not," he reached out and laid a hand on his partner's, "your fault!"
"Why's he keep doing this, Hutch?" Starsky asked plaintively. "I don't get it."
"He's evil, I keep telling you." Hutch didn't have the strength to sit up any longer. He lay back down and squashed the moan that almost escaped.
But Starsky knew. He always knew. "Ah, buddy, I'm sorry. You finish your omelette and try to get some sleep, huh? I know you don't sleep good in hospitals."
"I am kind of tired," Hutch admitted.
Hutch was still sleeping a couple of hours later when the phone rang. Starsky pounced on the bedroom extension before it could wake Hutch. It was Johnson.
"How is he?"
"Sleeping. He'll be okay."
"Will he be able to be in court Monday?"
"Does he have to be?" Starsky leaned out so he could check on Hutch. Still sleeping.
"I'd like for both of you to be there."
"Still usin' us for effect?" Starsky asked, unable to keep the note of bitterness out of his voice.
"Sergeant," Johnson gave a sigh and gentled his voice. "I know how you feel. Or at least, I'm trying to understand. But you need to understand, too, that if we want to put this guy away, we have to put on a good show for the jury. We have to convince them he's not crazy. And frankly, Sergeant, the sight of your partner, wounded by this man but still brave enough to sit in the same courtroom with him, will go a long ways toward engendering sympathy for you and him and antagonism toward Prudholm."
"My partner and I are not chess pieces!" Starsky hissed, trying to keep his voice down. "And that worthless bastard Prudholm damn near killed him in a courtroom full of people yesterday! What kind of a circus are you running here, Johnson?"
"That was completely unforeseen," Johnson said.
"Why the hell wasn't he shackled?" Starsky demanded.
"I don't know," Johnson said. "You can rest assured he will be for the rest of the trial."
"I should hope so!"
There was a great deal of murmuring among the spectators when Starsky and Hutch entered the courtroom on Monday morning. Hutch was pale, and the angry bruise around his left eye was worse than ever, but some of the swelling had gone down. Starsky's arm was around his partner and he helped him to his seat behind the prosecution's table before he seated himself.
When Prudholm was brought in, he was shackled hand and foot, and the deputy who was guarding him stood right behind him, with one hand on his gun. Starsky couldn't help giving Prudholm a look of hatred, but he managed to smooth his face when Hutch put a hand on his arm and whispered, "Choke it down, partner."
The first thing the defense did when court reconvened was file a motion for a mistrial. Instantly, Starsky was enraged. Hutch looked at him with concern, knowing how much this trial had already cost them both. Going through it again might be too much for his partner.
Olin had prepared his statement. "Your honor, in light of what happened here on Friday," he said as he turned to indicate the wounded blond detective sitting in the witness gallery, "the defense believes that the jury will no longer be able to be impartial in this case."
Johnson was ready for him. "Your honor, the people strenuously object. The state and the witnesses in this matter have been through enough. I request that this motion be denied."
The judge sat and considered the motion. He decided to poll the jury. "Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I will ask each one of you to stand and state for the record if you believe you can remain impartial in the matter before you. Mr. Foreman, please begin."
The court sat breathless, watching as the jurors stood and declared their ability to be impartial one after the other. All twelve jurors and the three alternates responded that they could be impartial.
The judge faced the attorneys. "I am not about to reward this man for his behavior of the other day by granting him a mistrial. The jurors have stated under oath that they can still judge this case on its merits, regardless of the shooting here on Friday. The motion is denied. I have also considered the matter of the threatening letters mentioned just before the defendant's attack on Sergeant Hutchinson. Does the defense still move to have them suppressed?"
"Yes, your honor."
"Please step into my chambers and I will hear your motion." The judge did not want to take the time to file the jury out again and then return them to the courtroom.
While they were out of the room, Starsky noticed all eyes seemed to be on him and Hutch. He felt uncomfortable and he could see how Hutch felt about it. "You doin' okay?"
"I'm all right, Starsk." Hutch's head was pounding and he wished he could have taken one of the pain pills Dr. Quo had prescribed. Technically, he had not been excused from the stand so he decided not to take anything in case he was called back up there. Starsky patted his pocket and Hutch heard something rattle. "You hang in there, partner. Soon as you're excused and we get to take a recess, I've got your pain pills right here." Hutch smiled at him and nodded his thanks. His partner didn't miss much.
Within a few minutes, the judge and the attorneys returned to the court. Olin looked disappointed and the two detectives smiled at each other.
"The motion to suppress the threatening letters is denied."
The judge looked at Hutch. "Sergeant Hutchinson, you are still on the stand. Are you able to testify?"
"Yes, your honor."
Starsky watched him stand and walk slowly back to the witness stand. Hutch looked terrible and it gave Starsky no pleasure to know that Johnson was getting exactly what he wanted -- Hutch on the stand, wounded and on display.
Johnson played it up as much as he could. "Sergeant Hutchinson, you are still under oath. Are you sure you feel up to this?"
Starsky rolled his eyes. Twelve pairs of eyes in the jury box were trained on Hutch's face. Starsky could see them looking at his bruised partner and knew it would affect them.
"Yes, go ahead." Hutch sounded tired and his voice was quiet.
"Were you aware that the defendant had been writing letters threatening your life?"
"These letters were addressed to Sergeant Starsky and they were held by the prison. They never notified you?"
Olin stood. "Objection, your honor, asked and answered. The witness did not know about them."
"I will enter these letters into evidence as People's Exhibit A. I have nothing further for this witness. Sergeant Hutchinson, you may step down."
Hutch made his way back to his seat next to Starsky, who wished that his obvious pain and slow pace were just an act for the jury. He glared at Prudholm who was looking satisfied that he had hurt Hutch, even if he didn't kill him.
Johnson's next witness was Huggy.
"Please tell the court about the incident where you were assaulted, Mr. Brown."
"I was with a female acquaintance," Huggy said, "when three men broke in and dragged me out of bed and beat me up. They told me I should choose my friends more carefully."
"Did you recognize any of the men?"
Huggy nodded. "Yeah. I wasn't supposed to. They were wearing masks. But I knew their voices. One of them was George Prudholm. The second one was Woody the Magic Man. I didn't know the third one."
"You're sure it was George Prudholm?"
"Yeah. I'm sure."
"Did they say anything else?"
"Prudholm said if I didn't quit hanging around with Starsky and Hutch, next time they'd kill me, just like they'd killed Terry."
"Was Terry alive or dead at this point?"
"She was still alive," Huggy said. "But I guess they didn't know that. Prudholm's exact words were, 'I'll come back and kill you like I killed Starsky's lady.'"
Starsky flinched at that.
"Your witness, Mr. Olin."
"How can you be so sure it was my client who assaulted you, Mr. Brown?"
"I knew his voice. I also recognized that tattoo on his arm."
Olin blanched a bit. The tattoo was old and faded and most people didn't notice it. "You were acquainted with my client, then?"
"Everybody on the streets knows Crazy George Prudholm," Huggy said coolly.
"Your honor! Move to strike!"
"You asked the question, Mr. Olin," Greanias said. "Overruled."
"Nothing further," Olin said sullenly.
Johnson called the psychiatrist from Caballo Point who had been treating Prudholm, and the doctor testified that Prudholm had often bragged to other patients about "getting over on the system" by convincing the evaluator he was crazy. Though he had convinced the psychiatrist who had been at Caballo Point when he was committed, when this doctor, Evan Duncan, had joined the staff, he had realized the man could be faking it and had reported that to the district attorney, who had called in an expert to do a new evaluation. That new evaluation had resulted in Prudholm's being found competent to stand trial.
Olin waived his cross-examination.
"Your next witness, Mr. Johnson?"
"The state calls Dr. Lloyd Hill."
Hill had written several books on criminal psychology. After Johnson had questioned him as to his credentials and it had been established that he was a specialist in the field, Hill testified that Prudholm was obsessive and antisocial, but he was not legally "insane."
"This man is calculating," Hill said. "He is fully aware of the implications of his actions and chooses to carry them out anyway."
"Did you administer any psychological tests, doctor?" Johnson asked.
"I did. I administered a battery of widely accepted psychological tests, two weeks ago."
"Is it your professional opinion that Mr. Prudholm is competent to understand these proceedings and assist in his own defense?"
"And is it your professional opinion that the defendant was not suffering from a mental illness at the time of Miss Roberts' shooting?"
"That is correct. Mr. Prudholm was and is fully cognizant of the nature, extent and wrongfulness of the crime at the time he committed it. His judgment is poor, and he externalized the blame for his son's death, from the person who actually stabbed his son to Detective Starsky. And he chose an extremely aggressive way to express his own fear and grief. Since he couldn't tolerate the loss of his son, he chose to make someone else pay. This also demonstrates a very immature level of moral development."
"Thank you, doctor. Your witness."
Olin's cross-examination was brief. "How long have you spent talking to my client, doctor?"
"I held a two-hour interview with Mr. Prudholm after I had reviewed his case files, and spent another two hours with him after administering the tests."
"Why did it take so long to certify him competent to stand trial, if he's not insane? It's been three years since Miss Roberts' death."
"Paperwork, counselor," Hill said. "The bane of modern existence. I began reviewing his files only three months ago, and I wanted to be sure. I'm sure."
Olin looked grim. "Nothing further, your honor."
"Mr. Johnson?" Greanias said when Olin had sat down.
"Your honor, the county medical examiner has been called away on a family emergency," Johnson said, referring to a note in his hand that the bailiff handed to him while Olin was questioning Dr. Hill. "Request the court's indulgence to call him as a witness later in the trial. He'll be back tomorrow, and he's my last witness. Otherwise, the prosecution rests."
"Very well. The court grants the motion. Mr. Olin, you may call your first witness."
"The defense calls Dr. Henry Mosier."
A man of about fifty was sworn in as the next witness. His salt and pepper hair, glasses, and dark suit gave him an air of professionalism.
"Dr. Mosier, you are a psychiatrist, is that correct?"
Starsky and Hutch looked at each other, each realizing why Olin had asked the other doctor so few questions. They had their own "expert" witness.
"How long have you practiced psychiatry?"
"Thirty years. Twenty of them in state institutions and the past ten in private practice."
"Do you have a specialty in the field of psychiatry?"
"Yes, I specialize in severe psychotic disorders like schizophrenia and the criminally insane."
"Isn't it true that you have examined, diagnosed, and treated serial killers?"
"Yes, that's true."
Olin crossed in front of the jury with his back to the man on the witness stand. "So, is it accurate to state that you are an expert in your field?"
Olin smiled a little and turned back to face the witness stand. "Is George Prudholm sane?"
"Objection! That statement is too broad and therefore the answer could be misleading."
"No, he is not. I believe Mr. Prudholm is now, and may always be insane. He is a dangerous psychotic."
"In your expert opinion, Dr. Mosier, is George Prudholm responsible for his actions?"
Starsky was squirming in his seat. He was jiggling one leg constantly, using it as a tactic to keep his anger and anxiety in check. His eyes were never still, continually scanning from Hutch, to the witness, to the defense attorney, to Prudholm, and back to Hutch. He was worried about his partner and on alert for anything else that might happen.
Hutch's head was pounding and the room wasn't all that steady for him so his partner's twitchy movements were making him nauseous. He put a steadying hand on Starsky's knee and shook his head slightly. His friend settled down and tried to sit still.
"Nothing further." Olin walked back to the defense table and sat next to his shackled client with a smug look on his face.
Mark Johnson approached the stand. "Dr. Mosier, have you been treating the defendant?"
"No, I have not. I have evaluated him."
"How much time have you spent with George Prudholm?"
"We met for about thirty minutes yesterday." Johnson was pleased, seeing a chink in the good doctor's testimony.
"Your entire exposure to this man boils down to thirty minutes just yesterday?"
"Well, I did also carefully review Mr. Prudholm's files and psychiatric history."
"How do you explain the discrepancy between your opinion and Dr. Hill's?"
"I can only speak for myself. In my assessment, the man is not responsible for his actions."
"Were you paid to be here today?"
"Objection! That is irrelevant." Olin was outraged by the question.
"I disagree, your honor. I wish to establish that the doctor's opinion may be tarnished by the fact that he was paid to give it specifically for this trial."
"I'll allow it, but tread softly here, counselor."
"Yes, I was paid."
"You were 'hired' then to testify on this man's behalf?"
"I was hired to determine Prudholm's sanity. That is what I did."
"Dr. Mosier, do you have regular patients at this time?"
Olin was agitated. He did not expect the D.A. to know anything about his expert witness. Prudholm's brother had paid to fly the man in from another state in the hopes that the D.A. would not know him.
"No, I do not."
"Isn't it true, Doctor, that you are a professional paid witness?"
"I have devoted my time in the past few years to helping defendants in matters such as these."
"Answer the question, doctor, are you a professional paid witness?"
The doctor was angry, Olin was furious, and Starsky was on the edge of his seat with Hutch's hand on his arm to remind him to keep his emotions in check.
"Thank you, doctor. Nothing further." Johnson sat back down at the prosecution table, but not before he gave a reassuring nod to Starsky and his battered partner.
Olin sat at the table for several moments, finally forcing Greanias to say, "Mr. Olin, have you any more witnesses?"
Olin gave himself a little shake. "Yes, your honor, I do. The defense calls Woodrow Klein to the stand."
Klein, better known to Starsky and Hutch as "Woody the Magic Man," was brought in from the anteroom by another deputy, who removed his cuffs just before allowing him to be sworn in. Klein was still serving his own sentence from Terry's death and the robberies that preceded it.
"Mr. Klein, are you acquainted with my client?"
Woody nodded. "Yeah. We, uh, we used to hang out."
"How well do you know him, sir?"
"Pretty good," Woody said. "I went to school with Gary."
"Please tell the court about the incidents in question."
Olin wet his lips and tried to hide his impatience. "The robberies and Miss Roberts' death, Mr. Klein."
"Oh. Yeah. Well, George looked me up about three years ago, when I got out of the joint the last time, and he said he had a job for us. He wanted me to follow those two," he indicated Starsky and Hutch, "around and tell him where they went all day. So I did. I followed 'em for a coupla weeks and got their schedule all wrote down for George. Then he told me he was gonna make Starsky pay for what happened to Gary."
"And did he ask you to help him?"
"Yeah. I said I would, 'cause I needed some bread, just gettin' outta the joint, ya know, and he said we'd rob some liquor stores and I could keep most of the loot since he was mostly interested in gettin' to Starsky."
Olin glanced at Starsky, who had relaxed somewhat after the doctor's testimony. "Was there anything strange about my client's behavior during this time, Mr. Klein?"
"Well, yeah. He kept callin' me 'Gary.' I mean, once in a while he'd call me 'Woody,' but mostly he'd call me 'Gary.' I kept tellin' him my name's Woody, but it didn't seem to make no difference to him. He's a crazy bastard."
"Objection!" Johnson stood. "Your honor, this man, besides being an incarcerated felon, is not qualified to make such statements about the defendant's mental health."
"This witness," Olin countered, "is well-acquainted with the defendant and I am not asking him for an expert opinion, but for his impressions. I think that's valid."
Greanias nodded. "I'll allow the statement to stand."
Johnson sat down, but he wasn't happy.
"Why did Prudholm call you by his son's name?"
"He thought I was Gary," Woody said. "He'd say stuff like 'when you were stabbed in jail, Gary' and I'd say 'I'm not Gary, Gary's dead' and he'd go on talking like I hadn't said nothin'. It was weird."
"Thank you. Nothing further."
Johnson stood and walked toward Woody. "Mr. Klein, tell us what happened the night Miss Roberts was shot."
"I'd been followin' her around, too," Woody said. "George saw her with Starsky and wanted to know who she was. When I figured out she went to that store every night about supper time to get some milk and a newspaper, I told him and we made that our next stop."
"And what happened when you robbed that store?"
Woody looked over at George nervously and didn't answer immediately.
"Answer the question," the judge instructed him.
"It's kinda hard, with him starin' at me like that," Woody said. Starsky looked over at Prudholm, who was glaring at Woody with absolute hatred.
Johnson moved so that he was between Woody and Prudholm. "Your answer, Mr. Klein."
Woody took a long drink from his glass of water. "Well, we waited outside till we saw her go in and then we followed her. George told me he was gonna pop her --"
"Shoot her," Woody said. "Kill her. I was supposed to make like it was a real robbery, you know, but he said don't make it too good, 'cause he wanted everybody in there to see that he was just after her. That way they'd tell Starsky and Hutch."
"How did Mr. Prudholm know Starsky and Hutchinson would answer the call?" Johnson asked.
"It was their beat. And Starsky knew she went in there every night as well as I did," Woody said. "He went with her a couple of times while I was followin' her, and I heard him tease her about it."
Starsky went white to the lips at that. Hutch had a hand on his arm and could feel the tension there. Starsky swallowed hard and glanced at his partner. The look in his eyes told Hutch what he was thinking -- if he hadn't teased Terry about her regular habits, Woody might not have known she went into that store every night. And how had he missed seeing Woody, whom they both knew on sight?
"Go on, please."
"Well, we went in there, and I stuck up the clerk while George looked around for Terry. She was at the back, by the cooler where they keep the milk. He hollered at her and she turned around and he shot her."
"What did he say to her?"
Starsky went very still.
"He said, 'Hey, Terry, aren't you Starsky's slut?' and she whirled around and opened her mouth, to answer him, I guess, and that's when he shot her. She fell backward against the cooler and kind of slid down it to the floor. Me and the guy behind the counter just watched with our mouths open, and then George turned around to me and said, 'She's dead, let's go.' And I said, 'But what about the money?' and George came over to the register and opened it and grabbed some of the money and handed it to me, and we left."
Hutch slid an arm around his partner's back. Starsky was so pale and his eyes so wide that Hutch was worried he might pass out.
Johnson glanced at Starsky, then back to Woody. "Thank you." He sat down and whispered to Starsky, "Sergeant, do we need to ask for a recess?"
Starsky was trembling, but he shook his head. Johnson regarded him thoughtfully for several moments before turning away.
The judge had seen the look on Starsky's face also. "Mr. Johnson, would you like a recess?"
Johnson glanced back and Hutch shook his head slightly. "No, your honor."
Greanias considered calling a recess anyway, but decided against it. He had lost his own wife the same year Terry died. The judge knew what that loss felt like and still carried the pain of it. He wanted this trial to keep moving so the torment would be over for the man in the witness gallery.
"Mr. Olin, call your next witness."
"The defense calls Eunice Craig."
Johnson had told the two detectives that Mrs. Craig had been subpoenaed as a witness for George Prudholm. They couldn't understand it, but she was now walking up to take the oath and sit on the witness stand. She looked at Starsky, sadness in her eyes. He wished he knew what she was thinking.
"Your honor, I will be treating Mrs. Craig as a hostile witness."
"Very well, Mr. Olin, but stick to the case."
"Yes, your honor."
"Mrs. Craig, can you tell me what happened to your son Lonnie Craig?"
"He was shot and killed during a hold up."
"How old was he at the time?"
"Lonnie was sixteen-years-old." Eunice Craig kept glancing back and forth from the D.A. to Starsky. He gave her a small smile, trying to reassure her. He knew how uncomfortable it was to be on the stand.
"Who killed your son, Mrs. Craig?"
"How did you feel when that happened?"
"Objection! Mrs. Craig's feelings about the death of her son have no relevance to these proceedings," Johnson said.
Olin countered with, "Mrs. Craig's son died at the hands of the same man responsible for Gary Prudholm's death. I merely want to establish what it feels like to have a loved one taken away from you by Sergeant Starsky."
The courtroom buzzed in quiet murmuring. Starsky's ears started ringing and he felt hot suddenly. Hutch reached for him, seeing the color drain from his face and whispered, "Breathe, buddy, it's okay."
The judge banged his gavel. "This court will come to order." The D.A. was about to voice his objections to Olin's comments when the judge put up a hand to silence him. The murmuring settled down as the judge turned a cold eye toward the defense attorney. "Mr. Olin, you are dangerously close to contempt. I warned you early on that Sergeant Starsky is not on trial here and I will not tolerate any further pejorative comments about him from you. Is that clearly understood?"
Olin swallowed and nervously adjusted his tie. "Yes, your honor."
"The objection is sustained."
The defense attorney regrouped. "Mrs. Craig, when Lonnie died, were you angry with Sergeant Starsky?"
Johnson sat back and decided to let this line of questioning run for a while, hoping Olin was about to fall into his own trap.
"I was upset."
"But were you angry?"
Mrs. Craig was quiet. She looked Starsky apologetically. "At first, yes."
"Did you blame him?"
Olin seemed satisfied and he didn't want to push the judge. "Nothing further, your witness."
Johnson turned for a moment to look at the pale man behind him. He was concerned about how much more Starsky could take and his banged up partner wasn't looking much better. He approached the witness stand.
"Mrs. Craig, do you still blame Sergeant Starsky for your son's death?"
"No. Lonnie was trying to shoot Detective Starsky. He had no choice."
"Have you ever discussed your son with Sergeant Starsky?
"Yes. He came to see me the day of Lonnie's funeral."
Johnson paused and looked at the jury. Pointing to Starsky, he said, "Mrs. Craig, based on that conversation, what was your impression of how Sergeant Starsky felt about having to shoot Lonnie in the line of duty?"
Eunice Craig looked at Starsky, her face soft. "I believe Sergeant Starsky was deeply affected by the shooting. He only wanted to catch the person responsible for turning Lonnie bad. I'd say he felt terrible about the whole thing."
Starsky sighed deeply and closed his eyes. The incident with Lonnie Craig had taken a lot out of him. Hearing Eunice Craig say that she didn't blame him gave him some peace of mind. He nodded at her as she passed him on her way out of the court. Mrs. Craig had no desire to hear any more of the ugliness being brought forth in this trial. She smiled at Starsky when she saw him nod, hoping he would be all right. She barely knew him and she could see that he was not doing well.
The judge banged his gavel and declared the court would be in recess until one o'clock. Prudholm was led away, but not before he turned to sneer at Starsky. He was about to say something when his guard roughly turned him back away from Starsky's gaze and shoved him through the door leading to the holding area.
"You gentlemen doing okay?" Johnson asked Starsky and Hutch,
"Don't we look okay?" Hutch quipped.
Starsky had made no move to get up from his seat. He was leaning on the banister between the two men and Johnson. Hutch said, "Uh, why don't you hit it, Johnson. My partner and I are gonna wait here for a bit."
Johnson knew when he was being dismissed. He gathered his things and left the courtroom.
"I'm okay. I just need to sit here for a minute."
Hutch nodded and winced a little from the sudden sharp pain in his head.
Starsky stood up and said, "I'm sorry, Hutch. I forgot your pills." He walked to the prosecution table and poured Hutch some water. Handing the glass to Hutch, he fished in his pocket for the pain pills.
Hutch noticed Starsky's color was a little better. "Let's go get some lunch. You name the place."
"You planning to eat?"
"Nah, my head hurts. I'll just watch."
"You've gotta eat, Hutch."
"Maybe when I'm sure the room won't start spinning again."
Starsky was concerned. "You feelin' dizzy still?"
"A little. Nothing to worry about, Gordo. Let just get out of here. Slowly, okay?"
Each of them was keeping a wary eye on the other as they left the courtroom. Starsky stopped at the doors to peek out before they left just to be sure they were not going to be bombarded by reporters again. The hallway was empty. They quietly walked down it and slipped out the back door, just to be sure.
"It's almost over, buddy," Hutch said when they were seated at Huggy's. It's where Starsky had wanted to go, and though Hutch suspected that was so they'd be safe from prying eyes -- the trial was front-page news, complete with photos of both of them, God knows where the press had found the photos in question -- he also knew that Starsky probably figured Huggy would find some way to tempt Hutch to eat.
"Prudholm's gotta be next," Starsky said.
"Surely even Olin isn't stupid enough to let him testify, even if he wants to," Hutch objected.
"I'll bet he does testify," Starsky said. "He's dyin' to get up there and tell us all how much he enjoyed -- " he stopped.
Hutch put a hand on his arm and they sat in silence until Huggy could get away from his other customers and come over to them.
"You two look like hell," he said without preamble. "Pretty ugly, huh?"
Huggy studied them for a moment. "Well, my friends, you came to the right place." He drew a Dr. Pepper out of the cooler for Starsky and set a small bottle of orange juice in front of Hutch. "Be right back," he said, vanishing through the door to the kitchen.
He came back in a few minutes and placed a chef salad in front of Hutch and a pastrami sandwich in front of Starsky. "Eat," he said. "I'll stand here and make ya if I have to."
Hutch grinned a little wanly. "Thanks, Mom."
Huggy snorted. "If I was your mama, I'd send you both home to bed for a good long nap. Since I ain't, I'll just make sure you eat. You ain't eatin'," he added pointedly.
Though neither of them had much appetite, they did manage to force some of it down while Huggy watched approvingly. And they did feel a bit better afterwards.
"Now," Huggy said, "when you get done at that courthouse this afternoon, both of you come back here and Huggy'll have you a coupla steaks on the grill. I ain't gonna stand here and watch my two favorite cops waste away over some scum like Crazy George."
Starsky opened his mouth, but Huggy raised one hand.
"Don't argue with me, Curly. I got a club in the back."
Even Starsky grinned at that. And surrendered. "Okay, Hug. Don't get violent. We'll be here about 5."
"Good. Now scat. I got other customers, you know."
The moment Starsky and Hutch had most been dreading had arrived. George Prudholm was about to take the stand. Olin had tried unsuccessfully throughout the trial to convince Prudholm that testifying in his own behalf was a bad idea. His decision had opened the door for his prior history being brought into the court. The man was adamant. Olin was worried that Prudholm would say or do something that would prejudice the jury against him even more than the previous days in court had.
Olin went to the judge during recess and asked that he have the two police officers barred from the rest of the proceedings. He stated they were disrupting the flow of the trial and diverting focus away from the facts. Especially Hutchinson, with his battered face a constant reminder to the jury of what Prudholm had done -- too close to what had happened to the victim in this case. When Hutchinson was shot, Olin was not too distracted to notice the look of anguish and sheer terror on Starsky's face as he raced to the fallen man's side. Olin prayed the jury had not seen it. That look might be enough to get his client convicted. The judge refused his request.
The judge was seated and the court called to order. "Mr. Olin, call your next witness."
"The defense calls George Prudholm."
Hutch had a hand on Starsky's arm and he felt him tense beneath it. They watched as Prudholm was assisted to the stand by the guard who was now never farther from the man than two feet. He shuffled from the defense table to the witness box. The guard assisted him in climbing the steps and sitting in the witness chair. The jury watched with fascination.
Hutch couldn't help marveling at the irony of making a guy like Prudholm swear to anything with his hand on the Bible. He was convinced Prudholm was a sadistic, evil man. A man who commits cold-blooded murder out of unadulterated hatred for another would probably have little difficulty lying under any circumstances.
Olin began his questioning, first saying a silent prayer that his client would remain focused. "Mr. Prudholm, did you shoot Teresa Roberts?"
Prudholm looked past the attorney and made eye contact with Starsky. His own eyes were filled with icy hatred. "Yeah. I did."
"Why did you do it, Mr. Prudholm?" Olin had his fingers crossed and he hoped his client would give him the right answer.
"Starsky had to pay. Pay for Gary. The voices told me that he had to pay."
"The ones that tell me how to punish Starsky."
Hutch watched Prudholm's face closely. He could tell the man was putting on an act. He didn't hear any voices.
"Tell me what kinds of things the voices tell you," Olin continued.
"Oh, they know all about Starsky. He's evil. They want him dead more than I do." Prudholm's malevolent smile leeched into Hutch's psyche. The man still had his eyes locked with Starsky's.
Hutch didn't like it. He wanted Starsky to look away, avert his eyes from this man as if his evil could somehow harm Starsky from across the room. Hutch gave his best friend's arm a slight shake, trying to distract him without success. His partner gave him no sign of a reaction. Starsky felt like he was standing at one end of a long tunnel. Staring into the darkness, he could see Prudholm in the distance at the other end. Everyone and everything else was blurry on the periphery of Starsky's vision. The only thing anchoring him in reality was the warm presence of Hutch's hand on his arm.
"Mr. Prudholm, when did you start hearing these voices?" Olin was pleased. Prudholm was sounding pretty crazy, but not too overdone.
"When Gary died. They started telling me about how Starsky killed my son."
"What else do the voices say, Mr. Prudholm?"
"Starsky has to suffer. Then he can die and go to hell where he belongs."
Olin took a deep breath. He wanted to push for a little more. "At the time of the shooting, did you understand that you were committing a murder?"
"I didn't see it that way. She was just another little tramp who could be eliminated to make Starsky pay."
Hutch felt a shiver go up his back. He hated the thought of his partner being the object of Prudholm's sick obsession. He looked at Starsky. Once again his face was ashen and sweaty, his eyes wide, and his body trembling. Hutch saw the seething anger in his partner's eyes. He squeezed Starsky's arm and willed him to look away from Prudholm. Look at me, buddy. Don't look at him. His message was not getting through to Starsky.
Olin was concerned Prudholm would go too far. He decided to rest on that note and bring him back for the finale on redirect if necessary.
"Nothing further for this witness at this time, your honor." He turned toward Johnson. "Your witness."
"Mr. Prudholm," Johnson said with exaggerated politeness, "isn't it true that you told Detective Starsky that you were confident the courts would find you insane when it came time to answer for the murder of Miss Roberts?"
"Sure, I told him that," Prudholm said with a shrug. "I was right, too."
Johnson checked to make sure the jury had heard that. They had. So had Olin, whose face had gone a dull red. Keeping his face impassive, Johnson asked, "Why do you blame Detective Starsky for the murder of your son, when he was nowhere near your son at the time of his death?"
"He arrested him, didn't he? He's the one put him in jail. If he hadn't, Gary wouldn't be dead."
"But if Gary hadn't broken the law, he wouldn't have been arrested, Mr. Prudholm. Did you consider that?"
"It was a frame," Prudholm said. "They were at that high school on purpose to bust somebody and they picked Gary."
"They did catch him with a pocket full of LSD, sir."
Prudholm shrugged again. "Docs used to prescribe that. Wasn't illegal not that long ago. Stupid law."
"So, do you believe that if a law is 'stupid,' you don't have to obey it?"
"Too damn many laws, anyway," Prudholm muttered, but loud enough to be heard.
"Your honor, I fail to see the purpose of this line of questioning!" Olin was on his feet, and even from across the room, the sweat at his hairline was visible.
"I am trying to establish whether the defendant understands that when one commits a crime, one is punished," Johnson said.
"Overruled," Greanias said to Olin.
"Sir, do you understand that whether you like a law or not, if you break it, the police might arrest you and the courts might punish you?"
"Not if you're crazy," Prudholm said.
"I believe you have served time in prison before, sir? Is that correct?"
"Yeah, and I didn't wanna go back," Prudholm said.
"So did you intentionally attempt to appear mentally impaired so as to avoid going back?"
Prudholm narrowed his eyes and finally looked away from Starsky to look at Johnson. "I told ya. The voices told me Starsky had to pay. And the best way to make him pay was to take everyone and everything he loved away from him, like he took Gary from me!"
"And so you deliberately set out to kill the people Detective Starsky loved?"
"Yeah." Prudholm gave an evil sneer and locked eyes with Starsky again. "I only got to his slut, though. Missed when I tried to get his blond partner. Missed twice. I won't miss next time."
"Objection, your honor!"
"Sit down, Mr. Olin. Overruled."
"Why did you feel you had to kill Miss Roberts, whom you didn't even know?"
"Starsky loved her," Prudholm said, still staring at Starsky. "Tell ya somethin', though. I kinda hated to do it."
Prudholm grinned. "She was real pretty. Coulda had more fun with her, if we'd'a pinned her somewhere private. Soft skin, she had, and a real nice pair of -- "
Starsky shot to his feet, his eyes wild, and Hutch grabbed his arm and tried to force him to sit down, though his own stomach roiled at what Prudholm had said.
The judge banged his gavel. "Order in the court! Sit down, Detective, or I'll have to find you in contempt!"
"Starsk, sit down. He's lying, he never touched her, you heard Woody's testimony," Hutch hissed.
Starsky was trembling violently, but he forced himself to look away from Prudholm and, at last, sat down.
Johnson was watching and decided he'd better quit before Starsky blew. He had been perilously close to it for days, already.
"Nothing further, your honor."
After Prudholm was returned to the defense table Olin addressed the court. "The defense rests, your honor."
The judge nodded. "This court is in recess until nine o'clock tomorrow for the medical examiner's testimony, followed by closing arguments." He banged the gavel.
As everyone else started to move in the direction they needed to take, Starsky sat in his chair, perfectly still. His hands were gripping the railing in front of him. Hutch looked at him with deep concern. Starsky's face was gray and he was still shaking. Thankfully, he was oblivious to everyone's stares as they left. Hutch hoped he was also oblivious to the things Prudholm was saying to him as they hauled him out of the courtroom.
Captain Dobey had been sitting near the back and he was making his way toward his detectives through the exiting crowd.
"You like that, cop? She was sure pretty!" Prudholm shouted.
The guards shoved him roughly, "Shut up and move it!" They were trying their best to get him out quickly, but his ankles were in chains and he couldn't move very fast.
"Too bad I didn't get to know her better! Hurts, don't it?"
The two guards picked Prudholm up under the arms and hustled him out the door, still screaming over his shoulder at Starsky, "I hope the pain kills you, pig!"
Hutch was trying to get his partner's attention. He had one hand on Starsky's back and the other on his arm as he spoke to him gently.
"Buddy, you all right?"
This time the reaction was that Starsky started to shake even worse. He stood up suddenly and took a couple of steps into the aisle. Then, before Hutch could react he stopped and went down to the floor as if his legs wouldn't hold him. He was sitting on the floor now with his head down, shaking violently.
Dobey had reached out for him, but he wasn't close enough either. He knelt beside him and said, "Dave, you okay?"
Hutch looked at Dobey with pain and worry in his eyes. He silently hoped there was a special corner in hell just for George Prudholm. He knelt on the other side of his partner, putting an arm around his shoulders.
"Starsky, breathe, okay, buddy? Just sit there a minute."
Hutch was afraid his friend would pass out and he was ready for it. Starsky just sat there, his eyes tightly shut, saying nothing. Hutch could tell he was struggling to get his breathing under control before he hyperventilated.
A couple of uniformed officers had also been in the back of the courtroom and they were approaching the three men slowly. Dobey stood up and barked at them, "You two get outside those doors and keep everybody out of here!" They instantly obeyed him, making it to the doors just as the first of the reporters was trying to get into the courtroom. They shoved him back outside before his cameraman had a chance to focus on Starsky.
Dobey looked down at Hutch. "He gonna be okay, Hutch?"
Hutch nodded. "I think it's the adrenaline, Cap. He'll be okay in a few minutes."
"I'm going to go call for some more uniforms to hustle those reporters out of here. Give me the keys to the Torino. I'll bring it around back so you can get take him out that way."
Hutch tossed his keys to the captain, nodding his thanks, then he sat next to Starsky on the floor. They were the only two people left in the courtroom.
"Starsk? Talk to me, buddy."
Starsky felt like Hutch was talking to him from far away. He heard Hutch's voice over the buzzing in his ears and he reached out a hand for him. He felt Hutch take his hand and allowed it to anchor him. When he finally spoke, Hutch was worried about how weak his voice sounded.
Hutch's heart twisted. He hated to see Starsky suffer any more at the hands of George Prudholm. "I don't know, Gordo. Hey, try to relax, huh?"
Starsky nodded. He opened his eyes, unhappy with the dark fuzziness around the edges of his vision. He couldn't remember the last time he had been so angry and he had nowhere for that anger to go.
"Hutch?" he said weakly as he started to slump against his partner.
"Stay with me, Starsk. You're okay!" Hutch gave him a gentle shake and supported his weight, willing him to stay conscious. He was afraid for his partner. Prudholm was evil and he prayed his words didn't have enough power to push his friend over the edge.
The next thing Starsky said chilled him. "I want him to die, Hutch."
"I know, Starsk. I do, too."
They sat together until Starsky's rapid breathing and pulse slowed. Finally, Dobey came back in and said, "Hutch, the car's around back and the uniforms have the hallways cleared. We'd better get him out of here while we can."
Hutch was pretty sure Starsky would be okay to move. The shaking was much better . "Buddy, we've got to get out of here now. Can you get up?"
Starsky nodded. Dobey and Hutch helped him to unsteady feet and slowly walked him out of the courtroom. They were grateful to see that the reporters were not waiting for them at the back entrance. The uniforms had done their job well. One of them opened the back door for the three men and watched Hutch deposit his shaky partner into the passenger seat of the Torino.
"Thanks, Cap. I'm taking him to my place. Maybe the reporters won't think to go there. I'll call you later."
Hutch was glad he had been right. No reporters greeted them when he pulled the Torino up at Venice Place. Starsky seemed a little better. Hutch took him up the stairs and tried to walk him into the bedroom, but Starsky put his arm out to stop him.
"No, I don't want to sleep, Hutch."
"You should, buddy. Let that adrenaline rush wear off a bit."
Starsky shook his head and moved toward the couch. After he was settled, Hutch went and got him a glass of ice water.
"If you want, I'll send Huggy over to your place to get you one of those sleeping pills."
"No, thanks. I just want to sit here with you. Oh, God, Hutch, why do I let him get to me like that?"
Hutch could tell his friend was feeling weak and embarrassed. "You're being really strong, Starsk. He could get to anyone."
"I don't want to feel like this. Just hurts so much."
Starsky looked up at Hutch, just noticing how tired he looked. "Hey, why don't you go lie down for a while?"
"Nope. I think I'll stay in here with you."
"How's your head?"
"Better, thanks. Don't worry about me. I'm okay."
Starsky smiled at him. That's funny. Don't worry about him. "Aren't we a pair today?"
"Yeah, but a pair of what?" Hutch smiled, glad to see Starsky was getting better.
"This'll all be over soon. You know he's gonna get the death penalty."
"God, I hope so. What if that insanity thing works, Hutch?"
Hutch tried to sound confident. "It won't. No way. He knew exactly what he was doing. The jury could see that."
Starsky nodded wearily and put his head back, closing his eyes. Hutch waited quietly for a few minutes to see if his friend would drop off to sleep. Despite his best intentions, Starsky did fall asleep quickly. Hutch could tell he was really out of it, so he picked Starsky's feet up and laid his legs out on the couch. Then he quietly slipped into his room to lie down for a while himself. He set his alarm to be sure he woke up in time to take Starsky to dinner at Huggy's, even though he knew his friend would probably be unable to eat anything.
Huggy had made them the steaks, as promised, but neither of them felt much like eating, and only tried because Huggy stood over them and insisted. Neither of them slept much that night, either. Every time Starsky woke up, usually due to a nightmare, he could hear Hutch tossing and turning on the sofa. And every time Hutch woke from one his infrequent, restless dozes, he could hear Starsky doing the same thing.
Both were hollow-eyed by the time they reached the courthouse the next morning. Johnson looked them over with concern.
"We're almost finished," Johnson said softly. "Hang on for a couple more hours."
Starsky nodded. "We've made it this far, counselor. We'll be okay."
The medical examiner was in the courtroom and Johnson rose as soon as the judge had called the proceedings to order. "Your honor, my last witness is here now."
"You may call him," Greanias said.
After he'd been sworn in, Johnson asked, "Dr. Lynch, did you personally perform the autopsy on Terry Roberts?"
"Yes, I did."
"Please tell the court what your findings were."
Hutch reached over to squeeze Starsky's hand. This wasn't going to be easy.
"Miss Roberts had a .45 caliber bullet lodged in the frontal lobe," Lynch said. "The bullet entered through her forehead at the hairline and turned as it entered, stopping just inside the skull, according to her medical records. When I examined her body, the bullet had worked its way deeper into her brain and interrupted the involuntary functions such as sight and sense of touch, and eventually, heartbeat."
Starsky's eyes were full of tears. Hutch squeezed his hand again, but Starsky didn't look at him.
"Did Miss Roberts suffer, doctor?"
Lynch, who knew both Starsky and Hutch, hesitated. Finally, he said, "It's difficult to be certain. The brain is an organ science has yet to fully understand. But based on what we do know, I would say her pain at the time the injury was inflicted was quite severe. From that point, it would come and go. At the end, the original severity of the pain probably returned, but only for the last few moments of life."
"Do you concur with Dr. Quo and her colleagues that nothing could have been done to save Miss Roberts' life?"
Lynch nodded. "Yes, I do. Frankly, I'm surprised she lived as long as she did, and apparently she lived with every appearance of normality during much of that time."
"Thank you, doctor. Your witness, Mr. Olin."
"No questions," Olin said, surprising both Starsky and Hutch.
"Very well," Greanias said. "Then we are ready to hear closing arguments. Mr. Johnson?"
Johnson rose and walked to the jury box. He stopped in front of it and leaned against the rail on his hands, making eye contact with every person in it before speaking. "Ladies and gentlemen, you have seen for yourselves the damage the defendant has inflicted. With cold, calculating malice, this man set out to seek revenge against Detective David Starsky for an act that Detective Starsky did not commit -- the death of Gary Prudholm.
"During this man's vendetta against Detective Starsky, he murdered two police officers: Dan Tinker, who had a wife and two small children; Steve Kelton, who graduated at the top of his class in the police academy and had only been on the force nine months.
"He assaulted Mr. Brown, a close friend of both Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson, simply because he is their friend. He attempted to murder Detective Hutchinson, once with a rigged shotgun and the second time right here in front of this entire courtroom. He attempted to murder Detective Starsky by ambushing him in the old city zoo.
"And he murdered Teresa Renee Roberts in cold blood in front of witnesses.
"And all because he blames Detective Starsky for the death of Gary Prudholm, who was killed in a fight which he himself started in the county jail! Ladies and gentlemen, I appeal to your integrity. This man has destroyed the lives of Officer Tinker's family, Officer Kelton's family, Detective Starsky and Teresa Roberts' family! He is a cold-blooded, heartless and unrepentant killer. You cannot let him go free. You cannot believe for one moment that this man is mentally impaired beyond the ability to know right from wrong. He knew exactly what he was doing and he did it anyway. He admitted, in fact, he bragged to Detective Starsky that he had no fear of punishment because he was confident the courts would find him insane! A man who is truly insane does not realize that fact. This man is not insane, ladies and gentlemen! He is a murderer, as sane as you or I, and he murdered Teresa Roberts as a malevolent act of revenge.
"You must find him guilty. You have no choice. Look at Detective Starsky. Look at Detective Hutchinson."
All twelve members of the jury obeyed. Starsky had endured so much already and had managed to maintain his composure during court so far, but when Johnson appealed to the jury in this manner, and they were all looking at him, it was just too much. A tear streaked down his cheek, and Hutch instinctively put an arm around his shoulders for support. Starsky looked down and covered his face with one hand.
Johnson looked back at the jury and saw empathy on every face. He went on, "These men, and the other people who have suffered at the hands of George Prudholm, deserve no less than the peace of mind you can offer them by putting this man where he can do no more harm. It is in your hands."
Johnson sat down.
Olin strolled over to the jury box and gave Johnson a pitying smile as he passed. He put his hands in his pockets and gazed at the jury. "Very appealing arguments my esteemed colleague has offered you," Olin said. "I applaud him. Really, I do. But, ladies and gentlemen, my colleague is appealing to your emotions, not your reason. I appeal to your reason. Yes, Detectives Starsky and Hutchinson have suffered. I sympathize. But my client is not a sane man. A sane man would not blame a police officer for the death of his son to the point that he would plan and execute systematic revenge such as my client has. If my client was sane, he might be angry that Detective Starsky arrested his son and that that arrest was the reason Gary Prudholm was in jail to be killed in a fight. But a sane man would not accuse the officer of murder, which my client has done repeatedly.
"George Prudholm is sick, ladies and gentlemen. He is sick the same as if he had cancer or kidney disease or diabetes. He needs treatment for that illness, not prison. In prison, he will be punished, it is true. And yes, sending him to prison will no doubt give the people he has harmed a measure of peace.
"But you cannot punish a man for being ill. That would fly in the face of the principles this country was founded upon. Would you send a cancer patient to prison for having cancer? Of course not! He cannot help having this illness any more than a cancer patient can help having his illness. And he is not legally responsible for his actions."
Johnson stood again to offer his parting comments.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, my colleague is correct, sick men cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. However, as you have heard from the testimony of an expert, and based on the observations of the witnesses, George Prudholm is just as sane as you are. His calculating plans to harm Detective David Starsky, his friends, and his loved ones are a perfect example of this. Mr. Prudholm murdered Teresa Roberts with malice aforethought, lying in wait for her. He knew exactly what he was doing and he executed elaborate schemes to get his way. He nearly killed Detective Kenneth Hutchinson right here in this room before your eyes. This unremorseful man deserves to be punished for his crimes and thereby kept from inflicting more harm on anyone else. I trust you will see that and find in the State's favor." Johnson was quiet and he returned to his seat.
The courtroom was hushed as the judge waited a few moments to let the prosecutor's words hang in the air. Then he turned to the jury and gave them their instructions. They were escorted out and court was recessed for the duration of jury deliberation. One of Prudholm's guards looked back to where Starsky and Hutch were sitting, seeing the pain on Starsky's face. Hutch was leaning close to him, talking quietly.
The guard stepped closer to Prudholm and leaned down to whisper to him before helping him to his feet. "I swear to God, Prudholm, you say one word and I'll put you out, you got that?"
Prudholm looked ready to give him a smart answer as he tried to lean back and catch Starsky's gaze. The other guard blocked his view and nodded at him, the intent clearly etched on his face. Both guards had moved their hands to their nightsticks. George Prudholm smiled wryly and let the two guards help him to his feet. Turning around one more time in the hope of making eye contact with Starsky, he found Captain Dobey blocking his view this time. Dejectedly thinking that these men were all taking the fun out of his day he wisely kept his mouth shut and was escorted out of the courtroom without incident.
Hutch had been speaking to Starsky soothingly. He was worried about his friend, knowing that he was near the end of his rope. Starsky was quiet again. So quiet even Captain Dobey was afraid for him.
Johnson had walked up to the three men and put his hand on Captain Dobey's arm to get his attention. "He going to be all right, Captain?"
He wasn't sure what he was reading in Captain Dobey's eyes -- anger, defiance, or frustration. Dobey looked at him and said, "You know, Johnson, I understand why you did what you just did, but was it necessary to try and win at his expense?" The captain jerked his head back toward Starsky and Johnson was certain the look was anger.
"I'm sorry, Captain. I certainly don't want to do anything to harm Detective Starsky. You're right though. I would have said anything to convince that jury that Prudholm has to be found guilty. I'm sorry if that hurt him, but he'll get over it. He'll feel much better when he knows Prudholm is on death row."
Hearing that, Hutch's head snapped up and he stood, towering menacingly over the shorter attorney. He put one finger on Johnson's chest and said, "Well, I hope you're satisfied. You used him to elicit sympathy from the jury without any thought for what it would do to him. You've done that throughout this trial. All I can say for you is you'd better win. I hope it was worth it."
Johnson swallowed hard. He wasn't easily intimidated, but the tall blond's look of cold fury was enough to intimidate almost anyone.
"I'm sorry, Detective Hutchinson. I never wanted to hurt him, but you're right. Sometimes we have to play dirty to win against this scum. You live your life to take them off the streets. I live mine to make sure they get justice. It's what I do."
Dobey put his hand on Hutch's arm and gently pushed him back from his hostile stance. "Take care of your partner, Hutch," he said quietly. Hutch looked at his captain and nodded, sitting back down with Starsky After Captain Dobey instructed him to call the instant the jury was back, Johnson finished gathering his papers and walked out of the courtroom.
Starsky didn't make eye contact with Hutch. He knew he would lose it if he did, so he stared straight ahead when he asked, "How long?"
Hutch looked up at Dobey who shrugged and he said, "No way to tell, partner. Come on, let's get you out of here."
Starsky shook his head. "No, I want to stay until they're done."
Dobey said, "Dave, they could be deliberating for hours, maybe even overnight. Let Hutch take you home."
Starsky didn't argue or resist them as they helped him to his feet. Hutch asked, "Cap, what about the reporters?"
"It's taken care of, Hutch. We'll take him out the back like we did yesterday." He offered Hutch his keys. "Give me your keys and take my car. You take off out of here in the Torino and every reporter in the city is going to follow you. They fell for that yesterday, but they won't two days in a row. My car's at the back door."
"You going to your place?"
Hutch thought about it for a minute, stealing a look at his trembling partner. "No, Cap. I have a better idea. I'll call you. Page me if they come back before then, okay?"
Dobey nodded and watched as Hutch led Starsky away down the hall toward the back entrance to the court.
Starsky didn't notice he was being put into Dobey's car instead of his own and that worried Hutch. He expected at least to be questioned about how the Torino was going to make it out of the courthouse parking lot on its own.
"Hey, buddy, aren't you worried about your car?" He asked, trying to put a hint of humor in his strained voice.
Starsky shook his head and quietly said, "Sure you took care of it."
Oh boy, this is not good. Hutch put his hand on Starsky's shoulder reassuringly. Starsky felt the warmth of his touch and took some comfort in it. He was so tired and he wanted it to be finished. He looked out the window and noticed they were not headed toward either of their homes and Huggy's was in the opposite direction.
"Hey, blintz. Where are we goin'?" He asked.
"Oh, you'll see. I have an idea." Hutch replied.
"Oh, an idea. Well, let's have it."
"You'll see, just sit back and relax, Gordo."
A few minutes later they pulled into the parking lot of the miniature golf course the two of them had taken their girlfriends to so many times when Terry was still alive. Starsky looked around incredulously and said, "Hutch, this isn't such a good idea."
"Trust me a minute, okay?"
"Just a minute? Like I don't always." Starsky shook his head, wondering what was going on inside his partner's mind.
Hutch walked him in and led him to a bench. "Wait here, I'll be right back."
When Hutch walked up to the young lady running the concessions, she took one look at his bruised face, complete with black eye and whistled. After he explained what he wanted she shook her head, pointed at his battered face, and said, "Mister, you didn't get that here did you?"
"What?" As soon as he said it he realized she meant his injuries. He laughed and said, "No, sweetheart, you wouldn't believe me if I told you how I got this. Don't worry, I'm not goin' in there, my friend is."
She took his money, handing him the equipment and a cup full of tokens, and gave him a sly smile. "Bet you're pretty cute when you don't look like you ran face first into a wall."
Hutch walked back to his best friend who looked up at him in disbelief. He was standing there holding a baseball bat and helmet. Hutch said, "batting cages, buddy."
"You've got to be kidding, Hutch. I don't have the energy. Just take me home, huh?"
"Nope. Batting cages first."
"What if the jury comes back while we're here?" Starsky asked.
Hutch patted his pocket, "I have a pager, Dobey will let us know."
Hutch grabbed Starsky under the elbow and led him to the cages. He wanted to give his friend the chance to work off some of his frustration, hoping it would snap him out of the depression that was starting to scare Hutch. He tried to steer Starsky toward the slow-pitch softball cage, but Starsky stopped.
"Oh no you don't. If I'm gonna do this, that one." Starsky pointed to the fastest speed cage. The one that said you had to be at least a college level ballplayer to go into it.
"Starsk . . ."
Starsky's look told him he would brook no argument. Hutch handed him the equipment and stepped aside, taking Starsky's jacket and tie from him. When Starsky was in position and set, Hutch put in the tokens to start the pitching machine. Then he stood back to watch and hoped this was a good idea.
The pitches were fast, at least 80 mph. Starsky couldn't get his bat around fast enough and pitch after pitch sailed past him. He was too close to the center of the plate.
"Starsk, you're crowding the plate." Hutch called through the fence.
The next pitch was a little wider for some reason. Starsky was leaning into it and the ball hit him squarely on the helmet, spinning it off his head as he fell to the ground.
"Starsky!" Hutch shouted. He had no way to stop the pitching machine and he stood back a moment, waiting for the interval between pitches to open the door and go check on Starsky. By the time he got inside the batting cage, Starsky was sitting up, swearing in both English and some other language Hutch thought must be Russian or Polish, and shaking his head.
He pulled Starsky back a little farther away from the pitches and looked him in the eyes. "You okay?" He said, the fear in his voice clearly conveyed.
Starsky shook him off saying, "Yeah, I'm all right." The pitches had stopped. "Go put some more tokens in that thing."
Hutch shook his head, "Oh no, this was a bad idea. Come on, let's get out of here."
Starsky was angry. "Hutch, I said put some more tokens in that thing."
His buddy didn't seem to be hurt, just mad. Hutch reluctantly agreed. He gave Starsky the Hutchinson finger and said, "All right, but you put that helmet back on and quit crowding the plate."
Starsky did as he was told. This time, his anger helped him to hit his stride. He connected with pitch after pitch. Each hit seemed to drain away some of the anger he had bottled up inside him. Hutch kept feeding the machine tokens as long as Starsky looked like he needed it. Finally, Starsky stepped back, sweaty and exhausted. He put his hand up to convey the message that he was done.
He stepped out of the batting cage and grinned at his partner. "Thanks, buddy. How'd you know that would make me feel better?"
Hutch shrugged. "Just a hunch."
They walked out to return the equipment, Starsky feeling better, and Hutch a lot less worried. His mind was racing as he tried to figure out what to do next to occupy his partner until the jury returned.
"Are you hungry?"
"As a matter of fact," Starsky said with some surprise, "I am. Where's the nearest butterfly bones store?"
Hutch chuckled. "I was thinking more along the lines of burritos, pal. What d'you say to that?"
Starsky narrowed his eyes. "Are you sick?"
"No," Hutch said, holding his hands up in surrender. "I can eat a burrito once in a while, you know."
There was a little Mexican drive-through place on their beat that Hutch knew Starsky was fond of, so they went there. Hutch watched, pleased, as Starsky devoured two beef-and-bean burritos, a taco and a large Dr. Pepper. He could see his partner's color improve even as he watched. He ate a taco salad himself, and felt much better afterwards.
"Okay, Hutch," Starsky said as he gathered up their trash and wadded it into a ball. "What are we going to do now?"
"What do you mean?"
Starsky shook his head. "How many years've we known each other? And you think I can't read ya like a book? You're keepin' me busy so I won't think about what the jury's talkin' about back there."
Hutch had no answer for that, and Starsky's eyes crinkled in the first real grin he'd produced since the trial started.
"I was right."
"Well, there isn't anything we can do to hurry things along," Hutch began, but Starsky waved a hand.
"I know. So how about a movie? We could catch the cheapo matinee," he added, looking down at his watch.
"Not porn," Hutch said.
"No, a real movie."
The jury still hadn't come back by the time the movie was over, and it was getting dark out.
"I have a bad feeling they may be in there all night," Starsky said with a sigh, looking at his watch again.
"It's a serious thing, sentencing a man to die," Hutch said gently. "I'd want to think about it a while, too."
"Yeah, I guess." Starsky said. "Now what? I thought of the movie."
Hutch grinned. "So it's my turn again. Huggy's?"
But Starsky shook his head. "I'm kinda wiped, buddy. Let's just go home, huh? Play chess or watch a late movie or something."
They went to Starsky's this time, because Hutch was afraid the reporters might have staked out his own place by now. It was deserted except for a marked car parked outside with two officers inside. Both men approached it.
"Evening, fellas," Starsky said.
"Hi, Starsky, Hutch. You guys doing okay?" The driver was Matt Becker, with his partner Joe Briggs, both from their precinct.
"Yeah," Hutch said, "but what are you doing here?"
"Dobey's orders," Briggs said. "'Keep the media away or die trying' were his exact words if memory serves." He grinned.
Starsky and Hutch glanced at each other. And both smiled.
Three chess games and an hour and a half with Johnny Carson later, the pager still had not gone off. Hutch was trying to stifle his yawns when Starsky stretched and said, "Face it, buddy, they ain't coming back tonight. We might as well crash."
Both were so exhausted by the strain they'd been under, that they slept through the night without any more bad dreams. When Hutch woke at last, it was the middle of the morning. Starsky was still sacked out, snoring. Hutch gave an affectionate smile at the sight and padded into the kitchen to start breakfast. He had just dished it up and was on his way to wake Starsky when the pager beeped.
Hutch froze mid-step, looked down at the pager, then took a deep breath. He went into Starsky's bedroom and touched his partner's shoulder. "Jury's back."
The two men quickly dressed in their court clothes and rushed downtown to be there for the reading of the verdict. The court was set to convene at eleven. As they walked into the courtroom and took their seats next to Captain Dobey they both noticed the hushed atmosphere in the room and that all eyes were on them as they entered. When both men were seated, Captain Dobey gave them a reassuring smile. He noted to himself that the dark-haired detective had lost his habit of going to the men's room just before the reading of a verdict. He wondered whether that was his idea, or Hutchinson's.
Johnson turned around to greet them, hoping they were not still angry about his closing remarks. "You two up for this?" He asked.
Both detectives nodded. Starsky added, "Johnson, whatever goes down, I know you did your best."
The defendant was brought into the courtroom in his shackles. Everyone turned to watch as the jury filed in from the side door. Hutch was desperately trying to get a read on them, but he had no idea. The bailiff stepped forward and said, "All rise. Court is now in session. The honorable Judge Joseph Greanias presiding."
When the judge and everyone else was seated, the judge turned to the jury. "Have you reached a verdict in the matter before you?"
The foreman stood. "We have, your honor."
"Please hand the verdict to the bailiff."
The bailiff took the piece of paper and walked it over to the judge. Starsky was holding his breath, sweat starting to bead on his upper lip. Hutch could feel his nervousness and he put his hand on Starsky's arm, trying to give him a little calming energy. Tick, tick -- time seemed to stand still for Starsky. The judge held in his hands the decision as to whether the man who had taken away the love of his life would pay for that crime, or whether he would be allowed to live.
Greanias handed the paper back to the bailiff to be returned to the jury foreman. He said, "The defendant will rise and face the jury."
The jury foreman took a deep breath and started to read from the paper. "On case docket 80-843584, People vs. George Prudholm in the matter of the murder of Teresa Renee Roberts. We the jury, in the above entitled action, on the charge of Murder in the First Degree with Special Circumstances do hereby find the defendant guilty as charged."
A gasp went up from the courtroom and several observers dashed out the door to announce the verdict to the media. The judge banged his gavel, calling for order in the courtroom.
Starsky was tightly holding onto the railing between his chair and the prosecution table. Hutch looked at him, but couldn't read a reaction from his best friend. Then he realized that Starsky was waiting to hear the judge's ruling.
"George Prudholm, you have been found guilty of Murder in the First Degree with Special Circumstances. The finding of Special Circumstances is in recognition to the cold, calculating way you committed this crime. In the state of California, this finding bears with it a mandatory death sentence. No penalty phase is necessary in this matter. I hereby remand you to the custody of San Quentin State Prison. There you will await the carrying out of your sentence, which will be conducted in the gas chamber in accordance with state law, and may God have mercy on your soul. The jury is dismissed with the thanks of this court. You have been an exemplary jury. Court is now dismissed." The judge banged his gavel, and it was finally over George Prudholm would pay for Terry's death.
Starsky's head suddenly dropped between his arms and Hutch was afraid he might pass out on them. "Starsk?" He said, supporting his friend with an arm around the race. Starsky shook his head slightly, to let him know he was all right. After a few minutes he looked up with both a smile and tears streaming down his face. "Oh God, Hutch, we won. Terry can rest in peace now." He turned and grabbed onto Hutch with a tight embrace.
Hutch patted him on the back saying, "That's right, buddy. It's over and we won." Starsky felt Captain Dobey put a supportive hand on his arm as he held onto Hutch. When he looked up, the Captain was smiling at him.
They all turned to Johnson who until now had just been watching the group. While they were savoring the moment, Prudholm had been lead out of the courtroom, too shocked by the verdict to say anything else.
"Congratulations, Detective Starsky. Was it worth it?" Johnson asked.
Starsky nodded, shook his hand, and thanked him.
"You know he'll appeal it."
Starsky smiled. "That don't matter. He's gone. He's never going to hurt anyone again."
Hutch couldn't help thinking that was right, especially not his partner.
Captain Dobey asked, "What are you gonna do now, boys? You don't have to be at work until Monday. I'm giving you the rest of the week off."
"Cap, I just want to go home and get a real shower. We rushed out of the house this morning when we heard the jury was done." Starsky looked relieved and happy. Hutch was glad to see the tension begin to fade from his face and his body.
Hutch agreed to take Starsky back to his apartment. He would go home too, clean up, and they would meet Dobey and Johnson at Huggy's for a celebratory lunch at around two.
Dobey and Johnson preceded Starsky and Hutch out of the courtroom and smack into the arms of representatives of what looked like every TV and print media outlet in Bay City.
"Sergeant Starsky! Sergeant Starsky!" The voices and microphones and tape recorders assaulted him from every side.
"How do you feel about the verdict, Sergeant?"
"Do you think your fiancée's death has been avenged?"
"Will George Prudholm be charged for the assault on Sergeant Hutchinson?"
Hutch, Dobey and Johnson tried to surround Starsky and protect him from the barrage, but Starsky stood his ground.
"I think we owe 'em a couple of good quotes, don't you, Hutch?" He appealed to his partner as the one person who would understand.
"Whatever you want to do, Starsk."
Johnson glanced at them and nodded. "Ladies and gentlemen!" he said, raising his voice. Instantly, the cameras and microphones pointed at him. "I will make a brief statement, and then Sergeant Starsky will speak."
Johnson didn't need notes. He was used to speaking to the media. "Mr. Prudholm has been found guilty of murder in the first degree with special circumstances. In California, that means automatic death penalty. My office is satisfied that justice has been served in this case. We presented our case, and the good citizens of Bay City did the right thing." He stepped aside.
Dobey put a hand on Starsky's arm to forestall him. "Captain Harold Dobey," he said, and spelled it for them. "Too often, the police in this city and every city put their lives on the line to protect the people and have to watch as the criminals they arrest are set free. This time, that didn't happen. I'm proud of my officers -- both these officers," he added, indicating Starsky and Hutch. "They've been through a stressful experience and they maintained their professionalism throughout."
Now all the attention was focused on Starsky, who stepped forward and simply stood there for a moment, gathering his thoughts. The reporters waited quietly. Finally, he looked up at them and that "grave dignity" that Johnson had spoken of was in evidence again. "I loved Terry Roberts," he said. "Her death was just wrong. She helped people. She was a beautiful human being, inside, where it counts. She didn't deserve to die at the hands of a man like George Prudholm. I can't say I'm 'happy' about the verdict because, as my partner told me yesterday, it's a serious thing to sentence a man to die, even a man like Prudholm. But I can say I feel that Terry can rest in peace now. George Prudholm will pay for his crime."
Johnson watched Starsky and when Starsky gave him a little nod to indicate he was through, Johnson said, "That's all. Let Sergeant Starsky go home and rest now. Any further questions can be directed to the D.A.'s office."
Amazingly, the throng of reporters parted and let them through.
At around one o'clock, Hutch pulled up to the cemetery and saw Starsky's car there. He smiled at how they both wound up here without discussing it first. He was on his way to the Pits and he wanted to stop by and pay his respects to Terry first. He picked up the flowers he had brought and started out to find his partner.
Walking across the neatly manicured lawn, Hutch could see that his partner was sitting on the grass, talking to Terry's grave. He didn't want to intrude and he almost turned to walk away when Starsky looked up and saw him. His partner smiled and waved, signaling for Hutch to come over to sit with him.
"Hi, Starsk. Been here a while?"
"A little while. I just wanted to come and tell her what happened. Wanted her to know she could rest easier now. What are you doing here?"
"Same thing as you. I wanted to tell her and thought this would be the best place to come. You okay, Gordo?"
Starsky smiled at him. "Yep, I'm fine, Hutch. Really fine for the first time in a long while. I don't know why, Terry is still gone. Somehow, knowing Prudholm is going to pay for it makes me feel better."
Starsky gently touched the grave marker. He lovingly touched her name and read the passage from the bible Terry's mother had put on the marker.
Teresa Renee Roberts
January 22, 1949 March 5, 1977
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me." Psalms 23, 4
Starsky thought about how often he felt Terry's presence with him, just like she said she would be. "Rest easy, sweetheart. It's all over now. Justice was served." Starsky's heart was lighter than it had been in many years.
Looking at Hutch, he noticed the flowers in his hand for the first time. "Roses, partner? You hate roses."
Hutch smiled. "Yeah, I know, but Terry loved them." He laid the flowers on her grave and sent her a silent thank you for still being there for Starsky. He knew she would never fail him.
Hutch stood up and offered his hand to Starsky. "Come on, Gordo. We have some celebrating to do." Starsky allowed Hutch to pull him to his feet and they walked out of the cemetery together.