I have had my share of crazies over the years and accepted that people can turn vicious as their demands for a pound of their spouse’s flesh escalates. Some I could reason with when things cooled down, others, however, went rogue in the quest for personal and oftentimes vigilante justice. That is why in the thick black and red book of statutes titled Domestic Relations, there are hundreds of codified laws that lawyers and the public alike are expected to follow. These statutes are not mere suggestions, they are rules, and I like rules.
I respect the law and make it my mission to work within its framework. That is not to imply I won’t work every angle possible to win. Because isn’t that what the essence of litigation is about? And I love the feel of winning.
People say I am tenacious. They have even called me scrappy and snarky. That’s okay, because when the name Kate O’Brien is spoken, no one doubts the fight will be fair because I play by the designated rules. So, what am I doing sitting in the county jail, talking to a woman accused of murder and clearly inebriated? A belligerent, incoherent woman who already has expressed her unfavorable opinion of me several times.
William Brown, my law partner, that’s why I’m here, caught in this chaos and drama, as a favor to him. He loves the Wild West attitude of the criminal defense bar and plays fast and loose inside and outside of the courtroom. Flashy cars, a small plane, and two lavish houses have come to define him. All this chasing after power and money is something that has been a problem bubbling to the surface over the course of this last year.
Winning acquittal after acquittal has made him a rock star amongst the criminal community. Now they chase after him and not the other way around. He’s clever and charismatic. I have to admit I am not entirely immune from the second quality. Thus, tonight I was far too easily smooth-talked into agreeing to meet with this unlikeable woman, the wife of an old friend. However, I stood my ground and made it clear I was only a pinch hitter who would take a few minutes to talk to her, gather some information, assure her Bill had this in hand and then I was out.
I took a few minutes to take in the woman who sat across from me in the orange jumpsuit. She could easily pass for a high-fashion model, a pampered high-maintenance woman. I had no doubt she routinely and painstakingly exfoliated her flawless skin, and even after passing out drunk for God knows how long, her hair was still perfectly coifed. Although her makeup had smudged under her eyes, it just gave it a more smoky, smoldering look somewhat sexy, as opposed to your rabid raccoon look that I was known to sport after an hour at the gym.
Right now, no one knew her side of the story. It had taken the last twenty-four hours for her to become even slightly coherent, and the police realized that taking a statement from someone so blitzed would not hold up in court. After a trip to the hospital to assess her medical condition, her body was infused intravenously with a liter of fluid. The emergency room physician declared it was unnecessary, but her husband, an obnoxious and verbally abusive surgeon, insisted on it. When she was finally cleared as medically stable, the police arrested and transported her to the county jail, where she remained asleep until roused and marched to the attorney-client area. Now she was mine.
“I remember waking up on the floor and he was just lying there,” Alexis Mayhew whispered. Her breath smelled minty; she must have just brushed her teeth. Thank God. After reading the police report which detailed what happened on the way to the hospital in the ambulance, I prepared myself for vomit breath and a woman who likely had rolled in it.
“Nothing more?” I asked. “Who is the man they found in your home? How did he get in?”
She shrugged and offered nothing further.
“Do you know him?” I asked.
She shook her head and then lowered it to rest her forehead on her outstretched arms.
The preliminary police report had only cataloged the physical aspects of the scene and drew no conclusions. There did not appear to be a struggle, nothing disturbed, broken, or upended from its place. However, the state of the victim and Mrs. Mayhew was another matter altogether. The first officer to respond described the smell of alcohol from Mrs. Mayhew to be overwhelming, and when he asked if someone hurt her, all she did was mumble incoherently. As the paramedics attempted to assess her, she splashed them with her projectile vomiting which didn’t stop until she arrived at the hospital. No one likes a sloppy drunk. And that is how they treated her—like a woman who drank too much, went off the rails, and killed someone.