Oathkeeper Chapter 14

Oathkeeper

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Chapter 14

 

Benjamin Stern adjusted his glasses, took a sip of water, patted a stoic Monte Turcot on the shoulder, pushed his chair back, and stepped out from behind his table to address the jury for the final time.

“So, here we are,” he began. “We’ve made it to the end. What a trial. What a trial. So…what did we learn? This is the point where I’m supposed to present the final argument for my client, but I’m not going to argue with you. Frankly, there is no need to argue. All I intend to do now is talk to you about what you’ve heard over the course of this trial, to talk about what reasonable conclusions I think we all can draw regarding the evidence presented over the last two weeks.

“You,” Stern continued as he scanned the jury, “you are very privileged. The first thing I want to say is that I know your job is not easy. It’s not easy to be away from your families and jobs for so long. I commend you for your service. You have my respect and gratitude. You are the caretakers of our great American system. The responsibility for making sure that justice is served falls to you, and only you. Not me. Not to the gentleman over there wearing the Salvatore Ferragamo penny loafers. Not even Her Honor. Only you get to decide. This is your moment. And it has all come down to right now.

“It is through your labors here, in this very trial, that our republic breathes. Our republic lives here, right now, right in this very courtroom in Canon City, Fremont County, Colorado, far, far away from the marble halls of Washington DC. The heart of the republic beats here, despite being so far removed from the center of power and the beltway lawyers and advisors and lobbyists and bureaucrats. A tiny number of them made the 1,700 mile journey from DC to here to participate in our living republic. You can see them around you, today, dressed in their fine suits. We commend them for making the journey – for taking part in our grand experiment called democracy.

“I can’t help but be reminded of the words of Thomas Jefferson, the author of our great Declaration of Independence, that revolutionary, that radical, that statesman who, along with the other Founding Fathers, stood up to injustice and tyranny, risking their lives and fortunes for what is right and noble. Thankfully, few of us here have had to risk as much as they did, but your calling is just as noble. As Jefferson said, ‘Courageous and informed people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.'”

“What is this bullshit?” Chalmers muttered to his paralegal.

“You were shown a great deal during this trial,” Stern continued. “So let’s talk about some of that one last time before you go into that chamber to render a verdict. We all know that law enforcement officers have a very difficult job. No sane person can dispute that. Too many people’s lives, including officers’ and deputies’ lives, are taken by violence in this country. Law enforcement has been entrusted by the citizens with great powers to help solve these crimes, but as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.

“There are protocols and procedures that must be followed. We call that the rule of law. A republic is based on it, and we cannot continue as a free people without respect for it. Without the rule of law, we are left only with chaos – rule by those with the greatest power. Without the rule of law, our republic is meaningless, it is lost. Without the law, we no longer have the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Instead, we would be like serfs, beholden to the whims of our overlords. The law is what a republic is. It binds it. And the law applies to everyone equally – rich and poor, black and white, man and woman, and law enforcer as well.

“Recall for a moment when we talked about how the sheriff’s department was not given control of the crime scene for almost 72 hours…three days. Ask yourself, was that appropriate? What is the law? The sheriff of Calumet County is the chief law enforcement officer of his county, yet he was not permitted access to a crime scene in his own county for three days.”

Chalmers grumbled.

“The sheriff, the highest ranking law enforcement officer of his county, a man elected by the citizens, was barred from a crime scene in his own county by an agency operated out of a headquarters 1,700 miles away. The DEA took total control of the scene at Perks Diner and controlled all the evidence involving the death of one of their own agents – one of their own family members. I can understand their zeal to find the killer, but to exclude the sheriff from the process? Does that stand up to scrutiny?

“Then there’s the matter of the evidence that was collected. The prosecution’s evidence, collected exclusively by a federal agency – not by the chief law enforcement officer of the county in which the crime was committed – where is it? I ask you, where is the evidence that convicts Monte Turcot of first degree murder? This federal agency that took total control of the crime scene, a federal agency with all the tools, infinite resources, paid experts in ballistics, fancy software…all these rocket scientists, what evidence did they produce?

“You have heard about the weapon involved in this case. We kept hearing from Mr. Chalmers over and over about a small caliber pistol that was used, and how that somehow means that my client committed the crime in question. How does it prove that? We all agree on what the weapon was, but so what? What does the caliber of the murder weapon prove? I ask you, how many small caliber weapons are there in Calumet County? This isn’t Washington DC. This is Colorado, where the right to self-defense is respected, where it’s even legal to open carry. I could drive down to the Alco in Calumet City right now, walk in, and buy a pistol. It probably wouldn’t take me more than an hour. How many of you exercise your Second Amendment right to bear arms? How many people do you know that own a so-called ‘small caliber weapon’? Has owning one made you a criminal? According to DA Chalmers’s logic, you…them…maybe we’re all guilty of murder.

“I just don’t understand the DA’s reasoning. You have to be asking yourself that as well. How does it make sense that just because a small caliber weapon was used, which we all agree that it was, that therefore, by some leap of logic, Monte Turcot is guilty? How? Because his neighbor said he heard him fire one into the open space behind his trailer? Does that mean anyone who does a little target practice is guilty of shooting Agent Kevin Sniggs? As they say out in the country: that dog don’t hunt.

“So there’s the matter of the highly irregular custody of the crime scene, and the suggestion that discharging a handgun in one’s backyard somehow implicates Mr. Turcot in the crime, but there’s also the matter of no weapon being found at his house, at all. If Monte did it, where is the murder weapon? The Calumet County sheriff took Mr. Turcot into custody within twenty-five minutes of the shooting at Perks Diner. We’ve shown that it takes twelve minutes to drive from Perks Diner to Monte’s trailer. Adding together the time to leave the crime scene, get into his vehicle, start that vehicle, then drive, park, turn off the vehicle, then get out and go into his trailer, you’re talking about eight minutes at the most where Monte could have concealed the murder weapon in his tiny trailer in such a fashion that no one would be able to find it. I ask you, is that reasonable? Where would he hide a gun? Monte lives in a small mobile home. Investigators were inside Monte’s home within forty minutes of the homicide. They turned his trailer inside out and found nothing. These federal agents are college educated, hand-picked, the best of the best, a cadre of elite law enforcement professionals, yet they did not find any weapon. They searched the roadsides along multiple routes with metal detectors and dogs. No murder weapon. They even drained the city park pond. No murder weapon.

“So what the prosecution is left with is to speculate…to guess. They want us all to believe that Monte, a man who had allegedly just avenged the killing of his wife and unborn child, hyped up on adrenaline, calmly drove – recall that we did not hear a single witness testify that they noticed him driving frantically – home along a populated route, turned off his normal route somewhere, stopped, got out and buried or somehow concealed the murder weapon in a manner in which no one saw him do it, in broad daylight, no less, and in a manner where it could not be found, not even by a battalion of elite federal agents with all their technology and unlimited resources. Some of the routes they searched took them on a thirty minute detour, way beyond the reach of Monte Turcot in the eighteen minutes he had to get home. No. The federal investigators found no murder weapon either in Monte’s possession or plausibly disposed of by him. Furthermore, the sheriff testified that he found Monte in a ‘calm state’. A frantic detour to some place where Monte could gather his wits and carefully conceal a murder weapon would not have left him time to get back home and get into a ‘calm state’ before Sheriff Ellison arrived to take him into custody. Is it reasonable? No. The entire case presented by the prosecution makes no sense at all. Remember: the irregular custody of the crime scene, and no murder weapon.

“Then there’s perhaps the biggest question mark of all pertaining to the DA’s case. The most important piece of evidence in the vast majority of trials, it’s even more important than the murder weapon. An eyewitness – someone who saw the accused commit the crime in question or at least place them at the scene. Where is this witness that can implicate Monte Turcot? None exists. The prosecution has produced no witness who could testify seeing Monte Turcot shoot Kevin Sniggs, and no witness that could even place Mr. Turcot at the scene. The diner, where Agent Sniggs was shot, was filled with DEA agents and restaurant employees. Don’t you think it’s reasonable that one of them would have seen Monte there if he was in fact there? What is going on here? Ask yourself that.

“Logically, I think the next question an informed and conscientious jury must ask is: why did the feds instantaneously assume, without any question, that Monte Turcot was the only suspect? They investigated no one else. The instant after they discovered Kevin Sniggs’s body in that restroom, they charged full speed to Monte Turcot’s home. No other direction. No consideration of another suspect.

“You heard testimony that there was a red pickup truck barreling south down Highway 24 at a very high rate of speed, almost immediately after the time of the shooting. Who was in that truck? Might they be a suspect? Might they possess the murder weapon? We’ll never know. We’ll never know, because federal agents paid no attention to anything other than Monte Turcot. Is that the level of good police work we’ve come to expect from federal agents? Is it common practice to just assume one person did it, and focus all resources and attention on that suspect?

“What do the feds have against…sorry…why did they only suspect Monte Turcot? I suppose motive is their answer. Did Mr. Turcot have a motive to shoot Kevin Sniggs? Absolutely. We all agree on that, if we were to put ourselves in Monte’s boots. Kevin Sniggs killed…accidentally killed Mrs. Turcot, and in the process, her unborn child. That is publically, undeniably known. It is an indisputable fact. Kevin Sniggs and those federal agents – perhaps overly exuberant and charged with adrenaline – went to the wrong house on that awful night, an inexcusable, unforgiveable error, and in a botched raid, they made a terrible, terrible, terrible mistake.

“Imagine what those federal agents are going through, right now. Recall the testimony of Doctor Frieze, our expert psychologist. The agents were likely feeling guilt, embarrassment, and shame. They must have been feeling very insecure and isolated, alone, 1,700 miles from their home base, unsure about their continuing mission way out here in the mountains of Colorado. They accidentally shot a Calumet County hero and killed his wife and unborn child. Monte Turcot is a hero and veteran of the armed forces, and that too is an indisputable fact. He served overseas, fighting for your rights and freedoms. And if not for Monte Turcot, how many people would have died in that Alco on that fateful day? How many lives did Mr. Turcot save through his courageous actions? How many lives have those federal agents saved compared to Monte? Mr. Turcot is a savior, a protector of life. The Book of Matthew says, ‘Ye shall know them by their deeds.’ I ask you, do you know Monte Turcot? I think you do, if you know his deeds. Are they the deeds of a cold-blooded, calculating murderer?”

“I thought Stern was Jewish,” Chalmers whispered.

“Doctor Frieze testified that the federal agents involved must have been feeling very, very insecure,” Stern continued. “Then one of their own is tragically killed right under their noses, twenty feet away from them, in a restroom. So they do what is natural for scared beings to do. They became aggressive, which affected their reasoning. They lashed out at the most obvious target: Monte Turcot. But Mr. Turcot put his life on the line for you and me as a soldier, fighting for our republic. He came home and put his life on the line again to save those people at that Alco from a mass-murdering lunatic. Yet despite all his sacrifice and service to his country and community, Deputy Ken Kennesaw testified that he feared for Monte’s safety when the federal agents were closing in, blinded by their rage, careening down the road leading to Monte’s home.

“So what does the prosecution have? What is their case against Mr. Turcot? My only hope is that you take all the evidence, or more precisely, the lack of evidence into full consideration: the irregular custody of the crime scene; no murder weapon either in Monte’s possession or anywhere that he could have concealed it; the aggressive, even arrogant mindset of the federal agents who refused to consider other leads, who focused solely on Mr. Turcot, a husband, a veteran, a hero, someone whom they had already taken so much from; and especially, most importantly, consider that no witnesses can even place Monte at the scene.

“It bears repeating that this is a charge of capital murder. The burden of proof is very high. The prosecution must prove that not only did my client commit this heinous crime, which nothing indicates he did, but that he also planned it in advance, that Monte Turcot is a cold, calculating killer. Did the prosecution meet that burden? They’ve argued that there was a motive. We all agree on that, but is that enough to convict a man of pre-meditated murder? Certainly not for capital murder. No weapon. No confession. No witness. Capital murder requires the prosecution to show that the accused planned this in advance. I’ve shown this to be impossible. Even if it was, why would Mr. Turcot plan to kill Kevin Sniggs in the bathroom of Perks Diner, where there were at least twelve federal agents present just beyond the door? It can’t make sense to any reasonable person. Monte is a bright man. He is college educated. Don’t you think he would have come up with a better plan than that? You must forgive me for asking again, but what is the prosecution’s case against Monte Turcot?

“I don’t need to remind you folks that you, the jury, are here to exercise your constitutional privilege, a privilege that cannot be taken away by anyone. You’ve seen a lot in these last couple weeks. You’ve seen a cadre of men in fancy suits and pedigreed, Ivy League experts flown in here on the taxpayer’s dime. What did they prove? What did they show you? Did they show you any physical evidence? Not one of them produced a murder weapon. Not one of them witnessed the crime. All they did was speculate. Speculation is not proof. Anyone can speculate. I could speculate that the District Attorney’s loafers have never stepped in cow manure. I can’t prove it. It’s only speculation.”

The gallery laughed. Chalmers attempted to grin, but it came off more like a grimace.

“Colorado is your state. You are a jury of Monte Turcot’s peers. Only you can judge him. Only you can decide the fate of this man, this veteran who fought to preserve the very constitutional rights you are exercising today. This man who risked his life to save so many lives in your community, could he possibly be a cold-blooded, pre-meditated, irrational killer who stalked Kevin Sniggs and then stupidly shot him in a public restroom? Or is this a man who has suffered enough? A man who has given so much and had so much taken away? Remember, ye shall know them by their deeds.

“You’ve heard the prosecution’s case. Can you make any sense of it? If you can make sense of it, if you believe they presented enough evidence – not supposition but actual evidence – to disregard reasonable doubt and convict Monte Turcot of first degree murder, then so be it. But I trust you will come to the right decision. Thank you. God bless you. And may the Lord be with you and guide you in your deliberations. The defense rests.”

Stern took his seat and began contemplating his odds of being disbarred.

After Chalmer’s brief rebuttal, the judge gave the instructions. The jury filed out of the courtroom, and Monte Turcot and his counsel were escorted out by a burly Fremont County deputy. They were led to a small, secured waiting room that resembled a jail cell in its starkness. The two of them sat across from each other at a metal table while the deputy, complete with crew cut hair and a barrel chest, stood sentry near the door.

“You’re excused,” Stern said to him, but the deputy didn’t respond. Annoyed, the attorney removed his suit coat and draped it over his plastic chair. “So, how do you feel, Monte?”

“I was going to ask you the same.”

“You go first.”

“I don’t feel anything,” Monte answered.

“That’s understandable, but you should be optimistic. We did well.”

“You didn’t talk about why Wendy White changed her testimony.”

“No need to give it legs, Monte. Let the appellate court sort that out.”

Turcot fell silent, looking as lifeless and stiff as a mannequin dressed in an orange jumpsuit. Stern loosened his paisley tie and unfastened the top button of his eggshell shirt. His hair was disheveled. His round, wire rim glasses hung askew on his face, framing his bleary eyes. He emanated exhaustion, but also relief. He had taken the case as far as he could, and had done all within his power to seize the moment. He had not slept in days, but he still had just enough fight in him to pester the guard once more, whose presence in the room was inappropriate. Still, the deputy didn’t flinch.

Stern turned back to Monte. “Everything is going to be okay. You’ll be okay.” His words were meant to assure his client, but the more confidence he expressed about the verdict, the more uneasy he appeared. He looked over his shoulder at the deputy once more.

“If we win, I imagine you’ll be doing a lot of that,” Turcot said.

“Doing a lot of what?” Stern asked.

“Looking over your shoulder.”

“I’m not afraid, Monte. This is America. Besides, I have a trump card.”

Turcot closed his eyes. Soon his head slumped forward and he appeared to fall asleep.

Stern felt the dampness of paranoia begin to ooze into him as he sat in that concrete room. He tried to drive it out of his mind, ascribing it to exhaustion. The trial was the most difficult thing he had ever endured. It was his life’s mission. Initially propelled by self-interest, once he was threatened at the Wagon Wheel, it became a crusade fueled by the fire of righteous indignation. Whoever Falco was, he represented a Goliath to Ben Stern’s David.

“Do you think they listened?” Monte mumbled, with his chin still tucked into his chest.

“I thought you were asleep.”

“I think I was, for a minute.”

“Are you talking about the jury?” asked Stern.

“Yeah.”

“If they’re thinking, then it would be good for us. Most juries don’t think, at least not very far outside the narrow boundaries set by the judge. Thinking requires effort and introduces discomfort and cognitive dissonance. Jurors tend to take the more comfortable path.”

“Do you think this jury can think?”

“I believe I made them think, Monte.”

“How?”

“I emphasized who the home team was for them.”

“Right.”

“Sometimes they need to be motivated.”

“Chalmers looked pretty upset.”

“He’s a hothead,” said Stern dismissively. “He’s a big, dumb buck chasing does into a hunter’s blind. I told you about what I’d do to him.”

“I heard him say ‘bullshit’ during your closing.”

“The jury heard it too, Monte. He can’t seem to keep the shit off his shoes.” Stern looked over his shoulder again. The mountainous, hairy-necked, tattooed deputy was glaring at him, the muscles in his crossed forearms rippling. Stern wanted to bolt out of the cell and into the fresh air, but he held it together.

“You look like you’re exhausted,” Monte observed.

“I’m fine. I’ve just been keeping my emotions bottled up for several weeks, now. It’s not a natural state for me. I’ve been trying to fuel the arrogance of Chalmers and the paid expert witnesses and the federal agents, all of them whores. Cockiness foments carelessness, and nothing feeds cockiness like an opponent’s self-deprecation. I set the ambush, and they stumbled right into it. Then I popped up out of the tall grass with my sling.” Stern paused, looked up, and noticed that Monte was asleep again. “We’re going to be okay,” he added, speaking more to himself than to Turcot.

Two hours passed. Monte did not move during that time, corpselike in his chair with his head slumped into his chest. Finally, a knock came at the door. The burly deputy opened it slightly and whispered to whoever was on the other side. He turned to Stern, who was watching over his shoulder in anticipation.

“They’ve reached a verdict,” relayed the deputy, his neck muscles bulging.

Stern got up, fixed his collar and tie, swept his hair back, and put on his suit jacket. He walked around to Monte’s side and stirred him.

“What do you want?” Turcot grumbled.

“It’s time.”

“Already?” Turcot snapped back into full consciousness. “How long have I been sleeping?”

“Two hours.”

“That doesn’t seem like a long time. What does it mean?”

“It means you have to go back into the courtroom to find out,” the deputy barked. “Get up.”

“What my client meant was,” Stern clarified, “what does it mean that the jury has reached a verdict so quickly?”

The deputy didn’t appear to care about an explanation. He stepped over to Turcot and shackled him for the walk back into the courtroom.

“Is that really necessary?” asked Stern.

The deputy didn’t reply. Turcot’s wrists were latched, then his ankles. The deputy led them out of the holding room and into the marble hallway. Turcot shuffled along, his gait foreshortened by his chains. Stern walked ahead of him, an entire head shorter than his client, and almost two shorter than their escort. The attorney’s shoulders could not even fill his own suit coat, but he walked with long, deliberate, confident strides. He held his chin up, projecting a pugnacious dignity, but beneath the façade, he was sweating. His neck burned bright red, and he had to re-loosen his tie to keep it from turning into a noose.

Journalists and photographers lined the hall. Flashes went off, and microphones were shoved into Stern’s face. He acted aloof. The urban TV reporters’ pancake-makeup faces scowled and shouted questions. The Denver press corps glowered. Stern sensed in them no pity or understanding towards his client, but he had expected this. He turned and whispered “Never mind them,” into Monte’s ear.

“Never mind who?”

“The presstitutes.”

Turcot smiled. A reporter shoved a recorder into his face, hitting him in the mouth as they walked. He could not deflect it as his wrists were bound. Stern shoved the reporter away.

“Stand back!” he shouted. “Make way!”

As they entered the courtroom, they could see that every one of the DEA agents in Sniggs’s squad were present, each dressed in their brassiest uniform, their faces donning hateful glares. One of the paralegals pointed Sniggs’s father to. His hair was disheveled and his tweed jacket was wrinkled. His face grayed and body sunk into the pew as the anesthesia of alcohol took hold. Special Agent Acevedo stood in the front pew. His unblinking eyes rarely left Turcot, fixating on him from behind. Turcot didn’t look at any of them. He stared straight ahead at nothing as he shuffled over to his chair. He did not appear at all afraid or concerned.

The jury came in and took their seats. Stern scanned them for an early sign of the verdict. They were everyday people: casual, unfit, diverse. Their eyes were wide, and they looked almost terrified, as if they feared having to answer for something.

“All rise!”

The judge entered. Her Honor took her place behind her altar. As the courtroom’s occupants returned to their seats, she fumbled through her notes, cleared her throat, and adjusted the microphone.

“Has the jury reached a verdict?” she asked.

The foreman rose. “We have, your Honor.”

“Please hand the bailiff the verdict.”

The bailiff took a manila folder from the foreman and walked it over to the judge. Turcot stood as tall as he could in his orange jumpsuit with shackled wrists and ankles. All of the agents’ eyes remained on him. Turcot looked straight ahead. Stern began to breathe audibly, anxiously. Sweat ran down his neck into his slackened collar. He loosened his paisley tie further.

The judge opened the folder and scanned the document inside. Her eyes moved from top to bottom three times. She adjusted her glasses and frowned a little, as if a bout of indigestion had welled up, then handed a page back to the bailiff and nodded for him to read it. The bailiff walked to the podium and adjusted the microphone to his height.

“Mr. Turcot, please face the jury,” said the judge, but Monte turned to them but stared through them into the wall. She turned to the bailiff. “Please read the verdict.”

The bailiff nodded and turned back to the microphone. He cleared his throat. The silence was oppressive, broken only by one muffled cough.

“The Superior Court of Colorado, County of Fremont, in the matter of the people of the State of Colorado versus Montgomery J. Turcot, case number BA013211, we, the jury in the above and titled action, find the defendant, Montgomery J. Turcot…”

Stern took in a deep breath.

The judge removed her reading glasses.

Chalmers tapped his Salvatore Ferragamo penny loafers.

Acevedo’s teeth ground together.

Turcot stared into the wall.

“…not guilty of the crime of first degree murder, a felony, committed upon Kevin Allen Sniggs, a human being, as charged in count one of the information…”

Stern exhaled and put his arm around Monte, shaking him vigorously.

The judge stowed her glasses in her robe pocket.

Chalmers stopped tapping his shoes and snapped his pencil in protest.

Acevedo’s grinding seized.

Turcot stared into the wall.

The gallery roared to life, equal parts jubilation and wrath. Curses clashed with cheers. The judge pounded her gavel to no effect. Stern pulled Turcot out from behind the table and pushed him towards the side exit, away from the building chaos. Turcot shuffled along, still staring blankly.

“Murderer!’ someone shouted.

The judge pounded her gavel.

“God bless you, Monte Turcot!” yelled another.

“Order! Order!” demanded the judge.

Stern made eye contact with the burly deputy who had escorted them from the holding room. The crowd closed in around them, blocking the way. Triumphant but terrified, the attorney tried to shove his way through to no avail. The deputy noticed the struggle, but remained anchored at the door. Stern held up Turcot’s handcuffed wrists and pointed to the lock. “Get these off!” he shouted.

The deputy averted his eyes.

Wild pushing and shoving ensued. One of the DEA agents pressed into the mob and shoved Turcot forward, almost knocking him over. The jurors were whisked out of the courtroom through a side door, followed by the judge who ducked into her antechamber, leaving the bailiff and Fremont deputies to deal with the mess. Someone climbed up onto the prosecutor’s table and shouted, “Guilty!” An instant later, another person from the gallery yanked him off the table and clubbed him in the face with his open hand, only then to be tackled by a uniformed DEA agent.

Stern and Turcot were trapped in the chaos. Someone shouted, “You made a big mistake, Stern!” Stern looked around, but couldn’t see who it was. Thankfully for them, Turcot was a beacon in orange. Sheriff Ellison, who was seated in the gallery, honed in on him, forcing his way through the mob. He reached Turcot and Stern and led them to the side door of the courtroom.

“Give me the key!” he shouted at the burly deputy.

The man ignored him.

“That’s a lawful order, Deputy!” barked Ellison.

The deputy reluctantly handed over the key, and the sheriff quickly unlocked the shackles, letting them fall to the floor. He grabbed Turcot and Stern by their collars and shoved them through the exit. The marble hall had become a froth of lashing elbows, thrusting shoulders, shouting, blinding lights, recorders, and careening boom mikes. Ellison led them into the fray. The media screamed questions into their ears and grabbed at them, but the sheriff guided them through and back into their holding room. He shoved the door closed with his shoulder, nearly smashing someone’s prying fingers in the jamb. At last, they were alone, catching their breath in the stuffy, quiet cell.

“So what do we do now?” asked Stern.

“We wait,” answered Ellison as he checked his watch. “Let it die down a bit. Then we’ll get you out of here.”

“So I’m free to go?” asked Turcot.

“Yes. But I recommend you not go out there alone. Wait here for a few minutes and I’ll escort you out.”

“Where are we going?”

“I’ll take you to the station if you want. You can stay there tonight.”

Oathkeeper

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