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Authors: James Patterson

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BOOK: The People vs. Alex Cross
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Two U.S. marshals grabbed the guy, who offered no resistance and said nothing more as he was taken out. I guess he figured he’d made his point.

“The jury will ignore the outburst,” Judge Larch said. “Mr. Wills, make it snappy. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover.”

“Yes, Judge,” the prosecutor said, and he walked to the jury box. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is critical for you to know one thing about Virginia Winslow. She was sick and tired of being targeted by law enforcement simply because she’d unknowingly been married to a vicious criminal.

“Virginia changed her last name after divorcing Gary Soneji. The cops still came for her. She moved. They found her. She tried to hide her teenage son, Dylan, from his father’s legacy. But in this case, the defendant, Cross, acted to cruelly change that, seeking out and telling the boy in lurid detail what his father had done and making the young man feel as if he were also to blame.”

Wills turned to look at me. “Alex Cross made him feel that way because Alex Cross did indeed hold Gary Soneji’s son, his ex-wife, and everyone else who had ever been associated with the deceased killer partially responsible for the man’s crimes. Alex Cross was obsessed with Gary Soneji. He hated all things Soneji with such a passion that he decided he had to go above the law. He decided these Soneji people had to die, be wiped off the face of the earth. He’d kill every one of them.”

Wills paused and looked around. I heard Ali whisper, “He’s lying, isn’t he, Damon? That man is standing there and lying ’bout Dad. How come no one’s saying a thing?”

“Shh,” Damon said. “We’ll get our chance.”

The assistant U.S. attorney went on. “The evidence will show that Detective Cross used intimidation tactics to get an admirer of the late Gary Soneji to take him to meet the leader of a group of people interested in the dead killer. Alex Cross defied well-established police protocol. He went alone, without backup. He marched into what turned out to be a trap, a trap that featured people wearing masks and clothes that made them look like Gary Soneji, all part of a performance designed to evoke a reaction from Detective Cross.

“They got more of a reaction than they expected,” Wills said somberly. “Alex Cross shot three of them down in cold blood. Virginia Winslow died first. Cross shot and killed a cameraman, Leonard Diggs, next. Then he tried to kill Claude Watkins. Watkins lived, but he’s paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Now, you will hear the defense assert that all three victims were armed and threatening the detective when he shot them. That is a false statement, and the evidence will prove it.”

The prosecutor put both his hands on the jury-box rail and looked at each of the jurors in turn.

“Dr. Cross and other rogue cops across the country have gone above the law and gotten away with murder over and over again. Isn’t it time that we, as a nation, as a people, say, ‘Stop. That’s enough. No more killings by cop’?”

Wills paused for dramatic effect, and then with anger laced through his voice he said, “I’m asking you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to look at the evidence. And I’m asking you to say, ‘No more.’ I am asking you to say, ‘That’s enough, Alex Cross. You might be a great detective. You might have solved many cases. But you will not kill with callous disregard for our judicial system ever again. You will be judged on the facts in a court of law. And you
be found guilty and you will be punished for your cold-blooded actions.’”


down, Judge Larch rapped her gavel, called for a ten-minute recess, and hurried off the bench.

I glanced at the jury and saw jurors five and eleven looking at me as if I were some lower order of species.

“That went well,” Anita Marley said.

“If that went well, I’d like to see your version of getting crucified,” I said.

“Take a breath, Uncle Alex,” Naomi said. “It’s not that bad.”

“Pretty damning.”

“No, Naomi’s right,” Anita said. “Did you notice there weren’t a whole lot of bombproof facts mentioned? They’ve got a few, but not enough. If they had enough, they’d have said so. That’s why prosecutors try to tie in some national trend to their cases. All spin aside, it means they haven’t got enough to try the case on the merits.”

Before I could reply, I heard, “Alex?”

I looked over and saw Bree at the bar. She waved her cell phone at me. “I’ve got to go.”

I walked over and hugged her. “Thanks for being here.”

“I want to be here every minute,” she said, and she kissed my cheek.

“I know. But go to work. I’ve got good people fighting for me.”

Bree wiped at a tear when we broke apart, nodded, and left with a little wiggle of her fingers at Nana Mama, Damon, and Ali. I winked at my sons and my grandmother. Ali winked back. Damon smiled weakly. Nana nodded without conviction and worried the small string of rosary beads she’d brought along.

“All rise,” the bailiff called.

Judge Larch strode back into the court.

I was too far away to smell it, but I knew she’d have the odor of Marlboro cigarettes about her. Larch was forever trying to quit and never succeeding, which contributed to her general surliness on the bench. At least, that’s what her clerk had told me once.

“Ms. Marley, you may proceed,” Judge Larch said, and she popped a mint in her mouth.

My defense attorney looked at me and smiled. Then she put her hand on my shoulder. She stood up and kept her hand there, gazing at the jury, sweeping her eyes over each one of them.

this man,” Anita said, and she paused for several moments.

“This man is not the creature that Mr. Wills just described. This good man is Alex Cross, and let me tell you a few hard facts about Dr. Cross, facts that cannot be denied or molded like mud into something other than the truth.”

She left my side. “Alex Cross won a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University, where he graduated with high honors. He took a PhD there in criminal psychology as well. He worked
seven years as a member of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, the people who hunt serial killers by profiling them. Cumulatively, he has been a homicide detective with the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department for more than fifteen years.

“During all that time with the FBI and DC Metro, Dr. Cross has been repeatedly cited for, among other things, bravery in defense of fellow police officers, arresting bombers, rescuing kidnap victims, capturing mass murderers, and defeating a terrorist plot to blow up Union Station. Did I mention that the last citation was signed by the president of the United States? It was.”


craning his neck and shoulders to look at me, and juror eleven seemed impressed enough to jot something down on her notepad.

“Sadly, that is why the U.S. Attorney’s Office is pressing this case,” Anita Marley said, returning to my side. “You see, with the rash of police shootings across the country, the Justice Department needs a prominent individual to prosecute as a way of demonstrating to the outraged masses that the government is actually doing something about police violence.”

She put her hand back on my shoulder and said, “But, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you not to be swayed by the government’s tactics because the facts of this case are on this good man’s side, and they demonstrate far, far beyond a reasonable doubt that he is innocent. Let me lay them out for you.”

Anita took the jurors through a straightforward summary of the events that led me to shoot three followers of Gary Soneji
in self-defense, starting with telling them about the Soneji, a violent cult that had risen up around the myth of the late kidnapper and bomber.

“The cult targeted the investigators who had hunted Gary Soneji,” Anita said. “They targeted Detective John Sampson, and they targeted Alex Cross. They made death threats to Dr. Cross and to his family.”

Then she explained how the FBI Cyber Division identified a woman named Kimiko Binx as the secretive builder of a website dedicated to the cult. Records showed that Binx had a partner in the website named Claude Watkins. When he was sixteen, Watkins was tried as an adult and convicted of carving the skin off a little girl’s fingers.

“Ms. Binx told Dr. Cross she could take him to see Watkins, who had served his time and was now a successful artist,” Anita said. “Ms. Binx led Dr. Cross to an abandoned factory where Watkins and a group of his followers were waiting, all dressed up as Soneji, using Hollywood-quality masks.”

She nodded to Naomi, who hit a button on her laptop. An old mug shot of Gary Soneji popped up on the courtroom screen along with a crime scene photograph of one of the masks.

“Three of the cult members wearing masks like this one were armed,” Anita said. “They carried nickel-plated pistols that they used to threaten Detective Cross, an officer in the course of his duties. Dr. Cross gave them fair warning, and then he defended himself.

“When he left the crime scene to meet police and ambulances he’d called to the factory, someone took the three pistols. The defense believes a member of the cult did this in order to frame Dr. Cross, to portray him as yet another policeman gone over the edge.”

Anita paused, and then showed outrage. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office should be ashamed for buying into what is obviously a fabricated story. The Justice Department and the attorney general should be ashamed as well. They don’t care about Alex Cross’s exemplary record with the FBI. They don’t care about the great good he’s done repeatedly in the course of his career. They just want a high-profile scapegoat, and Dr. Cross fits the bill.”

She crossed back to me, put her hand on my shoulder, and said in an even, forceful tone, “But, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I say to you: Not Alex Cross. Not this good man. This good man will not be made a scapegoat. This good man’s reputation as one of the country’s finest detectives will not be dragged through the mud. Dr. Cross’s remarkable career will not be ruined, and he will never see the inside of a prison cell, because this good man is completely innocent of these charges.”


for a lunch recess at the end of Anita Marley’s opening argument, and judging from the body language of jurors five and eleven as they left for the jury room, it seemed that my lawyer’s remarks had evened the score.

Nana Mama thought Anita’s speech was strong as well. But my grandmother was tired after the stressful morning and said she was going home for a nap.

I encouraged the kids to go with her. Both boys refused. Jannie decided to accompany Nana, do some studying, then go to practice.

Damon and Ali went out for lunch. Anita, Naomi, and I ate takeout Chinese in a conference room down the hall from the courtroom as we went over the testimony of several witnesses who might be particularly hostile to my case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wills had a reputation for not holding back at trial. He liked to attack with his strongest evidence
right off the bat to make a deep impression on the jury. We were preparing for a rough afternoon.

We had no idea how rough it would be.

The prosecution started the after-lunch proceedings by calling DC Metro detective Harry Chan, the first investigator to arrive at the factory after the shootings. Two patrolmen had driven into the lot five minutes before Chan, but I’d kept them outside pending arrival of detectives and criminologists.

“He wanted to keep the scene as uncontaminated as possible,” Chan said.

“Can you describe the defendant when you first encountered him that day?” Wills asked.

“He was excited, talking fast,” the detective said. “He was sweating and pacing. He complained of being dizzy and having a headache.”

“What happened then?”

“The ambulances and Chief Stone arrived,” he said. “She wanted him—Dr. Cross, her husband—kept away from the scene, and she took him home without giving me much time to interview him. I entered the factory with the EMTs and my partner, Detective Lorraine Magee. When we got to victim one, Virginia Winslow, she was dead of a gunshot wound. Victim two, Leonard Diggs, was barely clinging to life. Victim three, Claude Watkins, was more alert but badly wounded. Diggs died en route to hospital.”

The prosecutor paused as if to think about that and then said, “Did you see a nickel-plated pistol in the hands of or around any of the three victims?”

“We did not.”

“And did crime scene techs find pistols hidden in the factory?”

“No,” Chan said.

“Any footprints near the victims?”

“Lots of them,” he said. “Watkins and some of his followers had been living there for some time.”

“Nothing conclusive?”

“Not in my book.”

“Any gunpowder residue on the hands of any of the victims?”


“Your witness,” the prosecutor said to Anita Marley.

Anita smiled and stood. “Tell me, Detective Chan, have you ever been in a gunfight with three assailants?”


“But, given your years of experience, would it be reasonable to say that having survived such an ordeal, Dr. Cross would be excited, sweating, talking fast, pacing out of nervous energy, and even dizzy or suffering a headache from the gunshots?”

Chan said, “I suppose it’s as reasonable as saying Dr. Cross had just shot three people for his own ends and was acting that way because he was trying to figure out if he’d done it well enough to fool me.”

Anita looked annoyed. “Objection, Judge. Will the Court instruct the witness to answer my question?”

“Asked and answered, Counselor,” Larch said. “Motion denied.”

“Defense reserves the right to recall Detective Chan at a later time,” my attorney said, and she sat down.

“The United States calls Norman Nixon to the stand,” Wills said.

“Jesus, they’re not fooling around,” Naomi muttered under her breath.


a hearty-looking man in his fifties, neatly groomed with scrubbed skin, slick iron-gray hair, and a competent, earnest expression. He wore a khaki suit and a blue-striped tie, and he carried a file folder to the witness stand.

BOOK: The People vs. Alex Cross
11.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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