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Most Wanted

Most Wanted

Page 46

“He says he’ll pay. So what happens, next, for him?”

Griff linked his fingers. “In ten days, if we don’t ask for an extension, the Commonwealth will have to appear at a preliminary hearing and show its prima facie case.”

“What does that mean?”

“You don’t know Latin?”

“No.”

“Too bad.” Griff sniffed, his disapproval plain. “Prima facie means first face or first impression. The Commonwealth has to show its first impression of the evidence against Jeffcoat, sufficient to make out the crime of capital murder. Then there’s a formal arraignment date, where he’d enter a plea, and we’d ask the Chester County D.A., for mandatory disclosures.”

“Which is?” Christine felt like she was pulling teeth.

“The photos they took, autopsy reports, blood and DNA tests, review of physical evidence, reports of forensic evidence, and the like. They have to turn it over, but not until later. Jeffcoat will have to enter a plea, yay or nay. Pretty soon, the FBI and the other state jurisdictions, Maryland and Virginia, will want to interview him about the other murders. It’s fun messing with the government.” Griff smiled sideways again. “Messing with the press, even better. They’re calling him a serial killer. It prevents him from getting a fair trial.”

Lauren interjected, “What does the FBI have to do with this?”

“The FBI sticks its nose where it doesn’t belong. In a situation with multiple killings over multiple states, every state has jurisdiction over the murder that took place within its borders. The FBI shouldn’t investigate a murder unless it happened on a government property, an Indian Reservation, a federal building, national park, military base, or involves a U.S. citizen abroad. They’re supposed to have a nexus, a jurisdictional hook, but they try to find one. Remember that spree killer, Cunanan? Shot that famous Italian designer, back in ’97?”

Christine tried to remember. “You mean Gianni Versace?”

“Right. The FBI got involved because he also killed a caretaker of a park in New Jersey. It turns out that in the middle of the park, there was a one-acre cemetery deeded to the federal government. That gave the Feds their nexus. Cunanan eventually killed himself, so he wasn’t prosecuted.”

Christine listened, interested. When Griff talked law, his words took on an authoritative ring.

“Whether or not the Feds find a nexus in Jeffcoat’s case, their behavioral science people or a profiler will work with all three jurisdictions. The profiler would be assigned to the Philly FBI Office but he could travel anywhere covered by the Philadelphia Division. He’ll meet with both state police departments and the prosecutors from the Chester County D.A.’s office. He might also get input from a unit at Quantico.” Griff rolled his hooded eyes behind his glasses. “Big deal. Jeffcoat’s advocate would have to shield him from the FBI and other jurisdictions. I would sideline the Maryland and Virginia cases. Focus on the Robinbrecht case. Investigate it. Decide whether he pleads out or goes to trial.”

Christine sensed Griff would take the case, though he hadn’t said as much yet.

“This case alone will be difficult enough. They’ve already leaked incriminating information, like the kill bag.”

“He has an answer for that. He’s a medical equipment salesperson at Brigham Instruments.”

“In town? He told you that?” Griff lifted his furry eyebrows.

“Yes.”

Griff didn’t say anything for a moment.

Christine filled the silence. “I heard that not many lawyers in town would take his case. Why would you take it if they won’t?”

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“I don’t care what anybody thinks. I only care about the law. I only care about the Constitution. I care about the rights of the individual against an oppressive and corrupt government. No lawyer worth his salt gives a damn what anybody thinks.” Griff stopped playing with the rubber band, eyeing her and Lauren. “Why are you doing this?”

“I got interested in this case for a freelance article or a book, and I wanted to meet Jeffcoat.” Christine stopped herself from calling him Zachary, then wondered when she had started thinking of him as Zachary, not Jeffcoat. “He said he’d give me the exclusive for my book if I found him a private lawyer.”

“So you’ve spoken to him about the facts of his case?”

“Yes.”

“What did he tell you?”

Christine answered truthfully, telling him about Zachary’s date with Gail Robinbrecht and finding her dead in her home, which was when Griff’s mood soured.

“He shouldn’t have said anything about his case. If he hires me, I’m going to advise him not to talk to you. Ever again.”

“You’re putting me in a difficult position,” Christine said without elaborating.

“So?” Griff snorted. “If I take Jeffcoat on, my interest is what’s good for him. Not you.”

“Why shouldn’t he talk to me?”

“Anything he says to you is discoverable. If you’re taking notes, your notes are discoverable. You can be called as a witness at trial by the Commonwealth. You have no privilege to protect that conversation.” Griff pointed to Lauren. “Did she go with you to see him?”

“Yes.”

“Then she can be called, too. That’s true whether I put Jeffcoat on the stand or not. He has nothing to gain by talking to anybody but me, and only my conversations with him are privileged. Or somebody who works for me. By the way, where did you say you were from?”

“Connecticut.”

“How did you hear about the case? You saw it on TV or something?”

“Yes,” Christine answered, because she was tired of lying.

“Don’t be surprised if the FBI comes knocking on your door. Or hers.”

“Why?” Christine couldn’t imagine what Marcus would do if the FBI showed up at home.

“They may want to talk to you as part of their investigation. It’s within their purview.”

“How would they know where I live?” Christine realized the answer as soon as she’d asked the question.

“You signed the visitors’ log at Graterford. You showed your driver’s license. They’re the FBI. Even they can find you if they have the address.” Griff chuckled at his own joke. “So, if you want to write a book after the trial, that’s up to you and Jeffcoat. But for right now, it’s no-go.” Griff hunched over his desk. “So now, decide. I’ll take the case, but if you hire me, you got no book. Do you care about Jeffcoat or do you care about your book? Who are you advocating for?”

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