CUTTING ROOM -THE- by Jilliane Hoffman Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: CUTTING ROOM -THE- by Jilliane Hoffman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jilliane Hoffman
a year on tuition didn’t like to hear on the nightly news that one of their own had been the random target of a brutal sex maniac while out clubbing underage. So the university brass had contacted all parties involved — including the City of Miami and the State Attorney — to make sure they didn’t. The order was no press conferences, no perp walks when the arrest came. Everything was kept on the down-low, which likely explained why there were no cameras in today’s hearing.
    â€˜How’d she die?’ Lizette asked.
    The back door that led to the judge’s chambers suddenly swung open. ‘All rise!’ Steyn’s bailiff shouted. ‘The Honorable Judge Werner Steyn presiding.’
    â€˜Good afternoon, all,’ the judge said with the slight hint of a German accent as he took the bench, nodding in the direction of a few cronies from the good ol’ days. ‘Sorry to be running a bit late. Let’s get started; we have a real big calendar today.’
    â€˜No cell phones, no cameras, no talking. Be seated and be quiet!’ bellowed the bailiff.
    Everyone in the audience quickly found a seat, while the lawyers pushed up against the walls on their respective sides of the courtroom and Harmony called the first case.
    Daria anxiously scanned the room for any sign of her detective. The one thing she did know about Manny Alvarez was that he was hard to miss. Anywhere. There was no sign of his shiny bald head towering above the packed courtroom crowd.
    Although he hadn’t expressly said it, Daria knew that Vance Collier, the Chief Felony Assistant and right-hand to the State Attorney, had personally assigned her this case for a reason. The Chief of the Sexual Battery Unit was stepping down in September and Daria had let it be known to the powers that be that she was throwing her name in the ring for the job. Holly Skole had been brutally raped before she was murdered. The case was potentially high profile — with a good-looking defendant from a privileged family, a cute coed for a victim, and a heinous, gory murder that was sure to command headlines if not handled correctly. The evidence, while damning, was completely circumstantial, which definitely complicated things. And there were multiple parties within the community whose feathers needed to be stroked, not ruffled, including the powerful University of Miami, and the even more powerful South Florida press.
The State of Florida v. Talbot Lunders
would be the perfect test case to see if Daria DeBianchi could head up one of the busiest, most contentious, most emotionally draining units at the State Attorney’s Office.
    But no more than five minutes out of the start gate and the horse she was riding was faltering. And at this point in the race, a stumble could be as tragic as a broken leg. Because if Talbot Lunders got a bond — for whatever reason —
was the one who’d be held responsible. It was always easier to negotiate a plea with a defendant who was behind bars. Statistically, it was also easier to secure a conviction. The biggest concern if Lunders got out was that an accused killer would be running around the streets of Miami for months before his case finally made it to trial. Joe General Public would not be at all happy to hear that. Neither would those powers that be on the third floor of the SAO who were studying her résumé and deciding if she was good enough to move up a rung or two on the company ladder. She was beginning to realize that the heat from the spotlight she’d been placed under could not only set her apart from the crowd, it could burn her just as well.
    The parties on Steyn’s first case began opening arguments. She nibbled on a cuticle while frantically texting with her other hand under the cover of her file.
    Depending on how fast Steyn worked, number thirteen might not be as far off as she once thought it was going to be …

    And she was

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