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Queen of Swords: a novel

Chapter XXVII – The King of Swords

Surprise! There was no defense! So often that’s the case. That’s why, when you’re in doubt, the best policy is always to attack, because quite often the defensive posture is a sham. The other side disintegrates into a hasty and undignified retreat. The defense’s only witness was Haymaker’s psychiatrist. Lacey would be disappointed. I know she hoped O’Hara would put Karen Sivarro on the stand.

But the man is wily. He has the manner of a Prince of Swords; since he kills no one himself. I began to wish that I had googled his birthday, so that I could give him an astrological chart and a full reading. He must have realized that as long as sweet little Karen sits there at the defense table looking pretty and piteous she at least has some benefit of the doubt. If she gets on the stand Mr. Wilmot can trap her into admitting – or at the very least seeming to admit – that some of what Haymaker said was true.

Mr. Wilmot stood up to give his closing argument. I wish you could have been there to see it. A king of Swords at bay is a magnificent sight, even though any knight worth his armor could cut him down in a moment.

This must explain why the courtroom was more crowded than it had ever been, why even Whitney took an afternoon out of her boring schedule snoop through my spoor to bother to attend. It’s as if everyone has been notified by the press, here comes the “juicy stuff.” When Mr. “Push” – in the person of Mr. Wilmot – gets to go for the jugular of Mr. Shove! Who doesn’t enjoy a good hand-to-hand?

“Your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” began the prosecutor, “You have heard an open and shut case of murder for hire. The state has conclusively proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Reuben Haymaker hired Barry Tobin to empty bullets into Rafe Zanelli until he was dead, and that in fact that is what happened. Reuben Haymaker got up on this stand to testify that the plot originated with his then-girlfriend, Karen Sivarro, that she asked him to do it, and that once the murder was accomplished she behaved in a manifestly guilty fashion, leaving the country as fast as she could go, and relying on extradition treaties to keep United States justice at bay.

How likely is it that Haymaker, beset as he was with financial, sexual, family and addiction problems, suddenly decided to commit this crime for a woman who had already become his lover, merely as a surprise for her? Without informing her about it or keeping her apprised? If he really intended to bind the defendant to him for life, wouldn’t divorcing his wife be a more practical step? Yet we know he made no such gesture. I maintain the secretive murder that the defense is forced to posit is extremely unlikely. And that is what you have to consider.

The defense, in their closing, will doubtless make much of the words, “reasonable doubt”. Ladies and gentlemen, we chose you because you struck us – both sides, I might add – as exceptionally reasonable, and it is to your reason. We expect no less of you when you assemble to deliberate together.

The defense agrees that the murder was performed for Karen Sivarro. It is her culpability you will question, knowing that Rafe Zanelli had been a thorn in the side of her family for months and when he died, was threatening to take a loved child out of state – as was his perfect right. Mr. Haymaker would have never even heard of Mr. Zanelli if it hadn’t been for her. By the way, the beloved grandchild now lives under her grandparents’ roof. This murder achieved its aim. In the annals of murder, it ranks as a partial success. If Karen Sivarro is found guiltless by you, she will have gotten away with it. How reasonable is that?

The defense in the person of my esteemed colleague, Mr. O’Hara, has leaned heavily on the blemished character of Mr. Haymaker. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Haymaker will be in prison for the rest of his natural life. He will not even be considered for parole until he’s 82. That’s appropriate, because without him. Mr. Zanelli would never have died. The evidence you have heard makes it plain that Karen Sivarro refused to soil her hands to that extent. A pretty, adored and intelligent child, she has been accustomed all her life to finding someone else to perform all her messy, dangerous and laborious jobs.

What Mr. Haymaker could not help but make plain as he sat on the witness stand, was that she owned him. He would have done anything for her. She gambled that the law would not hold her accountable; although this murder benefited no one but her family, she felt safe, because she thought herself too far removed from the bullets and the gun that fired them ever to face justice. Who would believe Reuben Haymaker, busy stealing from his clients, and drug dealing Barry Tobin over her?

But who do you think sat in the saddle of this relationship, giving orders, and who do you think was the listener, the performer, who took directions? Mr. Haymaker paid for all her living expenses, he gave her a car, he pretended she had a cushy, well-paid job with no actual expectations. And when the time came, he found a hitman. Or a person who said he was a hitman.

That person is in jail, now too. He has confessed. He won’t even get the chance of parole. The judge will explain to you that if you find her guilty, she is even more guilty than the man who fired the gun. In this state we punish the central conspirator – the one who set the murderous ball rolling – with death. But that will be up to you. You will have lesser included offenses to consider.
What else but guilt explains her long flight through Europe, in search of a country that has no extradition treaty with the United State?

The defense called Haymaker’s own psychiatrist to the stand to testify that he suffers from “anti-social personality disorder.” That was pretty much all Dr. Loden could testify to, since he knew nothing about the crime itself. He told us Mr. Haymaker is a liar and an addict. Well, we already knew that.

A jury hears from a lot of liars in the course of the average case and it is the apex of their duty to sort the lies from the truth. We can pretty much assume that Haymaker said whatever he had to, to keep that supply of Adderall and Xanax coming. Dr. Loden is very free with his prescription pad.
When his relationship with Karen Sivarro started to heat up, Mr. Haymaker had a new painkiller, and he didn’t need Dr. Loden any more. Dr. Loden has testified in this courtroom that there is virtually no treatment for what he deigned to diagnose as Mr. Haymaker’s “disorder”, yet he was apparently willing to keep treating him forever. “Keeping an eye on him,” he said, not simply to feather his own nest. Does that sound reasonable to you? I think in your good old-fashioned common sense all of you are familiar with practitioners like Mr. Loden. They regard whatever they have to sell as exactly what we need, and we pay the bill – or our insurance company does – but we don’t get a say in it.

Dr. Loden admits people with personality disorders are never really cured. But does Mr. Haymaker even exhibit the formal markers of this condition? You will recall that I got him to admit on the stand that Haymaker does not match one of the central qualifications of anti-social personality disorder; adolescent crime. His career path is just the opposite: he was a pillar of the community until he discovered he couldn’t pay for his private thrills legally.

Another one of the characteristics of anti-social personality disorder is a complete lack of remorse: is that how Reuben Haymaker appeared to you? I don’t think so. I think Mr. Haymaker is a narcissistic, opportunistic individual whose every crime was committed as part of a short-term effort to make his life easier. How likely do you think it is that a person who doesn’t care about other people – another marker, you note, of antisocial personality – would risk his own neck to personally personality mastermind a dangerous, expensive, secret surprise -which might – or might not — delight his current girlfriend, or would he simply give in to her pleas in order to get her in the mood for love? To turn off the crying machine? I assert that he did what he had to to keep her gratifying him, and he didn’t care one way or another about Mr. Zanelli, or even the traumas of the Sivarro family, except as if affected the availability and intensified the cooperation of his current sex partner.

I think once his supply of joy-juice was cut off and it hit him how he had destroyed the lives of everyone around him in a short term quest for personal thrills he was damn sorry. But is that the way Mr. Haymaker struck you? Did he blame his wife or girlfriends for his financial situation? It seems to me he realizes the blame lies squarely with himself. He knows he’s in prison for life, and he deserves to be there. He admitted hiring Barry Tobin, he admitted planning the crime, but he’s also telling us is that he did it on the direct request of his girlfriend, who wanted help with her family situation. You need to talk that out, and decide how realistic, how reasonable that course of events seems to you. In that effort, you have an unexpected source of help: the testimony of the defendant herself.

Our jury system is the pride of the world, and this is why: because it’s very hard to fool twelve ordinary hard working citizens. Abraham Lincoln says, “you can fool some of the people some of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” And that’s what any jury trial in this fair country of ours proves again and again. Some of you will be fooled, some of you will be forgiving, some of you will be doubtful and some of you will be generously inclined. But when the twelve of you get together and talk it out, I am confident that the true picture will emerge. Guaranteed. Your honor, the state rests.”

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