Kevin saw Matt’s hands shake as he reached for the cigarette Kevin offered him.
“Mr. Johnson, I did not kill that lady. I never even heard of her. Don’t know her family, nothing. I been out here in this drug world, mindin’ my own business. I admit I like gittin’ high, but I ain’t ever bothered nobody.
Kevin had believed in Matt’s guilt, just like everyone else, but after seeing the dismay and confusion etched on the twenty-nine-year-old black man’s face, he began to have doubts.
Robert and John aren’t bad men, and even though I am just their token black employee, they usually try to play fair. But I have to say they really handed me one this time. No case in the five years I’ve been with the firm even came close to this.
“I just can’t believe I’m sittin’ here in a jail cell talkin’ about bein’ charged with killin’ somebody,” Matt continued. “If it was a drug bust, I could see it. I been down that road a coupla times. But killin’ some rich, old white lady? I feel like this is some kind of prank. I’m sittin’ here wonderin’ how did I end up a suspect for murderin’ somebody.” Shaking his head, almost in time with his trembling hands, he groaned, “This can’t be for real, Mr. Johnson!”
Kevin felt a pang of sympathy. “It’s alright to call me Kevin. I’m here because I believe you, okay?” He handed Matt another cigarette. “Now, you say you never even met the lady, and I believe that, too.” He sighed. It looked pretty bad for his client, but Kevin didn’t believe he’d committed the crime. “Do you know anyone, or have any business dealings with anyone, who just might know Mrs. Knowles? Anyone at all? Think hard, because it could be our best lead.”
Waiting for Matt to speak, Kevin made notes on his legal pad. Someone had entered the socialite’s home and murdered her. And from the forensic evidence, it was clear that Charlotte Knowles had willingly let the person in. Just who was it, and why?
When Matt continued to stare at his hands without speaking, Kevin stood. “We’ll stop here for today. Remember, you need to be careful what you say and to whom. Don’t talk to anyone without me present. Understand?”
Matt didn’t answer, just turned his sad, tear-filled eyes on Kevin as if hoping he were a miracle worker. Kevin sighed and called the guard to take the man back to his cell.
Driving back to his office, Kevin decided to call in the firm’s private investigator Peter Jacobson. He speed dialed the man’s number on his cell phone while waiting for a red light. Pete agreed to meet him back at the office.
By the time Kevin arrived at his desk, Pete was already in the chair across from it, studying the case file.
“You’ve got a handful of suspects here,” Pete mused. “Including, your client, of course.”
Kevin hung his suit jacket on the back of his chair. “Who do you see as the others, and why?”
“The why’s easy. Like my late partner used to say, ‘Follow the money. Always follow the money.’ Which means we need to look very carefully at the relatives.”
Kevin nodded. “Well, the victim was a wealthy widow.”
Pete snorted. “You’re kidding,” he teased. “With a name like Charlotte Hornsby Wainsborough Knowles, you could hardly expect her to be anything else.”
“Right.” Kevin pulled out his notes. “Let’s see...she and her husband, Wallace, had one son, Brian—married to a Gwendolyn Harmon Knowles. The son would likely be the one to inherit. Though, of course, that gives the wife a motive as well. They have two children, Jessica and Alfred, ages sixteen and fourteen.”
Pete arched an eyebrow. “A little young to be knocking off the grandmother for petty cash, don’t you think?”
“Not necessarily,” Kevin replied. “However, getting the gun probably would’ve presented quite a challenge for such high-society kids.”
“Don’t you believe it,” Pete said with another snort. “A rich kid wants a gun, he just takes a quick trip across the tracks to the seedy side of town.” He sighed. “But, we’ll stick the kids on the back burner for now until we see how the others play out.”
“Agreed. So who else have we got?” Kevin scanned the file again. “Okay, there were two brothers-in-law, Mortimer and Justin. And two grown nephews, Robert Wainsborough and Timothy Knowles.” He glanced at Pete. “How much do you suppose the nephews were left in the will? Enough to make murder look profitable?”
“It doesn’t take much, councilor, believe me. I once had a case where a man killed his friend over a crab cake. Some people are nothing but greedy bastards.” Pete sighed again and got to his feet. “Well, I’ll check out these folks and get back to you.”
“Better check out my client, too,” Kevin told him. “The guy says he’s innocent, and I think I believe him. But it’d be nice to know for sure, so I don’t end up looking like a fool.”
Pete laughed. “You mean attorneys don’t try to look like fools on purpose? That’s how Matlock does it. It always works for him.”
Kevin sighed. “Life should be so easy.”
Excerpted from "The Color of Murder" by Loretta Moore. Copyright © 0 by Loretta Moore. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.