(The year is 2005)
Cast of characters:
Randolph Madison, age 67. Sickly, walks with a cane.
Chase Horton, age 28. District Attorney. New in town.
Jason Atwood, age 54. Defense Attorney, father of nine, married to Emily.
Emily Atwood , age 41. Twin sister of Anne Whitney. Married to Jason, mother of his children.
Ellie Barclay, age 60. Wife of Rick, mother of Anne and Emily (nee Susan.)
Rick Barclay, age 66. Husband of Ellie. Recently had a heart-attack.
Laura Whitney, age 22. Daughter of Anne and Philip.
Philip Whitney, M.D. age 42, divorced husband of Anne. Father of Laura.
Anne Whitney, age 41. Twin sister of Emily Atwood. Divorced from Philip, mother to Laura.
Randolph Madison is called to the stand. Randolph makes it to the witness box with the help of his cane. For the first time in 19 years, Randolph sees the woman, whom he bought as a child in an illegal adoption in 1965, at the defense table. Emily looks at the man she grew to loathe once the truth about her illegal adoption became known. Anne pulls her mother close.
Chase, standing at the podium waiting for Randolph to be sworn in, scans his yellow legal notepad.
Prompted by the Judge Chase begins, “Mr. Madison, in 1987 you confessed to murdering Victoria Roberts, is that correct?”
“Yes, I did.”
“You were sentenced 50 years to life, yet here you are a free man. How did that happen?”
“I was let out on a compassionate release. I’m dying of cancer.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Mr. Madison.”
Chase asks, “Mr. Madison, what is your relationship to the defendant?”
Randolph remembers, “She is my daughter, adopted daughter.”
“Was this a traditional adoption?”
Randolph hesitates, “No, sir. We bought her.”
“OH’s,” reverberate through the gallery only to be admonished by the judge.
Chase lets that reveal sink in, “Mr. Madison, you bought her, from whom?”
“I bought . . . we had a lawyer and he arranged it all.”
“You keep saying, ‘we.’ Whose ‘we?’”
“That would be my Cassie, my wife. Cassandra. May she rest in peace?”
Chase recaps, “I’m sorry for your loss.” He waits a beat.” Mr. Madison, you’re telling the court that your lawyer sold you the baby?”
Randolph shakes his head, “No, no sir, Victoria Roberts sold us the baby through the attorney.”
“The murder victim,” D.A. Horton emphasizes.
Jason’s turn to cross-examine Randolph. He’s aggressive with his former ‘father-in-law,’ “In 1987, in a courtroom much like this you confessed to murdering Victoria Roberts, is that correct?”
“Yet now you want us to believe you confessed out of some devotion to my client, your adopted-daughter, but now you recant the confession insisting you did in fact not commit the murder, if that right?”
“Why? Why now?” Jason states as he slowly approaches the witness.
“Because I didn’t do it.” Randolph underscores.
“So you say. You confessed. You stood in front a judge and confessed, under oath to killing Victoria Roberts New Year’s Eve 1986. What happened to suddenly make you change your mind?”
Chase stands, “Asked and answered, your honor.”
The judge sustains the objection.
Jason is irritated, sarcastic, “Why should we believe you now? You swore under penalty of perjury way back in 1987, that you were telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Now you say you didn’t kill her is the truth. Which is it?”
Randolph is rattled, “I’m telling the truth today.”
Jason continues as he turns and walks back to podium, “Excuse my incredulity, but I’m having a hard time comprehending this about-face. You confessed to the murder way back then; serve 17 years of a 50-year to life sentence for this crime; you are released because of your failing health and you now say you are innocent. Do I have it right?”
“That’s right, son.” Randolph answers insolently.
“I’m not your son!” Jason apologizes to the court before Chase can object and the judge sustain the objection. “You . . . you now allege you didn’t kill Ms. Roberts, but instead you saw your illegally adopted daughter, Emily, whom you claim to love, commit the murder all those years ago.”
“Why confess, why confess to a crime you claim you didn’t commit in the first place?”
Randolph pauses before answering, “I was protecting my daughter . . . I was protecting Emily.”
“Why not go to the police that night and tell them what you allege you saw? Disregard.” Jason takes a breath, “You say nothing to no one, sit back and watch the defendant’s birth parents Eleanor and Richard Barclay, suffer the humiliation of an arrest, stand trial in 1987 – law-abiding citizens mind you – and you say nothing to anyone, not even to the police of what you saw that night. Wasn’t buying their child bad enough, Mr. Madison?”
“Objection!” Chase bellows standing.
“Mr. Madison, wouldn’t you agree allowing the Barclays to stand trial the ultimate insult after buying their daughter?”
“I did what I had to at the time.”
“Rather than report to the police that you witnessed Emily shoot Victoria Roberts, you decide to confess . . . to this murder, of which you now recant! The mind boggles, Mr. Madison! None of this makes sense.”
“Objection! Counselor is testifying!” Chase bellows.
“I’m finished with this witness.” Jason sits.
Anne leans forward resting her chin in her hands. Ellie glances quizzically at Anne for a moment.
The prosecution calls one final witness: Rick Barclay. Ellie and Anne are surprised to see him wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair. With assistance, he’s helped into the witness stand. Anne stares intently at her father wondering to herself what he could possibly say.
Rick is sworn in, states his full name and state of residence.
“Mr. Barclay, the court appreciates your willingness to travel all this way to testify in court,” Chase states.
Anne, sitting with daughter Laura, is appalled, says to her mother, “I can’t believe they brought him here. Look at him.”
“It’s my duty, sir.” Rick takes a sip of water provided.
Chase begins questioning, “If you can remember, let’s go back to New Year’s Eve 1986. Do you remember that night?”
“Yes sir I do.” Rick looks at Ellie for support. Daughter Anne continues staring intently.
“That was almost 20 years ago, are you sure?”
“Mr. Horton, certain dates, certain events stick in your mind. I remember it was bitter, bitter cold that night. It rained that day.” Rick looks at daughter Emily who is scared for her life.
“Do you remember what you did that evening back in 1986?”
“Yes sir, I do. Ellie, my wife, and I were staying in, just the two of us.” Rick remembers fondly.
Chase continues, “Did you have cause to leave home that night?”
“Yes sir, I did.”
“Can you tell the court why you left home that ‘bitter, bitter cold rainy night’ New Year’s Eve?” Chase scans the jury.
“I got a call from my daughter. She said she was in trouble.” Rick recalls.
“Which daughter called you Mr. Barclay?” Chase asks.
Emily lightly shakes her head, whispers something to Jason.
“Did she say what kind of trouble?”
“No, sir I don’t think so. I got there as fast as I could.” Rick stares at Emily.
“Where did you go Mr. Barclay?” Chase returns to the podium and scans his legal pad.
Rick returns his focus to Chase, “I went to Victoria Robert’s apartment on Hyde Place at Day.”
“Mr. Barclay, please tell the court what happened when you arrived at the apartment.”
“I got there, the door was ajar I heard crying. I kicked the door open with my foot. I saw my daughter standing over Victoria’s body holding a gun.” Rick looks at Emily with sadness and then to Anne who’s attention is now piqued. She sits back in the pew.
“Emily, was holding the gun?” Chase stresses.
“Did she say anything?”
Rick hesitates. He’s afraid what he says will send one of his daughters to prison for murder. “Yes sir she did.”
“What did she say, Mr. Barclay?”
Emily leans forward, tears streaming down her face. Anne and her mother, Ellie both emotional are close.
Rick stammers, “She . . . she said I did it daddy! I finally killed her! She destroyed my life so I finally killed her!”
Gasps reverberate throughout the courtroom. In disbelief, Emily sits back in her chair defeated, whispers, “I wasn’t even there. Oh my God, I wasn’t even there.”
Chase repeats with emphasis, “I finally killed her.” He takes a beat to let the jury mull on that statement. “Mr. Barclay, for the record, can you tell the court who said ‘she’ finally killed her?”
Rick is fighting back tears, “My daughter, Sir.”
Emily stands, “It’s not true! Daddy, please, I didn’t kill her! I wasn’t there!” Jason holds his wife and they sit, she sobs.
Ellie sobs in the gallery; Anne’s tension relaxes. Laura weeps fearful for her aunt.
“Mr. Atwood, please control your client.” Judge orders Jason.
Chase proceeds, “Mr. Barclay is your daughter in the courtroom today?”
Rick collects himself. He looks at both Emily and Anne then back to Emily. “Yes sir she is.”
“Would you point her out to the court?”
Slowly, Rick focuses on Emily, raises his arm and points, “She’s sitting right there.” He points to daughter Anne! The room erupts in shock! Emily whips around to look at her twin.
Anne is stunned; Ellie looks at her daughter in disbelief, “What? No!”
Laura is in shock, “Mother!”
Rick exclaims, “It was my daughter Anne who confessed to me that she shot and killed Victoria Roberts.”
Anne stands, screaming, “Daddy!”
The judge orders the courtroom cleared except for the family, jury and Randolph Madison. The judge instructs Chase to continue.
Chase is confused, “Mr. Barclay you stated your daughter Emily was in the apartment!”
“Yes sir, I did say that.”
“Then why do you indicate your other daughter?”
Rick looks at the judge, Chase, Emily, his wife then daughter Anne, “Because she murdered Victoria Roberts.”
Chase is afraid he lost the case. He looks at the judge, then the jury, “Mr. Barclay, just a few moments ago you stated your daughter Emily was standing over the body holding the gun.”
“Yes sir I did.”
Chase is infuriated feeling as if being played for a fool. “Mr. Barclay, I’m very confused, I can’t imagine the jury isn’t as confused as I am.” Scans the jury, “You said you saw your daughter, Emily Atwood standing over the body with the murder weapon in hand confessing to you that she finally killed her, why are you accusing your other daughter?”
“Because it was Anne! She was dressed to look like Emily. But, I knew it wasn’t Emily.”
“Why didn’t you say anything before?” Chase is flummoxed.
“She’s my baby.” Rick replies as his voice cracks.
Anne attempts to leave, but is stopped by bailiffs. She’s trapped, cornered. Her family is in shock. She slowly walks down the center aisle toward the bench barking at Randolph Madison, “If you just kept your mouth shut and died old man!” She reaches the bench facing the judge. Bailiffs stand nearby. “Yes, I killed Victoria Roberts. I’d do it again.”
The judge interrupts, “Mrs. Whitney, please stop talking. Bailiff, place Mrs. Whitney under arrest and read her, her rights before she says another word!”
“I waive my rights!” Anne declares feeling enormous relief that this is out in the open after nearly 20 years. She turns to face her family, the prosecutor and Randolph Madison. “Yes, I disguised myself as Emily I wanted her out of my life!”
Ellie and Rick sit at the defense table with Emily between them. Jason stands.
“I want all of you to know why I did it, all of it!”
“Mrs. Whitney, I strongly encourage you to not say another word until you’ve spoken to an attorney. You have rights!” The judge implores.
“Thank you Judge, but everyone deserves to know the truth and I will tell it now.” She takes a deep breath, looks at the scandalized faces opposite her. “When I was a little girl Victoria Roberts came into my bedroom, the one I shared with my twin sister Susan and she took us, she kidnapped us. You know come to think about it I don’t think we ever really knew why she did that. Sometime later, I was brought home safe without Susan. In some way, I felt a loss growing up but I didn’t know what it was. All I did know growing up, without Susan in our house, my life with my family was just wonderful. It was just the three of us; I was the center of their world. Sure we mourned Susan, had some pictures around the house that I pretended were of me, I couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing.” She pauses to collect her thoughts, “Then Victoria Roberts is released from prison for some reason I cannot fathom to this day; she shows up in Pacific Bay unexpectedly, which changes everything for my family telling us Susan is alive! I was overcome with deep-seeded rage at that moment. My life was turned upside down; would never be the same again! I couldn’t believe she was still alive! Sure, I played along, but I knew I was no longer the only daughter because it all became about Susan now called Emily. Poor Emily was kidnapped and denied her family, poor Emily this poor Emily that, I was sick of it! Even my husband wanted Emily.” Anne shoots daggers at Philip. She pauses, looking at her father, “Remember that daddy?”
“Anne?” Rick has no words.
She approaches the defense table opposite Emily, “I grew to hate you with every fiber of my being. You just had to come back! Well missy, I didn’t want you back! Why couldn’t you have stayed dead?” Emily sobs in her mother’s arms.
Anne turns and addresses the court as she continues, “You see your honor I went along with this travesty for a while. I accepted being second best to Saint Emily until I couldn’t take it any longer. I devised my plan to kill just Emily first, but decided killing Victoria would make more sense and framing Emily was the icing on the cake. You know, ‘kill two birds with one stone.’ It would have worked had he,” points to Randolph Madison, “not been there hiding in the other room.”
Chase asks, “Why did you call your father?”
“I don’t know. I guess I was afraid. I just killed someone. I pretended to be Emily so he’d drop everything to rescue me, and he did!”
The judge orders Anne Whitney arrested for murder of Victoria Roberts and sets Emily Atwood free.