For Ben Perrini, reading Fusner his rights, writing up the charges and attending the arraignment hearing could have been the end of it. It wasn’t. Ben’s life, what he thought and had always lived by was once again being challenged and he was still up to his ass in this case. His sphere and scope of serve and protect had expanded. As the arresting officer, he knew he would be called to testify for the prosecution. Now, with the case on the docket and with the arraignment and preliminary hearing out of the way, things were moving in the direction of a pretty much open and shut case. It was ready to be cut and dried.
With the DA’s review of charges, the negotiated decision for a jury trial, appointing a defense attorney, getting the trial on the court docket, it was dragging on. The trial itself attracted an eager and aggressive media blitz. And with a new cast of participants in the wings, storm clouds were gathering on the horizon.
To say that the Chief Prosecutor for this murder trial came with a colorful past would not give credit where it was due. Frank Fairweather came from Bend, Oregon. His mother was a member of the Kalapuya Tribe and his father had been an itinerant Mexican farm worker. After being a promising scholar/athlete in High School he had gone on to Linfield College. As an under graduate majoring in Sociology, he left school before finishing the degree. Out of school, out of work and in need of money he got hired by the US Forest Service as a Forest Fire Lookout on the East side of Mount Hood. One season of terminal boredom pushed him to the edge of discovering that he needed to go back to school. Searching for alternatives, he discovered that being fifty percent Native American he was entitled to federal grant money for tuition. After scoring just good enough on the LSAT, he applied to Lewis and Clark University Law School.
Three years later, after passing the multi-state bar exam he was armed with a bright and shiny JD. Although Frank didn’t have any specific career plans, he eventually got hired as an Assistant District Attorney in Spokane County, Washington. Due to retirement, death in the saddle and normal attrition the position of Chief Prosecutor eventually fell in his lap.
Getting ready for what just might turn out to be the trial of the year in Spokane County, DA Fairweather felt compelled to do more than his usual perfunctory study of the evidence before writing the charging documents.
“I need to have everything you have on this case on my desk before tomorrow morning, Perrini”
“I’ve got two separate files, one on Riago Restorini and one on Virgil Fusner. They both have a significant bearing on how you end up charging Virgil Fusner. I hope you take the time to review both before you get to court.”
In a feeble attempt to be more personal than professional, Fairweather continued.
“No worries, Ben. You know we always do a thorough job in this office.”
“Right, your reputation precedes you. That’s why I’m insisting. Are you going to be there for the arraignment or will it be one of your Assistants?”
“ln order to save time and energy, we usually share the burden. The Assistant DA will do the prelim arraignment and hearing. I’ll be there for the arraignment in Superior Court, the pretrial hearing and the Jury trial, if it gets that far.”
“It’ll get that far, Frank. You or whichever Asst. DA draws the shortest straw have got plenty to look at before charging Fusner at the first arraignment and hearing.”
“Ben, just be damned sure you’re around for all this prelim stuff. You will be a prime witness for the prosecution. Understand?”
“Understood. Are you gonna want to brief me, so I don’t point the finger at the wrong guy?”