At 9:30 AM the next day, the Sheriff once more ushered Fusner in decked out in jailhouse restraints and orange coveralls. Taking his seat at the Defense table with Dibley Jackson, he was still trying to figure out how to avoid the whole damn thing.
As the trial resumed, Frank Fairweather’s strategy became very clear. He simply submitted the forensics, ballistics and the weapon into evidence and sat down.
“Is that all you’ve got, Mr. Fairweather?” asked the Judge.
“Yes, Your Honor. The Prosecution rests.”
With the verdict now up for grabs, Dibs Jackson was cocked and primed with all the dirt and dung he had been able to dig up on Perrini, O’Brien’s service record, the Native American Casino, the Italian workers at the brick yards, the bar in Clayton and of course his main witness to grill, Riago Restorini.
When all was said and done, Jackson had been able to paint a picture for the Jury. The picture though foggy and distorted was as clear as the sinking of the Titanic after being torpedoed by the Lusitania. With Restorini’s uncontrollable ranting on the stand about O’Brien’s sacrilegious remarks and the violent feelings they had provoked, it was obvious that regardless of evidence to the contrary, he certainly was capable of murdering O’Brien.
Dibley Jackson’s rambling reiteration of all this in his defense summary ended with,
“If the picture don’t fit, you must acquit.”
And with that memorable remark, it was time for Judge Karl’s instructions to the jury.
“As a member of this jury it was your responsibility to listen to all the testimony and evidence. Having now heard it, your job to be as fair and objective as possible in considering all of the facts of the case. Since the accused is being charged with felony murder with hate crime attachment, your decision must be unanimous, guilty or not guilty as charged. The Clerk will now take you to the Jury room to complete your deliberations. When you return the trial will resume.”
After two hours of boredom, the Clerk was confronted by the Jury Foreman.
“We aren’t even close to agreeing on anything. You need to let the Court know we are deadlocked.”
“Keep at it. Judge Karl is not known for his patience in this type of thing.”
After being sequestered for three days and nights in private rooms and a private dining room at the Davenport Hotel at tax payers’ expense, there was still no end to the stalemate. With the accommodations and amenities, they received while being billeted at the most prestigious place in town there was no incentive to compromise and resolve the issue.
As the jury members grew more comfortable, Judge Karl and the rest of the Court’s patience waned.
The third day of the trial had gone more or less in the right direction as far as Edna and the boys were able to understand. As part of the defense’ final statement they had heard again about Perrini’s wild goose chase of Restorini into the Gonzaga University campus and the embarrassing results. Of course, they all thought that Sean and Randy’s discovery of the gun in the Humvee engine compartment would have gotten him back on the right track.
Listening to Ben Perrini’s rambling remarks on the stand for the prosecution sounded pretty good under the circumstances. He hadn’t said anything that could be tracked back to his thinking about Native American involvement.
Unable to deal with any further delay, Judge Karl yelled at the Clerk,
“Get that Jury back in here ASAP!”
As they file in, he orders the defendant,
“Virgil Fusner, stand.
“Mr. Foreman. Have you reached a verdict?”
“Your Honor, we have been unable to reach any kind of decision. The jury is split without being able to convince the opposition or arrive at a compromise.”
“OK, then. Here’s what we’re going to do. While this jury was vacationing on the County’s time, the defendant has made repeated requests to fire his legal representation. Under these circumstances, being unable to pass judgement at this time, I have decided to dismiss this Jury and reconvene when we have a better grasp of who is to be held accountable for this crime.”
“Jury you are dismissed. Remember, you are not to discuss this case with anyone.”
Banging the gavel,
At this point Edna and the boys were still in the gallery, and the current direction of the Court proceedings was a mind-blower, For three months, they had continued to think of themselves as being more than just interested bystanders. Edna said she could understand how Restorini could be a witness for the defense, but Sean and Randy were unable to grasp how the smoking gun they had found wasn’t aimed directly at Fusner.
How in the hell was Fusner able to get a new trial without getting himself convicted was beyond their idea of justice. Little did they know or understand how the complex manipulation of evidentiary testimony could affect the truth. The complicated interplay of social relationships coupled with familial ties and racial hatred, mistrust and flat out lying were able to distort and alter the direction of whatever truths the court could have started out with or uncovered during the trial.
Be that as it was, for them at least the end was now in sight and no one on the reservation was being considered a suspect. After all that had always been their main concern from the beginning. Sean and Randy had survived the troublesome cultural assimilation at school and had Deer Park High School Graduation ahead. of them.
As they left the Courthouse, Edna gave the boys her verdict.
“I don’t think we’re going to be here for the next session of this circus.”