The gallery rose a stir. It was natural. The footage the prosecution presented was just so impactful, without the margin for doubt, they clearly presented Claudia as the culprit.
It was definitive evidence. When I was throwing dirt at it, it was only natural for me to be belittled.
… But no matter who said what, it was truth that I found something. Though I didn’t yet know the reason this contradiction was in place.
I didn’t know, but come this far, I was going to be thorough with it.
I touched the display screen, and changed the scene.
“First, there is a scene I’d like everyone to see.”
After that, all I had to do was press the switch beside the display. With that, just as in the opening statements, all the lights in the court turned off, and an air-projection display appeared in the center of the court.
“Defense,” said the judge, his eyes blinking quickly. “What is this?”
“This is the first footage the prosecution showed us all, the footage of the viewing platform on the roof.”
The time was set to right after Claudia had attacked the victim. Claudia was in the center of the screen, and just as before, when she turned around, the tip of her hilt hit the hat. After rolling across the dry ground, the guard cap passed through a gap in the parapet, and disappeared into the darkness of night.
I paused the scene there. “Here. Here is the strange point in the footage.”
“A strange point…”
Prosecutor Schaefer crossed her arms in thought. “But there’s nothing there.”
“Hmm. It’s just as Prosecutor Schaefer has asserted. I don’t see anything particularly strange about this scene.”
“Exactly,” I agreed with the judge. “There’s not a scrap of dust on this roof, no let me say it like this…”
I took the remote in hand, and turned on the laser pointer. On the air projection display, I pointed the laser at a certain place. The empty ground.
“On this viewing platform… there isn’t any snow.”
In an instant, I thought time had stopped. That’s just how frozen the space seemed, without the slightest movement.
But the gallery immediately started a commotion. “He’s right.” “There’s none.” “What does that mean?”
I ignored the commotion, and continued on.
“The scene of the crime is on the hotel’s rooftop. Naturally, there isn’t another roof or anything of the sort above it. One look at the starry sky in the footage proves it.”
Prosecutor Schaefer touched her hand to her mouth, taking a step back.
“Y-y-y-y-ou’re exactly right! What does this…”
The judge raised a face of surprise. But my rebuttal wasn’t over.
“Are you listening? The prosecution presented this as the footage of November 11th at nine pm. Looking at the fourth video, you can tell that on November 11th at nine pm, there was snow on the park ground. In spite of that, that the roof alone has no buildup is a clear contradiction!”
I touched the display, and changed the scene. It was the fourth CD’s footage, and on the air projection display, the view of the park from the first floor hall was shown.
Just as it was before, the site was a land of snow. It wasn’t just the ground, the hedge and statue were the same.
I pointed the laser pointer at the corner of the display floating grandly in the center of the court. The digital number 21:25 was displayed.
“This fourth CD was also presented by the prosecution as footage of November 11th. But just from what we can see of the scene, they take place in two completely different timeframes, and were taken on completely different days!”
“W… w-w-w-… w-what is this!?”
An earth-shattering cry resounded through the courtroom. I’d never heard such a shrill cry in my life. The owner of the voice was… Prosecutor Caitlin Schafer.
D-did I do it?
In regards to my statement, Cate didn’t object, simply slamming the table as she vexingly grit her teeth. She gave one final slam on the table with both hands.
It was the first time my name often called in my law school years was actually used in a court of law. I couldn’t help but be startled.
Because a face I’d never seen before, a fiendish expression was floating on her face, but that also vanished like mist, returning to her base overconfident one.
“Don’t get so stuck up just because there’s no snow on the viewing platform, Mr. Lawyer.”
…!? What is she planning!?
“The viewing platform that became the scene of the crime is one of the hotel’s calls to fame. The scenery you can look down over from up high is awe-inspiring, and its reputation among the guests is superb.”
“Hah? And what about it?”
“There was no snow on the viewing platform? Don’t be foolish. This is a first-rate tourist hotel. If any snow built up, then of course the employees would remove it so it wouldn’t get in the guests’ way!”
“H-however, from what we can see in the video, it was a large amount of snow. Cleaning it up in such a short timeframe is impossible.”
“I have the weather data here.”
Prosecutor Schaefer swiftly took a document in hand, and read it aloud.
“It’s true that on November 11th, there was snowfall in the neighborhood of the crime scene. The snow fell between the hours of eight and four, making an eight hour timeframe. And after that, the snow let up.”
“From four to nine, in those five hours, I’m sure they could have done something about the snow.”
“B-but still. If that was the case, why didn’t they do anything for the park? If you’re arguing that the viewing platform is one of the hotel’s landmarks, then the park is as well. If that much snow built up, it would be downright dangerous!”
Okay. I was the one in danger there, but I somehow played it off with a bluff.
“They just keep coming, those bluffs of yours…”
Ah, she saw through.
I hit the desk once, glaring at the prosecution as I spoke… ”I can say much the same.” And pointing at the defendant seat, I went on.
“Using all those unnecessary tricks. M’lud, the defense requests testimony from the defendant.”
“Muh. Testimony, is it?”
“Yes. Whether she arrived at the scene on the 10th, or the 11th, if we hear the defendant’s testimony, I’m sure that will be cleared up at once.”
A wrinkle graced the judge’s brow, as he looked at Claudia in the defendant seat.
“M’lud! The reason the defendant grew violent was because she didn’t have her sword. We’ve already proven that she suffers from a psychological disorder. The defense will not recognize any further breaches of the defendant’s human rights. The prosecution is to undo all those restraints at once!”
“Hah!? Don’t be stupid,” Prosecutor Schaefer spoke up. “You mean to let free a defendant with the risk of flight?”
“Then give her her sword.”
Was that taking it too far? I regretted it for a moment, but I dispelled my hesitation.
The gallery’s ruckus was noisy. But I didn’t have to pay it any mind.
“The defendant will not run away.”
This was… already a gamble.
If I failed here… and the defendant lashed out or ran away, I’m sure I’d never be able to gain the judge’s trust again. But if even with her sword in hand, she stood to the end without running away…
That was my only chance of victory. I had no choice but to trust her.
“S-something like that is…”
Prosecutor Schaefer strongly gripped her fist, looking at me, the judge, and the defendant.
Whap… the judge’s gavel sounded. “There is no helping it.”
“As long as there is doubt in the evidence submitted by the prosecution, there is a need to revise it. But we don’t have any leads to verify it at present. Now that it’s come to this, we can’t go without hearing testimony from the defendant. Reluctant as I am, Prosecutor Schafer, please hand the murder weapon… no, please give the defendant her sword.”
Making a sour face, but eventually accepting it, the prosecutor said, “Eugene, undo the defendant’s restraints. And give her this sword.”
Cate violently handed off the sword to assistant Eugene.
Eugene gave a “Y-yes!” before taking the sword, and a set of keys to the defendant’s seat.
It’s finally here.
It really, really had been long. But with this, her restraints will finally come undone.
The bailiff began by undoing the rope around her waist from behind. The rope slackened, and with a tug of the bailiff, flowing smoothly, it looked as if it were running away from her body.
… Click. I heard the sound of the handcuffs unfastening.