Witness Stand (9) Defense’s Inspection

The moment I suggested a third party, the court was taken by a stir greater than ever before.

The clerks and sketch artist stopped moving for a moment, an air of unrest drifting through the room as a whole.

The judge was dumbfounded, his mouth left half-open, while Prosecutor Schaefer crossing her arms’ eyebrow twitched as she tapered her mouth.

… Their surprise wasn’t uncalled for. Even I was half in doubt.

But it’s not as if I had no basis. I just wasn’t fully convinced.

Claudia had answered to my gamble. Cate was doing quite the nice job as a prosecutor.

… All that’s left was for me to do what I had to.

There were no tricks in the security camera’s footage. That had just been proven.

If someone form the outside tried to alter the CD, the defense magic would activate.
It was possible to dispel the magic, but if you did, the trace would remain. As magic parsing had revealed no such trace, there was no possibility of someone tampering with the footage.

But when you compared the clips, there were parts that contradicted one another.

It was snowing on November 11th. But when Claudia attacked the victim on the roof, there was no snow at the rooftop crime scene.

On the other hand, there was snow piled up on the park the body had fallen.

If there was no alteration to any footage, then why would these contradictions come out?

They were both true, yet there was no consistency.

When each individual piece was correct, it became strange when you put them together.

… This was just like a puzzle.

To correctly put a puzzle together, you had to make sure each piece was joined up in its correct place.

The picture we were looking at right now was made of mismatched pieces. So the final image was blurry, and there were inconsistencies in the finer details.

Then what was wrong? That was obvious. It was…

“It seems we have made a huge misunderstanding.”

I looked over the whole court, looked at Claudia last.

“A question for the defendant.”

“Y-yes.”

“When exactly did you leave the scene of the crime?”

In regards to that question, Claudia made a confused face. Of course, that wasn’t just her, the people in the gallery were making dubious looks as well.

The judge stroked his beard as he tilted his head.

… Bang! The sound of someone hitting a desk resounded through the room. It was Prosecutor Schaefer.

“What sort of question are you asking at this point? One look at the security camera, and it’ll all be settled, right?”

“I… didn’t ask you anything.”

Holding up my palm, I interrupted Cate’s words.

“Defendant Rheinland,” I took my eyes off of Cate, and looked at Claudia. “I want to hear it from your mouth”

“When exactly did you leave the scene… the hotel?

“I…”

Her expression became more and more incomprehensive. Scrunching her brow, she put power into the hand clenching her sword. Her lips came firmly together, as she looked as if she were enduring so as not to let her words fly out on their own.

“You can just answer honestly.”

I spoke as I looked straight a Claudia’s blue eyes on the verge of tears.

“There’s nothing to fear. I’m… on your side.”

Just what was pulling on her nerves? I couldn’t tell. But as if resolving something, she lifted her face, lightly opening her bound mouth, and speaking on the stand.

“I… never left the hotel that night.”

 

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