“If the witness isn’t lying, then the liar here has to be you, Mr. Lawyer.”
Prosecutor Schaefer hid her smile of victory. Touching a hand to her hip, she showed a gloomy expression as she spoke. “To be honest, I’ve had it up to here with the defense’s arbitrary conjecture.”
“Hm. It’s true Prosecutor Schaefer has a point.”
The judge was critical. But it doesn’t seem he was a hundred percent critical of me, a look of anguish floating on his face.
“But it’s also true there is a problem with the evidence submitted by the prosecution. At present, there is no doubt in my mind that the culprit is the defendant. But from what I hear from the defense, I also feel some of the prosecutions claims are coming apart.”
“M’lud,” I objected, “The defense requests that all the prosecutions surveillance camera footage be displayed in the court.”
“As the prosecution has claimed, the security camera footage has not been edited or falsified by a third party. But that’s the footage we’re talking about, and it would be possible to falsify another portion.”
“… What are you trying to say?”
Prosecutor Schaefer’s expression was stiff. Hitting both hands on the table, she leaned in, and gave me a harsh glare.
Because of that menacing approach of the female prosecutor, I thought I would falter for a moment. But I straightened my back, and glared back.
“When were these security camera reels filmed? There’s no date stamped anywhere on them. Just how was the security firm distinguishing between days?”
It’s not as if I had asked anything particularly difficult, but for some reason, Prosecutor Schaefer shut her mouth, creating a strange space of silence.
The one whose fuse snapped was the judge. “Prosecutor Schaefer? What seems to be the matter?” he urged for a reply.
The usual her would have gallantly replied the moment the judge urged it. But she wasn’t herself momentarily. Her eyes still glaring at me, Prosecutor Schaefer didn’t say a word. Her expression was stiff, and looking closely, I could see some sweat dripping.
December was an exceedingly cold month. Even if the heater was working, in this courtroom that still held a hint of cold, there was barely anyone breaking into a sweat.
But the prosecutor was definitely sweating. The other people didn’t noticed it, but I alone could see Cate was clearly flustered.
… But why? I just asked about a security firm’s means of organizing CDs, so why is Cate in such dismay?
“… The security camera reels aren’t stored in real time. They are temporarily sent to a hard disk recorder, which then stores the video data onto a CD. But even so, this time loss isn’t anything significant, so the time shown on the camera, and the time stored on the CD are practically the same.”
After saying that much, Prosecutor Schaefer wiped her sweat with a hand. While she was speaking coherently, she wasn’t actually saying anything important.
… Meaning her current explanation is just her buying time.
Come this far, I was finally convinced.
… What are you hiding, Cate.
I still didn’t know what the prosecution was hiding. But it must be something exceptionally inconvenient to their case.
Something inconvenient to the prosecutor. That would mean something convenient for me.
Let’s drag it out.
“How long do you plan on evading the question?” I pressed the prosecutor. “Please stop dragging this trial out in vain, and promptly provide an answer to my question.”
… Tsk. She clicked her tongue and scowled.
But on a whap of the judge’s gavel, the besmirching stopped, and I stood up straight.
“Prosecutor Schaefer. Answer the question. Could it be you don’t know how the company keeps track of the dates?”
… M’lud, that is a foolish question, I wanted to say. That preparation maniac Cate would never fall to making such a mistake. She knows. She knows better than anyone. And that’s precisely why she’s so hard-pressed to answer.
But sensing she couldn’t put it off any further, she finally opened her heavy mouth.
“The footage captured by the security cameras is sent to a room on the hotel’s third floor. That guard room has a special hard disk recorder from the security company, and there the discs are automatically preserved. Once preservation is done, the guard staff retrieve the CDs, and put them in their proper cases. At that time, the date is printed on the cases.”
… That is how the security firm preserves its data, said the prosecutor with an increasingly sour face.
At first, I couldn’t understand. Why would this be so fatal to the prosecution.
But the judge’s words made me realize just how important of a hint this fact was to the truth of the case.
“Hm, if that’s the case, the problem lies in who was tasked with storing the CDs that day.”
……!! Who… would that be?
Within our exchanges up to now, it was clear there was no individual who could do that. Someone did something no one could do. It would be accurate to say that someone’s actions had brought about our current situation.
Wouldn’t that guy be the one at the center of this incident?
Who handed the letter to Claudia, who instigated her, who was the victim in the first place, and why was he dead…
“It goes without saying there’s only one person who could’ve done that.”
With those words alone, the female prosecutor shut her mouth tight. Without saying anything further, she stared off into a brighter tomorrow.