I hope to have the proof copy of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE from Midnight Express Books before the new year rolls in. For now, though, I am sharing the synopsis and a scene from Big Bobby’s first meeting with his unscrupulous lawyer, Zachariah Zambroski.
Military Police finds Roger Johnson slumped over the steering wheel of his Mercedes Benz, a bullet hole in his head. State Senator Leroy Johnson wants swift justice for the murder of his son. The military turns the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Special Agent Ward promises Senator Johnson he will find the murderer.
Big Bobby Sanders drank too much the night of the murder. Lost in a blackout when the murder occurs and unable to prove his alibi, DNA evidence put him in jail for killing his friend. An exotic dancer knows the truth. She gets forced out of town after telling her story to attorney Zachariah Zambroski. Under pressure by Agent Ward to close the case, Zambroski convinces Sanders to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. In prison he befriends a man who ultimately introduces him to the lovely Nicole Anderson, a former dancer who fights to free him. Love opens the door to prove his innocence. The murder remains a mystery until the next book meets the press.
“UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is a riveting tale that transcends genres. It’s a mystery and a thriller, with a love story woven through its fabric.” Introduction to UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Jeffrey P. Frye, author of ONE CRAZY DAY, Murder Slim Press (www.murderslimpress.com).
Chapter Four conclusion (Initial Appearance)
The morning after the Initial Appearance hearing, Bobby, Wild Bill, and two others sat at a table playing spades. The jailer sitting at the Officer’s Desk shouted, “Sanders, someone’s here to see you. Front and center.”
He was escorted to a small booth. He stared at the man sitting on the other side of a Plexiglas window, who had a short beard and a bushy mustache. When he sat down, the man said, “Hi, I’m Zachariah Zambroski, Attorney at Law. The court appointed me to represent you.”
An Excerpt from Chapter Five: ZACHARIAH ZAMBROSKI
“Mr. Sanders, it doesn’t matter to me if you are guilty. My job is to defend you regardless of your guilt or innocence, but I need to know exactly what happened if you expect me to help you win this case.”
Bobby twisted in his seat and repositioned the phone. “That’s the problem. I don’t know what happened.”
“It says here that you are charged with murder on a federal reservation. … Your fingerprints were in the victim’s car, and … on a beer bottle that also contained your DNA. That is a very serious charge and is possibly enough evidence to convict you. It does not help that the victim was the son of North Carolina’s most respected senator.”
“I know it is, but I still don’t know what happened. All I can tell you is that me and Roger were friends and went out partying every chance we got. The Lonely Rooster Lounges has a special show and discount prices on all drinks every Wednesday. Me and Roger went there fairly regular. The only thing I really remember about the last time we were there, is that I started downing shots and chasing them with beer.”
“Do you have anyone who can verify that?”
“Yes and no. There was a stripper there as a special feature. Delilah, I think was her stage name. Anyway, she came over and did a lap dance for me and Roger. She might remember. And then I woke up in bed with a girl named Sheila. She’s who I need to find, but I don’t remember where she lived.”
“Tell me everything you know about her. Maybe I can figure out how to locate her to testify for you.”
At the beginning of the interview, Zambroski had already asked several general questions from the Criminal Justice form he needed to complete in order to be paid, and knew he could requisition more funds for having to investigate.
“I don’t know a whole lot about her, really.”
“What did she look like? What area did she live in? Who did she work for?”
“She looked like an angel, about five-three or four or five. Uhh, she had real long, coal-black hair that shined,” he said and then smiled. “A real shapely body and amber-colored eyes. She said she was part Native American. Cherokee and Caucasian, or Cherokee and Spanish and Caucasian.”
“Where did she work?”
“Some strip club in Charlotte or right around there, I’m not sure exactly. She’s a dancer. I’m pretty sure it was the Star Shadow Gentleman’s Club. I couldn’t remember shit when the FBI was asking me questions about it.”
“That’s probably a good thing. Loose lips sink ships.”
“I know she lived in a nice subdivision near the lake. Not real far from where I stay, like I said earlier, on the northeast side of Charlotte.”
He scribbled some notes on a clipboard. “Who else might know something I can use to defend you?”
“As big as I am, not many people at the club could have missed me. Sheila said she saw me get out of Roger’s car. Maybe someone else did, too. Someone had to have seen something that can help prove he was alive and drove away from the club without me.”
“How did y’all get along? Did you argue or fight with each other, or do anything that might make people think you’d have had a reason to kill him?”
“No, not that I recall.”
“Don’t be offended by this, but why don’t you remember more about the night he got murdered?”
He leaned away from the window and laid the phone on the counter. Then he glanced down at the cheap, county-issued, flip flops. The marshals had confiscated his shoes because the FBI wanted to test them and his clothes for gunpowder residue and other forensic tests, just like they were doing with everything in the apartment.
Zambroski tapped the window with his ink pen.
He frowned before he picked up the phone. “I hate saying this, but I drank too much and blacked out, lost contact with reality. I don’t know what I did.”
“Have you ever seen a drug treatment specialist, a doctor or psychiatrist who might verify that you are a problem drinker? It could be something I could use as a potential defense to avoid the death penalty if you get convicted.”
“I don’t know how receptive jurors would be if you got on the stand and couldn’t say where you were at when the victim was murdered. Even though you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, in reality, you are guilty until proven innocent.”
“I know,” he said and then nibbled on the edge of his bottom lip.
“You can’t prove you were in a blackout, and at this point, you don’t have any way to prove you got out of the car and he drove away. Do you see our dilemma?” he asked without stopping for an answer. “My contact at the agency told me about the fingerprints and DNA, which, by the way, they got real fast, a lot faster than normal, and that’s not good for you. It shows how bad they want to close this case and put someone away for it. You are their only suspect right now. That is not good at all,” he said and shook his head. “They can prove you were with him, in the car, and that, supposedly, it says here, that y’all were arguing the night he was murdered. That is really bad news for you when sitting in a courtroom as the defendant in a capital murder case of a senator’s son. They have proof you left the Lonely Rooster Lounges with him, and have some witness saying you were arguing with him when y’all got in his Mercedes and left the parking lot of the club. You have nothing but an excuse of having drank too much and not remembering anything.”
“I don’t know how the hell I ended up in this bullshit.” He leaned forward on his elbows and held the phone to his ear. “Maybe you can find Sheila for me.”
“Let’s hope so. You need someone to help you win this. Since you can’t say where you were at, we are going to have a hard time fighting the United States of America. Sometimes they lie and cheat in the name of justice. They also have a high conviction rate.” …..
The story goes on. Experts suggests we write what we know. I know from first-hand experience how the American judicial process works. I created that scene based upon my experiences with jails and attorneys; however, my attorney in this case warned me not to say anything I didn’t want to say before a jury. His statement killed any trust in our relationship. In the above scene, Zachariah Zambroski was functioning as a competent attorney. That was before F.B.I. agent Ward threatened to put him in prison for his past dirty deeds, if he didn’t help close the case.
On a personal level, during my trial we proved that a witness received a payment to testify against me. The lead F.B.I. agent had given her $500.00 to testify and had not revealed it during a process known as Discovery. He claimed the bank provided the money and that he didn’t think he had to tell anyone. The judge ordered the government to reveal any other payments made to witness. “There are none, Your Honor,” claimed the Assistant United States Attorney. The lead F.B.I. agent sat beside her. Ten years later I provided documented evidence and proved that the bank had given $1,000.00 to that same F.B.I. agent for the payment of two witnesses. I filed a motion to that effect. The court responded that I failed to prove who the second paid witness was, and then dismissed the motion. I petitioned for reconsideration and pointed out that the issue was that the F.B.I. and government had lied and refused to follow the court’s order to reveal any other payments made to witnesses. The court denied that motion, too. That is justice in America. Law books are filled with stories about justice denied. My case was not anything special.
On spiritual lines, though, I know everything happened the way that it had to have in order to preserve my life, and for that I am grateful. Thanks for reading my writings.
Expect UNKNOWN INNOCENCE before 2016. Purchase the paperback through Midnight Express Books, Amazon.com, CreateSpace.com, or your favorite bookstore after its release. For an interesting collection of my writings, read ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($10.95, Midnight Express Books).
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