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Authors: Larry D. Thompson

The Insanity Plea

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THE INSANITY PLEA

A Novel

Larry D. Thompson

 

 

 

STORY
MERCHANT BOOKS

BEVERLY HILLS

2014

 

ALSO BY LARRY D. THOMPSON

 

Dead Peasants

The Trial

So Help Me God

 

Copyright ©
2014 by LARRY D. THOMPSON All rights reserved.

ISBN:
978-0-9897154-7-8

 

No part of this
book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the author.

http://www.larrydthompson.com

 

Story Merchant Books

9601 Wilshire Boulevard #1202

Beverly Hills CA 90210

http://www.storymerchant.com/books.html

PRAISE FOR THE INSANITY PLEA

 

Outstanding! Tense, gripping, fast-paced—THE INSANITY PLEA is
Larry Thompson at his non-stop best.

 

-
Carla Neggers,
New York Times
bestselling author of more than 60
novels including
Cider Brook,
newest
in the Swift River Valley Series

 

THE INSANITY PLEA
is rich in tapestry and long in emotion.
 
 Larry Thompson's splendid
courtroom epic tugs at our heart strings even as the suspense launches
those same hearts toward our mouths.  His talents are firmly on
display in a tale that's equal parts crack legal thriller and first rate
mystery reminiscent of Thomas Harris at his best.  Blend in a bit of
Harlan Coben for good measure, and you're left with a smooth, savory and
relentlessly satisfying story that's an absolute blast to read as Thompson
reaches the heights of Grisham and beyond."

 

--
Jon Land
, bestselling author of 
Strong Rain Falling
 

 

“The recipe for THE
INSANITY PLEA: Take a hot-shot Texas attorney, a serial killer with a clever,
diabolic agenda, stir in a bunch of charming and not-so-charming characters,
and turn up the heat. A fast, fun read.”

 

--
D.P. Lyle
, award-winning author of the Dub Walker and Samantha Cody
thriller series

 

"To write a
spellbinding tale like THE INSANITY PLEA, it takes a crackerjack lawyer
and a hell of a storyteller.  Lucky for us, Larry D. Thompson is both, and
his legal thriller beats true to the final gavel."

 

 
--
Paul
Levine
, author of
 
State
vs. Lassiter

 

"Larry Thompson's
THE INSANITY PLEA is a lively thriller-cum-courtroom drama, with an especially
venal villain...A fun read!"

 

--
Dennis Palumbo
, author of the Daniel Rinaldi Mysteries

For Cece, Jackson, Brooklyn and Olivia, four fantastic grandchildren

 

“As for me, you must know
that I shouldn’t precisely have chosen madness if there had been any choice.”
Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

 

PROLOGUE

 

The alarm jolted the young blond
woman out of a dream where she was surfing toward a pristine beach on Maui,
which had mystically transformed itself into jagged rocks. She moaned, turned
off the radio, tried to rub the sleep out of her eyes and forced herself out of
bed. It was five a. m. Debbie Robinson had two hours before she reported to
work as a surgical nurse in the operating room at John Sealy Hospital in
Galveston. Nude, she shuffled to the bathroom and then to the kitchen where she
made a cup of instant coffee before slipping into a jogging bra, sweatshirt,
shorts and New Balance running shoes. A five mile run along the seawall was her
usual routine to prepare for her day.

She stopped at the front door to take
her key from the entry table and glanced in the mirror. Even with no make-up,
the mirror reflected a wholesomely attractive face with a sharply defined chin,
full lips, light blue eyes and a nose that had been touched up only slightly by
a friendly plastic surgeon at the hospital. After she pulled her hair back into
a pony tail, she left her apartment, glanced toward the hospital two blocks
over and started a slow trot down 8
th
Street toward the Gulf of
Mexico and Seawall Boulevard. Reaching the seawall, she paused momentarily and
gazed out across the Gulf. At this hour of the morning, the stars were still
visible in the eastern sky.

Resuming her run, in a matter of a
few blocks Debbie had settled into an eight minute pace, fast enough to get her
back to her apartment in about forty-five minutes. As she approached the old
Galvez Hotel at 21
st
Street, she heard footsteps coming up behind
her. Early morning joggers were common along the seawall; so she moved over to
allow the other runner to pass.

Suddenly, Debbie felt a strong arm
circling her waist and a hand covering her mouth. She had trained in the
martial arts for years and refused to surrender to her panic. Instead, she
twisted and brought her knee up into the groin of her attacker who groaned but still
succeeded in forcing her to the ground. Before he could pin her arms, she
reached into her shorts and found her apartment key. Using it as her only
weapon, she raked the key as hard as she could down her attacker’s left cheek.

The killer let a low moan escape his
lips. “Damn it, you bitch, you shouldn’t have done that.”

The killer held her with his left
hand while he retrieved a knife from its holster on his waist. He flipped open
the blade and pulled it from right to left against the soft flesh of her
throat. Blood spurted from both carotid arteries and spilled from her neck. She
was breathing more and more slowly when she slipped to the concrete. Her
fluttering eyes became fixed as life drained from her body. The killer smiled
with satisfaction as he bent over and used his knife to slice the running
shorts from her lifeless body. Being careful not to get her blood on himself,
he picked up her body and tossed it over the seawall to the rocks below.
 
When he started his slow jog back to the
hotel, he felt a few drops of blood, trickling from his cheek. He used her
shorts to stem the flow
. I’ll probably
have to explain a Band-Aid on my cheek to my audience this morning as a shaving
cut, he thought.
As he continued his jog, he smiled. She was number three. Forty-seven
to go.

* * *

 

A boulder covered jetty extended out
about a hundred yards in front of the Galvez. As the sun rose, it illuminated
the silhouette of a man sitting cross-legged at the end of the jetty, watching
silently as the orange hued ball broke through the fog overhanging the Gulf. Satisfied
that he brought forth another day as the voices commanded, he rose and picked
his way through the rocks back to the seawall.

He certainly was not a jogger. His
gray hair was a tangled, matted mess that hung below his shoulders, and he scratched
at a long, scraggly beard as if searching for fleas or mites. He wore four
layers of clothes, all that he possessed, and a tattered brown raincoat found
in a dumpster. When people passed him, they recoiled from the stench of urine,
feces and filth that surrounded him. As he made his way back to the seawall, he
was waving his hands and shaking his head as if to reject someone’s direction. All
the while he was muttering to an unseen being, something about wanting to be
left alone.

He didn’t notice the jogger’s body
until he tripped and almost fell on her. Even then he continued to talk. He
bent over and peered into her face, expecting to find one of his fellow street
people passed out below the wall. When he saw her neck and the pool of blood
that had oozed from the gaping wound, he jumped back, horror framing his face. Looking
around and seeing no one else, he stepped forward again, not realizing that his
left foot was now in the blood. A second time he bent over the lifeless form
and touched her left wrist, searching for a pulse. There was none. Instead, he
found a diamond bracelet, paused as he glanced up at the seawall once more and took
the bracelet from her wrist. Holding it close to his face, he studied the
bracelet and found an inscription,
To
Debbie with love, Dad.

Now he became frightened that someone
would find him with the woman. Glancing in all directions to make sure he was
not seen, he stuck the bracelet in the pocket of his second layer of pants
where it would be safe and started for the seawall. Abruptly, he stopped,
listened briefly, nodded and returned to the body. He removed one of his coats
and covered the woman’s head and shoulders. Then he climbed the steps to the
top of the seawall where he saw an older couple out for a morning stroll. He
turned his head to hide his face as he hurried toward 21
st
and the
Salvation Army to join a line of other homeless ones awaiting breakfast. The
couple heard him continuing his monologue.

“I know, I know, I shouldn’t have
taken her bracelet,” he said, gesturing as if trying to push someone away. “Look,
she’s dead. She didn’t have a pulse. It’s mine now. How many times do I have to
tell you to leave me alone?”

When the light changed to green, he
picked up his pace and crossed Seawall Boulevard, shaking his head. “I’m
getting out of here as quick as I can. You don’t have to tell me how to do
everything.”

CHAPTER 1

 

 

Wayne Little loved every aspect of a
trial except this one…waiting for the jury to return a verdict. Until the jury
retired to deliberate, he could exert significant control and often take charge
as he maneuvered through voir dire, examination of witnesses, arguing points of
law to the judge and final summation. Once the summation was concluded, all he
could do was wait, often for agonizing hours, even days.

Of course he would win like he nearly
always did. Nonetheless, nagging doubts always crept into his mind as he paced
the halls of the Harris County courthouse. Often, he walked up and down the
stairway just to burn off nervous energy before he would return to the
courtroom, reassure his client and wander off again.

The questions were nearly always the
same. Did he make the right points on closing? Was he too easy on the expert
witnesses? Should he have struck that one juror who glared at him throughout
the trial and stared at the ceiling when he made his closing argument? And
inevitably the longer the jury deliberated, the more questions surfaced.

It had been three hours when Claudia
Jackson, a new partner in the firm and his second chair in the trial, found him
at a table in the basement cafeteria, cold black coffee in his hand.

“Wayne, I’ve been looking all over this
damn courthouse for you,” Claudia said, not trying to hide the exasperation in
her voice.

Wayne looked up expectantly. “We get
a verdict?”

“No, but I got a call from Grace. She
said your cell must be off.”

Wayne searched through his pockets
for his phone, looked at it and agreed. “Yeah, I turned it off this morning
when we began closing arguments and forgot about it.”

“Grace says the District Attorney in
Galveston called. Said it was a courtesy call since you worked for him before
you joined Tod. I didn’t know you had been a prosecutor.”

“Guess I never told you. I did three
years there before Tod talked me into leaving my hometown and moving to Houston.
That was about ten years ago.”

“He told Grace to tell you that your
brother is in the hoosegow.”

A cloud crossed Wayne’s face as he
stared down at the floor. “I don’t have a brother, Claudia. I haven’t had one
since I’ve been in Houston.”

Puzzled, Claudia continued, “Wayne,
the D. A. said this guy’s name was Dan Little. He’s apparently in pretty bad
shape but mumbled something about you being his brother. And he had a faded,
dirty business card with your name on it in one of his pockets.

“One more thing. The D. A. said to
tell you he is charged with capital murder.”

After the jury returned a verdict for
his client, Wayne told Claudia he would see her in the office the next day. He
walked to the parking lot where he dropped his briefcase in a blue Nissan
Armada and crossed the street to Tex’s Bar, a place he knew would be
practically deserted in the middle of the afternoon. Wayne was enough of a
regular that Tex, the owner and bartender, knew him by name and knew his brand
of Scotch.

“Gimmie a double, Tex.”

“Starting a little early with the
hard stuff today, aren’t you, Wayne? You just lose a case?”

“No. Actually, I just won one, but
this isn’t a celebration. I’ve got some personal issues to sort through.”

Tex had been a bartender long enough
to know when a customer wanted to be left alone; so, he poured a double Scotch
on the rocks, set it in front of Wayne and walked to the other end of the bar
where he continued to wash drink glasses.

Tex occasionally glanced toward
Wayne, wondering what problems were troubling him. Wayne seemed to have the
world by the tail. He carried a lean and muscular two hundred and ten pounds on
a six foot, four inch frame. His hair was black as the ace of spades and his
gray eyes sparkled when he told a joke or described his last win. Yet, his
easy-going smile hid an intense personality, a young type-A if there ever was
one.

In an hour or so, other lawyers began
drifting into the bar. Seeing Wayne, some tried to strike up a conversation. Wayne
was polite but his manner soon discouraged them; so they wandered off to other
parts of the bar to tell war stories and bitch about judicial rulings.

After enough drinks that Tex was
concerned about his driving, Wayne paid his tab, assuring Tex that he was fine.

Leaving the bar, he considered taking
the Metro train which stopped in Midtown only two blocks from his townhouse. Then
he remembered his Nissan would be too tempting if he left it overnight. Once he
crossed the street he was confronted by a homeless man.

“You got any spare change, mister? I
haven’t eaten today and sure could use a hamburger.”

Wayne usually brushed such requests
aside. This time, wishing it was Dan just asking for a buck, he reached in his
back pocket and pulled a five dollar bill out of his wallet. Then, he continued
to his car, climbed in and left the parking lot on the Fannin Street side. Carefully
observing speed limits and red lights, he drove south on Fannin to his home. Wayne
tried to push Claudia’s news out of his mind, only the more he tried the
quicker the thoughts returned. In less than ten minutes he punched in the code
at the complex gate, entered the driveway and turned down into his garage.

BOOK: The Insanity Plea
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