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After Travis asked her to be a judge for the chili cookoff he had organized, Rosie agreed to go out for coffee with him.
- The prosecution presented its case against Molly for shooting and killing Philip, including testimony from Spencer.
- After
Spencer overheard Tim and Claire talking about how they’d once suspected he might be the Footprint Killer, he rejected them, went on a bender, and quit his job working for Tim at Vision Publishing.
- Claire got Tempest to open up about the abuse she’d suffered at the hands of her mother’s boyfriends when she was younger.

King's Bay District Courthouse

“No further witnesses, Your Honor. The prosecution rests."

King’s Bay District Attorney Audrey Tam strides confidently back to the prosecution’s table as the rest of the courtroom waits with baited breath for what comes next. Judge Ricardo Sandoval checks his watch.

“It’s a bit early, but why don’t we take our morning recess now?” the judge says. “We’ll reconvene in 20 minutes, and the defense will present its case."

Murmurs and chatter rise through the previously silent courtroom. People shift and shuffle their way to other areas and out into the hallway.

Claire Fisher catches her ex-husband near the back row.

“I keep pulling out my phone expecting to see something from Spencer,” she says.

His lips drawn into a tight line, Tim nods. “I know. I really thought he would at least want to yell at us some more. A text to tell us to leave him alone doesn’t seem like his style."

“But that package he had delivered to you at work was."

“True. I wish we at least had some idea where he is now that he checked out of the hotel."

“At least the front desk was able to tell you that much."

Tim scans the courtroom idly. “If we just hadn’t had that conversation where we did, when we did…"

Claire places a consoling hand on his forearm. “We can’t change what happened. He heard us. His feelings are hurt -- not that I’m surprised. He was just starting to trust us, and now he thinks we’ve betrayed him the same way Loretta and Philip did."

“I just don’t know what to do. Having him at Vision -- it felt like, in some small way, we were making up for all that time we lost together.”

“I wish I had some idea what else to do,” Claire says. “But then I worry about pushing him even further away."

Tim is about to respond when his gaze lands on someone else, standing across the courtroom with her arms folded. 

Claire notices his distraction. “What? What is it?"

“I think I have an idea,” Tim says.


Out in the hallway of the courthouse, Travis Fisher adjusts his dress shirt, which has come partially untucked from his khaki pants.

“I can’t believe Tori has to go up there and testify,” he says to his sister. “But I guess she’s the only one who can prove Philip was the killer."

“Actually,” Samantha says, pushing up her glasses on her nose, “Tori can’t really prove that, because she doesn’t have any physical evidence. But she can testify that Philip confessed to her and that he attacked her so she wouldn’t tell anyone else."

“You know what I mean.” He pauses when something across the way catches his attention, and Samantha’s eyes follow his. 

“Why aren’t you going over to say hi?” Samantha asks as they watch Rosie Jimenez — dressed in a conservative black pantsuit and white blouse, with her dark hair pulled back into a tighter, more serious ponytail than she usually sports — heading toward the courtroom. 

Travis shrugs. 

“I thought you liked her,” Samantha says.
  Travis Fisher

“We had coffee after the chili cookoff."

“And you went out for beers that other time."


“So you aren’t telling me something,” she says. “Did something happen?"

Travis leans against the wall. “Damned if I know."

“What does that mean?"

“Why am I the one getting cross-examined?” Travis snaps. 

Samantha shrinks back. “I’m only wondering…"

He lets out a sigh. “Sorry. Just kind of a sore spot."


“Because we hung out those two times, and then she, like, dropped off the face of the earth,” he says. “Or at least stopped responding aside from one-word answers. I don’t get it."

“Maybe she’s been busy."

They watch silently as Rosie pulls open the heavy door to the courtroom and goes inside. 

“Or maybe she isn’t into it,” Travis says quietly.


Back inside the courtroom, Tim slides into the row where Tori Gray is fiddling with her iPhone. He seats himself beside her on the bench.

“How’re you doing?” he asks.

Tori looks up, moderately surprised. “Fine. A little nervous."

“All you have to do is tell the truth."

“Yeah. You’re right.” She forces a smile. 

“Listen, there’s something I want to ask you,” Tim says, “but if you’d rather talk later…"

“No. Now is fine.” She sees him hesitate. “Uncle Tim. As long as it’s not, like, the worst thing ever, I’ll listen to anything that’ll distract me."

“Well, it’s Spencer. Have you talked to him in the last few days?"

Her face scrunches up as she considers this. “Nope. Don’t think so."

“Claire and I had a bit of a… a falling-out with him. More of a misunderstanding than anything, but he isn’t speaking to us, and he quit his job and checked out of the hotel."

Tori’s eyebrows jump. “What? Where is he living?"

“We don’t know. And it’s our fault,” he says, hands folded in his lap. “We know that. But we worry about him, and you know how he tends to… have strong reactions to things."

“He does. Yeah."

“I’m wondering if you could reach out to him. I don’t need you to appeal to him on our behalf or anything -- just see if he’s okay, see if he’ll talk to you. Make sure he has an all right place to stay. That kind of thing."

She brushes a few strands of her brown hair back behind her ear. “Totally. Yeah. He quit his job? He must be really mad."

“He is. I know I need to give him some space, but I want to be sure he’s okay."

“I’ll see what I can do."

“Thanks, Tori. Claire and I both appreciate it."


“Here you go,” Conrad Halston says as he sets an unopened bottle of water down on the defense table. “Are you sure you don’t need to use the restroom?"

“No, I’m all right,” Molly Taylor says. “I’m also not five years old."

“I just want to be sure that you’re comfortable -- and look comfortable.” He slides back into his chair. 

She picks up the bottle of water and uncaps it. “Thank you for this."

“Of course.” Conrad takes a sip of his own coffee, steam still rising off its surface. “How are you feeling?"

She mulls that over for a moment. “Does it matter? I just want this to be over."

“It will be. Soon.” He lowers his voice to a whisper. “They haven’t made a convincing case, Molly. We have the witnesses to establish that Philip was dangerous and that you and your family had every reason to feel you were in mortal danger. He brought a gun out onto that balcony."
  Molly Taylor

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Paula Fisher says as she leans over the wooden railing that separates the front of the court from the audience, “but do you need anything, honey?"

Molly holds up her bottle of water. “Conrad got this for me. But thanks."

“Do you need to use the restroom?"

“Do I look like I really need to use the restroom or something?” Molly says, her voice cracking with what almost sounds like a laugh. 

Paula gets a quizzical look on her face. “No, but you can never be too prepared--"

“I’m fine,” Molly says. “Really."

Knotting her hands together nervously, Paula addresses Conrad: “Do you really not think there’s any good to me testifying? I do remember coming out and seeing my girls out there with Philip--"

“Mom. No.” 

Both Paula and Conrad register surprise at the forcefulness of Molly’s tone. 

“I don’t think it would help, that’s all,” Molly hastens to add. “Sarah’s testimony is a lot more detailed -- and raises fewer questions. Right, Conrad?"

“It’s true,” he says. “There’s no need to put you through that stress, Mrs. Fisher."

“If it will help my daughter, then it’s worth it."

“We have a plan,” Molly says. "Now all we can do is see it out and cross our fingers that the jury understands. And if not…"

Paula grasps the railing. “Don’t even think that!"

Molly glances over at the empty jury box. “I’m the one who made this happen. And I’m going to be ready to deal with the consequences, whatever they turn out to be."


When Claire emerges from the ladies’ room and into the busy hallway, she nearly runs smack into Diane Bishop.

“I’ve actually been looking for you,” Diane says.

Claire’s shoulders slump as she attempts to keep moving. “What is it, Diane? This is really not the time—"

“It’s about Tempest. And Samantha."

As she takes a deep breath, recognizing the seriousness of Diane’s demeanor, Claire squares up toward the other woman.

“I met Tempest’s mother at the chili cookoff,” Diane says. “Yvette?"

“Yes. What did she have to say?"

“Just that she’s here to make things better between her and Tempest. But when Tempest was over at our place having dinner, I brought it up, and she wouldn’t even acknowledge what I was saying."

“She’s been shutting the entire thing out,” Claire says. “I finally got her to open up about why she ran away in the first place, so that’s something."

She sees Diane’s eyes light up and her lips twitch at the prospect of a story.

“And no, I’m not telling you because it isn’t my business to tell,” Claire adds. 

Diane groans. “Fine. That’s fair. As long as she’s talking to someone -- because it sure as hell doesn’t sound like she’s telling Sam much."

“I think she’s believed that if she just ignores it, it’ll go away."

“I can see the appeal. But this mother -- from what Sam says, she’s a real wild card. What do you make of it? Or, more specifically: do you think she’s dangerous? And she’s pregnant?"

They take a step toward the wall as a group of people in suits pass by, nearly bowling them over as they go. 

“Physically? No.” Claire folds her arms and considers the rest of her response. “But do I think it’s a good idea for her to have another child in her care? Absolutely not."

“It doesn’t sound like she’s much of a Mother of the Year candidate."

“Not at all. I know it’s possible for people to change, but everything Yvette has said makes me think that she wants Tempest to forgive her so that she has a clear conscience -- not because it’ll be good for Tempest in any way."

“So what do we do?"

We don’t do anything,” Claire says. “I want to make sure that Tempest is safe and secure, but beyond that… it isn’t my battle to fight. I can support whatever she decides. That’s all."

“That isn’t all--"

“Diane. I appreciate your concern for Tempest, I really do. But trying to manipulate the situation is not going to help anyone. Okay?"

“I like Tempest,” Diane says. “I care about her, and she’s been great to Samantha. So if there’s anything I can do--"

“Then I will let you know. But until then, let’s not make this messier than it has to be, okay?"


“I’ll see you back in court,” Claire says, and she heads down the hallway.

“Oh, ye of little faith, Claire,” Diane says quietly as she watches the brunette go.


“For its first witness, the defense would like to call Victoria Gray to the stand."

The entire courtroom’s attention is focused upon Tori as the young woman rises and approaches the witness stand. She wears a black sweater over a pink collared shirt, with a gray skirt on the bottom. Her hair is down, which works with the outfit and her diminutive stature to enhance the sense that she is not an adult woman, but a child thrust into the spotlight in a very traumatizing way. 

“Please state your name for the court,” Conrad says after she is sworn in.

“Tori Gray. Victoria, I mean."

“What’s your relation to the defendant?"

“Molly is my aunt. She’s my mom’s sister."

Conrad leads her through a series of questions establishing her relationships to the Footprint Killer’s victims — primarily Ryan and Bill — as well as prior witnesses, notably Spencer.
  Tori Gray

“How well did you know Philip Ragan?” Conrad then asks.

Tori’s stomach clenches, but she tries to keep her breathing steady. “He was engaged to my Aunt Molly. I didn’t really know him very well. But he lived with my cousin, Spencer. Spencer had been raised as Philip’s younger brother.” She feels the slightest sense of relief at having made it through that web in the way that they rehearsed.

“Is it true that you went to Philip Ragan’s home on the night of October 16th of last year?"

She nods, then remembers that she has to answer verbally. “Yes. I went to see Spencer.” She has never mentioned the bottle of champagne that she used as a pretense for visiting Spencer -- the bottle that she told Philip was a gift, but which she actually took from Graham’s wine cellar. She sees no need to bring it into the situation now. “But he wasn’t home."

“Was Philip at home that night?” 

“Yeah. He was. He told me that Spencer was at a concert."

“And then what happened?"

“I was going to go home,” she explains, trying to tell the story without actually seeing the images in her mind, though the dark flashes are impossible to suppress entirely. “But Philip had offered to help me pick out art electives -- I go to King’s Bay University -- so I stayed to pick his brain for a few minutes. Because he was a photographer."

Her palms feel sweaty and her mouth is sticky, but she thinks she is remembering to hit the relevant pieces of information that Conrad advised her to hit so that her story won’t have holes for the prosecution to grab onto and tear open.

“Did Philip help you pick out your elective classes that night?”

“I asked him some questions, and he gave me some advice.” She reminds herself to breathe in through her nose and out through her mouth. But every time she gets to this part of the questioning, her nerves threaten to overtake her, like a giant shark ready to pull her into its gaping maw. 

“And then you went home?"

“I went to use the restroom.” She cannot help but gulp as she tries to swallow the knot that has risen up in her throat. “It was through Philip’s bedroom. While I was going in, I was putting on my lip gloss, and I dropped it…"

Involuntarily, she looks over at the jury and sees twelve patient faces, listening intently to her.

“What happened then, Tori?” Conrad asks. 

“It rolled under the bed, so I knelt down to pick it up. There was a duffel bag under there -- a black duffel bag."

“Did you open the bag?"

“I wasn’t going to,” she says. “But Philip came in and saw that I’d found it, and he got really nervous. He told me to get away from it. His voice -- it was scary. But like he was scared, too. So I opened it."

“And what was in there?"

She squeezes her eyes shut as the memories come flooding back. Even though she is giving a modified version of what happened, nothing relevant to the case is different from what actually transpired, and the terror is still very much the same. For as foggy as everything that comes afterward is, the pure rage emanating off Philip when he saw her with that bag still feels so real that she can almost feel his hands upon her. 

“A pair of shoes. Men’s dress shoes."

“Why did that matter?"

“I had seen them before. My Uncle Brent -- Aunt Molly’s ex-husband -- had a picture of them on his phone. They were the ones the police said the Footprint Killer had used to make those marks by all the bodies. The red footprints. And on the bottoms -- there was red. Like dried paint."

Conrad nods slowly, deliberately, and looks casually to the jurors before refocusing on Tori. She sees the steely, irritated expression on the D.A.’s face. 

“Just to be clear,” Conrad says, “what did you think when you saw the red on those shoes?"

“That Philip was the Footprint Killer.” 

“What was Philip doing at the time?"

“He saw me open the bag,” she says, wincing. “He saw, and it slipped out of my mouth that I knew it was him, and then I tried to play dumb, but it was too late -- he knew that I knew. So I tried to run."

“Walk us through that, please. I know this must be difficult for you, so take your time."

Tori’s head bobs slowly up and down as she gathers herself. 

“He grabbed me,” she says. “I thought he was going to kill me, too. But I broke away, and the front door -- it was open, so I ran. He was chasing me. And…"

“It’s okay, Tori. Take your time. Tell us what happened."

It takes her several seconds to steady her breathing. 

“I thought he was going to kill me,” she repeats. “He caught up to me by the stairs. I knew I had to get away. The next thing I knew, I was falling. And I don’t remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital."

Conrad asks several more questions, about the length of her coma, the extent of her injuries, what she learned when she awoke, and the impact of the attack on her life -- the required physical therapy, the semester off from school. Even as she speaks, Tori is aware of the nearly supernatural hush that has fallen over the courtroom as everyone listens to her. There is something gratifying about it, as if the entire experience is finally worth having gone through, or at least that it will ultimately serve some good.

There’s no way anyone on that jury has listened to this and doesn’t believe Molly shot Philip in self-defense, Tori thinks as Conrad turns over the questioning to the prosecution.

Still, Audrey Tam’s intense eyes -- there is something predatory about them -- make Tori’s hands feel even clammier than before. 

“Thank you for recounting your story for us, Victoria,” the D.A. says. “I’d like to ask just a few follow-up questions before we excuse you."


“You said that you went to Philip Ragan’s home on the night of October 16th to see your cousin, Spencer."

“Yes. But he wasn’t home."

“The prosecution would like to introduce Exhibit H,” Tam says. Someone at the prosecution table hands her a small stack of bound papers. “This exhibit includes a Facebook post from the afternoon of October 16th, posted by someone named Griffin Wells, in which Spencer Ragan was tagged."

Conrad bolts up from his seat. “Objection. What does this exhibit have to do with the case? And why wasn’t it entered into evidence earlier?"

“It’s relevant to the witness’s account of October 16th,” the D.A. says. Conrad, Molly, the judge, Tori -- and everyone else in the courtroom -- watches her with complete and total focus.

“You may proceed,” the judge says, a hint of uncertainty in his voice.

“Victoria, you claim that you went to visit Spencer that night,” Tam says. “But Exhibit H shows that Spencer was tagged in a post about going to see a concert by an act called The Weeknd in Seattle that night -- and that you had logged onto Facebook several times between the time it was posted and the time you claim you arrived at Philip’s home."

“Objection!” Conrad calls out. “This is complete speculation."

The judge hesitates, then says, “Overruled."

Tori sees Conrad and Molly exchange a nervous look. 

“Are you claiming that you never saw this post?” the D.A. asks Tori. “That you had no idea Spencer would be in Seattle that night?"

Tori struggles to form the words. “I never saw it.” 

“Are you sure? Or did you know that Spencer was out of town, and you still went over to his home -- with the intention of visiting not your cousin, but Philip?"


Will Tori be able to explain away her lie?
What does Diane have up her sleeve?
What’s going on with Travis and Rosie?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum now!



Friday, November 04, 2016

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