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- Paula remembered shooting Philip. Sarah locked her in the Fishers’ backyard shed to keep her from revealing the truth.
- Sarah enlisted Diane to guard the shed, but Paula tricked Diane into letting her out, and she locked Diane inside before rushing to the courthouse.

- As the jury was about to read the verdict in Molly’s trial, Paula burst into the courtroom and announced that she was really the one who shot Philip dead. 

KB District Courthouse

Every muscle in Molly Taylor’s body tenses as she watches the twelve members of the jury. Their faces have become so familiar over the past several weeks, though she knows almost nothing about them besides the jumble of facts that she and Conrad Halston furiously reviewed during jury selection. What she does know are the things she has observed throughout the trial: that the woman with the curly red hair can’t keep her glasses up on her nose for more than 20 minutes; that the man with the weasel-like face has a nervous habit of pulling his sleeves over his hands. The jurors, of course, know a great deal about Molly, or at least about certain elements of her life -- and now they are about to declare her fate.

Judge Ricardo Sandoval addresses the foreperson: “Please go ahead and read your verdict."

A deathly hush comes over the entire courtroom. Conrad gives Molly a reassuring look.

“On the charge of second-degree murder,” the foreperson reads, “the jury finds the defen--"

“Stop this!” cries a voice from the back of the courtroom.

Heads turn and gasps fly out as everyone’s attention goes to Paula Fisher, who stands at the open double doors, attempting to catch her breath.

“Mrs. Fisher?” Judge Sandoval says. “What is the meaning of this?"

The doors swing closed behind her, and Paula storms up the aisle. “You have to stop. Molly didn’t shoot Philip."

Over the perplexed murmurs that fill the air, the judge asks, “What are you talking about?"

“I have to stop her,” Molly says, already half-out of her seat. Conrad places a hand on her arm, hoping to stop her.

Before Paula can respond, though, the doors fly open again, and Sarah Fisher Gray rushes into the courtroom.

“Don’t listen to her!” Sarah says.

Paula turns back only long enough to regard her other daughter, but then she directs her focus back toward the judge and says it:

“Molly didn’t shoot Philip. I did."

The courtroom explodes with shouts of confusion and surprise.

In the gallery, Tim Fisher’s head snaps toward his younger brother. “What is she talking about?"

Jason’s jaw flaps open and closed several times before he manages to say, “I have no idea."

The judge raps his gavel. “Order! Order!"

As the uproar dies down, Paula stands between the defense and the prosecution. District Attorney Audrey Tam eyeballs her carefully.

“Mrs. Fisher, the jury was about to read its verdict,” the judge says.

“That’s why I had to speak up, Your Honor. I only just remembered--"

Molly shoots out of her seat. “She’s lying."

Judge Sandoval’s head snaps toward Molly. “What’s that?"

“She’s lying. She’s trying to help me. Mom, it’s okay. It’s okay. I’m the one who did this--"

“You did not,” Paula says firmly. “I did, and I won’t let you be punished for it."

The judge’s gaze moves from Paula to Molly to Audrey to Conrad. Finally he brings down his gavel again.

“All of you in my chambers,” he says. “Now."


After the bailiff directs Molly, Paula, Conrad, and Audrey Tam into the judge’s chambers, everyone else waits in the courtroom.

“Why would Paula do something like that?” Helen Chase wonders aloud.

Her husband, seated beside her, shakes his head. “She wants to protect Molly. Can’t you imagine doing the same thing if it were Courtney in that position?"

“I suppose so. But she should have spoken with me first -- I was arrested for murder twice last year!"

Elsewhere in the gallery, Rosie Jimenez turns to Travis Fisher and his sister.

“Do you guys have any idea what’s going on?” she asks.

“My grandma must be losing it,” Travis says. “Maybe from all the stress. There’s no way she shot someone."

“She was devastated when she found your grandfather,” Rosie says. 

Samantha leans over. “I can’t imagine Grandma shooting someone. She’s--" But she interrupts herself when she feels her cell phone vibrating in her pants pocket. She takes it out and looks at the screen. “That’s weird."
  Travis Fisher

“Who is it?” Travis asks. 

My mom. She wouldn’t call me unless it were an emergency."

Rosie gestures at the chaos around them. “I don’t think anyone would even notice if you answered."

“True.” Samantha presses the green button to answer. “Hi, Mom. I’m at the courthouse--” Travis and Rosie watch as Samantha is trampled into silence by Diane’s voice. “Yeah, she did. Sarah was right behind her.” Samantha’s face screws up as she listens. “You’re where? Yeah, I can come-- How did that even happen?"

She listens for another moment before ending the call.

“My mom is locked in the shed in Grandma’s backyard,” Sam tells the other two. “She says Grandma locked her in there!"

Rosie lifts an eyebrow as she looks at Travis. “What the hell is going on with your family?"

He shrugs. “Whatever it is, it’s crazier than anything I could make up."


Judge Sandoval sits behind the stately oak desk in his chambers.

“Will someone please explain to me what is going on?” he asks, though it comes out as more of an order than a request.

Paula opens her mouth to speak, but Molly jumps in ahead of her.

“My mother has been under a lot of stress since my father was murdered,” Molly says. “This trial has only made it worse. I think we need to have her see a doctor-- she’s either having a nervous breakdown or this is some misguided attempt--"

“I am not having a nervous breakdown,” Paula cuts in. “I’ve been very clear about the fact that I passed out on that balcony and couldn’t remember what happened. I took my daughters’ version of events as fact. But today, it came back to me."

“You’ll have to excuse me for thinking this timing is rather convenient,” the judge says.

Paula knots her hands together nervously. “I know it must seem that way. But I remember very clearly--"

“Mrs. Fisher, please don’t say anymore until you have an attorney present,” Conrad interrupts. 

“Thank you, but I’m not going to change my story,” she says. “This is my confession. I shot Philip Ragan."

Audrey Tam folds her arms. “If that’s the case, why did your daughter already confess?"

“To spare me.” Paula looks to Molly. “That’s why, isn’t it?"

As Molly’s mouth works to produce an answer, Conrad shoots her a warning look. 

“My client is not going to say anything right now,” he says. “Not until you decide how you want to proceed, Your Honor."

The judge sits back in his oversized leather chair and pinches the bridge of his nose. “I’m at a loss as to what to do now."
  Paula Fisher

“I’m the one who pulled the trigger,” Paula says. “Molly didn’t."

“Mrs. Fisher, if what you’re saying is true,” the D.A. says, “then both your daughters committed perjury and obstructed justice."

Conrad lets out a groan as Paula’s face turns ashen.

“If that’s the case,” Audrey Tam continues, “I’m going to pursue charges against all three of you."


Sarah joins her brothers and daughter in the front row of the gallery.

“Do you understand what’s going on?” Tim asks her. “Or why? The way Mom came bursting in here--"

“I tried to stop her,” Sarah explains. “But she outsmarted Diane and me."

Jason squints as he turns the situation over in his mind. “Why would she suddenly be doing this? To save Molly? You guys were both out on that balcony--" He stops himself. “Were you in on this?"

“Mom, Grandma didn’t really shoot Philip, did she?” Tori asks. She waits, and then her eyes grow wide at Sarah’s delayed response. “Oh my god. Grandma killed someone?"

“This is insane,” Jason says. 

Sarah looks toward the closed door at the head of the room that leads to Judge Sandoval’s chambers, where everyone is currently gathered. Her initial instinct was to join them, since she is part of the entire circus, but her experience as a law enforcement officer reminded her not to put forth anything more than necessary -- and certainly not to incriminate herself unless absolutely forced to do so. Still, she hates not knowing what is happening back there. She feels pained by guilt for not having been able to protect her mother as she wanted to do -- but also irate at Molly for getting them all into this in the first place.

“What’s important right now is that we all rally behind Mom,” Sarah says. “She’s going to need all of our support."


The speculating and tension continues until that door opens minutes later. Audrey Tam heads right for the prosecution table, and Molly, Conrad, and Paula file out behind her. The former two take their places at the defense table, and Paula silently joins her family in the front row of the gallery. 

“All rise for Judge Ricardo Sandoval,” the bailiff announces, and everyone does. 

“This is an incredibly unusual situation,” Judge Sandoval says as the courtroom is seated again, “but we’ve had a confession from someone who insists that the accused is innocent of the crime in question. The prosecution has declined to drop the charges against Molly Taylor at the moment, which leaves me with no choice but to declare a mistrial.” He raps his gavels. “Jurors, you are excused."

The jurors react with surprise as the bailiff motions them out of the box.
The judge swivels to face Molly. “Mrs. Taylor, this does not mean that you are free of the current charges. The prosecution has the right to review the new information and decide whether a retrial is warranted."

“I understand, Your Honor,” Molly says. 

“As for your mother…” The judge allows his gaze to settle on Paula, who sits with a solemn expression on her face. “Mrs. Fisher, I have half a mind to hold you in contempt of court for your outburst. But if you are serious about this miraculous recovery of memory, I hope you understand the severity of making such a confession in front of the District Attorney and me."

Paula nods nervously. “I am. Your Honor."
  Molly Taylor

“We will be pursuing charges,” Tam says. “After we’re through here, I’m going to have Mrs. Fisher arrested--"

“There’s no need,” Paula says. “I’ll come to the station and turn myself in."

“I’m going to be defending Mrs. Fisher, as well,” Conrad says.

“You are?” Molly whispers.

Conrad answers her with a deft nod. “Your Honor, I can assure you that Mrs. Fisher is prepared to follow the necessary protocol to resolve this."

“Thank you,” the judge says. He again lifts his gavel and then brings it down upon his desk. “Court is dismissed."

Immediately the room begins buzzing again. The Fisher family crowds around Paula.

“Are you all right?” Tim asks.

“Yes.” Paula’s voice is unsteady. “Yes, I am.” She looks at Molly and then at Sarah. “I can’t believe you girls did this."

Sarah’s hand shoots out and lands on her mother’s shoulder. “We shouldn’t talk about this here."

“Let’s go back to the house,” Molly says. “We have a lot to discuss."

“A lot,” Sarah agrees with a weary sigh, and she places an arm around her mother’s shoulders, as if the gesture might shield her from the maelstrom that she is about to endure.


Did Paula make a mistake in coming clean?
Will Molly and Sarah face repercussions for the cover-up?
How will the Fishers celebrate Christmas now?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum now!



Friday, December 23, 2016

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