An Excerpt from DIABLO: Henri Van Breda

From the chapter

Into Darkness

John Harrison: You should have let me sleep! ― Star Trek Into Darkness


 

Henri ax

Exactly twenty minutes into the court session after lunch, Henri’s advocate draws another line through his checklist, and wraps up his direct examination.

BOTHA:  Did you kill your father with an axe?

The accused casts towards his Judge, and his lips seem to curl involuntarily as he wrestles them into a single, softly spoken word.

HENRI: No.

BOTHA: And did you kill your brother with an axe?

HENRI: No.

As Henri answers his advocate on these direct and dire accusations, something sinister has happened to his posture. There’s a dark look in his eyes. From the fig-leaf position, a classic defensive posture which he’s maintained throughout the day while standing, often pressing down on his right hand with his left, now suddenly his demeanour has transformed into something else. Henri looms in his grey suit, both arms brace the side of the dock in a kind of casual menace. He’s spread out, almost like wings, or the ears of Dumbo the elephant.

Having answered the second question, Henri briefly glances from the Judge to the quivering, key-tapping media gallery on the opposite end of the room. And then to his advocate.

BOTHA: Did you kill your mother with an axe?

HENRI: No.

BOTHA: Did you attack your sister with an axe?

HENRI [Mouth gaping]: No. [Henri almost seems to sigh as he answers that one.]

Look carefully and in each of the four ‘no’s’, Henri answers open-eyed while looking at the Judge, but in each case, blinks moments later.  So it’s no…BLINK, no…BLINK, no…BLINK, no…BLINK.

BOTHA: Did you change the crime scene in any way…?

HENRI [Shakes his head]: No, my Lord.

The throwing of the axe, and the hitting of the axe into the wall, is an incidental way of explaining away the absence of blood, touch DNA and tissue DNA on the leading edge of the implement, and fibres and fingerprints on the haft, throat and grip.

Just as we saw in the JonBenét Ramsey case, in a genuine kidnapping, one would expect to find the fingerprints of the parents’ on the Ransom Note. Didn’t they pick it up and read it?  Or if they wrote the note themselves, were they extra careful not to leave any traces of handling it?

In the same way, we’d expect to find Henri’s fingerprints on the axe based on his version of handling the axe.  This absence shows, perhaps, that in his care not to make a mistake, just as in the Ramsey’s case, he was too careful.

BOTHA: Did you have any reason to attack your family?

HENRI [Seemingly aghast]: No, none whatsoever.

It’s difficult to make out on the livestream, but Henri either glances down or blinks as he says the word “none”.  But Botha’s not quite done.  There are three additional cards he wants to put on the table.

1st Card: No Clean-Up

BOTHA: Did you attempt to wash away any blood on your hands, or body, through the course of that morning?

HENRI: No, my Lord.

Henri’s suddenly deferential again.  In the entire court transcript for October 31st …

 

The first installment of DIABLO is available now on Amazon

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