Al stood up to begin his cross-examination of Lindsay, which he had been looking forward to for weeks. “It’s nice to see you again, Ms. Peterson,” he said as genuinely as he could manage.
Lindsay grinned at him. “I’m sure it is, Albert.”
Al smiled back at her, amused. “Ms. Peterson, you mentioned that you have been unable to provide for yourself since Ms. Marcus left your home in Canada, is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Where have you been living since Ms. Marcus left?”
“I’ve been staying with a friend here in town,” she said.
“Is that friend Michael Novotny?”
“Yes. Michael is just about the only friend I have these days and he’s been generous enough to help me while I get back on my feet, even though he has his own financial struggles.”
“What about the support payments that Mr. Kinney has sent you every week for your son since you moved to Canada in 2005, along with the other incidental payments he’s given you since your son was born?”
“Objection,” Turner said in annoyance. “Ms. Peterson’s personal finances have absolutely nothing to do with this case.”
“Your honor, Ms. Peterson claimed on direct that Mr. Kinney hasn’t ‘been there’ for their son,” Al pointed out. “I contend that financially providing for their son would constitute as ‘being there’ for him.”
“Overruled,” the judge said.
Al gave him a small smile. “Again, Ms. Peterson, have you been receiving support payments from Mr. Kinney?”
“That’s not enough to live on,” Lindsay claimed.
“How much were the weekly payments?”
“A thousand dollars,” Lindsay answered very quietly.
“I’m sorry, did you say you were receiving a thousand dollars per week, four thousand dollars per month in support from Mr. Kinney for a child that isn’t even legally his?”
Lindsay didn’t seem to have any problem with her answer. “Yes.”
“And you couldn’t live on four thousand dollars a month, in addition to the income you and your wife jointly brought in?”
Lindsay hesitated before she said, “Brian hasn’t given me any money since Gus ran away from me, which was back in March. Mel hasn’t given me any money since she left me in February, and I’ve been working as a cashier part-time at Michael’s comic book store for free in exchange for living with him. Before that, Mel and I were lucky to make ends meet some months. It’s been hard for me to maintain steady employment since we moved to Canada.”
“And what exactly did you spend that four thousand dollars per month on when Mr. Kinney did send it to you?”
Lindsay looked at Al like he was an idiot. “Uh, groceries, clothing, toiletries, school supplies… whatever my son needed. Teenagers are expensive, you know. You have, what, four grown kids yourself, Albert?”
Al ignored her question, since he was the one that was supposed to be asking the questions. “You stated before that Mr. Taylor didn’t seem very trustworthy when he first came into Mr. Kinney’s life nearly sixteen years ago, when he was only seventeen. Do you still feel that way about Mr. Taylor now?”
“Yes,” Lindsay confidently answered.
“Could you tell us why you feel that way? Specifically, is there something Mr. Taylor has done recently that would make him untrustworthy in your eyes?””
Lindsay bit her bottom lip as she thought about her answer. “I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but... well, he did agree to sign over his rights to the baby and now he refuses. He also helped convince Gus that he doesn’t want to live with me anymore.”
Al chuckled quietly, knowing that she was grasping straws. “Ms. Peterson, are you aware that there is an audio recording that exists of you and Brian Kinney having an argument on March 14th of this year?”
“Objection, your honor,” Turner quickly said, standing up. “Mr. Kurtzman’s question goes beyond the scope of cross; I did not mention any recording in my previous questioning of the witness.”
Al addressed the judge again. “Your honor, this recording has the ability to impeach the witness and I would like to introduce it as an Defendant’s Exhibit One. Much of the recording directly relates to Ms. Peterson’s prior testimony.”
“And… and I object to the recording being played in this courtroom, due to me doubting its authenticity,” Turner said anxiously. “Ms. Peterson denies ever making a recording.”
Al introduced another exhibit to the judge, which was a notarized affidavit from Brian saying that the recording was made by him with his cell phone and was of himself and Lindsay Alice Peterson. Turner objected to it, claiming that the recording was obtained illegally.
“Mr. Kurtzman, how long is the recording?” the judge asked.
“About five minutes.”
“I will allow the exhibit into evidence and decide for myself whether to weigh its contents while deliberating my verdict,” the judge decided. “I will also accept the affidavit into evidence.”
“But I didn’t make any recording!” Lindsay shouted.
“Ms. Peterson, please do not speak unless you are asked a question by either myself or one of the attorneys,” the judge advised in a sharp tone. “I do not allow outbursts like that in my courtroom.”
“I’m sorry, your honor,” Lindsay said, bowing her head.
Al made sure that Melanie had her laptop plugged into the courtroom’s audio system and that the recording was ready to be played.
“Again, Ms. Peterson, are you aware of the recording of yourself and Brian Kinney from March 14th that was provided to Mr. Turner during trial preparations?”
Lindsay sat up tall in her chair. “Mr. Turner told me that a recording exists that you claim is Brian and some woman arguing, but I never consented to a recording being made and I doubt that it’s even me… it was probably just manufactured to make me look bad.”
“Well, in order for a recording to be used as evidence in a trial, one of the parties must be aware that their conversation is being recorded,” Al informed her. “As his sworn affidavit states, Mr. Kinney himself recorded it.”
“Brian would never do that,” Lindsay replied sternly.
Al tilted his head to the side. “How about we play it, and I’ll let you decide whose voices we hear? Melanie, if you’ll please begin the recording.”
“I’m here, Lindz,” Brian’s voice rang out from the speakers.
Lindsay’s voice followed. “Brian, I want you to tell Gus that he can’t live with you, that he needs to go back to Toronto with me as soon as possible.”
“Pause it, please,” Al said, prompting Melanie to pause the recording. “Now, Ms. Peterson, was that Brian Kinney’s voice on the recording?”
Lindsay pretended to think about it for a moment. “I believe it might have been, but I’m not quite sure.”
“You do know what Mr. Kinney’s voice sounds like, don’t you?” Al asked in a slightly condescending tone.
Turner objected, claiming that Al was badgering his witness. The judge overruled.
“As you previously stated, you and Mr. Kinney have been friends for nearly twenty-five years, is that correct?” Al asked.
“Yes, we have been friends for about that long,” Lindsay haughtily replied.
“Well then, I would certainly hope that you could recognize his voice.” Al replied, trying not to smirk.
Lindsay sighed before admitting, “That sounds like Brian.”
“And do your friends and family, including Mr. Kinney, often call you ‘Lindz’ for short?”
Al continued, “And was that you who answered him, telling Mr. Kinney to tell your son Gus that he needs to go back to Toronto with you?”
“It’s a woman who sounds a bit like me,” Lindsay hesitantly admitted.
“Your honor, you’ve been listening to Ms. Peterson speak for the last several minutes, so it’s up to you whether you believe that the woman in this recording is indeed Lindsay Peterson,” Al said before he gestured to Melanie to hit play.
“Why would I tell him that?” Brian asked Lindsay in the recording. “He has begged me not to send him back to Toronto…”
The recording of Brian and Lindsay’s argument that they had in the park about Gus, Justin, and Keegan continued to play. All eyes were on Lindsay as her ugly words about Justin echoed throughout the courtroom.
“Hell, he will probably run off with someone and leave you to raise his brat on your own.”
“How much more fucking money does he need? That should be mine and Gus’s inheritance, not his and his kid’s.”
“You’ve always been nothing but his sugar daddy, and you only keep him because of his pretty face and tight ass.”
Lindsay’s face slowly started to fall as she listened to her herself, and she looked very worried as she recalled what was coming out of her own mouth next.
“Did you expect me to spend every God damned cent on Gus?”
“I have a bit of a shopping addiction, Brian.”
“Even if Gus does live with you, I expect you to continue with the current support payments to me.”
“What do you expect me to live on? If you refuse, I will take you to court and get support ordered.”
“You know I have access to his college fund, right? I could take every penny out of there if I wanted to.”
“Gus can stay here if you throw out Justin and his kid, and become a real couple with me.”
By the time the recording cut off, Lindsay was crying hard.
Al walked over to her and asked, “Ms. Peterson, do you need a moment to collect yourself?”
Lindsay shook her head and took another tissue out of the box sitting on the bar in front of her. “No… I’m okay.”
“Are you upset because that was you in the recording?”
Lindsay nodded and blew her nose.
“Please answer out loud for the record,” Al said.
“Yes, that was me,” Lindsay answered, her voice cracking before she completely lost it, falling apart in wracking sobs.
“It’s not fair!” she suddenly screamed before directly addressing Justin. “Brian was supposed to be mine, not yours! You stole my family from me, you motherfucker!”
“Ms. Peterson, calm yourself immediately or I will hold you in contempt,” the judge ordered.
Instead, Lindsay stood up and yelled at Justin, “You’ve always been in my way! If it wasn’t for you-”
“If you do not calm down right now, I will hold you in contempt,” the judge yelled, banging his gavel.
All hell broke loose as Lindsay walked out from behind the witness stand screaming incoherently at Justin before beginning to charge towards him. The court bailiff who had been standing nearby grabbed Lindsay’s shoulders, yelling at her to stop.
Lindsay screamed and struggled against the large man’s grip, forcing him to roughly take her down to the floor and cuff her hands behind her back.
The judge told the bailiff to take Lindsay downstairs to a holding cell. Melanie watched as the man dragged her still-screaming and cursing wife out of the room.
Everyone sat in complete shock for several moments before the judge spoke up.
“Uh… I believe it would be a good idea to recess until tomorrow morning. Mr. Turner, please be prepared to call your next witness at nine AM sharp.”
“Your honor,” Melanie called out before he could go. “Could you please have everyone leave so you and I could have an emergency hearing concerning my wife?”
The rattled judge impatiently stated, “Once she calms down, I’m going to have her brought to my chambers and fine her one thousand dollars for her outburst.”
“I respect that,” Melanie said. “But I would like you to also order her transferred to a hospital to be evaluated as soon as possible. I have been concerned about her mental health for quite some time, and after what we just saw, you’d probably agree that she needs some professional help. I mean, she would have attacked my client if the bailiff hadn’t stopped her.”
The judge nodded. “I am inclined to agree with you, Ms. Marcus. I’ll call down to holding and have her transferred to a hospital for a minimum seventy-two hour psychiatric hold, for the safety of others and herself. It will be up to the hospital staff as to whether she requires further treatment.”
Melanie thanked the judge before he and his staff left the courtroom. Curtis and Turner left soon after, whispering to each other as they walked out. Al gathered his things and left a minute later, and Melanie and Justin stayed behind in stunned silence at what they just seen.
“Holy shit,” Justin finally said. “That… that was…”
“Yeah,” Melanie agreed.