“I ask you, Mr. Falcone, did you, or did you not, have Steven Bains followed with the intention to kill him?” asked Carolyn Fleming.
The District Attorney’s words only echoed in his ears. For a moment, he imagined himself to be watching the whole affair from the back of the courtroom. It must have looked ridiculous, this once-powerful man now being reduced to a cold-blooded killer.
“Mr. Falcone? Mr. Falcone, please answer the question. Yes, or no?” said the DA.
“Save it, Mr. Falcone. Ladies and gentlemen, Peter Falcone admits to shooting John Romano the night of August 15, 2010, he admits that he had Steven Bains followed with the intention of killing him. The evidence and eye-witness testimony spell it out, he–”
“Damn it! You people don’t freakin’ listen, do you? That bum was going to blackmail me! He was going to tell my son that he was adopted! He was going to watch us explode into pieces! All you people care about is what happened, not what any of it meant! I didn’t kill Romano because I got some sick thrill out of it! I killed Romano because of what he meant to my family! Havin’ him dead was the only way my family wouldn’t get hurt! He deserved to die because he practically killed us anyway…”
Peter Falcone hung his head low and began to rub his temples. An anger began to brew inside of Carolyn Fleming. “He deserved to die? He deserved it? That man had a wife! Do you think she deserved to be widowed? Do you think she deserved to spend the last two years going to sleep every night afraid? Afraid that her husband’s killer would come for her next? Do you?” She was pressed against the stand, glaring into Peter Falcone’s eyes with powerful intensity.
The bang of the gavel began to ring throughout the courtroom, growing louder with every strike. “Order! Order!” shouted Judge Cartwright, “Both of you, control yourselves! This is a court of law, not some trashy daytime courtroom! Keep your emotions in check, or I will have both of you held in contempt of court!”
The courtroom fell silent. The observers sat motionless, torn on who to believe. Carolyn Fleming had appealed to those who favored facts, while Peter Falcone had won over those who favored feeling. The newspapers, too, had been sharply divided. The Daily Report called Peter Falcone a murderer, but Huntsport Observer called Peter Falcone a father. Was Peter Falcone guilty of murder?
Carolyn Fleming reluctantly regained her composure. “Mr. Falcone,” she said with difficulty, “Why did you shoot John Romano? I’m not speaking of what he ‘meant’ to your family. I’m speaking of the moment you pulled the trigger. What was going through your mind that you felt you had to kill him?”
“I didn’t know until that night if he was serious about telling Michael. I came prepared, just in case he got violent–”
“And did he become violent?”
“He threw a punch at me, but he was angry. So that’s–”
“Is that why you shot him?” asked the lawyer.
“I shot him when he walked away from me, saying he was gonna tell Michael one way or the other. I didn’t go there with the intention to kill him. I wanted to talk to him, make him understand. It just happened.”
“Thank you. No further questions, your honor.”
The judge looked to Roger Harper. “Mr. Harper, it’s your witness.”
“The defense rests, at this time, your honor.”
“Court will resume tomorrow afternoon promptly at one o’clock,” said the judge.
As she was about to dismiss, the doors of the courtroom flew open. “Wait! I have something to say!”
Heads turned to see the phantom voice. Peter Falcone’s face grew white, and Carolyn Fleming smiled once again.