Ninth Circuit Court
“Please state your name for the record.” Gillian began.
“Milicent Parkins,” The spinsterly lady sat prim, proper and completely erect.
“And you do what for a living?” Gillian continued with the basics.
“I am a professor of linguistics at Duke University and the chair for their languages program.” She replied with an obvious air of authority. “I also hold a Master’s degree in Ancient Religions and History.”
“And you are connected with this investigation in what way?”
“Your office contacted and hired me to translate the books that were found in the home of the defendant, Mr. De la Venta.” She replied. “At first we thought that they were antiques. It looked as if they had been bound in leather.”
“But that was not the case?” Gillian directed the woman subtly.
“No,” she replied. “They were bound in human skin.”
The entire courtroom sounded ill at the thought.
“Please tell us about the contents of the books.” Gillian moved so that her expert could not see Oscar. Even old and looking pathetic, Oscar was frightening and intimidating.
“They were written in an alphabet that uses an amalgamation of ancient Sumerian cuneiforms, early Egyptian hieroglyphs, a modern alphabet used by the members of the Order of the Golden Dawn and some followers of modern Satanism and some of the more ornate alphabets used in modern Wiccan traditions.” The woman’s list was impressive to the jury and onlookers but Oscar remained cool, sitting with his arms across his chest.
“So, what do the books say?” Gillian smiled.
“The first two books are a history of the De la Venta lineage.” She replied.
“Can you verify if the assertions in those two books are true?” Gillian interrupted her,
“After much research we can prove that the genealogy that he traces back through the modern generations is accurate but the 5,000 years prior to that are at best a fictitious representation of a family myth and personal fantasies.” The woman’s voice told the tale. She had no fear or respect for Oscar.
“So he cannot trace his lineage to the beginning of time?” Gillian asked to question as if she were telling the jury a joke.
“No,” The expert smiled. She was having nearly as much fun as Gillian was. “At best he can trace his family lineage back to Russia at the turn of the 17th century, if you take for gospel all the records that he footnotes.”
“In a letter written after his incarceration to Detective Scott Nolan,” Gillian changed the course a bit, wanting to highlight this bit of evidence. “Mr. De la Venta talks about needing to kill off his own children. His son, Jeremy DeClerc has made sworn statements to the authorities that his father professed a belief that an ancestor had made some sort of pact with the Devil or with Evil that could only be eradicated by ending his family line. Is there any basis in fact, as you have witnessed in his writings, for this belief?”
“If you were to believe his writings then yes, that would be an accurate statement.” She replied. “But basing my opinion on my own education, common sense and sanity, I would put that assertion under the fantasy column.”
“I object, your honor.” Oscar stood, his voice filled the room. He was angry though he struggled to keep himself in check. “This woman is making characterizations on my beliefs and character that are both unfair and inflammatory.”
“On the contrary,” Gillian interrupted him. “My witness is only using his own words to make a statement upon the veracity of his beliefs and to show his state of mind at the time that Mr. De la Venta wrote these words.”
“Let’s not use the defendant’s words to make value judgments that aren’t necessary to these proceedings, Mrs. Phillips.” Judge Wolcott had found the whole passage amusing but if Oscar knew the law well enough to object… “If you want to use them, revisit it when your psychiatric expert takes the stand.”
“Yes, your honor,” Gillian replied. “To continue with the books,” She smiled back at Oscar before returning her attention back to her expert. “You say that these books contain a family history of sorts. Does it include information on the deaths of his descendants?”
“Yes,” She looked through he notes for a moment. “There were four deaths; two in England and two in France.”
“So he only killed four people in Europe?” Gillian asked.
“No,” the expert replied. “Over forty years nine people were killed in England and ten in France.”
“And just to clarify, these murders happened between…?” Gillian waited.
“The first kill was in 1940 in England and the last took place in 1980.”
“So when were his descendents killed?”
“An eight year old by the name of Marcus Leslie Armistad went missing, according to police reports in Stratford, England, on January 4, 1944. His body was found on June 12, 1944.” She began. “A sixteen year old by the name of William Michael Wythe was found murdered in Old Church, England on July 15, 1958. A twelve year old boy named Alexandre Oscar Dumas was found dead and decapitated on December 24, 1964 in Paris, France and sixteen year old Jean Baptiste Merrimere was found on September 12, 1973. His body had been in its burial place for nearly six months. The forensic experts of the time could not be entirely sure of the identification except for dental records and a partial tattoo that had not yet deteriorated on his chest.”
The room was silent.
“So the descendants that he felt compelled to eradicate were gone by 1973 but he was still killing in Europe until 1980. Does he say why in his writings?”
“It seems that this was some sort of game that he first played on his own and later with his son, Jeremy DeClerc.”
“And are there other things that are remarkable about the first two books?” Gillian knew what was coming.
“Mr. De la Venta speaks of two men at great length in these books.” The book expert turned back to her notes. “St. Michael and Michael the Great; they were born to a woman he refers to as Black Rose. This woman was the great love of Oscar’s life. He rails at length about her husband and his pain at being unable to be with her. It seems that his calling kept him from making her his bride.” She takes a break, a sip of water and continues. “He goes on further to say that there were three princes; the two Michael’s and a boy named Charles. Saint Michael and Charles were Black Rose’s sons by her husband and she was the mother of Michael the Great. He continues the tale of these three boys for nearly a hundred pages. He says that “Prince Charles” sailed on, that Saint Michael assumed the throne and that Michael the Great was in exile. He came to the states in 1966 when he found his son, Jeremy DeClerc. He speaks of plans to kill Jeremy but then changes his mind. He feels that he needs Jeremy’s help to find Michael the Great and The Laurel Tree.”
“Do we actually know who these people are?” This was the question that she almost didn’t want answered.
“Michael Connover was Michael the Great. Laurel Denney, the reporter for news four was the Laurel Tree. We are fairly sure that Saint Michael is Detective Scott Nolan, which would make his mother, Rose Marie Nolan, Black Rose and his brother Charles Nolan the Charles he speaks of. But the latter is speculation on our part.”
“Moving on, what are in the other eight books?”
“The other eight books are a detailed reporting of all the kills he has ever made,” The expert replied. “He goes into gruesome detail, especially on his most recent kills. There is also detailed information on how to embalm bodies, on the ritual use of the body parts he harvested from his kills and… recipes.”
“Recipes?” Gillian didn’t want to know this. She felt sick.
“Culinary,” the woman paused uncomfortably. “I think we should leave it at that.”
“I think I agree.” Gillian replied. “Does he ever talk about what he believes in all of these books?”
“If you are asking about religious beliefs,” she paused thoughtfully. “Not really. For him belief and religion are very academic. He goes on for many pages about what he believes about the criminal element in society in general and the sickness of homosexuality specifically. He talks of having to don the homosexual persona to trap that element, quote unquote, with disgust and disdain.”
“Is there anything more you can tell us about these books as it concerns his most recent victims?”
“He continues to refer to the two Michaels in the last three books. He seems obsessed with Saint Michael.”
“I object, your honor.” Oscar didn’t bother to stand but rather sat smugly in his seat with his arms folded casually in his lap as if he were trying out a new persona on the jury. “Mrs. Parkins is not an expert in psychiatry and is not qualified to judge whether I am obsessed or not.”
“Mrs. Parkins was using the word in its most common lay terms.” Gillian interjected. “She was not attempting to give an expert opinion on Mr. De la Venta’s state of mind.”
“Your objection is denied, Mr. De la Venta.” The judge replied. “Please continue, Mrs. Phillips.”
“He talks of Detective Nolan’s female conquests as if they were his own, with great pride.” The expert continued. “By comparison, he calls Michael Connover the Satanist Monk. He states that this made his calling easier. Most of the kills were teens or younger because he was trying to eradicate homosexuality, or so he says. And he killed his descendents early to avoid there being more descendants to kill. He writes of Mrs. Nolan at length in his last book. He wanted to kill her before she could give her husband an heir.”
“Thank you,” Gillian walked away from the stand. She was so glad that Scott and Silver had decided to skip today’s proceedings.
“Your witness, Mr. De la Venta,” Judge Wolcott found himself wishing this guy would either do well or poorly. Either would end this torture soon. The emotions of his courtroom were upsetting to him.
“You have testified that you are an expert in ancient languages?” De la Venta leaned comfortably against the witness box.
“Yes,” the expert seemed unaffected.
“But you are not an expert in ancient alphabets.” Oscar pointed out.
“The two are treated under the same heading,” She replied. “You cannot be an expert in one without being an expert in the other.”
“Interesting…” Oscar smiled. “You say that the alphabet I use in my books is a mixture, an amalgamation you said, of several different alphabets. Doesn’t this mean that you could be misinterpreting my words?”
“There is always a margin of error in any translation.” She admitted. “But I have spent over a month and a half with your tomes, sir. You changed your alphabet several times throughout the books but always in the same pattern. You changed every ninth letter, moving the letter up nine spaces and replacing it with the ninth letter backward. So when I translated something that did not make sense, I moved the letters nine spaces and everything made sense again. Further,” She smiled. “Much of the pseudo-religious texts in your books are copied, almost word for word, from Alister Crowley’s vast body of work, the early writings of Gerald Gardner, the father of Gardnerian Wicca, and Anton Le Vey’s “Satanic Bible.”
“It is possible that I moved the alphabets in the manner you describe just to fool you, to trip you up and thus you still mistranslated my work?” Oscar was playing mental chess with the witness.
“If that were the case, sir,” She leaned forward. If words were swords she would have been threatening. “Then you would be a professor of languages, a linguistics expert and noted authority on document forgery. But you aren’t. “She paused for effect. “And I am.”
“Your honor,” Oscar turned to the judge. “Her answer in non responsive and hostile; I’d like permission to treat her as a hostile witness.”
“He’s badgering the witness.” Gillian protested.
“She’s right, sir.” The judge pointed out. “You cannot badger a witness and then get upset when she reacts. Keep your questions to the facts.”
“But sir,” Oscar posed for the court. “I am allowed to ask any question that I see necessary to prove my argument and thus defend myself.”
“Any question that does not inflame your witness or the jury, does not impugn the reputation of the witness wrongly and can be supported by the facts in evidence, Mr. De la Venta. Your assertion that Mrs. Phillips’ bona fide expert witness is in fact not an expert wrongly impugns her reputation and the facts in evidence clearly do not support your argument. Stick to the facts.”
“Of course sir,” Oscar continued as if his argument had been successful. Gillian found that unnerving but reputation was everything…even if you are mental.
“Mrs. Parkins, were you paid for your testimony?”
“Duke University pays my salary and the state of South Carolina paid for my airfare and lodging.” She replied.
“So essentially,” Oscar smiled at the jury. “This was a paid vacation.”
“I have worked the entire time I have been here.” She replied testily. Being an expert witness did not mean being the defense’s punching bag. “I cannot call two weeks in a hotel room doing nothing but reading your tomes a vacation. I would much rather be at home with my husband, my kids and my new grandbaby. So no sir, this was most certainly not a paid vacation. After this, I may never read Stephen King again.”
“Objection!” Oscar turned on his heel to face the witness.
“I object as well.” Gillian stood. “If he has no real questions for this witness, I move she be excused before this turns into an exercise in mudslinging.”
“I have no further questions for this so called witness.” Oscar spat the words at Gillian.
“I’m ahead of you, Mrs. Phillips.” Judge Wolcott put his hand up to quiet her. “Mr. De la Venta I have warned you about attacking the reputation of the witness. Mrs. Parkins is an expert witness and this is my last warning to you regarding her reputation. I won’t stand for this. Yes, you are not an attorney thus I cannot expect you to understand all the rules. But you have stand by counsel and you asked to represent yourself. You will use your adjectives sparingly and carefully or Mr. DuPonte can finish your defense for you.”
Crime Scene Unit Offices
“You ok?” Marta looked across her desk at Scott. It might have been eight years later but some things didn’t change, like the look Scott wore. He was worried.
“I’m just processing things.” Scott replied placidly as he looked over a training pamphlet on specimen collection.
“And worrying about your wife,” Marta cut to the chase.
“A little,” Scott replied. “She came so close to losing me and now she’s pregnant. She worries about me.”
“Her name is so unusual.” She changed the topic. She didn’t want to give Scott more of a reason to brood and worry about his bride. “It’s pretty though.”
“Silver has a twin named Gold.” Scott replied.
“How sweet,” Marta said. “I really would like to meet her.”
“How hard would it be to get the hell out of this office?” Scott asked.
“Real easy,” Marta stood. “You’re in training. I’ll tell Stevens that we are going to visit a few scenes.” She walked away. Scott picked up the phone.
Ninth Circuit Court
“Please state your name and occupation for the record.” Gillian began once the jury quieted.
“My name is Dr. Lauren Olwyn Stone and I am a forensic psychologist and a practicing psychiatrist.” Lauren replied.
“And what has been your involvement with this case?” Gillian asked.
“In the beginning of the case I helped the detectives division with a profile of who the killer might be.” Lauren shifted so she would not have to see Oscar. He was staring holes in her and it made her queasy. “Later, I interviewed Mr. De la Venta to see if he was competent to stand trial and defend himself.”
“What can you tell us about Mr. De la Venta’s mental state just as it concerns his crimes?” Gillian asked. “Was he rational and in control of facilities, knowing right from wrong, when he committed these crimes.”
“Right and wrong are subjective terms here.” Lauren began. “Mr. De la Venta’s spin on right and wrong is very different than society’s view as a whole. However, he did know what we take as right and wrong and he knew that his actions would violate that. Therefore he did know right from wrong as it pertains to his crimes.”
“So the beliefs he professes to hold have no bearing upon his intent in the crimes?” Gillian asked.
“Not as it pertains to his mental state.” Lauren replied. “That’s why I found him competent to both stand trial and to represent himself. He is not crazy. He knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew it would have consequences.”
”So, if he’s not crazy,” Gillian turned to face Oscar as she spoke. “Just what is his problem?”
“In my opinion,” Lauren replied. “He shows all the classic signs of someone suffering from Bipolar Disorder. That is being further complicated by what is called Borderline Personality Disorder. Bipolar Disorder is highly treatable, though it takes time for a therapist to find the right dosage of the right medications for each case as it is a very personal disorder.”
“Personal in what way?” Gillian asked.
“Everyone is different.” Lauren replied. “Bipolar disorder is something a person inherits. They have it from birth. How the disorder manifests itself in adulthood is directly linked to how they were treated as children. Someone who had parents who saw the idiosyncrasies of the illness as just part of their child’s personality, will grow up to be a fairly stable, albeit eccentric personality. But a person who was ostracized, punished or in anyway suffered at the hands of others for the symptoms they displayed would grow up a very unhappy person who is unable to control their negative behaviors.”
“And in Mr. De la Venta’s case?” Gillian asked.
“He refused to talk about his parents though he spoke at length about a sister.” Lauren began. “This tells me that his family treated him badly in some way for the symptoms. But his sister loved him and in this he found some solace. That is why I say that he has Borderline Personality Disorder. A dysfunctional upbringing fueled by a sickness that is undiagnosed thus untreated led him to the circumstances that shaped his personality. In Mr. de la Venta’s case, the killings and the beliefs are a way to bolster a self esteem that was beat down by a very strong figure; a domineering parent is usually the culprit. The killings and torture are a way, unconsciously, to punish the person who hurt him. Everything he does is somehow a way to make him feel in control and invulnerable.”
“But this does not make him crazy?” Gillian asked.
“No,” Lauren replied. “It makes him very unhappy and angry and dysfunctional. But he is not insane in anyway that would that would make him less than responsible for his crimes.”
“Thank you, doctor.” Gillian walked away from the stand.
“Would you care to cross examine the witness?” The judge turned his attention to Oscar.
“No, your honor,” Oscar replied. “The doctor told the truth about my condition as she sees it.”
“Very well,” The judge replied. “You are free to go.”
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