The 17th Suspect Page 2

“I don’t know. I could get angry and go after the guy. I could break down and come across as a complete wimp.”

“It’s good to think about this in advance,” Yuki said, “but Giftos won’t be at the grand jury hearing. We’re just asking the jury for an indictment based on the facts of this case. I think the jury is going to believe you, as I do.

“If Hill is indicted,” Yuki continued, “we go to court. She’ll be there to contest your testimony and present her version of this attack. James Giftos will do everything he can to make you look like a liar and worse.”

“Oh, God. Can you walk me through that?”

“Okay, I’ll give it to you straight. Because you dated Briana, you won’t be protected by the rape shield law. Giftos could ask you about your sex life with Briana in detail—how often, what it was like, what made you invite her to your apartment. Nothing will be off-limits.”

“Wonderful,” said Christopher miserably. “Piece o’ cake.”

“The press will cover the trial. Public opinion may favor Briana, and you may be verbally attacked. It could get very ugly, Marc. And when we win, your life may never be quite the same.”

The young man covered his face with his hands.

“Marc, if you don’t want to go through with this, I’ll understand.”

“Thanks for that. I’ll be ready. I’ll make myself be ready.”

“You have my number. Call me, anytime.”

Yuki walked Christopher to the elevator, and as she shook his hand, he said, “I thought of something.”

“Tell me.”

“You should talk to Paul Yates. He’s a copywriter at the Ad Shop. We’re only casual friends, but I think something happened with him and Briana.”

“Really? Something sexual?”

“I don’t know,” said Christopher. “I’m pretty sure they dated. They seemed friendly around the shop, then the big chill.”

“There’s no record of him speaking to Sex Crimes.”

“No, I don’t think he talked to them or anyone. I would have heard.”

“Paul Yates,” Yuki said. “I’ll get in touch with him. Marc, stay strong.”

His smile was shaky when he got into the elevator car.

Yuki stood in place as the doors closed, then headed back to her office. She wasn’t confident that Marc would hang tough, and she couldn’t blame him. In his place, she would feel conflict and fear, too. But the key facts in the case against Briana Hill were incontrovertible: Marc had recorded the rape, and Briana always carried a gun. Marc’s testimony would bring those facts to life for the jurors.


TWO DAYS AFTER her last meeting with Marc Christopher, Yuki got a call from James Giftos, Briana Hill’s defense attorney.

“Ms. Castellano. James Giftos here. My client wants to speak with you. By chance do you have a gap in your schedule sometime this week?”

“Oh? What’s this about?”

Yuki’s laptop was open and she began making notes as Giftos spoke.

He said, “Ms. Castellano, uh, Yuki—my client wants to tell you her side of the story. She hopes that when you hear what really happened, you’ll see that Mr. Christopher’s allegations have no basis in fact. She’s willing to apologize if there’s been a misunderstanding, and then, she hopes, Marc can drop the drama and they can go on with their lives.”

So James Giftos wanted a “queen for a day” interview, a proffer agreement. In this meeting Ms. Hill would attempt to convince Yuki that she should drop the case because of insufficient evidence.

The rules of engagement for these interviews were clear. Briana Hill and her attorney would come to Yuki’s office, where Hill would be sworn in, then submit to Yuki’s questions, her answers transcribed by a court reporter. Hill would not be allowed to invoke the Fifth Amendment, and most importantly for Yuki’s purposes, if the DA decided to proceed with the case, nothing Hill said could be used against her in the grand jury hearing or at trial.

However, and it was a big however, if Hill took the stand and her testimony differed from what she’d told Yuki under oath, all bets would be off. Her formerly privileged testimony would no longer be privileged, and Yuki could use anything she’d said in her proffer interview against her.

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