CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY-THREE
“That’s easy,” Seth said. “I’m going to be here at least another month.”
“The project that we’ll be working on this for the rest of the year,” Ava said. “We are to have no contact for the next month while we redo all of the forensics. A determination will be made later as to what will happen next. We are not the only lab doing this work. Our sister lab at the FBI are also reviewing the material.”
“A year?” Seth asked. “What is going on?”
“The Cigarette Killer has filed an appeal. On Friday,” Ava said, emphasizing the word Friday. Seth scowled. “The defendant has requested a new trial. He says that you pressured him into confessing.”
“But the bodies!” Seth said. “He led us to three bodies! Gave us all of the details of what he did to them! There are videotapes, audio. DNA! His DNA was all over the bodies!”
“His lawyer says that you made all of that up,” Ava said. “His client was so afraid of you and Detective Delgado that he agreed to whatever you said.”
“He never even filed an appeal!” Seth said. “He was damned proud of everything he did, especially since it took us so long to find him. He bragged about everything he did! There are two or three books out on the crimes because he couldn’t stop talking about how great of a murderer he was!”
“That may have been the case,” Ava said. “He is now saying that he is innocent of these heinous crimes. He says he’s only in prison due to corrupt law enforcement — meaning you and Detective Delgado. He’s also filed for compensation for his false conviction.”
“Don’t you need a new trial first?” Seth asked.
“He’s confident that he’ll be found innocent,” Ava said.
Seth didn’t respond. He felt a wave of fear that he’d missed something or maybe Mitch had done something nefarious behind Seth’s back. This killer had killed women and men, one of each at the same time, all over the state of Colorado. There were at least twelve bodies which he claimed he’d killed but didn’t “remember” where he’d buried them. These bodies were still out there in the world. Seth shook his head. While he could never be one hundred percent sure, he simply couldn’t conceive that this man was not the Cigarette Killer.
“His lawyer is from the Innocence Project?” Seth asked.
“Freelance,” Ava said. “Believed to be the son-in-law of the Cigarette Killer’s wife.”
“He’s married?” Seth was so surprised that he jumped up from his conductor’s stool.
“It’s recent,” Ava said.
Seth was struck with a thought. It hit him so hard that it knocked the wind out of him. He must have made a sound because Ava seemed to realize what was going on.
“What is it?” Ava asked. “Seth?”
“It’s nothing,” Seth said. “I’m okay.”
“If he’s able to overturn this conviction, that means that every case you’ve ever worked on will be up for review,” Ava said. “Every case. Nationally.”
“That’s why the Feds are involved,” Seth said.
“Exactly,” Ava said.
Seth fell silent, and Ava didn’t say anything.
“When will I speak to you again?” Seth asked.
“Because I am your wife, we had to receive special approval from the defendant and his lawyer for me to work on this case,” Ava said. “In that agreement, I am not to speak to you in this first month.”
“A month,” Seth said.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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