Monday: October 2, 2028
10:00 AM; LOS ANGELES, EAST LOS ANGELES COURTHOUSE
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Miss Delacroix, Mister Wilkinson… good morning,” the prosecutor said. Cecilia rolled her eyes, and Dominic simply raised an eyebrow in response. The prosecutor cleared his throat. “On behalf of the State, I’d like to take a moment to thank the members of this jury for their service. I’d like to thank you for the attention you’re about to give this case. The decision you’ll make at the end of this trial is, quite possibly, the most important decision you’ll make for the rest of your lives.
“As you know, I’m Dylan Chavaz, and I’m the lead prosecutor on Mister Wilkinson’s case. When it comes to Mister Wilkinson, there were two investigators on his case. You’ll hear from both of these investigators, and they’ll tell you what they saw when they arrived at Mister Wilkinson’s first crime scene.
“They saw a corpse so bloody, so horrific that their forensic analyst got sick. She was deeply sickened by the violence she had seen laid out in front of her, a body tossed to the side like it hadn’t once been a living person. The LAPD was forced to call in a much more experienced analyst, one that’s nearly emotionless, simply to process the scene.
“Now, at the conclusion of this case, the jury instructions will tell you that if it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant committed any of the crimes he is being charged of, that you can and should find him guilty. That burden lies with me. It’s my job to show you the proof, the evidence. It’s my job to lay out testimonies and pictures and expert witnesses. It’s my job to show you what kind of terrible crimes Mister Wilkinson has committed, and it’s my job to remind you as to why he should not be allowed to ever walk the streets of Los Angeles ever again.
“Of course… I cannot stand up here and predict what kind of insanity the defense is going to bring into this. I can’t stand here and tell you what kind of straws the defense will grasp at in any last attempt to prove Mister Wilkinson innocent. I can’t guess what questions they’ll ask during cross-examination, or how they’ll attempt to rile up our witnesses. This? This isn’t my job. My job isn’t to assume or predict or guess.
“My job is to present my case, the physical evidence, the hard facts that have been proven time and time again. My job is to show you, the jury, the proof behind everything Mister Wilkinson did, from the victims he stalked, to the hearts he ripped out, to the flesh he bit into, to the throat he slit.
“Now, of course, the defendant is presumed innocent as we stand here right now. Mister Wilkinson sits at his table today, and because you have heard no evidence in this case, he should be presumed by you as innocent. However, that presumption will disappear at the very moment the evidence given to you and presented before you satisfies you. As soon as the evidence in this case satisfies that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the presumption of innocence disappears.
“The evidence I present to you, both in this opening statement and anything presented in the weeks to come, serves to further satisfy. It serves to chip away at the presumption of innocence. The evidence presented to you will show you exactly who Mister Wilkinson is, and I assure you he’s quite different than the nearly happy look he’s constantly throwing out this morning. I assure you the evidence will, indeed, prove that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, Mister Wilkinson is a cold-blooded killer.”
4:35 PM; LOS ANGELES, EAST LOS ANGELES COURTHOUSE, PARKING LOT
Cecilia slid into the passenger seat of David’s car, closing her eyes as he closed the door. She inhaled deeply, opening her eyes as her boyfriend climbed into the passenger seat. “This trial is going… to be hell,” she said, locking her seat belt into place. “Chavez has already done a… great job of convincing the jury that Dom’s the guiltiest piece of shit to walk this earth, and all he’s done is offer an opening statement.”
“I’ve seen you beat out Sullivan, babe. Don’t worry about this Chavez guy,” David said, shifting into drive and pulling away from the courthouse, leaving behind the reporters on the courthouse steps. “Sullivan is one of the hardest prosecutors to get past in the country. This guy has nothing on Sullivan, and it means he has nothing on you.”
“I guess,” Cecilia muttered, kicking off her heels.
As David pulled up to a stop light, he reached back and grabbed a pair of slippers from the floor behind Cecilia’s seat. He handed them over to her. “Here.”
“Oh, you’re a lifesaver,” she whispered, dropping them to the floor. She slid her feet into them and let out a breath, resting a hand on her stomach. “This trial won’t be over until after Adalynn’s born.”
“That isn’t healthy for you, Cici. You know that.”
“I know, but I don’t have a choice,” she said. She turned her head toward David. “C-section’s on a Friday. I’m back in court the following Monday. The weekend’s mine to recover. After that…”
“You’re right back in court.”
“Exactly.” She laid a hand on his thigh. “I’m going to be in… a lot of pain, and I just need to make sure you’re prepared for the emotional breakdowns that may follow every single day when I’m not in court.”
David wrapped his fingers around Cecilia’s hand. “Baby, I was already with you when you had Bo and Jensen’s boys. I know what to expect, and I’m prepared for that.” He lifted her hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it. “When you’re not in court, I’ll do everything I can to make it easier for you. Massages and back rubs and whatever else you need. Okay?”
“Okay,” Cecilia murmured. “I love you, David.”
He glanced over at her, a smile on his face. “I love you, too, Cici.”
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