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S05E15 – Alma Murder

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Apologies for the delay Fletcherfans. I’ve been struck down with illness this week, according to Wikipedia it used to be known as Devil’s Grippe so I’ve spent this week living in an episode of Scooby Doo.

JB is chilling at home this week Fletcherfans, dealing with some house troubles. Local handyman Hank Prewitt has just diagnosed dry rot and corroded plumbing – “course I’m only talking about the house you understand.”

The hell does he think he's talking to?

The hell does he think he’s talking to?

JB is not pleased with this news – there seems to be always something going on with the house. Hank asks her if she’d ever consider moving and she says she hadn’t until this year – the house is big and she’s never there and maybe it’s time.

THIS CANNOT BE!

Hank goes off to go about his Hank business, and JB gets a phone call from her sorority sister Emily Dwyers with some bad news -their favourite professor, Leon Walker has just been arrested for murder.

Of course he has.

Jess jumps on the first (tiny) plane to Green Falls, where she is met by another sorority sister (and Leon’s assistant), Margaret, who gives her a lift back to the house. On the way JB tells Margaret she can’t believe the murder charge against Leon and Margaret tells her that she didn’t know Rhonda Sykes – she’d drive anyone to murder. You know, she’s the kind of girl who gives tramps a bad name.

b2

Ah gossip. The only global currency.

Apparently this Rhonda Sykes was willing to do anything to get her degree, except study. Magaret drops JB at the police station and tells her to tell Leon they won’t let him down. Inside, Jess isn’t the only one demanding to see Professor Walker. A young man demands to see Leon and refuses to leave until he does, but when the cop shrugs and says “Suit yourself,” the young woman goes to leave. When the young man wants to stay she says “I don’t see we have a choice and I’m not going to stand here and fight about it.” Meekly, he follows her out.

JB tries her luck but the cop tells her that Leon specifically said no visitors. She asks him to let Leon know she’s here, since she’s flown all the way from Maine after all. He agrees to see her but tells her he’s sorry she came all this way for nothing. He killed Rhonda Sykes. Jess refuses to believe it but Leon says he was lonely after his wife Martha died, he took up with Rhonda but broke it off when he realised what a fool he was being. The previous night, Rhonda called him to say she would expose their affair unless he paid her a big sum of money. He told her he didn’t have the money, she flipped out and came at him with an ashtray so he conked her on the head with a candlestick.

“I see,” Says Jess. And what proof did she have that she was able to blackmail him?

Letters, says Leon. “But I burned them and rinsed them down the drain”.

Jessica finds the whole thing suspicious and says so. She doesn’t think Leon killed anyone, in self-defence or otherwise. Leon says that’s absurd, why would he make up such a thing. Jess says she doesn’t know, but she wishes she did.

JB goes to see the D.A but is informed by his secretary that he’s busy for the rest of the afternoon. She decides to wait and is stunned when her former boyfriend Paul Robbins walks in. He asks her what she’s doing there and she says same thing as him, presumably – talk to the DA about Leon’s case but she’s having trouble getting in. Paul smiles and tells his secretary to cancel his 2 o’clock appointment YOU GUYS PAUL IS THE DA.

Fun fact: it's really weird if you do a freeze frame laugh in real life, but still worth it.

Pro tip: it’s really weird if you do a freeze frame laugh in real life, but still worth it.

Paul tells her he has no choice but to prosecute – Rhonda was killed between ten and eleven the night before from a blow to the head that Leon says he delivered. Jess still won’t believe it and wonders if there is something the police might have overlooked that she and Leon might spot. Leon says it’s highly unorthodox and Jess bats her eyelashes and says “So were you once.”

Naturally Paul agrees so they go hunting for clues at Rhonda’s apartment. Jess is already suspicious – the apartment is full of expensive doodads (a double tape deck stereo oh my) and the wardrobe is full of fur coats and fancy gowns, something that just doesn’t seem possible for a student studying on a financial hardship scholarship. JB notices the drawer of the filing cabinet has been forced open and Paul tells her it was noted in the police report, and that only Rhonda’s prints were found on it. Inside they find a file of exam papers with D- on them, but not one from Leon’s class. Paul assumes Leon took it with him but JB points out they would have found it on him, and it didn’t make sense for Leon to destroy it. Paul promises to follow it up and drops Jess off at the sorority house with the promise of dinner that night.

Emily meets Jess and notices just how like old times it is, being dropped off by Paul Robbins. She doesn’t know if she can forgive Paul for what’s happening to Leon but Jess says it’s just his job. Emily also can’t understand how Leon ever knew Rhonda, who it turned out lived at the sorority house during her undergraduate degree, until the accident the previous spring. Rhonda had asked the fiancée of one of the other girls in the house to drive her home from the April Fools Dance, but there was an accident on the way home and while Rhonda escaped without a scratch, but the boy died. Rhonda, we find out through cunning use of flashbacks, was trying to milk the insurance company for as much as she could and tells the guy’s fiancée he died in her arms. What the hell Rhonda?! Emily takes this as the excuse she needs to kick Rhonda out of the house.

Jess asks Emily if Rhonda got a large settlement from the insurance company and Emily delightedly says no. She didn’t see Rhonda again until she happened to be in Boston one night and saw Rhonda in a restaurant, dressed up like a movie star. They are on their way inside when the guy from the police station pops up. His name is Steve Chambers, and is the son of one of Emily and Jess’s sorority sisters who ran off and eloped during college and came back with a baby. Jess, looking at a baby photo of Steve with his mother, says he looks just like his mother, although she never met his father. Steve says he didn’t either, apparently he died in Korea before Steve was born. His mother died in Steve’s junior year at Harrison College and his scholarship was going to be revoked if it weren’t for a certain professor we all know and love. Steve’s wife Karen – the girl from the police station – appears, it turns out she’s a sister as well. JB asks her if she knew Rhonda and she says not really, Rhonda didn’t get friendly with anyone who couldn’t help her with her grades.

That night JB goes to dinner with Paul. In between remembering ghosts of dinners past, Paul shows her what the police found on Leon the night they arrested him. Jess notices a small fragment of photo tucked in Leon’s wallet. It’s the same photo Steve showed Jess earlier that day – the picture of him as a baby. The next day Jess confronts Leon and he reluctantly comes clean – he had an affair with Kathy Hampton, she got preggers and went off to have Steve. He begged her to come back but she only did so on the condition that their affair was over and that Steve wasn’t to be told the truth. He begs Jess to keep his secret but Jess is more concerned with other things, like if Steve killed Rhonda. Leon flips out, saying he was the one who killed Rhonda and that he’ll swear to it in any court JB can name.

The next day JB is helping Karen fluff cushions and trying to sneakily find out if Rhonda was in one of Steve’s classes, but Karen comes right out and tells her yes. Ahahahahah I’ve finally worked out who Karen is, she was in that terrible soap opera Passions! Ahahahahaha. Anyway, JB notes that Rhonda, crap student that she was, got a B for Steve’s class and Karen tells her to draw her own conclusion. Emily appears with the promise of sugar cake later that afternoon but Karen declines and goes to air mattresses. Emily tells JB that Karen has been acting funny lately, and on Monday completely ignored Emily when they were both pulled up at the lights. JB thinks thats odd, since Karen had just said she and Steve hadn’t been out in weeks. A phone call from Paul brings bad news – he’s upping the charges against Leon to murder one, as it turns out Leon put the letter opener found in Rhonda’s hand there to make it look like self defence. JB is adamant that he’s covering for someone but Paul’s hands are tied.

Jess goes to see Steve, who is aghast to learn that Leon isn’t trying to defend himself. “Mrs Fletcher there’s something you should know,” he says. “Leon didn’t kill Rhonda, I did.”

Thank you captain obvious.

Thank you captain obvious.

JB takes him down to the police station where he tells them the tale. Karen had walked out on him when he turned down a highpaying advertising gig in New York. He was down, and Rhonda had been hitting on him all semester. and so…you see where this is going.  When Karen reappeared he tried to break it off but Rhonda told him she’d tell Karen if he stopped seeing her so he kept going until at last he went round there to sort it out. Rhonda told him to leave his wife and quit his job, she had a gold mine after the accident and that would pay for everything. He says no and tries to leave but she comes after him with a candlestick so he shoves her and she falls and hits her head. He took off, drove around for half an hour then called Leon who said he’d go and check on Rhonda, that he was sure she was only passed out. It wasn’t until the next day that he found out Leon had been arrested. He swears he never would have let Leon go to jail, he just didn’t have the balls nerve to come clean until now.

Paul tells Jess the charges against Leon will be dropped and reinstated on Steve. Jess still thinks there are puzzling things about the whole business, like why the body wasn’t where Steve said he left it. Jess spots Leon leaving the police station and runs after him but he’s furious. She tells him there are still some unanswered questions and asks him what time he got to Rhonda’s. He says about eleven, he left straight after getting the call from Steve and it took him fifteen minutes to get there. Jess figures Steve left Rhonda’s at about 10:15pm, which meant there were 45 minutes in which anything could have happened. And then there was the question of this secret goldmine Rhonda told Steve about.

Jess and Paul go back to Rhonda’s apartment, where Jess has a suspicion about Rhonda’s gold mine. A quick look behind one of the paintings reveals a photograph of a smashed up car, dated the day after the accident. Paul doesn’t get it, but JB says Rhonda and the dead guy were in a sports car, not a sedan, so it made no sense. Paul said he’d run the plate and JB takes off back to the sorority for tea and cake with Emily and Margaret. Pulling up outside the sorority house, however, JB catches sight of a familiar looking license plate – it’s Margaret’s car.

JB takes Margaret to a diner, where she comes clean. She was coming home from an alumni dinner, she was drunk she hit the sports car. Rhonda saw her and called her the next morning demanding compensation for her silence. But not money – Rhonda wanted good grades and letters of recommendation, not money.

I think Jess is over this episode as much as I am

I think Jess is over this episode as much as I am

JB thinks there’s something Margaret isn’t telling her. She wasn’t the one driving that night. Someone else was driving the car, and it was someone Rhonda recognised.

Jess goes back to Rhonda’s apartment and checks the last number dialled.

Confirmation sigh.

Confirmation sigh.

You guessed it. (I didn’t. I am stricken with the devil’s grippe after all)

Also EX-BOYFRIEND OF DEATH

Also EX-BOYFRIEND OF DEATH

Paul was the source of all Rhonda’s money. She called him because she wanted Paul prosecuted for hitting her, but instead Paul killed her.

And on that note I’m going back to sleep.

Later gang!

Later gang!

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S02E13 – Trial By Error

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Story time, Fletcherfans! Pay attention because this week is kind of tricky.

Once upon a time, there was a man, a woman and a car accident. Yes, that old chestnut. Anyway, the man feels extremely guilty, since he was driving and only fractured his collarbone, and the woman is in a pretty bad way, but not so bad she can’t be loaded into the ambulance crying “WHY? WHY? WHY?”

Why indeed. Anyway, down at the hospital the husband (let’s call him Mark Lee Reynolds, since that’s his name) is out of his mind when the doctors tell him that his wife has a good chance of surviving, but may never walk again. Cloud goes up, cloud goes down. Receiving this news Mark does what any good husband would do – he heads to the nearest pub, gets blind drunk and goes home with some random brunette.

SHIFTY.

SHIFTY.

An associate of said brunette’s husband spots them leaving the bar and puts a call in. The husband grabs his jacket and hauls out into the night bellowing for vengeance. Because the husband is Batman. 

You got all that?

Months later, there’s a trial on. It turns out, Mr Jacket-wearing vengenance-seeker (or Cliff Anderson, for short) wound up dead, and the winner of husband of the year, Mark Lee Reynolds is on trial for his murder. I only mention this because a certain Boss of all Bosses just so happens to be jury forewoman…

Fiercest forewoman ever.

Fiercest forewoman ever.

That’s right, Fletcherfans! It’s 12 Angry Men, Cabot Cove style! To help set the mood for the jury deliberations I found this helpful website to help set the scene. (True story – that noise is also my message notification on my phone, except sometimes I forget and it goes off and I freak out a little bit/fall off the treadmill).

Alright. In the case of People vs Shady Husband, how do we find the jury?

Unsurprisingly, squabbling. Almost everyone on this star-studded jury thinks that Mark Lee Reynolds killed in self-defence. Only Thornton  thinks he is a)Henry Fonda and b)guilty. JB is undecided, and probably more concerned with how much time must pass before her next whiskey.

Apart from the women, whiskey is what was missing from 12 Angry Men.

Apart from the women, whiskey is what was missing from 12 Angry Men.

They discuss, through the cunning use of flashbacks, Reynolds’s testimony that he left the hospital that night “wanting to die.”

Certain members of the jury understand this concept, (a little too well if you ask me) but JB quickly reminds them of the cross-examination where the D.A wanted to know why Reynolds conveniently picked that bar to drink at, since it wasn’t the closest bar to the hospital or his house.

BECAUSE HE’S A SHADY DUDE, GEEZ.

Not everyone on the jury agrees with me though (schmucks), in fact certain female members of the jury tend to find him  quite dreamy. He’s so honest! Even when he tells them (through the cunning use of flashbacks) how he met that random brunette, and the random chain of events that lead to her almost-but-not-quite ex husband turning up on the doorstep and catching them out. (Cue cunning use of flashbacks within flashbacks and ow my brain). According to him, the ex turned up packing heat, they both reached for the gun, ex is now an ex-ex. They call the police, Reynolds gets carted away and gets his phone call, which he uses to call the hospital only to be told that his wife had passed away.

Sucks to be him, is what he’s trying to say.

While the rest of the jury argue with Thornton a bit more, we cunningly flashback to the testimony of Becky the Brunette, who explains that she was getting a divorce from her husband, despite her husband counter-suing for infidelity. HUH I BET.

The jury continues to argue while in flashback land, the hotel owner takes the stand for some laughs.

*insert amusing Gilligan's Island reference here*

*insert amusing Gilligan’s Island reference here*

Skipper announces to the court that Mark Lee Reynolds is a frequent visitor to his classy establishment, and that Becky the brunette had paid a visit too, way before the night of the shooting.

What does the jury think about this, oh they’re still arguing.

JB has a flashback to when she had whiskey

JB has a flashback to when she had whiskey

As things get heated, a couple of jurors call for calm, and to get back to the matter at hand. “Yeah,” says another. “This is man’s life we’re talking about, and most of us here are of a mind to let him keep it. It’s Mrs Fletcher and her minions who are anxious to see him hang.”

Everyone knows JB's minions are Amos and Seth, you crazy fool!

Everyone knows JB’s minions are Amos and Seth, you crazy fool!

The central point of this trial according to JB is the question of whether Becky the brunette and Mark Reynolds knew each other before the night her ex-husband was killed.  Fenton the hotel owner swears he’d seen them together before, the bartender that served them on the night of the murder wasn’t so sure.

If you believe Fenton, JB postulates, then you have to believe that they were setting themselves up to be seen, and since it was a regular haunt for her ex husband and his pals, you have to believe that they wanted to be seen in order to get the word out that Becky-the-brunette was stepping out on her old man. So to speak.

A few nods in the jury room now. Jess is on a roll. If Cliff-the-ex didn’t take a gun with him, where did he get it? The only prints on the gun were his and Reynolds.

Not everyone is convinced by this. Long term juror holdout Frank Lord dismisses it all out of hand, telling them they have rocks in their heads, and that maybe someone else should be foreman.

Heh heh heh. Made myself laugh that time.

Heh heh heh. Made myself laugh that time.

Back in flashback land, Becky Anderson’s neighbour is on the stand, testifying how he came home to find Cliff-the-ex’s car blocking the driveway, and his views of Cliff’s body being taken out of the house a couple of hours later, and then some more flashbackiness as the DA outlines how he thinks the murder went down – Mark and Becky arranged it so that Cliff would bust in, Mark whacks him over the head with a poker, stages it to look like Cliff had the gun, then gets Becky to call the police.

Seems legit to me, although at this point I can’t tell whether I’m having a flashback. Although, I would point out that the DA just said “I look at these two people (Mark and Becky) and I see pleasant, All-American attractiveness” which I’m assuming is lawyer-speak for trashy sluts, but I’m not too sure.

Back in whatever part of time we’re in, JB has more questions. Like, if Mark Reynolds really did fracture his collarbone in the car accident, how was he fighting Cliff for the gun?

Now, THERE’S A QUESTION.

Dazzled by this amazing feat of logic, the rest of the jurors want to hear more about these “questions” and JB is happy to oblige. Simply put, it’s this: if Mark Reynolds is telling the truth, and the whole thing – from Cliff barging in to Becky calling the police – was over in a moment, why did the neighbour point out that the body was removed a couple of hours later?

MYSTERIOUS. JB announces there can only be one conclusion, and therefore one verdict, which they then deliver to the court. Mark Reynolds is not guilty of the murder of Cliff Anderson.

Say what?

JB has a quiet word in the ear of the DA, who arranges to meet with Becky Anderson and her lawyer after the trial. Why?

Well I never.

Well I never.

So there you have it. It was Becky who whacked her husband over the head with the poker. But don’t worry, Mark Reynolds isn’t blameless in all of this. He helped her stage it so it looked like self defence – after he’d come home from the hospital, where he’d been killing his wife with a pillow.

Told you he was shifty.

Told you he was shifty.

And so ends this weeks episode of Law and Order Murder, She Blogged.  If you’ve made it this far, well done. I’m exhausted.

There’s only one cure for this, I think.

Heh heh heh. Made myself laugh that time.

See you next week, Fletcherfans!

ETA: It’s Murder She Blogged’s first birthday! Happy birthday to MSB, which continues to this day to be one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.