Confident in a guilty verdict, Martha sat straight in her seat. Even if pent up anger dissipated once she released the words on the page, the ink was permanent.
‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,’ Richard Blake continued. ‘I assure you that despite appearances, this woman is capable of cold-blooded murder.’
Martha stared around the courtroom – this trial was just a formality. Whatever witnesses they supplied would add to her guilt, not take away from it.
‘I call my first witness Miss Elizabeth Lacy to the stand.’
As she observed Elizabeth walk through the aisle Martha didn’t move. Elizabeth’s dress, which once fitted perfectly at the restaurant, hung loosely along her shoulders. The soft thud of her sensible shoes fell against the carpet. She might have forgotten killing Thomas but wouldn’t forget the day she had seen them together and the control her husband took when they arrived back home.
Witness for the Prosecution
‘I swear, that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’ Elizabeth laid her hand on the leather bible and beheld the woman that had ruined her chance at happiness.
Sapphire blue had always been Thomas’s favourite colour. Martha even wore the same style – right down to the practical shoes that he had chosen. Not willing to hold her gaze, Elizabeth counted the people in the gallery instead.
Since Thomas’s murder, every day had been full of loneliness. The only thing that got her up in the morning was getting justice. Newspaper reports were damning of him. Compelled to give his side of the story, Elizabeth was glad to be approached to give evidence.
‘Miss Lacy . . . Elizabeth, can you tell me of your relationship with the victim?’ Richard Blake asked.
Elizabeth nodded, her hands firmly on her lap. The jury seemed to fade out and faces became blurred – as if someone had smudged the ink while it was being processed.
‘He was my boyfriend,’ Elizabeth said, trying to rid her tongue of its metallic taste.
Richard Blake kept his voice light and generous. ‘Were you aware he was married when you met him?
‘Not at first,’ she said, and clutched her arm, ‘but by the time I did, I had already fallen in love with him.’
‘What reason did he give you for not leaving his wife?’
‘He said she was fragile, scared that she might do something stupid.’
‘What do you think he meant by that?’
‘He told me she was unbalanced and attempted to kill herself a few years before.’
‘Objection, this evidence is only hearsay. She cannot testify to what the accused has said!’ Barbara Craven looked to the judge for confirmation, who nodded his agreement.
‘Sustained, members of the jury please disregard the evidence you’ve just heard.’ He then faced Richard Blake. ‘I must warn you to not lead the witness.’
‘Sorry, Your Honour,’ he said, before turning back to Elizabeth. ‘In your opinion, was he more concerned for his wife’s welfare than his own?’
Elizabeth couldn’t get Martha’s poker face out of her mind. ‘Yes.’
‘Can you tell me about the event that happened on January 5th, 2014?’
‘I was having dinner with Thomas at The Raven in Windsor,’ Elizabeth said, determined to carry out Thomas’s wishes. ‘His wife confronted us while we were talking.’
‘How would you describe Mrs Whitman?’
‘She was angry. She strangled me. If it weren’t for Thomas, I don’t know what she would have done.’