Barbara Craven studied her notes, before she pushed herself up to the stand. It was a few minutes before she spoke to the witness.
Time stopped in its tracks.
‘You have told the court that the defendant would have to use excessive force to kill the victim, but looking to Mrs Whitman, who isn’t a young woman and obviously frail. Can you really say that she struck the victim with the amount of force you have spoken about?’
‘Objection,’ Richard Blake leaped to his feet. ‘My learned colleague is leading the witness.’
‘Sustained, please stick to the facts Miss Craven.’
Barbara Craven sought out the jury once more. ‘Sorry, Your Honour,’ she said, before continuing. ‘Is it possible that a woman could inflict these injuries on the victim?’
‘It is possible, yes.’
‘You have told us that the object was wielded with such force that the victim would have died instantly,’ she said, her papers gathered into one neat pile.
‘Yes, the impact of the object would have killed the victim within seconds.’
‘Yet, you also say that the defendant never tried to save the victim?’
‘The blood splatter is proof that she never went near the victim once he had died.’
‘But would she not have seen that he was dead as soon as she struck him? It would have been obvious, would it not, that he was no longer alive?’
‘It would have been, yes.’
It was the first time Martha had seen the uncertainty in his opinion. She willed him to regain some composure and finish his testimony. Her barrister was paid to defend her, but surely, she didn’t believe her own lies.
‘Would she not also be in shock about what she had just done? May I remind you this is a woman, who as a victim of domestic abuse, suffered daily at her husband’s mercy.’
‘Objection!’ Richard Blake once again rose to the podium. His hands planted on the wood, as if they were connected by an unknown force.
‘Sorry, Your Honour,’ she said, before he had even uttered the first word. ‘I withdraw my question.’
Martha tried to gain some understanding from the jury, but it was like they were in a tennis match, watching the ball cross the net in a quick succession of blows.
‘You have told the court about evidence from the accused, and the victim. Now I want to talk about the injuries Mrs Whitman sustained on the afternoon in question.’
‘There were bruises and cuts around her eye and lower face, also on her arms, where someone grabbed her. Open wounds were visible on her face and legs.’
Martha touched her face – there was only the faintest of lines now. Yet, it never completely disappeared. In the early hours of the morning nothing got rid of the agonising pain. It wasn’t the scar that hurt, but the realisation that followed her beating.
‘In your opinion, how did the victim come by these injuries?’
‘The bruises were recent and so were the cuts. He used a belt to hit her with – the buckle causing the contusions on her face and legs. The accused was hit repeatedly, remnants of the glass, from the vase, were embedded into her knees and lower legs.’
Her defence barrister turned full circle and faced the jury before she resumed her position on the podium. ‘The victim hit his wife with a belt, not only causing extensive injuries, but enough that she still has the scars today. The glass embedded into her knees – does this not show that the accused was in a state of shock after the incident, that it was a momentary loss of control when she killed her husband?’
‘I could not say to her wellbeing in the moment she killed her husband, I wasn’t there.’
‘So why didn’t the accused avoid the glass?’
‘I can only base my findings on the facts.’
‘But the facts are, my client either chose to crawl over the shards of glass, or she was in such a state of shock, that she felt no pain.’ Returning to her seat, Barbara Craven said. ‘No further questions, Your Honour.’
‘Are you in any doubt there was excessive force used in the killing of Thomas Whitman?’ Richard Blake followed up with a question of his own.
‘No.’ He then spoke directly to the jury, a smirk spread across thin lips. ‘So even if the defence is to be believed, that Mrs Whitman was in shock, and killing her husband was a moment where she lost control – why was she able to find enough clarity to telephone, not only the police to inform them of her crime, but her best friend Theresa Carlton.