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Dread Champion

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Overview

Chelsea Adams has visions. But they have no place in a courtroom. As a juror for a murder trial, Chelsea must rely only on the evidence. And this circumstantial evidence is strong---Darren Welk killed his wife. Or did he? The trial is a nightmare for Chelsea. The other jurors belittle her Christian faith. As testimony unfolds, truth and secrets blur. Chelsea s visiting niece stumbles into peril surrounding the case, and Chelsea cannot protect her. God sends visions---frightening, vivid. But what do they mean? Even as Chelsea finds out, what can she do? She is helpless, and danger is closing in. . . . Masterfully crafted, Dread Champion is a novel in which appearances can deceive and the unknown can transform the meaning of known facts. One man s guilt or innocence is just a single link in a chain of hidden evil . . . and God uses the unlikeliest of people to accomplish his purposes."

Details

  • SKU: 9780310238270
  • UPC: 025986238278
  • SKU10: 0310238277
  • Title: Dread Champion
  • Qty Remaining Online: 5
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Date Published: Sep 2002
  • Pages: 413
  • Weight lbs: 0.83
  • Dimensions: 8.62" L x 5.46" W x 1.12" H
  • Features: Price on Product
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Geographic Orientation | California;
  • Category: FICTION, CHRISTIAN
  • Subject: Christian - Suspense
NOTE: Related content on this page may not be applicable to all formats of this product.

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

Stan Breckshire's right shoulder throbbed. The pain crept up his neck to the base of his skull and all the way down to his fingers. Great. His pinched nerve was cheerleading another touchdown, and the game hadn't even begun. Rah, rah, pretrial stress; let's give Stan another mess!

In the prosecutor's seat behind the counsel table, Stan held his arm out from his side, rotating it at the elbow. Then rubbed the pressure point in his neck. Not even through with jury selection yet, and just look at him. Today's panel of potential jurors had been the lousiest he'd ever seen, and apparently the worst was yet to come in the search for the second and final alternate.

The courtroom door opened behind Stan. He resisted the urge to look back, although both defense attorneys did so. With such pleasant faces, he might add. Stan worked to keep his own expression as pleasant as possible. He was well aware of the twelve jury members and first alternate already seated in the jury box, watching the attorneys' moves with morbid curiosity.

"Come on in, folks," Judge Carol Chanson greeted the last two stragglers as a bailiff led them in. "I know it's been a long day for you. If you'll have a seat at the end of the first row in the jury box, I'll explain how we might need you."

Stan's eyes darted to the two people taking their seats. One very impatient-looking man. And a knockout of a woman in her mid-thirties. Shoulder-length, cinnamon-colored hair and matching eyes. Clear skin and a trim figure, well fitted into an expensive-looking green silk shirt and off-white, belted pants. She fairly oozed grace and intelligence. Stan's heart sank.

Chelsea Adams looked even worse than he'd imagined.

Quickly he shuffled papers before him. Anything to keep from staring at her. He wondered if T. C., as he privately called lead defense attorney Terrance Clyde, or his sidekick, Erica Salvador, had any hint of who this woman was. As fate would have it, the defense shared the same sinking boat with Stan-they'd used the last of their preemptory challenges allotted for alternates. Stan almost smirked. Nice little irony to their demanding a change of venue. Monterey County had its share of eccentrics, but it would have had to work mighty hard to spit out a sample the likes of this woman.

Knowing T. C., he'd probably used one of the minions on his fat payroll to run a check on the names of summoned people as soon as the attorneys received their lists that morning. All by his lonesome, Stan had wheedled help from a gum-snapping secretary in the district attorney's office. With rolling eyes, she'd finally agreed to check his list against the criminal clerk's records, finding out which people had previously served on a jury. But of course that's not how he'd heard the stuff on Chelsea Adams. Rather it was the I-know-something-you-don't-know look on the face of some deputy D.A. he'd run into during break just fifteen minutes ago. Someone in county records had noticed an infamous name on the list and had said something to her coworker, who'd said something to someone else, who'd run into said deputy D.A. during lunch hour.

As in every county, gossip was alive and well within the courthouse walls. Stan had heard an earful and reentered the courtroom with rising panic.

Stan rubbed his arm, wincing. So what? At the very worst, the woman would only be second and final alternate. If she got past his questioning at all, which she wouldn't.

Judge Chanson slid on her gold-rimmed reading glasses and, for the benefit of the newly arrived, began to read the complaint against the defendant. That in The People vs. Welk, Darren Wayne Welk was charged with second-degree murder under Penal Code Section 187, yada, yada. Stan forced his eyes to the judge, barely hearing her words. Not that he needed to. He'd heard them at least two dozen times since that morning, every time a new batch of potential jurors had entered the courtroom.

"Okay." Judge Chanson exchanged one paper for another, her glasses still perched on her nose. The ends were attached to a purple chain around her ample neck. Her salt-and-pepper hair was cut short, leaving nothing to frame her double chin. "First we have Greg Seecham. Mr. Breckshire?"

You're my boy, Greg, thought Stan as he pushed back from the table, automatically pulling his tie. He hustled to the podium that faced the jury, making eye contact with Mr. Seecham. "Good afternoon." The guy looked almost too good to be true. A yuppie white businessman, every prosecutor's dream. Brown hair perfectly coifed; the drawn, beleaguered face of stressful success; and a designer suit-right down to the magenta power tie. Stan knew that yuppies tended to fear crime, be fiercely protective of their property, and usually hadn't suffered enough to be sympathetic to some defendant. Unfortunately, the man also brimmed with impatience, obviously not happy at missing a full day at the office. Stan opened his mouth to begin questioning, hoping against hope that Seecham wouldn't claim work hardship.

"Your Honor, I have a real problem with staying." Seecham addressed the judge as if Stan weren't there. "Since I received my summons, things have now changed at my start-up software company, and I'm the only one there who can ."

Uh-uh, too late for a sob story. It was the end of the day and everyone was tired. Besides, these two were it for the panel. No one wanted to wait for another group to be called.

"Let's talk about this, Mr. Seecham," Stan pushed in before the judge could reply. "Court usually ends around five o'clock, and this case is only expected to take about two weeks. Can you manage to work in the evenings just for that long?"

"No way; that's not enough time!" the man replied, as if the mere thought were ludicrous.

"Well, is there a coworker who can fill in for you?"

"No. As I said, I'm the only one who knows how to run the place."

"And the staff can't do without you for just a few days? Surely you have a cell phone. You could check in during breaks."

Seecham's face compressed. "I can't run the office from a courtroom. We're right in the middle of some very important projects, and I have to be there all day."

"Could you possibly-"

"Mr. Seecham," Judge Chanson cut in, her tone betraying impatience. She leaned forward, puffing herself out over her cherry wood desk as if to intimidate Mr. Irreplaceable with her very size. "I know this is a difficult time for you. But jury duty is what it says-a duty that should be fulfilled if at all possible."

"I understand that, but for me it isn't possible. Not at this time." Greg Seecham began ticking off manicured fingers like a scolding young parent. "First of all, we've run into problems with the software program we were supposed to launch last week. Every day we take to fix those problems, we lose an estimated $267,000. Second, another program ."

Stan Breckshire hung on to the podium, right arm throbbing, as Greg Seecham fired every shot from his company's heavy artillery. The man started quoting numbers right and left-amounts of dollars his company would lose on this project and that one. All with multiple zeros. And of course they weren't just his dollars; they were theinvestors' dollars, blather, blather. His boy or not, Stan wanted to wrap his hands around the man's starch-collared neck and choke him silly.

"All right, Mr. Seecham," the judge intoned, pulling off her glasses, "we get the picture." She sat back in her large black leather chair with a sigh. "Mr. Clyde, anything you want to add here?"

"Well, Your Honor," T. C. said without rising, his baritone voice oozing empathy, "I think we should let Mr. Seecham go. Clearly, he has a work hardship issue that simply can't be overcome."

Well, thought Stan, there was his answer. T. C. hadn't a clue who Chelsea Adams was.

"I'm not so convinced of that." The judge fingered the chain on her glasses, eyeing Greg Seecham. "A company of this apparent size is certainly maintained by more than one person. I think-"

"I don't even see why this defendant needs a trial," Seecham growled suddenly, casting a purposeful glance at the jurors down his row. "He's obviously guilty."

"Your Honor!" T. C. protested, half-rising from his seat. He shook his gray, craggy head at the judge as if to say, "What more do you need?"

Judge Chanson narrowed hard eyes at Seecham. Her wide jaw set and her chest swelled with air. Stan cringed. Seecham's gig was obvious enough, but Stan knew the judge couldn't give him a chance for further prejudicial statements in the presence of the jury. Even if the other members were giving him looks of pure derision. Seecham stared back at the judge with a spit in the Constitution's eye. Stan could have punched the guy. He hoped Greg Seecham's software company bit the dust. And gagged on it.

Judge Chanson arched back in her chair, still staring daggers. "You are excused, Mr. Seecham." Her words were clipped. Seecham darted from his seat, slithered past the knees of Chelsea Adams, and made for the door. Judge Chanson lodged her glasses on her nose just so and busied herself with papers, her eyes flicking up to aim one last knife at Mr. Yuppie's fast departing back.

The courtroom door closed. The judge took a cleansing breath. "All right," she announced tiredly, then checked her list. "Chelsea Adams."

Stan Breckshire's heart fell to his toes. Greg Seecham's trail still slimed the courtroom floor, and now he needed to convince Judge Chanson to excuse the last juror for cause.

No problem, Stan rallied himself. He'd produce enough cause, all right.

"Good afternoon, Ms. Adams." Stan bobbed his head, lips pulling back for a brief moment. The faces of his peers back in Monterey County flashed like neon before him. He could just imagine their head-shaking upon hearing he'd let this babe on his jury. Could just hear his nemesis Harry Kent blabbing it up, feigned sympathy on his face and a jingle in his step. And Stan wouldn't be around to defend himself.

Well, no matter, because he wasn't about to let that happen. No way, no how. Whatever it took, Stan Breckshire was going to get the religious lunatic named Chelsea Adams out of his jury box.

Chapter Two

Chelsea sat straight-backed in the padded jury chair, keenly aware of her surroundings. Every color, every scent, seemed to flood her senses. She at least was glad they were in a different courtroom, and even on a different floor, from last year. That one would have held far too many memories. This courtroom, 2H, was on the second floor, while the Trent Park case had taken place on the fourth.

Darren Welk . second-degree murder.

The judge's voice still whirled in Chelsea's head. A case not even from her county, and of all people she was sitting in the jury box.

"Good afternoon, Ms. Adams." The attorney standing before her looked to be in his mid-thirties, slight in build and short. His nose was large and hooked, his eyes small and dark. Chelsea braced herself as she watched him move with quick, nervous motions. She was sure he'd recognized her name. It was in the hunch of his shoulders, the unnecessary shuffle of his papers. Wariness crept through her.

"Good afternoon," she replied. She kept her voice level, casting a glance at the judge. The woman was studying her a little too intently.

"My name is Stan Breckshire." The prosecuting attorney bobbed his head again. "As you heard some minutes ago, I'm from Monterey County. This case has been moved here to the San Mateo County courts in what we call a change of venue. Let me first ask you, do you know anyone involved in this case?"

"I don't think so."

"Recognize anyone in the courtroom?"

Chelsea allowed her gaze to drift once more to the faces she'd noticed upon entering. Behind Stan Breckshire sat two sophisticated-looking defense attorneys, a gray-haired man who was probably in his early sixties and a young Hispanic woman. On the far side of the room two sheriffs, one male and one female, hunched on opposite sides of a battered desk, looking bored. A court reporter sat below the judge's raised platform at the top center of the room, repeating every word into the large, cupped microphone of her machine. Chelsea knew that the large computer monitor before the judge would immediately display her record of the proceedings. Another woman-the courtroom clerk-occupied a second desk near the judge, also with a computer.

"No," Chelsea replied.

"Okay. How about this case? Have you heard about it?"

"Yes, some. I've read about it in the newspaper and have seen some segments on the news." Her voice seemed so loud. Did she sound too forceful? Nervous?

"I see. Have these news stories led you to form an opinion as to the defendant's guilt or innocence?"

"No, not at all." Chelsea realized the words were too quick, springing truthfully from her past experiences. Hardly the words that would see her excused.

The attorney thumbed the corner of his notes. "You say that with some assurance."

Heat prickled Chelsea's scalp. "Yes. I mean, guilt or innocence is something that has to be proved in court. I really couldn't know just from the media."

"So you haven't heard anything in the reports that would prejudice you in any way regarding the guilt or innocence of this defendant?"

Chelsea shook her head. "No."

"Okay." The prosecutor paused, as if pondering his next question. His thumb picked up speed, riffling his papers in earnest. Irritation poked at Chelsea. Why couldn't he just come out with it? Get this foreboding discussion over with so she finally could be excused. She'd waited all day in the jury room, when she could have spent precious time with her husband, Paul, before he left on his business trip to England. And she still wanted to get some errands done before picking up her niece at the airport after her flight from Kansas. Kerra's arrival time was approaching all too soon.

"Ms. Adams," Breckshire said, obviously feigning ignorance, "have you ever been involved in a criminal trial before?"

Chelsea took a deep breath. Here it came. "Yes."

The attorney's face remained impassive. "Would you tell me about it, please?"

"I'll try." Chelsea hesitated, forming her words carefully. "I know it's hard for people to understand. It's hard for me to understand. But sometimes I'm able to 'see' things in my mind. The best words for describing this are probably 'seeing a vision.'"

The attorney nodded, urging her on.

"Last summer I had a vision about a murder. I didn't know who had been murdered or when, but I became sure it had happened in Trent Park in Haverlon. After a lot of deliberating, I went to the police.

Continues.

Excerpt


Chapter One

Stan Breckshire's right shoulder throbbed. The pain crept up his neck to the base of his skull and all the way down to his fingers. Great. His pinched nerve was cheerleading another touchdown, and the game hadn't even begun. Rah, rah, pretrial stress; let's give Stan another mess!

In the prosecutor's seat behind the counsel table, Stan held his arm out from his side, rotating it at the elbow. Then rubbed the pressure point in his neck. Not even through with jury selection yet, and just look at him. Today's panel of potential jurors had been the lousiest he'd ever seen, and apparently the worst was yet to come in the search for the second and final alternate.

The courtroom door opened behind Stan. He resisted the urge to look back, although both defense attorneys did so. With such pleasant faces, he might add. Stan worked to keep his own expression as pleasant as possible. He was well aware of the twelve jury members and first alternate already seated in the jury box, watching the attorneys' moves with morbid curiosity.

"Come on in, folks," Judge Carol Chanson greeted the last two stragglers as a bailiff led them in. "I know it's been a long day for you. If you'll have a seat at the end of the first row in the jury box, I'll explain how we might need you."

Stan's eyes darted to the two people taking their seats. One very impatient-looking man. And a knockout of a woman in her mid-thirties. Shoulder-length, cinnamon-colored hair and matching eyes. Clear skin and a trim figure, well fitted into an expensive-looking green silk shirt and off-white, belted pants. She fairly oozed grace and intelligence. Stan's heart sank.

Chelsea Adams looked even worse than he'd imagined.

Quickly he shuffled papers before him. Anything to keep from staring at her. He wondered if T. C., as he privately called lead defense attorney Terrance Clyde, or his sidekick, Erica Salvador, had any hint of who this woman was. As fate would have it, the defense shared the same sinking boat with Stan-they'd used the last of their preemptory challenges allotted for alternates. Stan almost smirked. Nice little irony to their demanding a change of venue. Monterey County had its share of eccentrics, but it would have had to work mighty hard to spit out a sample the likes of this woman.

Knowing T. C., he'd probably used one of the minions on his fat payroll to run a check on the names of summoned people as soon as the attorneys received their lists that morning. All by his lonesome, Stan had wheedled help from a gum-snapping secretary in the district attorney's office. With rolling eyes, she'd finally agreed to check his list against the criminal clerk's records, finding out which people had previously served on a jury. But of course that's not how he'd heard the stuff on Chelsea Adams. Rather it was the I-know-something-you-don't-know look on the face of some deputy D.A. he'd run into during break just fifteen minutes ago. Someone in county records had noticed an infamous name on the list and had said something to her coworker, who'd said something to someone else, who'd run into said deputy D.A. during lunch hour.

As in every county, gossip was alive and well within the courthouse walls. Stan had heard an earful and reentered the courtroom with rising panic.

Stan rubbed his arm, wincing. So what? At the very worst, the woman would only be second and final alternate. Ifshe got past his questioning at all, which she wouldn't.

Judge Chanson slid on her gold-rimmed reading glasses and, for the benefit of the newly arrived, began to read the complaint against the defendant. That in The People vs. Welk , Darren Wayne Welk was charged with second-degree murder under Penal Code Section 187, yada, yada. Stan forced his eyes to the judge, barely hearing her words. Not that he needed to. He'd heard them at least two dozen times since that morning, every time a new batch of potential jurors had entered the courtroom.

"Okay." Judge Chanson exchanged one paper for another, her glasses still perched on her nose. The ends were attached to a purple chain around her ample neck. Her salt-and-pepper hair was cut short, leaving nothing to frame her double chin. "First we have Greg Seecham. Mr. Breckshire?"

You're my boy, Greg , thought Stan as he pushed back from the table, automatically pulling his tie. He hustled to the podium that faced the jury, making eye contact with Mr. Seecham. "Good afternoon." The guy looked almost too good to be true. A yuppie white businessman, every prosecutor's dream. Brown hair perfectly coifed; the drawn, beleaguered face of stressful success; and a designer suit-right down to the magenta power tie. Stan knew that yuppies tended to fear crime, be fiercely protective of their property, and usually hadn't suffered enough to be sympathetic to some defendant. Unfortunately, the man also brimmed with impatience, obviously not happy at missing a full day at the office. Stan opened his mouth to begin questioning, hoping against hope that Seecham wouldn't claim work hardship.

"Your Honor, I have a real problem with staying." Seecham addressed the judge as if Stan weren't there. "Since I received my summons, things have now changed at my start-up software company, and I'm the only one there who can ."

Uh-uh, too late for a sob story.It was the end of the day and everyone was tired. Besides, these two were it for the panel. No one wanted to wait for another group to be called.

"Let's talk about this, Mr. Seecham," Stan pushed in before the judge could reply. "Court usually ends around five o'clock, and this case is only expected to take about two weeks. Can you manage to work in the evenings just for that long?"

"No way; that's not enough time!" the man replied, as if the mere thought were ludicrous.

"Well, is there a coworker who can fill in for you?"

" No.As I said, I'm the only one who knows how to run the place."

"And the staff can't do without you for just a few days? Surely you have a cell phone. You could check in during breaks."

Seecham's face compressed. "I can't run the office from a courtroom. We're right in the middle of some very important projects, and I haveto be there all day."

"Could you possibly-"

"Mr. Seecham," Judge Chanson cut in, her tone betraying impatience. She leaned forward, puffing herself out over her cherry wood desk as if to intimidate Mr. Irreplaceable with her very size. "I know this is a difficult time for you. But jury duty is what it says-a duty that should be fulfilled if at all possible."

"I understand that, but for me it isn'tpossible. Not at this time." Greg Seecham began ticking off manicured fingers like a scolding young parent. "First of all, we've run into problems with the software program we were supposed to launch last week. Every day we take to fix those problems, we lose an estimated $267,000. Second, another program ."

Stan Breckshire hung on to the podium, right arm throbbing, as Greg Seecham fired every shot from his company's heavy artillery. The man started quoting numbers right and left-amounts of dollars his company would lose on this project and that one. All with multiple zeros. And of course they weren't just hisdollars; they were the investors'dollars, blather, blather. His boy or not, Stan wanted to wrap his hands around the man's starch-collared neck and choke him silly.

"All right, Mr. Seecham," the judge intoned, pulling off her glasses, "we get the picture." She sat back in her large black leather chair with a sigh. "Mr. Clyde, anything you want to add here?"

"Well, Your Honor," T. C. said without rising, his baritone voice oozing empathy, "I think we should let Mr. Seecham go. Clearly, he has a work hardship issue that simply can't be overcome."

Well, thought Stan, there was his answer. T. C. hadn't a clue who Chelsea Adams was.

"I'm not so convinced of that." The judge fingered the chain on her glasses, eyeing Greg Seecham. "A company of this apparent size is certainly maintained by more than one person. I think-"

"I don't even see why this defendant needsa trial," Seecham growled suddenly, casting a purposeful glance at the jurors down his row. "He's obviously guilty."

"Your Honor!" T. C. protested, half-rising from his seat. He shook his gray, craggy head at the judge as if to say, "What more do you need?"

Judge Chanson narrowed hard eyes at Seecham. Her wide jaw set and her chest swelled with air. Stan cringed. Seecham's gig was obvious enough, but Stan knew the judge couldn't give him a chance for further prejudicial statements in the presence of the jury. Even if the other members were giving him looks of pure derision. Seecham stared back at the judge with a spit in the Constitution's eye. Stan could have punched the guy. He hoped Greg Seecham's software company bit the dust. And gagged on it.

Judge Chanson arched back in her chair, still staring daggers. "You are excused, Mr. Seecham." Her words were clipped. Seecham darted from his seat, slithered past the knees of Chelsea Adams, and made for the door. Judge Chanson lodged her glasses on her nose just so and busied herself with papers, her eyes flicking up to aim one last knife at Mr. Yuppie's fast departing back.

The courtroom door closed. The judge took a cleansing breath. "All right," she announced tiredly, then checked her list. "Chelsea Adams."

Stan Breckshire's heart fell to his toes. Greg Seecham's trail still slimed the courtroom floor, and now he needed to convince Judge Chanson to excuse the last juror for cause.

No problem, Stan rallied himself. He'd produce enough cause, all right.

"Good afternoon, Ms. Adams." Stan bobbed his head, lips pulling back for a brief moment. The faces of his peers back in Monterey County flashed like neon before him. He could just imagine their head-shaking upon hearing he'd let this babe on his jury. Could just hear his nemesis Harry Kent blabbing it up, feigned sympathy on his face and a jingle in his step. And Stan wouldn't be around to defend himself.

Well, no matter, because he wasn't about to let that happen. No way, no how. Whatever it took, Stan Breckshire was going to get the religious lunatic named Chelsea Adams out of his jury box.

Chapter Two

Chelsea sat straight-backed in the padded jury chair, keenly aware of her surroundings. Every color, every scent, seemed to flood her senses. She at least was glad they were in a different courtroom, and even on a different floor, from last year. That one would have held far too many memories. This courtroom, 2H, was on the second floor, while the Trent Park case had taken place on the fourth.

Darren Welk . second-degree murder .

The judge's voice still whirled in Chelsea's head. A case not even from her county, and of all people shewas sitting in the jury box.

"Good afternoon, Ms. Adams." The attorney standing before her looked to be in his mid-thirties, slight in build and short. His nose was large and hooked, his eyes small and dark. Chelsea braced herself as she watched him move with quick, nervous motions. She was sure he'd recognized her name. It was in the hunch of his shoulders, the unnecessary shuffle of his papers. Wariness crept through her.

"Good afternoon," she replied. She kept her voice level, casting a glance at the judge. The woman was studying her a little too intently.

"My name is Stan Breckshire." The prosecuting attorney bobbed his head again. "As you heard some minutes ago, I'm from Monterey County. This case has been moved here to the San Mateo County courts in what we call a change of venue. Let me first ask you, do you know anyone involved in this case?"

"I don't think so."

"Recognize anyone in the courtroom?"

Chelsea allowed her gaze to drift once more to the faces she'd noticed upon entering. Behind Stan Breckshire sat two sophisticated-looking defense attorneys, a gray-haired man who was probably in his early sixties and a young Hispanic woman. On the far side of the room two sheriffs, one male and one female, hunched on opposite sides of a battered desk, looking bored. A court reporter sat below the judge's raised platform at the top center of the room, repeating every word into the large, cupped microphone of her machine. Chelsea knew that the large computer monitor before the judge would immediately display her record of the proceedings. Another woman-the courtroom clerk-occupied a second desk near the judge, also with a computer.

"No," Chelsea replied.

"Okay. How about this case? Have you heard about it?"

"Yes, some. I've read about it in the newspaper and have seen some segments on the news." Her voice seemed so loud. Did she sound too forceful? Nervous?

"I see. Have these news stories led you to form an opinion as to the defendant's guilt or innocence?"

"No, not at all." Chelsea realized the words were too quick, springing truthfully from her past experiences. Hardly the words that would see her excused.

The attorney thumbed the corner of his notes. "You say that with some assurance."

Heat prickled Chelsea's scalp. "Yes. I mean, guilt or innocence is something that has to be proved in court. I really couldn't know just from the media."

"So you haven't heard anything in the reports that would prejudice you in any way regarding the guilt or innocence of this defendant?"

Chelsea shook her head. "No."

"Okay." The prosecutor paused, as if pondering his next question. His thumb picked up speed, riffling his papers in earnest. Irritation poked at Chelsea. Why couldn't he just come out with it? Get this foreboding discussion over with so she finally could be excused. She'd waited all day in the jury room, when she could have spent precious time with her husband, Paul, before he left on his business trip to England. And she still wanted to get some errands done before picking up her niece at the airport after her flight from Kansas. Kerra's arrival time was approaching all too soon.

"Ms. Adams," Breckshire said, obviously feigning ignorance, "have you ever been involved in a criminal trial before?"

Chelsea took a deep breath. Here it came. "Yes."

The attorney's face remained impassive. "Would you tell me about it, please?"

"I'll try." Chelsea hesitated, forming her words carefully. "I know it's hard for people to understand. It's hard for meto understand. But sometimes I'm able to 'see' things in my mind. The best words for describing this are probably 'seeing a vision.'"

The attorney nodded, urging her on.

"Last summer I had a vision about a murder. I didn't know who had been murdered or when, but I became sure it had happened in Trent Park in Haverlon. After a lot of deliberating, I went to the police.

Continues.

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