When her client entered the room, Laurel turned to the cops.
“Are you kidding me?”
Timothy Perkins’ face was a mess: his nose was broken, his eyebrow arch had been cut and he had a black eye, as well as a nasty bruise on his temple. And from the way he limped, a couple of damaged ribs. The young man was bludgeoned. They’d used him as a freaking punching bag. She’d expected some violence but this was beyond what she’d feared. As the young man sat – slumped really – on the chair opposite her, she took in the injuries. He was in a bad shape. She flashed an angry look to Detective Johnson. At least the cop had the decency of looking sheepish.
“Did you put him with general?”
“What if we did?” His colleague retorted, but he too seemed ill-at-ease.
“You know perfectly well what happens to people…” she took a deep breath.
She knew what happened to children rapists who got stuck with common criminals. She’d heard more than once that they deserved what happened to them in there. But Perkins hadn’t been sentenced yet; he was supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
The problem was that someone on social media found something that even Perkins hadn’t known: his father’s name. Once they tied Perkins to the man they called the Child Reaper, the information was shared on every single social media outlet. Within the hour it was on TV and less than 3 hours later the young man was arrested, booked and in jail. She still hadn’t figured out who had leaked the information and most importantly how they could know.
But social media and TV had a field day: the boy following in his father’s footsteps down to the method. The perfect copycat. Having learned from his dad.
That Perkins had nothing to do with Lionel Harrison didn’t even cross their mind. His mother was lucky enough to survive Harrison’s assault; but what 14 year old girl is ready to have a kid? Particularly one whom she hadn’t wanted in the first day. Of course she’d given the baby up for adoption. And now this child was caught in a net not of his doing.
“Hi Miss Keaton.” He wheezed. Geez he could have a pierced lung for all she knew.
“Have you been seen by a doctor Mr. Perkins?”
“Yes. I’m good.”
She had to tell him about his father. His parents said Timothy knew he was adopted but they hadn’t known the father’s name either. And now… they weren’t sure how to deal with that. He was their son and they loved him, but they couldn’t reconcile their 20 year old son with the monster his father was. She’d tried to tell them not to because they’d made sure he was a good person, but she couldn’t even imagine what they were going through.
“I know Miss Keaton. About my dad. They told me while… well they beat me up.”
“I’m sorry Mr. Perkins.”
“I didn’t do this Miss Keaton. I promise.”
“We know Timothy.”
She shouldn’t call him by his name; he was her client. But he seemed so lost she wanted to reassure him, as she sometimes did her own little boy.
She nodded. She’d shared some of the information she found out with the police and the ADA in charge of the case. She knew ADA Finch was under a lot of pressure from the DA office and the Mayor for this high profile trial; but she also knew that they wanted a conviction. And there were a number of leads that had been ignored because of the media circus. Perkins should never have been linked to that story.
But suddenly he’d been guilty without a trial, without a verdict: she sighed. Sometimes she wondered what was wrong with the world.
“You’re getting out Mr. Perkins. The police found out you couldn’t have done this.”
She turned to Detective Johnson who opened the manacles. Timothy’s eyes widened. And he cried. And as she took his arm he hugged her.
“Thank you. Thank you.”
“Let’s get you home Mr. Perkins.”
“They’re waiting for you at home.”
Detective Johnson and his colleague supported Mr. Perkins through the precinct and outside, while Laurel signalled her team to get the car. As she opened the door, a loud bang resounded. Laurel took cover between the doors before turning. Cops were constraining a man; lying flat on his stomach he was casting a satisfied glance upward. No! No!
She ran back to Perkins, while Johnson was calling the paramedic on his walkie talkie.
“He was guilty.” The man hissed as he passed. “Why do you care about some monster?”
All around people had their smartphones out and were filming. It became a struggle for the ambulance to get through.
He opened his swollen eyes.
“That’s ok Miss Keaton.”
“You’ll get through this.”
“I don’t care. Make sure you tell my parents I was innocent, will you?”
“Guilty until proven innocent…”
He didn’t finish his sentence and she was pushed away by the medics. She met Johnson’s gaze who seemed shocked. And angry. Perkins was shot on his watch. He might yet make it, but their job had changed now. He must have understood what she meant because he nodded his mouth a grim line.