To the readers: You may want to read the original story, "Was He Guilty?" before reading this story. I will mention a number of things from the first story. If you read the original story, it may make this story easier to understand. I felt that the story was left with to many unanswered questions. A big thank you to Estragon for editing this story.
I'm Joe Baker, a full-time appliance salesman and part-time writer. I have written a few books, but not sold enough to live on, till recently. I was asked by a man in prison if I would write his story.
Jeff was found guilty of killing three men with whom he was acquainted. I did post his side of the story for on-line readers like I promised. Afterward I continued checking on the past of his wife Darcy and her girlfriend Shauna. One of the men killed was Shauna's husband Brad.
I ended up finding a lot of information about these two women by going back to their old high school. I was surprised that no one checked deep into their pasts. I guess they figured they already had their killer in Jeff. The case did look rather cut and dried.
I turned the information I found over to Jeff's father. I thought it might give a little more closure. What I didn't expect was that these women would call my wife and threaten my family. I was now scared; I never wanted to put my family in harms way.
I guess I got lucky because late at night someone in a large white truck had run them off the road and they were both killed. I was happy that my family was safe. They haven't found the truck or the driver of the vehicle yet. Whoever it was did the world a favor. I'll tell you more about that later.
Mr. Johnson, Jeff's dad, had asked my wife Julie and me to come to his bank for a conversation. He said Jeff offered us sixty thousand dollars to write a book of his story. He wanted the world to know his side of the story. If I received any royalties on the book, it would be mine.
I left it up to Julie since I promised her I was done with the case. She said since Darcy and Shauna were dead she was no longer scared. I took the money and started to write the story.
Mr. Johnson contacted me after I showed him my early opinions. He had hired Jeff a new lawyer and wanted me to go over what Jeff considered flaws or lies in the women's stories. He also asked me to show her the backgrounds that I had uncovered in my personal investigations.
The new attorney was said to be one of the best in the country. Her name was Patricia Blake. I had to wonder why Jeff didn't hire her in the first place but then remembered that Darcy had gotten him his attorney.
Patricia was a beautiful woman but very serious. She wanted to know everything I had to say. She had read my story on the internet and asked me why I didn't post my opinions in it?
I explained that I had no real interest in the story but agreed to post Jeff's side of the story. After I had posted it I found I was going to Illinois to help open up a new store. Since Darcy was from there I thought I'd poke around a bit and found a lot of new information.
I wasn't sure what to do with it and gave it to Mr. Johnson. It was then that Jeff asked me to write the book and put in all the facts that I had found out.
I began telling Ms. Blake (she said I could call her Pat) about some things I didn't feel were right.
I mentioned to her that I'd be referring back to things that I had found out during my information gathering. In my book I was also asking questions of the Prosecuting Attorney's office about things that I didn't think were done properly.
"Tell me what you think. I'm interested in hearing it," said Pat.
"Jeff was seen driving erratically and was stopped by the police. He was covered in blood and the machete and handgun were both on the seat next to him. The police immediately asked him to lie on the ground and cuffed him. As they called for back up they kept questioning him.
"Looking back I kept asking myself questions. 'If I just killed three people, would I drive erratically down the highway and have the murder weapons on the seat next to me?'
"The answer kept coming up 'no'. Some of these questions I'm asking were asked by Jeff's attorney. He just didn't get Jeff's message across to the jury. There was just too much evidence against him. As I mentioned before, I also believed him to be guilty, but I now believe otherwise."
"You have a valid point. Anything else for now you'd like to tell me?" asked Pat.
"They spent so much time questioning him and then taking his clothes and other evidence that by the time they took his blood sample it just showed he had been drinking beer. His alcohol level was at a legal level. Any other drug that Jeff said he was given by Shauna could have easily dissipated. Also by him cleaning off the blood at the jail, he washed off any chance of gun residue. That's what the prosecution said.
"They couldn't prove he shot the gun but his finger prints were on it, and it was his gun. Why would he take both a machete and a gun to the cabin? Again, it doesn't add up. I remember watching Judge Judy and she always said, 'If it doesn't make sense, it probably isn't true.'
"I now believe there never was any gun residue since he didn't shoot anyone. Darcy and Shauna could have easily cleaned up before going to the movies. Shauna was checked for gun residue but none showed. Jeff had said that Shauna was with him, that's why they checked her for the residue. I believe now that she never shot the handgun.
"If I wanted to look at it from Jeff's point of view, it was Darcy who did the shooting before he and Shauna made it to the cabin, and Shauna used the machete to decapitate the three men after Jeff passed out from the drugs Shauna had given him.
"Again I have to ask myself, 'Why would a man kill three people, be covered in blood and drive like a banshee down the highway?' I have to believe Jeff was telling the truth.
"It doesn't mean Darcy and Shauna were guilty unless you believe that Jeff is telling the truth. Then you have to understand that someone is lying. You have to believe Jeff or Darcy and Shauna. The case seems much easier if you believe Jeff did it. All the evidence went that way. I guess it was easier for the jury to believe that it was Jeff, a pampered wimp kid. The one who got everything handed to him on a silver platter, he was lying. Or maybe it was easier believe two beautiful women who were brought up in orphanages and made a life for themselves."
"You've put a lot of thought into this. I want to hear more of what you have to say. I also want to go over the information you found out about Darcy and Shauna," replied Pat.
I sat down with Pat and took out all my notes on what I had found out about Darcy's and Shauna's pasts. She carefully looked at all my evidence and even contacted the same people I had talked with to make sure she received signatures on all the statements.
Seeing I was just trying to find out information, there was nothing binding on anyone, or of any kind of legal testimony in what I had. Pat was going to use this information for a possible retrial for Jeff. After we went over all my notes she asked me when I was going to release my book.
Even though I was writing it as suspense/fiction, seeing a lot of it was just assumptions that I made and that Jeff had also made, it could help get Jeff a new trial.
I told Pat that I was having my book released the following month. I didn't expect a lot of fanfare since the deaths occurred nearly a year ago.
She smiled at me and said, "We'll see about that."
By the time my book came out Pat had already filed for a new trial for Jeff. Most all the evidence she was using came out of my book. It was only a week later that Jeff was given a new trial. It was headline news and all over the television.
"Jeff Johnson given new trial. Was he guilty of murdering three men a year ago?" is what all the stations were saying.
Pat mentioned it would be an uphill climb since there was no proof other than speculation and guesses as to who else might have killed the three men. The prosecution were mad as hell that Jeff got another trial. They said they had no doubt that Jeff was the killer who took three innocent lives.
When the trial started I was one of the witnesses this time. I was on the stand for three days telling my story and what I had uncovered. In cross examination the prosecutor made out that I was only out to sell books.
I told the jury that when I first talked to Jeff that I believed he was guilty. When he started asking questions that weren't answered, I as a writer wanted to find the possible answers. The more I uncovered the more I thought that Jeff could be telling the truth.
Pat started by letting everyone know Darcy's parents were killed in an auto accident in Illinois and that Jeff's father, Harold Johnson, was the driver of the other vehicle. Pat was trying to show a possible motive for Darcy. Mr. Johnson had no idea that Darcy was the daughter of the man and woman that were killed. It happened over twenty years before.
This really surprised the prosecutors. No one had delved back into either Darcy's or Shauna's background. When Pat established that both women knew each other since high school and both lived in the same household, it surprised everyone.
Needless to say, Pat had to prove every point she made, seeing both women were killed in an auto accident. She was able to provide witnesses and paperwork on all the statements she was making. On the other hand the prosecutors had nothing new to add.
During the trial my book was selling like hotcakes. Now instead of being a porn author, I was considered a crime and suspense author. Julie stood with me through the whole trial. I think she was really proud of me and we became much closer and more financially secure since the release of my book.
Now the problem was, Pat couldn't prove that Darcy and Shauna were the guilty parties. What she had to do was establish a reasonable doubt that Jeff had done it.
Pat asked the same question of the investigators that Jeff had asked me. Why would a man covered in blood jump in a car and drive erratically? Especially if he just killed three men and had the murder weapons on his front seat?
The officers said he seemed very out of it at the time. They did say he kept saying he didn't do it even though they weren't sure what he was talking about till they went to Mark's cabin. They did feel it was an open and shut case once the bodies were found. The only other people that Jeff involved were his wife and Shauna. They were both seen coming out of the cinema. Their stories were the same and didn't agree with what Jeff had said.
Pat went back to Darcy's and Shauna's younger days. She talked about how she was abused and finding out who it was that Darcy stabbed. His name was Chester Williams. He was now deceased; he was shot in a holdup. He owned a party store that was robbed. What was odd is that after being shot he had a butcher knife stuck in his chest. The thieves got away with an undisclosed amount of money.
It was two years after he was stabbed by Darcy. It would have been her senior year. Darcy was questioned because of the prior stabbing but she had an alibi. She and Shauna had been shopping at the mall and had receipts showing their purchases. "Boy, that sounds familiar," said Pat. "Both shot and stabbed!