Home > Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(4)

Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(4)
Author: Melinda Leigh

Eric jerked straight. “But I didn’t do anything.”

“Someone sent you an e-mail with a pornographic video involving a minor.”

“Spencer’s girl broke up with him. He sent the video of them doing it to everybody at school.” He snorted, a disgusted sound. “How am I supposed to keep someone from sending me an e-mail?”

Good question. But if anyone found with e-mails containing child pornography could make that argument, conviction of pedophiles would be all but impossible. Morgan could argue lack of malicious intent on Eric’s behalf, but the outcome would depend on the judge.

“If we go to trial, and you’re convicted, the maximum sentence you could receive is four years.”

Eric paled. “Four years? Because stupid Spencer sent me an e-mail?”


“But I didn’t want it.” His eyes creased in confusion.

Morgan’s heart cracked. She used to be a tough-as-nails prosecutor, but her husband’s death in Iraq two years before and the experience of being a single mom to three little girls had peeled away her tough veneer. “I’m sorry you’re in this situation.”

“I don’t want to go to jail.” He chewed on his thumbnail.

“If you plead guilty, you’ll have to register as a sex offender, and you’ll have a criminal record with a felony conviction that will never go away.”

“This isn’t fair.” His eyes misted. He ducked his head and wiped his face with his hand. “What should I do?”

“Here’s the thing. The ADA has said the deal is a onetime offer. If you plead not guilty, he’ll pull his offer.”

“What a pri—jerk.”

“We don’t know what other evidence he has at this time. If you enter a not guilty plea, he’ll be forced to deliver that evidence. That’s called discovery.”

“I know. I watched My Cousin Vinny with my mom.” His bleak gaze leveled with hers. “If I take the deal, my life is basically over. What happens if I say no?”

“You plead not guilty, then the judge will set bail. We’ll try to get you out of here today.”

“I won’t have to spend another night in jail?” Eric brightened. “’Cause that place is fu—messed up.”

“That’s the plan.”

The smallest flicker of relief passed over his face.

Being defense counsel was new to her, but she was beginning to appreciate the importance of the role. When she’d worked in the prosecutor’s office in Albany, she hadn’t worried about sending innocent people to prison. Now she wondered if she ever had.

“The prosecutor says he has a confession,” she said.

“I didn’t confess to anything.” Eric’s voice rose.

“But you signed something . . .”

“Yeah.” Eric swept a hand through his shaggy hair. “The sheriff made me sign a statement. He said if I didn’t, the judge would go harder on me.”

“Did he read you your Miranda rights before this?”

“Yeah.” Eric nodded. “But he said calling a lawyer would make me look guilty, and maybe I wouldn’t get bail at all. Then I’d have to stay in jail.”

Morgan had dealt with Randolph County Sheriff King before. Strong-arm tactics were his claim to fame.

“We’ll argue that the sheriff coerced you into signing the confession. You said everyone at school had the video. Did you forward it to anyone?”

“No.” Eric’s lip curled. “I knew what it was. I deleted it as soon as I saw it in my in-box.”

Morgan’s pen froze. “You didn’t open the e-mail?”

“No.” Eric’s voice rose. He glanced around and lowered his tone. “Why?”

The guard signaled to Morgan.

“Our time is up.” She set down her pen. “Sit tight. I’ll work on getting you out of here.”

The guard led him away. Morgan headed for the DA’s office, located in an adjacent wing of the courthouse, and asked to see Esposito. The receptionist directed her to a conference room. She went inside and set her tote on the table.

“Hello, Morgan.” District Attorney Bryce Walters walked in, his smile white and predatory. Bryce had nearly been her boss, but two months ago she’d defended her neighbor in a high-profile murder case, upstaged Bryce, and forfeited any chance of working for him. She’d more than burned her bridges with the prosecutor’s office. She’d sent them up in a mushroom cloud.

“Bryce, I didn’t expect so see you. I thought Esposito was handling this case.”

“I’m just checking in.” He reached over the table and shook her hand, then pulled out a chair.

Normally, Bryce hid his emotions well, but he couldn’t quite cover the small gleam of satisfaction in his eyes.

She breathed through a flash of anger. He saw Eric’s case as a chance to get even with her.

“How is private practice treating you?” he asked.

“Very well, thank you.” She sat down and rested her forearm on the table. “I appreciate being able to pick my own cases and set my own hours.”

She had dinner with her three little girls almost every night, and she had an actual personal life. If she’d gone to work for Bryce, she’d have been lucky to get home by eight. But it was the smugness emanating from him that made her happy things had turned out the way they had.

This wasn’t a game. A young man’s life was at stake. No matter how aggressively she’d prosecuted criminals, she’d never treated them like pawns.

Esposito walked in, tossing a file on the table like he was dropping a mic. “Ready to deal?”

Morgan interlaced her fingers. “My client never opened the e-mail. He deleted it unread.”


Esposito’s mouth dropped open an inch before he snapped it shut. His eyes went cold and glittery with anger. Bryce’s jaw tightened, and he frowned at Esposito.

“Coerced confessions are often false. Next time the sheriff hands you a slam dunk, you might want to verify the details.” Morgan stood. She leaned forward, pressing her palms flat on the table. “I expect the charges to be dropped and my client released immediately.” She pushed off the table and collected her tote bag and coat. “Goodbye, gentlemen.”

Chapter Four

Lance followed Morgan into the duplex in the tiny business district of Scarlet Falls. His boss lived in the upstairs apartment, while the two-bedroom bottom unit had been converted into office space for Sharp Investigations. Two months ago, Morgan had rented the spare room for her new law practice.

They walked down the hall.

“Is Sharp in?” Morgan asked.

Lance ducked his head into his boss’s office. “No.”

Morgan stopped in her office to hang up her coat, then joined Lance in the kitchen. She went to the sink, wet a dishcloth, and dabbed at a spot on her skirt.

Lance pulled out his phone to check his messages. The battery was dead. He opened a kitchen drawer, took out a charger, and plugged in his phone. “Thank you again for helping Eric and his mom. They probably won’t be able to pay you much.”

“I know, but it was only a few hours of my time, and I wouldn’t have let Eric sit in jail, no matter what.”

“You can’t do all pro bono work.”

“I know that too.” She scrubbed at the spot. “But all I have on my plate is a DUI. I have the time.”

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