A Strong Woman - Cover

A Strong Woman

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay


The indictment came just about a month after the arrest, of course, and we're now waiting to see what will happen. We all hope, of course, that the case will go to trial, or that Higgins will plead guilty to the toughest charge. But whether the DA decides to try the case, or go for a plea deal, depends on a couple of factors. One is the case load. I've served on the grand jury myself, and I know that there are literally thousands of cases waiting at any given time. The grand jury hears 20 or so cases every day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year, government holidays excepted. In a week, then, that comes to 100 cases or so – over 5,000 cases a year, and that's just the ones where the DA, seeing a prosecutable felony, decides to seek an indictment.

The other factor is the evidence. If the DA isn't completely confident that his case is solid, or if the defense attorney convinces the DA that he can successfully create reasonable doubt in court, the DA will offer or accept a plea agreement.

That's why proposed indictments usually have more than one charge. For instance, if the primary charge is trafficking by possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, the DA will also list what they call the lesser included charge – simple possession of a controlled substance. That way he can say, "If you'll plead guilty to possession, we'll drop the trafficking charge, and you'll get a lesser sentence than if you fight it and get convicted of trafficking."

So whether the case will go to trial, and what sentence Higgins might receive, are up in the air. But at least we caught him. It was, truly, a team effort. I ran the private investigation, but I had help from four PIs and a PI in training, plus a whole bunch of volunteers. Burque IDed the suspect from the photos that Cecelia took. The arrest was Cecelia's, with help from three others. We turned the evidence and the suspect over to the cops, who added what we had to their own files and turned the case over to the DA. And it went into my files that way – it would have in any event, but Cecelia's insistence on complete records made it inevitable.

And I'm going to take a break. It was a tough investigation, and before I start another one I want to unwind. Then there's Burque's move to think about. I've conceived the notion that instead of just finding her another apartment, we might help her move into a house. We could help her put together the down payment and closing costs and whatever else there might be – I have no idea since I've never bought a house – and guarantee the mortgage for her. That would be another expense, and we're pouring out quite a bit of money helping Letty fight to adopt Laura, but we've got money to burn. And since, having chosen to help Letty in that struggle, Cecelia's put us back on a money-making footing, our income has risen dramatically; she's a financial genius and the only reason we're not the richest people in Albuquerque is that we have no desire to be.

And we do want to be available for Letty. Her lawyer is pushing for a quick resolution, knowing that delays merely aid Laura's mother, who sold her to the pornographers, and the pornographers themselves, who through a front company are supporting the mother. I didn't find that out – I suggested the possibility to the lawyer, who had his own investigator do some digging. We want, whenever it's time to testify, to be able to put down our books, put on our coats, and drive down to the courthouse.

And we want to spend time with Darlia. I'd told Cecelia that she wasn't neglecting our daughter, but by the end of the case I began to think that I was doing so. It's long been our habit to go for walks together, just father and daughter, and as she gets older she's liable to want to discontinue the custom – not many teenagers want their friends to see them walking with their dad. Darlia's growing up, and while she loves Letty and Laura, and so do I for that matter, I don't want her to grow up there. I want her with me. I want to see her experience her first crush, I want to be there to comfort her when she has her first breakup with a boyfriend, I want to whistle at her in her prom dress, I want to congratulate her on her first job after high school or her acceptance into college, as the case may be.

So for all these reasons, I plan to take some time off. Investigation is my work, work that I enjoy, but it's not my life. That's my family. They come first, not my office.

In fact, I may not go back to the office. Cecelia says she's been talking to the owner of the house next door, the one that's for sale, and she may be able to get us a good deal. The next time I go to work, it may be through a gate in the back yard fence.

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