Requiem for Claire 8

Updated on October 30, 2019
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Ms. Williamson has been captivating the hearts of readers for decades. Her heroes are strong and daring while the antagonists, diabolical!

Who killed Claire Westbrook?
Who killed Claire Westbrook?

An Inevitable Assumption ...

“Your honor, ladies and gentlemen—although this is not a formal criminal trial, I wish to prove that the deceased, Claire Monique Westbrook did not die of a stroke resulting from a severe migraine episode but by a lethal dosage of Potassium Cyanine. At the time of her demise, her Assistant Amanda Anderson was the sole individual present. Her fingerprints are on the medication bottle. I would now request that Coroner Jeb Rogers give us a summary of his report and its findings.” Attorney Judd Warner looks in the direction of the coroner as he rises to give his testimony.

“Before examining Claire Westbrook, I made the assumption that she had succumbed to a stroke, manifested by a severe migraine incident. She had as everyone knew, a history of that complaint. However, the results prove this to be far from being accurate.

The hypostasis appeared to be brick-red due to excess oxyhemoglobin and the presence of cyanmethemoglobin. I also noticed a distinct smell of cyanide about the body—the odor of bitter almonds especially around the facial cavity.

Abetted with this discovery, I begin to evaluate the stomach contents. Because the poison was recently ingested, most of the pills were found in the stomach. I observed that the stomach lining was badly damaged and there was present a blackened, eroded surface. This is due to the strong alkaline nature of the potassium salts of cyanide. I further searched for cyanide concentration in such tissue as the liver, spleen and heart.

As death was rapid, little of the contents passed into the intestine. The esophagus was damage from regurgitation of the stomach contents through the relaxed cardiac sphincter after death. The findings of this autopsy are that Claire Monique Westbrook died from an acute ingestion of Potassium Cyanide.

“So this wasn’t a painless, quiet death?” Judd probes.

“Indeed not—it would be extremely painful. I would guess that someone had planned to slowly use the drug to kill her; it was however done with a large dose.” Jeb finishes his testimony but before Judd can proceed further Samantha Taylor-Abernathy raises her hand.

“Yes, Ms. Abernathy?” Judd responds.

“May I approach the bench along with you?’ Samantha requests.

“Of course.” Judd responds, already knowing what will transpire next. The two individuals stand before Judge Christensen nodding their heads and occasionally looking back at Amanda who is squirming in her seat. Then, Judge Christensen ask the lawyers to return to their chairs and speaks.

“This inquest is adjourned. Everyone please leave except Amanda Anderson.”

Rachel is relieved that she will not have to make a statement, but concerned that Amanda has been detained. As Rachel rises from her seat she looks at her husband Cedric. Neither she nor Cedric is smiling.

“It looks very bad for Amanda.” Cedric replies as he guides Rachel into the courtyard.

“I know. Do you think she killed Claire?” Rachel asks leaning against a pillar.

“No one was fond of the old girl—but no I don’t.” Cedric states.

“Neither do I. It won’t look good for us to hire a lawyer to defend my sister’s accused murderer.” Rachel states.

“No, it wouldn’t.” This time it is Judd. “What makes you so sure she didn’t do it?”

“Oh Judd—I didn’t see you there. She just doesn’t look like the type.” Rachel offers.

“That has yet to be proven. She had the motive and her prints are all over the bottle of medicine.” Judd states as he walks the couple to their car.

“That’s what makes it so obvious.” Rachel defends.

“I know you and your sister had your differences but surely you wouldn’t want her murderer to go free, would you?” Judd chides.

“Of course not—but I just don’t think that it was Amanda.” Rachel is stubborn regarding this.

“What’s going to happen to Amanda now?” Cedric interrupts.

“I believe there is enough information to officially charge Amanda Anderson with felony murder.” Judd retorts. “I can’t discuss anything more—you will be subpoenaed as a witness for the prosecution.”

Could Amanda really be guilty of killing Claire Westbrook?
Could Amanda really be guilty of killing Claire Westbrook?

“Oh no!” Rachel exclaims.

“I guess you were not aware of the fact that Claire had her home monitored with hidden cameras. She knew that she had enemies and the best way to deal with them were through surveillance.” Judd retorts.

“Oh dear—” Rachel rejoinders.

“What’s wrong, my sweet?” Cedric asks in concern.

“What rooms were monitored, Judd?” Rachel wants to know.

“The grand hall, the kitchen, the living room and Claire’s private quarters—why?” Judd raises an eyebrow.

“Then you must know that I visited Claire’s bedroom the night of the memorial.” This is news to Cedric.

“Ray, you never told me that you were at the house. What on earth were you doing there?” Cedric demands.

“I needed closure, that’s all.” Rachel is beginning to feel a little annoyed that her privacy is being violated in this way.

“Then why in heaven’s name didn’t you tell me? I would have gone there with you.” Cedric is infuriated.

“This was something I needed to do alone, Cedric. You have always been there—fighting my battles and winning my wars. You treat me as a fragile glass. The least amount of pressure and I would crack.” Rachel rebukes much to the surprise of both Cedric and Judd.

“If you will excuse me—this is something that the two of you need to resolve. I have some work to do at my office. From now on the Assistant District Attorney, Samantha Taylor-Abernathy or Sam as we call her, will be handling things. I am not a criminal lawyer. I was only here as a final act to my client. Good day!” Judd moves away from the car and heads to his own, satisfied with the knowledge that he has discharged his obligations to Claire.

“Rachel, this is a side of you that has been kept hidden for a long time. I guess you never really know a person.” Cedric responds in a voice filled with hurt.

“Cedric, darling you know me better than most. My sister ran my life with an iron fist. Always choosing what she felt was in my best interest.” Rachel is almost on the verge of tears.

“It was Claire that introduced you to me. I hope you don’t regret that.” Cedric examines his wife as if for the first time.

“Never!” Rachel proclaims proudly. “That was the one positive thing that Claire did that I never regret. Marrying you and having our daughters has always been the best thing that ever happened to me.” Rachel caresses her husband’s cheek tenderly.

“I always felt that I had to defend you from that tyrant of a sister. You seemed so sweet and vulnerable. She was a witch!” Cedric answers venomously.

“It is Amanda that we must focus our attention on. Someone wants to implicate her, and we need to discover who. We know she had been dating George Beasley.” Rachel reminds her husband.

“Had—did they break up. You are just full of surprises, my sweet.” Cedric marvels.

“George was pressuring Amanda to give him information on Claire’s business dealings. He was certain there had to be something he could use to cover his own discrepancies.” Rachel smiles.

“What’s that?” Cedric is intrigued as he starts the car to head for home.

“George was embezzling from the Cunningham Corporation and Claire caught him. She was a member of the Board of Directors.” Rachels relays.

“Well, I’ll be ...” A stunned Cedric retorts. “I wonder—”

To Be Continued ...

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    © 2019 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS

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      • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

        Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

        7 months ago from Memphis

        The trial will soon begin … will Amanda be cleared of all charges?

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