Scott stood in front of the jury for a few silent moments, just peering at them. He had his hands in his pockets and was completely still.
After a few long moments, he finally spoke. “On May 22, 2003, Elizabeth Webber married Richard Lansing. She’s twenty-two and beautiful as anyone can plainly tell. She’s sitting in the back, by the way,” Scott gestured to where Elizabeth was sitting. “She was also pregnant.”
After long moment of silence.
“On May 23, 2003, Elizabeth Webber, now Elizabeth Lansing, met with the defendant, Michael Corinthos, Jr. at Rice Plaza. She met to plead for a truce between Sonny Corinthos and her husband, Ric Lansing, who had admitted to being Sonny’s half brother. A newlywed pregnant woman who just wanted peace in her family and really who can blame her?” Scott said with a charming smile.
“But after an unsuccessful meeting, Elizabeth, realizing she’d never get through to Sonny, walked away.” Scott surveyed the jury carefully, making eye contact with everyone. For all his shortcomings, when Scott wanted to be, he was an incredible lawyer and he’d never wanted to win a case so badly before.
“Elizabeth Lansing, a newlywed with a family to start doesn’t remember what happened after that point. She woke up in General Hospital almost ten hours later after surgery to correct internal bleeding and sadly, suffering a miscarriage.”
Scott turned and met Robyn’s eyes before looking at her client. “Ric Lansing found his wife lying unconscious at the bottom of the stairs at Rice Plaza and Elizabeth remembers being pushed. Now, if you remember, I told you that Elizabeth walked away first. She says that and the defendant agrees. She walked away from the fight but that wasn’t enough for Sonny Corinthos. To be defied openly by a woman, by the wife of his enemy…” Scott shook his head. “He wasn’t going to take that. He was going to finish this.”
Robyn shook her head and made some notations.
“Now, maybe he didn’t mean to push her, maybe he just reached out to grab her and to finish the fight. We don’t know. But what we do know is that Elizabeth Lansing was pushed down those steps and that they both admit the only other person there that night was Sonny Corinthos.”
“I will prove that there is no question that he pushed her. He is guilty of assault and I only wish we could prosecute him for the death of the child she was carrying because certainly, if anyonedeserves justice, it is that innocent child.”
Lucky wrapped an arm around Elizabeth’s trembling shoulders. Scott was reminding them all that the real crime here was not Elizabeth’s injuries, but the loss of her child. Lucky would agree with that, but he wished the defendant was at least guilty.
“Thank you,” Scott said another a moment of silence. He smiled charmingly before taking his seat.
“Ms. Nichols,” Judge Stevenson prompted.
Robyn cleared her throat, took a sip of her water and stood, smoothing her skirt down. “Good morning,” she said briskly as she rounded the table and faced the jury. “I’m Robyn Nichols and I represent the defendant, Michael Corinthos, Jr.”
“The state has most of its facts straight. Elizabeth Lansing did marry the day before the assault. She is twenty-two and she is sitting in the back. She did meet with Sonny Corinthos and she did walk away first. After that, she only remembers being pushed.”
“My client is a popular name to read in the Port Charles Herald,” Robyn continued. “But I remind you that doesn’t matter here. All that matters are the facts and the fact is, not even the victim believes Sonny Corinthos is guilty.”
There was a burst of whispers in the courtroom as Scott leapt up. “Objection.”
“You can’t object,” Judge Stevenson said. “Not if Ms. Nichols intends to back that statement up.”
“I will when Elizabeth Lansing testifies,” Robyn assured him. Scott sat back down and Robyn continued. “Mrs. Lansing will also testify that she and the defendant are friends, have been for years. She works for his wife’s mother in their diner. Her name has been linked several times to Mr. Corinthos and to his business partner Jason Morgan in the newspapers. There is no bad blood between the victim and my client, and Mrs. Lansing will confirm that.”
“My client has been charged because it was convenient. He and Mrs. Lansing were the only two present. But once Mrs. Lansing walked away, my client turned his back and walked inside. And at that time anyone could have come up the second set of stairs. Or…” Robyn paused. “Someone could have been waiting for Elizabeth to walk away. What matters is that Sonny Corinthos is not guilty and I have every confidence that you will return a verdict of not guilty.”
Robyn smiled at the jury before taking her seat.
“Your first witness, Mr. Baldwin.”
“The state calls Dr. Karl Oldham.”
Dr. Oldham was the doctor that had operated on Elizabeth and the general gist of his testimony was to report that Elizabeth had had some minor internal bleeding, a concussion and some bruised ribs. The fetus–Elizabeth had cringed when the doctor had referred to the baby that way–had been nine weeks old and the miscarriage was not unexpected, though they’d taken every precaution to prevent it.
When Scott was finished, Robyn had just one question. “Dr. Oldham, did any of Mrs. Lansing’s injuries indicate who had pushed her?”
“Did Mrs. Lansing wake up at any point and tell you?”
Dr. Oldham stepped down and Scott called Mac to the stand.
“Commissioner, you decided to handle this case personally didn’t you?” Scott asked once Mac had taken his seat and been sworn in.
“Yes, I felt that a personal approach to a case like this might be the better solution,” Mac answered.
“When you took Mrs. Lansing’s statement, did she state for the record that she had been arguing with the defendant and if so, what was the argument about?”
“She stated that she and the defendant were talking heatedly and she indicated that the conversation was about her husband.”
“Did Mrs. Lansing indicate whether or not she saw Sonny walk away before she headed for the stairs?”
“No,” Mac answered stiffly.
“You later interviewed Sonny Corinthos. Did his statement fit Mrs. Lansing’s?” Scott asked.
“Their statements agreed right up until the end. Mr. Corinthos remarked that Mrs. Lansing walked away first and then he left.”
“What about Sonny’s guard, Max Giambetti?”
“Mr. Barker stated that he was waiting inside and did not see anything. Mr. Corinthos came inside and they left.”
“Is there any evidence indicating that Sonny Corinthos actually walked away?”
“No,” Mac said reluctantly. “Other than his word.”
“Thank you.” Scott returned to his seat.
Robyn stood. “Just a few questions, Commissioner. Did Mrs. Lansing indicate what she thought when it became apparent that my client was the prime suspect?”
“Objection, speculation,” Scott barked without bothering to stand.
“Mrs. Lansing stated that she did not think Mr. Corinthos was guilty. That she knew him and did not believe him capable of pushing her.”
“Did Mrs. Lansing give you any other names during the course of your investigation?” Robyn asked.
“Objection, leading the witness.”
“I’ll rephrase,” Robyn said quickly. “Commissioner, during the investigation, was Sonny Corinthos the only suspect?”
“No,” Mac answered. “We also suspected Faith Roscoe. Mr. Lansing stated that Mrs. Roscoe had placed a poisonous snake in his wife’s studio and later admitted it to him.”
“Is Faith Roscoe still a viable suspect?” Robyn asked.
“Until someone is convicted,” Mac answered, “the investigation remains open.”
“Is there any other evidence that Faith Roscoe might have committed this crime?”
“Mrs. Lansing told me that Mrs. Roscoe called that night and told her that Sonny and Ric were still angry with each other,” Mac replied. “Mrs. Lansing indicated that she was worried since both men have volatile tempers and had fought badly in the past.”
“And Mrs. Lansing thinks it’s possible that Mrs. Roscoe might have wanted to lure her from her apartment that night?”
“Objection, leading the witness.”
“I’ll rephrase,” Robyn said again. “Commissioner, what did Mrs. Lansing say in regards to this call?”
“Mrs. Lansing got the feeling that Mrs. Roscoe wanted her to talk to Sonny. After which, she called the defendant.”
“Commissioner Scorpio, do you believe that my client is guilty with the crime he is charged with?”
“No,” Mac answered, spurring more fervent whispers. “No, I don’t. And I intend to continue the investigation.”
“Thank you. No further questions.”
“Redirect your Honor,” Scott said. “Commissioner, is there any evidence that Faith Roscoe was even present the night in question?”
“You may step down, Commissioner.”
“It’s going okay, don’t you think?” Elizabeth asked softly. She searched Lucky’s eyes before looking at Emily and Nikolas. “Robyn’s doing a good job.”
“She is,” Lucky said. “But…”
“But what?” Elizabeth asked.
“But this is still Sonny Corinthos on trial. They might not care.”
She sighed and watched as Scott shuffled his notes. He called the paramedic who’d taken Elizabeth to the hospital. He’d just recited the injuries again, said that the fetus had been in distress at that point. No, Mrs. Lansing didn’t wake the entire trip to the hospital.
Once the paramedic stepped down, the judge called a recess for lunch and Elizabeth stood on shaky legs. “Scott’s at the end of his case already. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.”
“It is, he has no evidence,” Nikolas assured her. He wrapped an arm around Elizabeth. “Let’s go to the Grille for lunch.”
“Can I meet you there?” Elizabeth asked. “I need to speak with Robyn.”
“Sure,” Summer said. “Do you want me and Lucky to wait? We’ll drive you over.”
“It’s only a few blocks, I’ll be fine,” Elizabeth replied. They left the courtroom and she hesitantly approached the front of the courtroom where the Corinthos-Morgan family was still seated, whispering among themselves.
“Robyn?” Elizabeth said.
“What do you want?” Courtney demanded. “Can’t you see she’s busy?”
Robyn glared at the blonde. “I can speak for myself,” she seethed. “I’ve got it all under control anyway.” She stood and pulled Elizabeth aside. “I wanted to speak with you anyway. Your husband dropped off some notes–”
“I know. I just wanted to know what they were,” Elizabeth said. “I was hoping they weren’t anything like outrageous so that he can stall the proceedings.”
“Actually, they’re pretty straightforward,” Robyn remarked. She moved aside back to the table to fish out Ric’s notes. Forgetting the interested stares of her client and his family, she started to read. “He wants to give you a two hundred thousand dollar settlement, to buy you a house in any location in town and an alimony of about three thousand a month. He said he wanted to have it higher, but he was worried you’d reject.”
Elizabeth stared at her. “Let me get this straight. Ric just wants to give me a settlement, a house and some alimony?”
Robyn nodded. “I was surprised. From his reaction at the arraignment, I was expecting more of a fight, but he just said that the divorce was something you seemed to want and he wanted to do what was right for you for a change.” She peered at her client. “What do you think?”
“Isn’t this a conflict of interest?” Courtney demanded suddenly. Robyn and Elizabeth turned to the blonde. “I mean, Sonny is on trial for pushing you, Elizabeth. Couldn’t you have found your own damn lawyer?”
“Excuse me for a moment,” Robyn said, “I see that I have a blonde to kill.” She glared at her client’s sister. “What did I tell you about pretending that I work for you?” she demanded.
“You can’t talk to me like that!”
“The hell I can’t. I don’t take orders from you, you insipid little twit. In case you didn’t notice, Elizabeth here is on Sonny’s side. There is no conflict of interest because Elizabeth agrees that he’s innocent,” Robyn snarled. “You moron.”
“Okay, watch it,” Carly declared, rising to her feet. “You should have more respect for her.”
“As soon as she respects that I pick my own clients, that I can handle my own case,” Robyn retorted. “She is not my keeper. The only person I answer to is my assistant.” She frowned. “Speaking of which, where is Georgie?”
“Right here, Ms. Nichols,” Georgie piped up nervously from the row behind Courtney, Carly and Jason. “I didn’t want to interrupt.”
“Okay, good.” Robyn pressed a hand to her temple. “Take Miss Matthews outside for some coffee or something since she can’t endeavor to keep her mouth shut.”
“Robyn,” Jason said. “Could you just knock off the smart ass comments?”
“Sure. As soon as your fiancée butts the hell out.” Robyn shook her head and looked at Dillon next to Georgie. “Wait, change that. Dillon, you take the fiancée. Georgie, come over her and take notes for me, okay?”
“So does this mean I have a job?” Dillon asked, grinning.
“Yeah, you’re my host,” Robyn remarked dryly. “Take her.”
“This isn’t over,” Courtney snarled as she followed Dillon out of the courtroom.
“Goody,” Robyn muttered. “Okay, are the three of you okay while I finish this divorce thing for Elizabeth?” she asked Carly, Sonny and Jason.
“You’re getting divorced?” Carly asked surprised. “Why?”
“I would think it was obvious,” Elizabeth remarked coolly. “Robyn…I have no objections save for one. I don’t want that much of a settlement. Tell him to name any number under a hundred thousand and he’s got a deal. I also don’t want him present when I pick out this house. I really don’t want a damn thing from him, but I’d rather take it and have this over more quickly.”
“That’s fine.” Robyn glanced at Georgie. “You got that.”
“No more than a hundred thousand for settlement and stay out of her face during house hunting,” Georgie read back.
“That works,” Elizabeth replied. “I need to get to lunch. When do you think you’re calling me?”
“If Scott rests his case after lunch like I expect he will?” Robyn shrugged. “As soon as I open my case. You’re my star witness, kid. So be prepared. Don’t eat any pasta.”
“Pasta?” Elizabeth echoed.
“Yeah, I had a witness who had some pasta before she went on the stand. She got so nervous and completely hurled. Pasta looks much worse coming back up,” Robyn reported.
“Well, there goes my appetite,” Elizabeth murmured, smiling. “See you after lunch.”
Jessica Mitchell was waiting at the entrance of the restaurant, just out of sight from Elizabeth’s table.
Elizabeth had to smile at the reporter’s tactics and she approached her first. “Hi, I’m Elizabeth Lansing. My friend Lucky told me that you were looking for me.”
Jessica blinked. “Wow. You…you just came right up to me. That’s…that’s never happened before.”
“Oh?” Elizabeth asked. “How long have you been doing this?”
“A year, but this is my first real story. I’ve been doing obituaries and birth announcements and a few editorials up until now,” Jessica said. “The only reason I got this assignment was that Lily Bueller is on maternity leave, Frank Josephs is on vacation and Barb Neilsen has been banned from covering stories that cover Sonny Corinthos.”
“So, you were kind of the last resort?” Elizabeth asked.
“I like that.” She gestured to the inside of the restaurant. “Join us for lunch. We can set up a good time to meet and talk.”
“You’d really give me an interview?”
“An exclusive one,” Elizabeth said as they walked inside.
“Why?” the reporter asked. “I mean, you don’t even know me.”
“No, but I like what I’ve seen so far,” Elizabeth replied.
“What did you bring her for?” Lucky complained, catching sight of Jessica.
Jessica narrowed her eyes. “You’re a horse’s ass, you know that right?”
“Okay, okay, Jessica is here as my guest,” Elizabeth cut off Lucky’s angry retort. “I’ve decided to give her an interview but right now, she’s not a reporter and I’m not the story. We’re going to have lunch and go back to the courthouse, okay?”
Nikolas stood and pulled an empty chair for Jessica. “Ms. Mitchell, I’m Nikolas Cassadine. This is Emily Quartermaine, Summer Holloway and you know the horse’s ass.” Lucky tossed his brother an nasty look.
“Thank you, and it’s Jessica,” she remarked, taking her seat. Nikolas pulled another chair out for Elizabeth.
“So, what do you think of the trial so far?” Emily asked Jessica. “Do you think it’s going well?”
“I think both sides have scored some good points. Robyn Nichols is a good lawyer, she’ll get Sonny acquitted, but she’s got her work cut out for her. Even with Elizabeth’s testimony, people still have a view of Sonny Corinthos that’s not altogether flattering,” Jessica answered briskly as she flipped her menu open.
“And not altogether undeserved,” Nikolas supplied.
“Robyn was right in bringing up Faith Roscoe, though. Faith is more of a mystery to the jury. By placing the blame on her and bringing her into light, she takes the shine from Sonny. She’ll probably portray Sonny as a businessman who loves his family while Faith is just an obsessive bitch.”
“Sounds like you know Faith,” Elizabeth murmured, a tiny smile on her face.
“You can’t have lived in this town over the last year and not have come across Faith Roscoe,” Jessica replied. “She’s a bitch who practically haunts the docks and unfortunately, that’s where my apartment is.”
“So, what angle are you going for in your story?” Nikolas inquired.
“I thought we weren’t going to do this over lunch,” Elizabeth protested.
“No, no, it’s okay,” Jessica cut in. She cleared her throat. “The main story is Elizabeth. My predecessor made the mistake of concentrating on Sonny, but Lily’s an idiot. I think the real story here is Elizabeth and her past friendship with Sonny. If I can get some people to concentrate on Sonny the man instead of Sonny the abstract mobster, he’ll be more firmly rooted in reality for the reader and the opinion polls might swing the other way.”
“But the opinion polls mean nothing,” Lucky interrupted.
“On the contrary, I’ve done some research. Scott Baldwin keeps up with the public opinion polls. The more the public swings the opposite way, the more flustered he gets during the trial. The more points he loses, the more ground Robyn can cover. It’s all very simple.”
“Well, if you think you can swing the popular opinion the other way,” Elizabeth said. “Then I think we need to do this.”
“Great,” Jessica said, pleased. “At your earliest convienence of course.”
“I still say this is a bad choice.”
Elizabeth glared at Lucky. “Lucky, I know you’re trying to be supportive. Shut up.”
He glared right back at her. “Why can’t you just stay out of sight? The more you go public with the idea that Faith did this, the more she’ll want to come after you and finish the job. I don’t want that to happen.”
“And I’m not going to hide just because Ric’s obsessive and psychotic one night stand is after me,” Elizabeth retorted. She looked at Jessica. “Tonight. Meet me at Kelly’s at seven.”
Emily and Nikolas exchanged uneasy glances. “Let’s change the subject,” Emily said awkwardly. “Summer, how’s the new job? Do you like Kelly’s?”
Just after lunch and just before the court was called to order, Faith Roscoe entered and sat in the very back row, her eyes trained intently on the defendant’s table. She’d had someone reporting back to her about what was said in here and that fact that her name had been mentioned worried her.
Perhaps it was time to send a message to the Corinthos family.