The Archetypal Atlanta Crime (4)

Posts 1, 2 and 3 from last August detailed the story of Michael and Whitney Lash, whose westside home was robbed by four rocket scientists posing as stranded motorists. They got away with Ms. Lash’s phone after shooting and seriously wounding her husband and waving a gun at her while she was carrying a baby. Shortly thereafter, police released a sketch of the shooter, who chose not to cover the piercing between his eyebrows while he committed attempted murder and armed robbery. He and his three pals were caught almost immediately, and today, the shooter, Brandon Jerome Smith, pled guilty and was sentenced to life plus 25, while his pals all got 18 year sentences, which means they’ll serve ten. Per WSB:

His attorney revealed in court that Smith was high on cocaine at the time of the incident.

Get out.

Tequan Sutton, Veshawn Smith and Quindaris Slade, ages 15 and 16, admitted they were involved in the home invasion.

They were charged as adults, but since they did not fire the shots, the judge gave them 18 years in prison, with 10 to serve.

Let’s tote up the total cost here. Smith is 19, which means he’ll spend approximately 50 years behind bars. Plus thirty for the other three, that’s eighty total years. According to the ACLU, it costs $18k/year to house a prisoner. So that’s $1,440,000 total for these four clowns, plus the costs of investigation, pretrial detention, etc., none of which are trivial. Call it a million and a half. Back last August, I guessed $1.3M, which I thought was cynical at the time. Let’s imagine what else we could do with that amount of money.

The Lashes said they are trying to put the incident behind them.

“It was just an emotional day, but we’re thankful that it’s over, and that they can move on with their lives, and we can move on and hope that they can come out of it as better men,” Whitney Lash said.

That’s kind of mean, but I don’t blame her.

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Novel 3: Act II, Chapter 1, Scene 5a

TOC page here.

Now we’ll get to some forensics. I wrote this chapter (long) before I decided to change Mario to the fourth act’s victim instead of the second’s. So when you read this, imagine a different corpse. The rest of it will stay the same:

Inside Grady, they threaded their way down into the sub-basement, down past machinery that a cash-strapped county had let function well past its useful life. Outside the door at the end of a dark hallway, they found Curtis Jenkins, standing at parade rest. “Can’t trust nobody these days,” he said by way of greeting. The three of them found Keller, Posh, and the corpse of Mario, nude on a gurney, the black calligraphy on his chest making his skin look paler by comparison.

Keller said, “The five of us are the only ones who’ve seen this.”

Diana said, “Sgt. Brown knows we’re up to something.”

Jenkins nodded. “I’ll take care of him. What did you find up there, Dave?”

“A non-optimal environment for forensic investigation. The Medical Arts building was abandoned in 1982. That makes for over three decades of filth. He’s been there for almost a week. Footprints everywhere, like I said; even the fresh ones won’t tell us anything useful in court.”

Jenkins said, “Too many false positives. And this ain’t TV, so nobody dropped their custom-made class ring or whatever.”

Keller held up a small evidence bag. “Someone did drop the backing to an earring, but it’s your basic mass-produced anonymous object. No prints on it: too small for enough reference points, anyhow.” He handed it to Diana, who dug a marker out of her bag to sign the chain of custody. “I kept it, cause it was clean enough to be fresh, and it couldn’t have been there long, else the squatters would have found it.”

Mustapha said, “Thanks, Dave. Hey, Dr. Posh, what do you got?”

Dhandha’s voice was muffled from behind the surgical mask. “Strangled, with a cord similar to your other victim. No other gross injuries, no defensive wounds. Cool weather has slowed decomposition, but not stopped it, so I’ll have to bring in some equipment to see whether there are any needle marks or other indications he was sedated. Bloodwork will take forever, as per usual.”

Diana said, “What about his eyes?”

Indeed. We’ll find out tomorrow. One of the things I keep coming around to is how my cops don’t act like TV cops. You hide a body in an abandoned building for a week, and do a halfway decent job of covering your tracks, nobody’s going to figure out who did it. Unless that earring backing means something…

New Year and Novel 3

I had the chance, for the first time in about four years, to take a three-week break without having any responsibilities at all, including travel. It was restful and restorative. I’m just at the end of Act III writing the novel now, though I wrote very little over break on purpose. As this month goes by, I’ll post a lot of excerpts from Act III while I write most of Act IV. The goal is to have the manuscript ready to be looked at by agents and publishers by the beginning of June, which is very doable.

I’ve rewritten the outline for Acts IV and V. Relatively few of the changes will impact the narrative already present on this site, except one: Mario will no longer be the desiccated corpse in Act II. Instead, he’ll be the victim at the beginning of Act IV, while the Act II corpse will be that of a mentally challenged homeless man who will get a line or two in the very first couple of scenes.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll begin with putting Act III up on the site.