09-05-2011, 04:56 PM
Court reconvened as scheduled, with Alvin harnessed in a handcuff belt around his waist to prevent any more mischief on his part. Having practically established his guilt about indecent exposure, the prosecutor moved onto the charges of burglary and conspiracy.
"The prosecution calls Costa Sarantakos to the stand."
Costa rose and walked over to the witness stand. He took the oath and sat down. "Now, Mr. Sarantakos," the prosecutor said, handing him a large envelope marked Exhibit A, "can you identify these photos?"
Costa took out the photos and examined them. "Yes, these are mine" he confirmed. "They were for a private portfolio I was making. My brother, Criss, consented to pose for me on the understanding they were not to be revealed to the public."
He slid the photos back into the envelope and handed them back to the prosecutor. "When did you last see these pictures before they were discovered to be missing?" she asked.
"In Criss' office in the Luxor," Costa answered. "They were right on the desk, along with some photos of our dad."
"Did anyone on the staff see Alvin take the photos from the office?"
"No. At first, it was Manny the editor who took them to put in the Sports episode. They were on his desk in the editing studio at first. We got the ones of Dad back okay, but the ones of Criss had been stolen."
"When did you report them missing?"
"Within a minute. We called security--they caught the guy on tape."
"Did you see the tape?"
"And you saw the face of the person who stole the photos?"
"Is he here in this courtroom now?"
"Yes, he is." Costa pointed to Alvin. "Right there in the prison orange jumpsuit."
"The prosecution calls Kevin Smythe to the stand."
Back in the gallery, Costa showed admirable self-control when the man who had turned his personal art project into a national scandal stepped up to the witness stand. He was still bitter over Kevin's trechery, just as he was over Alvin's theft. Even if he did choose to sue Kevin over the illegal use of the photos, it was already too late to undo the damage: Criss' pictures were still out there, floating around in cyberspace. The fact that Kevin would be serving six months did little to salve the personal injury he felt.
On the stand, Kevin related the whole conspiracy to the court--or, at least, his version of it. It was all Alvin's plan, he claimed: he alone carried out the theft, the idea to blackmail him was his alone, and he was the one who posted the note on the production office door. He, Kevin, was just an innocent, unwitting accomplice, only going along out of sheer desperation for money. He also claimed Alvin had left the photos in the apartment for the police to find, setting him up for a fall. Alvin was the mastermind, he insisted, while he was just the fall guy.
The prosecutor zeroed in on Kevin. "Weren't you the one who took those photos and downloaded them onto the adult themed site known as xferret.com?" she asked. "Or was that Alvin, too?"
Kevin hesitated, then blurted out, "I plead the Fifth Amendment!"
The prosecutor was about to demand an answer, but thought better of it. Kevin had already been convicted in his part of the conspiracy, so it made no sense to press the issue furthur. Besides, he had agreed to testify against his co-conspirator in exchange for a lighter sentence. "So you claim Mr. Zubrowski masterminded the whole conspiracy against Criss Angel?" she asked.
"That's true!" Kevin cried. "He did it all. I just had the photos in my apartment."
The prosecutor brought the envelope, marked Exhibit A, to Kevin. "Are these the photos you had in your apartment?" she asked, handing the envelope to him.
Kevin opened up the envelope and looked at the photos. "Yeah, these are them," he confirmed.
"Did Alvin confess to you that he stole them from the editing office?"
"Confess?" Kevin laughed. "Hell, he was braggin' about it! He went on and on about how he was gonna make a million dollars out of 'em, and if Criss didn't cough up the cash, he was gonna have me put 'em online."
"And what would you have gained from it?"
"He promised me half the money if he did it. But he weasled out on me, and left me holding the bag--I mean, the pictures."
"How did he 'weasel out' on you"
"He never showed up. I assumed he took the money and ran. Didn't know he got arrested until I got busted myself."
Kevin was dismissed. The next fifteen minutes of the trial was devoted to showing the surveillance and police tapes of the posting of the letter on the office door, the theft from the editing studio, and the rendezvous between Criss and Alvin in the park. Computer enhancement clarified the images, revealing beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alvin was guilty of the theft and the conspiracy to ruin Criss Angel. With those images fresh in their minds, the jury was sequestered after closing statements from both sides.
"How long do you think they'll take to reach a verdict?" JD asked Costa.
Costa snorted. "Hell, I'd find that (bleeper) guilty in a heartbeat."
"But you're not part of an impartial jury," JD pointed out.
"Impartial or not, I'd still find him guilty in a heartbeat."
"I'd give them an hour at least," JD said. "You?"
"Hell, less than an hour."
Costa took the bait. "How much?"
"Fifty bucks says they'll be out in one hour or more."
"Why so long?"
"Well, you have to take into consideration of a holdout."
"Nah, there won't be a holdout," Costa said doubtfully. "They got all the evidence in there with them. It's an open and shut case."
"Hey, you never know what'll happen in there." JD held out his hand. "So, you wann bet on it?"
Costa deliberated the odds, then took his brother's hand. "Deal!" he said finally.
JD looked at his watch. "Okay, it's a quarter to three now," he said, "so we got until a quarter to four."
"Quarter to four--got it."
Both men settled back to wait for the results. Costa smiled, then leaned his head sideways to JD. "I bet they find him guilty in five or ten minutes, then spend the rest of their time in there looking at Criss' pictures," he said.
JD laughed at that thought, then playfully nudged his brother in the ribs.