Keira's first witness is Robert Ronson, a child psychologist.
"Mr. Ronson, please give the court your assessment of the damage done to a child's psyche from the years of abuse that have been described to the court."
The psychologist provides his assessment, based on his years of expertise with children damaged by such abuse.
"And is it your opinion, Mr. Ronson, that the defendant's mental state at the time of Mr. Fuller's shooting was compromised in any way by the abuse?"
"Absolutely. There is no way a young person could live through what she endured and not be 'compromised' mentally and emotionally."
"Thank you, Mr. Ronson. No more questions."
Lucien jumps to his feet as soon as Keira takes her chair, and approaches the stand purposefully.
"Mr. Ronson . . . have you personally interviewed the defendant?"
"Why . . . no. Children are my specialty, and Miss St. Clair is far from being a child."
The gallery titters with amused laughter as Lucien stalks away in triumph.
"No more questions!"
All it takes this time is an admonishing look from the judge and the gallery quiets.
"Please call your next witness, Ms. St. Clair."
Keira's next witness is George Ivan Joe, a former friend of the deceased.
"Mr. Joe, we apologize for interrupting your squad's maneuvers and will endeavor to return you to them as quickly as possible. Please describe for the court how you knew the deceased, Noah Fuller."
"We were buddies in high school, ma'am. We roomed together for a few years after we graduated because we worked in the same place."
"And did you and Mr. Fuller remain friends until the time of his death?"
"No, ma'am. He . . . he started acting weird, and we sort of . . . drifted apart."
"When you say that he was 'acting weird', what do you mean, exactly?"
The witness looks embarrassed.
"Well . . . " He clears his throat. "He became . . . obsessed is the only word I can think of . . . with young girls. He chatted with them on the computer and even got a few of them to meet with him. Then he decided that it was too much work trying to coerce them into meeting him and he hit upon this crazy scheme to become a foster parent, of all the . . . anyway, I moved out shortly after that. But we kept in touch for a while after that."
"Please relate to the court the circumstances of your last contact with Mr. Fuller."
"He invited me over for dinner one time, which I thought was odd in the first place because he was never much of a cook when we lived together, and he wasn't much for just hanging out, either. He had these two young girls living with him, and he kept parading them around -- showing them off, like. They were barely dressed, and they were very, very quiet. Both of them had sort of a . . . haunted . . . look about them. Every time he touched them -- and he touched them often, and inappropriately -- they would flinch. It made me . . . really uncomfortable." The soldier looks down in embarrassment. "I left soon after that and never saw him again."
Keira relinquishes the witness to Lucien.
"Mr. Joe . . . did you actually witness any sort of abuse on the occasion you've described?"
"Inappropriate touching, yes. 'Abuse', no."
"I have no further questions, your honor."
To be continued . . .