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Spike's sister Luna was by far the most appealing witness called by either side in the trial. That was almost the first thing the jury agreed on, when we got the case later on the day she testified as the first defense witness. She didn't have a chip on her shoulder, as Lucy seemed to, and she wasn't flustered and confused like Satchel. She was a normal person with no ax to grind, and we appreciated how straightforward she was.

Spike's lawyer asked her about the night of the vandalism at Lucy's house. Luna was there to give us Spike's alibi, as promised in the opening statement. She told us that Spike had been home at 9:30 that night. She knew not because she had seen him, but because she had seen the light on in her garage, where he had been staying since the break-up. She also told us that she hadn't seen his vehicle parked on the street.

She knew it was 9:30 when she saw the light because that was when she put her daughter to bed. She nearly apologized for keeping her child up that late, as if we as jurors might judge her. We would never have done that, we liked her so much. She could have told us she torched Spike's ATV herself, and we would have thought she was delightfully clever to have done so.

But she didn't confess to any crime, only to having gone to bed herself shortly after her daughter. On cross-examination, she politely told the prosecutor that no, she couldn't have seen Spike at midnight, when the 911 call from Lucy was recorded, because she was asleep. She knows he was there about twenty past midnight, though, because that's when she heard him scream.

He screamed for her to call 911 and report that his ATV and their tree was on fire. That call was recorded at 12:24 am. The fire department had already doused the flames by the time Officer Jones arrived to investigate the arson. Spike told him he suspected Satchel, his ex-roommate and Lucy's current roommate, because he had seen Satchel cruising in the area earlier, and there was bad blood between them. This had all come out in the officer's testimony earlier. All Luna could tell us was that her brother left in the police car.

And that was it. The alibi wasn't really an alibi, because it didn't put Spike at home at midnight. It didn't really put him at home at 9:30, but we were inclined to believe Luna at least thought he was home at that time. He was home (screaming) some time before 12:24. As much as we liked Luna, that's pretty much all we took away from her time on the stand.


No one on the jury said anything when Luna was excused so suddenly. We gave her an affectionate chuckle when she asked the judge if she was through. "Can I go home?" she wanted to know, and he told her she could. She was obviously guileless and genuine, but there was an undercurrent of disbelief. It wasn't a tsunami, but there was at least a wavelet of unrest when we realized that we had been oversold on the alibi concept. Luna hadn't done much to help the defense case. But that was nothing compared to what the next witness did to it.

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