She had never been attached to many of her possessions, but the pen was a gift from Katrine Dumont, whose fiancé, Phil Eastwood, had been murdered.
It had been one of Hailey's very first cases. The newly engaged couple—both just twenty-two, with their whole lives ahead of them—stepped out onto the patio of their apartment to sip wine and watch the sun set over Atlanta. They toasted each other and their future and were about to call their families to tell them about their upcoming wedding—but they never got the chance.
Two brand-new parolees with heavy rap sheets ambushed them from behind a thick hedge surrounding the patio. Phil tried to fight back and was immediately gunned down at point-blank range. His fiancée was dragged into the apartment and repeatedly raped and beaten.
To complicate matters, Katrine had been so emotionally devas-tated, so weak and fragile, no way could she take the stand and survive cross-exam. Without an eyewitness to the shooting, Hailey knew a guilty verdict would be nearly impossible.
At the outset, Hailey rejected a lenient plea deal that both the defense and the trial judge, Albert Grimes, tried to push on her. A pushover on the bench, the trial judge had a reputation of always siding with defendants no matter how petty or brutal the crime, and for displaying his Harvard degree in the foyer of his chambers for all to see. After Hailey kicked back the deal Grimes had cooked up with the defense, the judge was in a foul mood at actually having to preside over a case throughout the weeks to come.
It had been especially tough for Hailey personally, dredging up all the old memories of Will's murder. But after a three-week presentation of evidence, the jury convicted. Hailey was exhausted and drained at the end.
Katrine came to see her not long after, still a fragile wisp.
"I'm sorry I couldn't be there to testify at trial," Katrine said, handing her a sky-blue velvet box.
Inside was the pen, etched with the words, for hailey, seeking justice, katrine dumont-eastwood.
They hadn't been married, but Katrine, Hailey learned, had officially taken his name after his death.
"I know it sounds crazy, but in my heart, I'm his wife."
No. It didn't sound crazy at all.
For the next ten years, Hailey wore the pen hanging on a black silk cord around her neck during every jury trial and often in between.
Now, she gazed out the window at bright lights shooting upward at Turner Stadium, slicing the dark sky. The night air hummed with cars flying past on interstate I-75.
Just for the moment, she allowed herself to consider the eleven women, long silenced, dead in their graves.
Hailey had studied the eight-by-ten crime scene photos, hundreds of them, at length, from every possible angle in the weeks leading up to trial, poring over each one to determine any possible probative significance she could use to State's advantage in court.
But tonight they haunted her, not as potential evidence at trial, but as photos of the suffering of real people. Now the media was circling the case like vultures, threatening to pick clean the bones of the women by exploiting them again, this time in sensational news accounts.