Chapter 14- April 4, 2003 PM - Episode 4Listen to podcast
“I think Larry really resented having to deal with Ahmed all the time because of Dom’s attitude. He didn’t like to deal with Ahmed.”
“For one thing, I think Larry was a little afraid of him. He had — or was having — an affair with Ahmed’s girl friend, Rachel. That didn’t help.”
“Did Qali know about the affair?”
“I don’t know. Probably. Seemed like everybody did.”
Mark says nothing.
Donna resumes: “Look, there is really more to this. More to Larry’s fear.” She waits. Mark says nothing. “Don’t you want to hear?”
“Larry wasn’t only afraid of Ahmed. He was actually probably more afraid of the people around him; other Palestinians; members of the Jenin Group. Larry said there were people in the group who didn’t like the cooperation between what they thought of as a Jewish company — certainly an American company — and Palestinians. There are lots of factions — I mean everybody knows that. And they shoot each other sometimes. Larry said that more Palestinians get killed by other Palestinians than by Israelis over there. I don’t know if that’s right, but that’s what Larry believed. And he was afraid somebody might shoot him. That’s what he told me.
“Larry doesn’t … didn’t scare easily. He was a tough guy, ‘specially after he went to jail. But he was worried. Worried for himself; worried for Louise. So he asked me to get him some bullets for his gun.” Donna pauses.
“Go ahead.” Mark is impassive.
“And I did. I mean he couldn’t get them himself because he’s an ex-con, so I got them for him. He told me what kind and all and I went to a store in New Jersey and bought him twenty bullets. That’s what he said he wanted. He wanted them because he was afraid.”
“Do you have a receipt for the bullets?”
“No. I paid cash; threw the receipt away.”
“I don’t know. Just didn’t seem to be something I wanted to create a record of. I felt sort of guilty buying bullets. I mean the whole thing was sort of scary, so I didn’t keep a receipt.”
“Before, when I asked you who might want to kill Larry you didn’t say anything about the people he was afraid would kill him. Why?” Mark looks angry.
“Because I know he shot himself,” says Donna. “I saw him do it. I told you that.” She pauses and then resumes when Mark doesn’t respond. “I mean I wouldn’t have been doing you any favor if I’d sent you off after these guys when I knew perfectly well they didn’t do it.”
“Go on and tell me about the rest of your discussion, about Larry killing himself. Before you start, remember how important it is for you to tell the truth. You were there; you lied about that; your fingerprints were on the murder weapon; you probably bought the bullet that killed him…”
”But I told you about that voluntarily,” Donna protests.
“And that was a good idea,” says Mark. “Go ahead, please.”
“Okay... Larry and I were arguing about Dom; I already told you that. I wanted Larry to apologize, get Dom to stay. He said he’s not gonna do that. So Larry and I disagreed ... not the end of the world ... I mean it shouldn’t be the end of the world ... and-and then…” She swallows spasmodically, then puts her head down on her arms and sobs.
Donna is still sobbing, head down, and doesn’t answer.
“So are you telling me Larry shot himself because you didn’t agree?”
“I don’t think so,” says Donna, pulling herself upright but not drying the tears. “I … I don’t think so. I think it was an accident. But he was disturbed; I mean much more disturbed than he’d usually get when we argued; we argued a lot. I think he was disturbed by Ahmed’s business. And he was feeling sick. He’d been in the bathroom being sick and he looked pale, the mushrooms I guess. So I just don’t know.” She sobs again but doesn’t put her head down.
“An accident?” asks Mark. “Guy puts his gun to his head and pulls the trigger and you call it ‘an accident’?”
“You have to realize … I think I already told you … anyone can tell you … Larry puts that stupid gun to his head and pulls the trigger all the time. I mean, that’s the USUAL thing for him to do when he has an argument with someone and he finally gets tired of arguing: He says he’s the boss, then he puts the gun to his head and he says ‘I bet my life’ and he pulls the trigger. And it goes ‘click’. It always went ‘click’.” She stops, sobs, and doesn’t say any more.
“So you’re telling me,” says Mark, “that you didn’t react when he put the gun to his head at the end of your ‘argument’ because that’s what you would expect him to do?”
“That’s right,” she says. “That’s exactly right. I mean ask anyone. How could I know this time would be different? He always does that. That’s how we know when to stop arguing.”
“But there isn’t usually a bullet in the gun when he puts it to his head?”
“No. No, of course not.”
“So why would he do that with a bullet in the gun? Why would he put a loaded gun to his own head and pull the trigger? Did he play Russian roulette, had he ever done that?”
“What’s Russian roulette? I mean I’ve heard of it but I don’t know exactly what it is.”
“It’s when someone puts a bullet in one chamber of a revolver, then spins the cylinder so maybe the bullet’s under the hammer, maybe there’s an empty chamber. So, when he pulls the trigger, maybe he gets shot, maybe it just goes ‘click’. Did the deceased ever do that?”
“Yes,” she says. “Yes, he sometimes spun something but I don’t think there were ever any bullets in it. It always just went ‘click’. I don’t think he had any bullets until he got afraid of the Palestinians. If he had any, wouldn’t make sense to ask me to buy them, would it?”
“Did he spin the cylinder this time?”
“No,” she says. “No, he didn’t.”
“Were you surprised that he didn’t spin it?”
Mark is silent.
Donna continues: “ I wasn’t surprised because that’s different. I mean Larry was pretty predictable. If there was a long discussion, we didn’t know what to do, lot’s of alternatives, Larry got tired of that and made a decision, then Larry says ‘we’ll pick this one’ and he spins the thing, puts the gun to his head, and pulls the trigger. When just two of us are having an argument and Larry wants to say it’s over, no more arguing, he puts the gun to his head without spinning the thing and he says, like I told you, he says ‘I bet my life’ and he pulls the trigger and he won’t argue anymore.”
“So why do you think there was a bullet in the gun this time? Why did he put the gun to his head with a bullet in it and pull the trigger?”
“I think... I mean I don’t know but I think maybe he put the bullet in the gun because he was afraid of Ahmed and he knew he had a meeting with him. Then, like he forgot. And he played with the gun like he always did and he shot himself by accident. Maybe because he was upset. Or sick. Maybe the mushrooms, I don’t know.”
“You have a problem,” says Mark.
“Anyone can tell you he always does that,” says Donna.
“Your problem is that you lied. Wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if you’d told us the truth, but you lied. And you tried to set up an alibi. You used the backdoor to get into his office. You bought the bullet. Your fingerprints are on the gun. Even if someone believes everything else you said, why would you set up an alibi and use the backdoor if you didn’t know what was gonna happen? Doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t hold together.”
“I’m telling you the truth … I’m telling you the truth now.”
“Why didn’t you call 911 right after he shot himself? That’s what woulda made sense.”
“I don’t know,” says Donna. She is sobbing again and breathing heavily. “I don’t know. I guess I panicked. I mean … I mean it was horrible. Half his head blew away.” She pauses.
Mark says nothing.
She continues: “I knew he was dead … anyone would know. There was nothing anyone could do for him. I mean, if I thought there was a chance, if I thought there was something that could be done, he could be saved or anything like that, then I would’ve called 911 right away. I would’ve. But he was dead and it was so horrible. I didn’t know what to do. I guess I panicked. I ran out of the room. I ran to the ladies room. I threw up… Then I went home. I don’t know why, but I went home … I changed my clothes … I got myself together. I came back to the office. I guess I hoped by then someone else would’ve found him. That it would all be taken care of. I mean that he’d be taken away. But he wasn’t. Nothing happened. Everything was just like when I left. So I had to do it. I called 911. I did. You know that. It was me that called.”
“Was there blood on your clothes?” asks Mark.
“No, no blood.”
“Why did you change? Why did you have to go home to change?”
“I didn’t go home TO change,” she says. “I went home AND I changed. I mean, that’s different. I don’t know why I went home. I told you that. I panicked. I went home. I get home and I take off my clothes.” She looks at him.
He looks away and says nothing.
Donna continues: “I take off my clothes. I don’t know, it’s a girl thing. I take off my clothes. Then I take a shower. There was no blood. No. I looked … I did … I mean anyone would. But there was no blood, so I took off my clothes and took a shower. I washed all over. Like there was blood, you know, but there wasn’t. I washed all over and then I put on clean clothes. And I came back in to the office. That’s what happened.”
“Did you tell your husband what happened?”
“No. He was away. I told you he was away. So I didn’t tell him.”
“You didn’t call him? Didn’t tell him anything?”
“I don’t know. I mean we’re not that close anymore, really. I just didn’t.”
“You were worried — at least you said you were worried — that he’d be jealous if he knew you were in the office with the deceased. You were close enough to worry about his being jealous. But you didn’t call him to say you’d just seen the deceased shoot himself? Or even just to ask his advice? He is a lawyer.”
“Sometimes,” she says, “jealousy is all that’s left. Maybe I didn’t call him because I still didn’t want him to know I was in the office. I don’t know. I didn’t, though. I didn’t call.”
“Did you see anyone when you left the office?”
“No. I mean there were a few people in the street. I got a cab. I saw the cabbie.”
“Did you get a cab receipt?”
“They always give you a receipt,” says Mark. “It’s the law. They always give you one of those little tiny receipts that print outta the meter. You didn’t get one of those?”
“I don’t know,” says Donna. “Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Maybe this cabbie doesn’t obey the law. Maybe I just balled it up and threw it away. I DON’T KNOW. I never keep those things anyway, and I just don’t remember.”
“Strange thing for an accountant not to keep receipts, isn’t it?” asks Mark. “Don’t you need ‘em for your records, for your expense account and stuff?”
“I don’t keep them,” says Donna. “I don’t have one. So what? What’s it matter? I already told you I was there. I told you what I saw. What I did. You think I made that up? I wasn’t really there? Is that what you think now?”
“I don’t think anything, yet. You told me a couple of different stories. I’m trying to figure out what’s the truth. What’s not. I’m thinking this whole thing doesn’t look very good with lying, with setting up an alibi…”
“Okay,” Donna interrupts. “Okay. So you don’t like me. Don’t say that all again. Don’t say all of that about the alibi, about my fingerprints on the gun, about the bullets. I told you about them, remember? I didn’t have to tell you about them, but I did. I told you about the Palestinians. I told you everything.”
“I don’t think so,” says Mark. “I don’t think you told me everything.”
“Look...” says Donna. Then she says nothing.
Mark waits but she still doesn’t go on.
“Look, what?” he asks finally.
“You were gonna tell me something. You were gonna tell me something, then you decided not to. Don’t have to be a detective to know that.” His tone is friendly.
Donna still says nothing.
“If you’d told me what you knew right away,” says Mark, “you’d be in less trouble now. But you didn’t. You lied about where you were; you tried to set up…”
“Okay, okay, don’t say all that stuff again. I can prove it happened like I said it did. I can prove he shot himself.”
“That would be a good thing.” Mark’s tone is sardonic. “Please go ahead.”
“I have a video. I have a video of what happened in his office.”