Chapter 14 - April 4, 2003 PM - Episode 3Listen to podcast
A few minutes later Mark is at the door to Donna’s office. It’s open but she isn’t visible until Mark sticks his head in the door and looks to the right. Her desk is against the same wall that the door is on. Her computer is on the desk and she is seated at the computer in profile to the door. Her desk is actually an “L” with the short leg to her right between Mark and her. She is typing and appears not to notice him, although she straightens her back as his head comes in the door.
“Knock, knock,” says Mark.
“Come in,” says Donna. “Have a seat.” She points to the side chair in front of the short leg of her desk. As Mark sits down, she swivels around to face him. “What can I do for you, detective?”
“You could start by telling me why you lied to me,” says Mark quietly.
“Excuse me?” Donna’s voice is calm.
“You were in the office before during, and after the time when the deceased was shot.”
“I told you where I was.”
“You lied to me about where you were,” says Mark. “It’s clear from the record of where your IP phone was used that you were right here in the office during the time in question.”
“What are you talking about? I don’t understand.” She is still calm but her breathing gets shallow and there is a flush on the side of her neck. She touches the red spot as if it were warm.
“You don’t understand the technology — that’s what you don’t understand. And maybe you don’t understand that lying to me in this case is called obstruction of justice and that is a crime. Maybe you also don’t understand that setting up false alibis is what guilty people do.”
“What are you talking about? What technology?” asks Donna. She pats at her hair as if it’s become disarranged. There is now a flush on both sides of her neck.
“Maybe you should ask Dom for a tutorial on VoIP,” says Mark. “You thought that the caller ID from your phone would make it look like you were home at the time in question. In fact, your phone’s MAC address puts you in the office.”
“What’s a MAC address? Maybe I left the phone in the office and someone else used it? I don’t understand. I didn’t do anything.” Donna’s breath comes in shallow pants.
Mark holds her eyes. “You can ask Dom about MAC addresses,” he says. “You can ask him how it’s so clear you were in the office. You can ask him how I know about the backdoor that made it possible for you to be in the deceased’s office without leaving a trace.”
“Why is Dom doing this?” asks Donna. “He must be trying to cover something up. I can’t imagine why he’d want to implicate me. He must be covering something up; he is a hacker, you know. They can be very devious.” She seems calmer now.
“Donna, I’m going to give you one chance to come clean with me. If you didn’t kill the deceased, it’s in your interest…”
“I didn’t kill Larry. He killed himself.” She is agitated again.
“How do you know that?”
“Because … because I saw him do it.”
“Okay. Now you’re telling me some of the truth. That’s better. Let’s start over. Why don’t you tell me where you were on the night of March 31 and the early morning of April 1?”
“Are you arresting me? Should I get a lawyer?”
“I’m not arresting you at the moment. I can’t give you legal advice other than that you have a right to be represented by an attorney at any time. My interest is in knowing the truth about that night and about how the deceased died.”
“I feel flushed,” says Donna. The redness has spread. “I’m flushed everywhere.” She gestures vaguely over her body and watches Mark’s eyes. They don’t follow her hand down.
“Do you want to tell me where you were and why?” asks Mark. “Please remember that I already know you were in the office and that I’ve had a long conversation with Dom.”
“Okay. Okay. I was in the office. I had a lot of things to catch up on and I was also hoping I could talk some sense into Larry.”
“Why did you bring your your IP phone from home into the office? Why were you trying to establish an alibi?”
“I wasn’t ‘trying to establish an alibi’, at least not in the sense you think.”
“Explain, please.” Mark is still careful to look only at Donna’s face.
“My husband is very jealous,” Donna explains. “He is particularly jealous of Larry even though he doesn’t have any reason to be. So, if I’m going to be in the office late when he’s away…”
“When who’s away?”
“When my husband’s away. If I’m going to be in the office late, I bring my IP phone. That way if he calls me at home, I answer. If I call him, he gets the caller ID from home. He doesn’t know all this technical stuff. He’s a lawyer.”
“Go on,” says Mark.
“Go on what?”
“When did you come into the office? What contact did you have with the deceased? Why did he shoot himself?”
“I came back to the office around 10:00 PM. I stuck my head in and asked Larry if we could talk. But he said he had a visitor coming in and wouldn’t be able to talk until later — around midnight. Then, when I went to his office at midnight, he said he wasn’t feeling too well. Had to rush to the bathroom. Now I know that’s gotta be the mushrooms; read about that in the paper. It was probably close to one when we finally did manage to get together.”
“In his office.”
“Did he say who his visitor was?”
“Not then, but he told me later it was a contractor named Ahmed Qali.”
“Did you see Mr. Qali in the office?”
“Okay. Now think carefully before you answer this next question. I really want you to tell me the truth.”
“I am telling you the truth,” says Donna. The flush has receded.
“Why did you use the backdoor to go into the deceased’s office?”
“There is no backdoor to his office. It only has one door.”
“You know what I mean.” Mark is grim now. “Surveillance doesn’t show you going into the office. But you say you did. The only way that could be true is if you used the backdoor I talked to Dom about to turn off surveillance. Why did you do that?”
“Dom told you? What else did he tell you?”
Mark says only: “Why did you turn off the surveillance?”
Donna hesitates, then says: “Habit.”
Mark says nothing.
“It started during the hostile takeover attempt,” she says breaking the silence. “Dom and Larry and I didn’t want people — the employees — to know how seriously we were taking it. They were scared enough as it was. So we started using the backdoor so that surveillance wouldn’t show a whole lot of meetings in the middle of the night.”
“Okay,” he says. “But it doesn’t make much sense, I have to tell you, and it doesn’t look very good that you turn off surveillance go into a room; the person in the room is shot; your fingerprints are on the gun…”
“I already told you,” she says, the pitch of her voice rising for the first time. “I already told you how my fingerprints got on the gun, if they’re on the gun. I told you.”
“You also already told me that you weren’t here that night and you were. You pretended to have an alibi and you didn’t. You pretended not to understand my question about the backdoor. So it’s hard for me to believe you. It’ll be hard for a district attorney to believe you. It’ll be hard for a jury to believe you. It’s not good to start out telling lies.”
“Are you ... am I under arrest?”
“I told you: not at the moment. Now why don’t you tell me what happened in Larry’s office. It would be good if you told me the truth.”
“We argued,” she says. “We argued about Dom. I said that Larry should apologize — that we need Dom. Larry was stubborn. He said Dom was a baby; that he’s all washed up as a programmer, that he never was a good manager, that it is time to let him go. I said: ‘We need Dom. He can be managed. He needs to be stroked sometimes, but he helped build the company and he can still help us.’”
“How did the subject of Mr. Qali come up? You said Larry told you that his visitor was Qali. How did that come up? What did he tell you about his visit?”
“Have you talked to Ahmed?”
“Doesn’t matter. Not if you’re planning to tell me the truth. Doesn’t matter what I heard from Qali or Dom or anybody else. Just tell me the truth about what happened in the deceased’s office.”
“Ahmed came up because Dom is always fighting with him. Dom doesn’t like him. He never approves the work that Ahmed’s Jenin group does, so Ahmed’s had to go to Larry repeatedly to get paid. Larry brought that up as one more example of Dom being immature. He — Larry, I mean — was right about that — right that Dom didn’t deal well with Ahmed. So we’re arguing about Dom and Larry tells me that Ahmed was in earlier because, again, Dom has refused payment and Larry’s got to get in the middle and straighten it out…”
“You don’t look like you’re telling the truth,” says Mark. “Not the whole truth.”
“I’m trying, but you keep interrupting me. What do you mean I don’t look like I’m telling the truth?” She sits up straighter, pats her hair, touches the flush on her neck.