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605 The Direct Truth

 The direct evidence Gu Nianzhi accepted from the prosecutor was surveillance footage from the antique store across the street from Seth's apartment building. The evidence was so important that all the police officers from the Roslau Police force who insisted on justice all tacitly agreed to not mention it to their superiors, York and Ramona. That was why they didn't know about the existence of the evidence until now. The surveillance footage was originally intended to safeguard the antique store itself, but it happened to record the area in front of the apartment across the street.

Seth jerked his head up and looked fearfully at Gu Nianzhi. A vicious look gradually appeared in his eyes, then he looked down to lick his chapped lips with a red tongue. The judge and York's hearts sank. When did this evidence appear?! Why didn they know about it?!

The defense lawyer blanched but managed to instantly stand up to question, "May I ask where the plaintiff's lawyer obtained this evidence? Why wasn't it reported to the court before?"

Gu Nianzhi had already saved the surveillance footage from the flash drive the prosecutor gave her and stored it on her own laptop. She had also uploaded a copy to her Hua Xia Imperial cloud drive as well, so she didn't have to worry about someone meddling with it or deleting it. She replied calmly, "This is, of course, surveillance footage from the antique store. Where else do you think? As to why it wasn't previously reported... Well, we just obtained this footage recently."

The defense lawyer was anxious and couldn't help turning back to look at York. York nodded expressionlessly at him. Now that he had some confidence, the defense lawyer replied to Gu Nianzhi, "What surveillance footage? The court must view it first to ensure authenticity. If it was fabricated..."

"Then we can show it right now in court." Gu Nianzhi generously lifted up her laptop. "If the courtroom doesn't have equipment to play it, I can play it on my laptop to show everyone."

Why would a modern courtroom not have video equipment? The judge looked at Gu Nianzhi for a while and finally said, "You can connect directly to the large screen in the courtroom."

Gu Nianzhi and the courthouse staff connected her laptop to the courtroom screen. Soon after, the video of the area in front of Seth's apartment appeared on it. The recording indicated it was from May 11th of last year, sometime past 5pm. It was exactly when Li Haiqing went missing! On the bench, Niya cried out and laid down on the desk to sob. She was the only one appearing on the video. Niya walked out of Seth's apartment and walked in front of the entrance several times. Suddenly, a pretty, petite Hua Xia female exchange student jogged over. She was wearing a beige jogging outfit and entered the camera's field of view. It was the victim, Li Haiqing. Niya quickly walked over to stop her. Li Haiqing stopped, and the two of them spoke about something before Niya practically dragged Li Haiqing by the arm into Seth's apartment.

Gu Nianzhi paused the video and instead of questioning Seth, she asked Niya, "Niya, on May 11th last year, were you with Seth?"

Niya nodded expressionlessly. The evidence was obvious. She was nearly at her limit.

"On May 11th last year, which was the day Li Haiqing died, why did you call out to her?"

Before Niya could answer, Seth began screaming, "She wanted to have a threesome with us! Mind your own business!"

Gu Nianzhi didn't get angry but nodded to him before asking Seth once again, "Then what day did she 'want' to have a threesome with you? Do you want to think about it again? Was it the 10th or 11th?"

Seth glared with bloodshot eyes at Gu Nianzhi, speechless for a long time.

"You're not going to answer me? The surveillance footage isn't lying, right? You all saw the day Li Haiqing was attacked was clearly May 11th." Gu Nianzhi pointed at the paused image on the screen.

Seth refused to back down and stiffened his neck. "The 10 or 11th, what difference does it make? Maybe I remembered wrong? She was willing to have a threesome! We never forced her! Also, she was clearly fine when she left. Who knows what happened to her afterwards?!"

Gu Nianzhi nodded. "Very well, the first point of suspicion was that you truly did see the victim on the day she died. This proves you were lying."

"I remembered wrong! Remembered wrong! How's that lying?!" Seth nearly lost his temper.

Gu Nianzhi shot him an icy glance and turned to the judge. "Your Honor, the defendant is losing his temper in court. Will you do something about it?"

The judge finally said to Seth with reluctance, "Defendant, please control your emotions. I will not allow an innocent person be sentenced wrongfully."

"Right, and we will definitely not allow a criminal to get away," Gu Nianzhi continued and made Seth so angry he nearly jumped up. The defense lawyer quickly calmed him down to stop his tantrum, but his evil glare was still pinned to Gu Nianzhi. Gu Nianzhi wasn't afraid of him at all as she continued, "You said she willingly had sexual relations with you, then left. But when I went through the antique store's surveillance footage from that day until now, I didn't see any recording of Li Haiqing ever leaving your house. May I ask how she left? Did she fly out? Or jump out of your window?"

Seth panicked and blurted out, "She jumped out! She jumped out herself!" Li Haiqing's corpse was found in the forest behind Seth's apartment building, directly below the back window of his unit.

"Haha, you live on the third floor. Could she have jumped down from the third floor? That's impressive..." Gu Nianzhi said suggestively and started the video again. She said to Seth's parents sitting by the bench, "Also, you two, I'll ask again, did you go to Seth's home to help him destroy evidence? Oh, right. Should I say, 'clean up?'"

Seth's stepfather York was completely ashen as his hands began to tremble. Gu Nianzhi gazed at him quietly but didn't reply or back down. This person was the entire reason why the case was so difficult. He had complete control over the area where the crime occurred, and in Hua Xia bureaucratic terms, he was the most powerful force behind the government, prosecution, and judicial systems. He was also the main leader of the local democratic party and member of congress. This man had done much for his stepson.

As Gu Nianzhi cursed him internally, she thought about how York would've probably forcibly concluded the case a long time ago if Seth was his real son... York was also looking at Gu Nianzhi, but in that moment, he actually calmed down. This female lawyer looked pretty gutsy. However, he probably couldn't do anything to her because she was a foreigner. Consequently, she said and did whatever she wanted. The corners of his mouth turned up as he looked down and averted his gaze away from Gu Nianzhi's eyes.

A faint smile was on Gu Nianzhi's lips as she focused on Niya. She could tell Niya was about to break, and she had to try that angle right now to expose the entire truth of the case. Gu Nianzhi walked up to her and began questioning her. "Niya, what did you say to Li Haiqing that day to make her go in the apartment with you? Why did you ask her to go in the apartment?"

Niya cradled her head in her arms and wailed. She finally exposed everything and screamed as she pointed to Seth, "Because of him! He always said I couldn't satisfy him! He wanted to break up with me, unless I found another woman to have a threesome with us!"

"Find another woman? So you found Li Haiqing? When did you meet her?" Gu Nianzhi also got excited but remained calm as she asked the questions. She could hear the blood pounding in her ears, making her excited and antsy. This was the moment they would have to face the truth.

"You shut up!" Seth bellowed at Niya and brandished his fists at her.

Niya also screamed back at him, "You monster! You made me ask my cousin to have a threesome with you! She agreed at first, then backed out! She didn't come that day, and you beat me so badly then forced me to find another woman! Otherwise, you'd dump me! I went crazy at that moment, and when I went downstairs to find someone, I happened to see Li come by. I said I needed her help with something, and she followed me inside..."

"And then?" Gu Nianzhi asked quickly. Niya suddenly shrank back. Calming herself down, Gu Nianzhi said to her, "Even if you are guilty, it's only accessory at most. But if you reveal the true killer, I can help you ask the judge and jury for leniency."

Niya inhaled deeply like she had found hope and continued, "She knew she was tricked as soon as she went inside. She wanted to run and then..." Niya stabbed a finger at Seth, "He beat her up. He hits so hard, I'm most afraid of him beating me..." She curled up like she was recalling the days of being beaten by Seth.

"And then?" Gu Nianzhi asked again in hopes Niya would find the courage to spill everything.

"But that girl kep struggling like she didn't feel the pain..." Nuya murmured, her eyes went blank as if lost in the memories. "Seth had no other option, so he used all his strength to keep beating her until she passed out. He then raped her."

"How many times did he rape her?"

Niya hung her head and her voice grew quieter. "Five or six times? Seven or eight times? I can't remember..."

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"Objection!" The defense lawyer stood up again.

Gu Nianzhi turned around to bark at him, "Silence! I'm questioning the defendant about the case! How is that now allowed?!" Her eyes flashed, and the furious look was somewhat frightening. The defense lawyer was shaken and gaped before sitting down and furiously going through his documents.

Niya witnessed Gu Nianzhi's strength and was encouraged by it. She didn't fear Seth's family as much anymore, so she continued, "After he satisfied himself, we finally realized the girl was almost dead. I was so terrified, and Seth said to leave her there and come back once she was dead. That way, we would have an alibi. But when we came back three hours later, we saw she still wasn't dead, so Seth threw her out the window."

Gu Nianzhi nodded and supplemented, "Seth's apartment is on the third floor, so she was thrown from the third floor." She then took out the autopsy report from the coroner and said, "This autopsy report proves that Li Haiqing's death was caused by bone fractures and large scale bleeding from a vicious beating. The subcutaneous soft tissue was broken into free fatty acids that caused lung blockage and cerebral hypoxia. That's her true cause of death."