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830 Direct Evidence

 The prosecutor of Little Rock Canyon was almost rendered speechless by He Zhichu's scathing remarks. His lips trembled, and meaningless sounds gurgled from his throat to express his anger. However, He Zhichu only looked at him calmly, and his shimmery, sultry eyes were full of cold sarcasm. The assistant next to the prosecutor discreetly pulled at his shirt sleeve, and it was only then that the prosecutor finally composed himself and glared fiercely at He Zhichu. He continued to cross examine the housekeeper. "Mr. Housekeeper, can you please tell us about the day the Vanderbilt residence was on fire."

The housekeeper appeared very aggrieved and sad as he walked to the witness stand and said with great pain, "That day was no different from any other. Mr. Vanderbilt went out to walk his dog after having dinner. And then..." He suddenly turned around to point at Ye Xuan sitting in the defendant's dock and gritted his teeth. "And then it was this bastard! He had been bothering Mr. Vanderbilt for several days! In the beginning, he was sneakily pretending to be a pedestrian to spy on Mr. Vanderbilt. Afterwards, Mr. Vanderbilt discovered him, and he began bothering Mr. Vanderbilt about something. After Mr. Vanderbilt rejected him, this man became furious and set fire to house and killed all the people in Mr. Vanderbilt's family!"

As soon as the housekeeper's words rang out, the courtroom was filled with noisy chatter. The six jurors all had different expressions as they looked thoughtfully at Ye Xuan in the defendant's dock. The people in the gallery had already begun berating Ye Xuan fiercely. All these people were neighbors from the Vanderbilt household's neighborhood and had fairly good relations with the family. Seeing them die so horrifically and innocently, especially the four children, the people began to hate Ye Xuan to the bone even more. Someone even openly stood up and called out to him, "Devil! You'll get what's coming to you!" He Zhichu looked back and glanced coldly at the person causing the commotion.

The judge banged his gavel expressionlessly. "No commotion is allowed in the courtroom. I'm asking the person shouting to leave." Several bailiffs walked over and kicked out the person who had called Ye Xuan a "devil." By then, everyone had grown a lot more quiet, and no one spoke mindlessly again.

The prosecutor comforted the emotional housekeeper before walking over to Ye Xuan and asking with a giddy and triumphant expression, "Mr. Ye, may I ask if you spied on Mr. Vanderbilt? You only need to answer yes or no."

Ye Xuan considered the question. He certainly had observed Mr. Vanderbilt for a few days before meeting him. Because he wasn't sure if Gu Yanran was speaking the truth or not, he obviously had to confirm it first. But if he answered yes, that would prove that he had been "spying." Spying and observing were two completely different concepts that could seriously mislead the jurors. Before Ye Xuan answered, he looked at He Zhichu. He Zhichu appeared expressionless, so it seemed like it didn't matter how Ye Xuan answered the question. He had a leisurely calm and composure about him, and this kind of relaxed mood also affected Ye Xuan, so he replied calmly, "No."

"You're lying?!" The prosecutor became even more excited. "The housekeeper was not the only one to see you spy on Mr. Vanderbilt. There were others who saw it, too. We have witnesses and evidence. How dare you try to deny it?!"

Ye Xuan didn't speak again because He Zhichu had already stood up to defend him. "Prosecutor, before you assert that my client is lying, can you please explain the definition of 'spying?'"

The prosecutor was speechless.

"Prosecutor, please answer my question." He Zhichu was in no rush as he requested that the prosecutor answer once again. Even the judge was looking at the prosecutor now.

The prosecutor considered it carefully before stuttering, "Spying would be secretly

observing the private actions of another person without their permission."

He Zhichu nodded and walked to the housekeeper's side. "Mr. Housekeeper, may I ask where my client was when you saw him 'spying on' Mr. Vanderbilt?"

"On the street," the housekeeper replied blankly. "Many people saw it as well. They could also testify." He pointed to the neighbors listening to the trial and sitting in the gallery. Everyone quickly nodded to agree that the housekeeper was right.

He Zhichu was stony faced, and his cold gaze swept across all the faces of the people in the courtroom. Some people couldn't help looking down from his gaze, and after breaking eye contact, He Zhichu finally looked back at the housekeeper. "Was it during daytime or nighttime?"

"Daytime. Oh, I should say it was in the evening." The housekeeper quickly stressed, "At the time, I just saw the cook finish cleaning up the kitchen, and I went out to welcome Mr. Vanderbilt home."

"So Mr. Vanderbilt had been exposing his privacy on the street at that time?" He Zhichu smirked. "May I ask what privacy he had exposed?"

"Objection! The defendant's lawyer is slandering the deceased's reputation!" The prosecutor immediately stood up and pointed his finger to reprimand He Zhichu. "The esteemed Lawyer He is somehow asking this kind of question! I never thought Lawyer He would ever be like this!"

He Zhichu quietly stood in the courtroom, his ramrod straight posture and awe-inspiring figure were enough contrast to make the oily-faced prosecutor next to him look like a little clown. He slowly waited for the prosecutor to finish speaking before finally refuting, "The prosecutor has just given the legal definition of 'spying' as secretly observing the private actions of another person without their permission. And my client had seen the deceased Mr. Vanderbilt on the street in broad daylight, so may I ask under this circumstance, how could my client have been on the street and secretly observing the privacy of someone else walking on the street, unless that person was exposing his privacy?"

The prosecutor was stunned and made dizzy by He Zhichu's continuous questions. After a while, he finally understood that he had slapped himself in the face! He Zhichu had led him around in a circle from the beginning. First he asked him to explain the meaning of "spying," and then he used his own definition to defeat him. How treacherous! The prosecutor glared fiercely at He Zhichu and balled his fists as he said vehemently, "Spying is secretly observing another person without their permission!"

"Wrong." He Zhichu shook a finger. "In law, it is necessary to secretly observe someone else's privacy in order to consider it spying. Since both people were on the street at the time, and the deceased didn't engage in any private actions, the prosecutor and housekeeper's allegation that my client was 'spying on' Mr. Vanderbilt does not hold true."

The judge nodded and struck his gavel. "Prosecutor and witness, please pay attention to your verbiage."

The prosecutor's first trick had been defeated by He Zhichu just like that. He stubbornly continued to ask the cook, "May I ask what you were doing that day?"

Unlike the housekeeper, the cook had either been in the kitchen the entire time or her own staff quarters. She never saw Ye Xuan at all and had only heard the housekeeper mention it several times, so she answered honestly, "I was cooking. After I finished cleaning up the kitchen and dining room, the housekeeper came back first with the dog. He said Mr. Vanderbilt saw that man who kept following him again, and that they were talking and even arguing."

"So from what you saw, is the man who had a dispute with Mr. Vanderbilt here today?" The prosecutor asked the cook to find that person in the courtroom.

The cook's gaze stopped curiously on Ye Xuan's face for a while, but she finally looked away and said, "I didn't ever see that person or hear his voice. I only heard Mr. Housekeeper mention such a person before, so I cannot identify any particular person." The cook refused to identify Ye Xuan, and the jurors looked at each other.

The prosecutor's face was a bit bitter, so he continued to cross examine the neighbors. These people had indeed seen Ye Xuan and remembered him too, since they thought he was especially handsome... But what they saw was the same as what the housekeeper said-that they saw Ye Xuan and Mr. Vanderbilt apparently having a dispute on the street. But they didn't know what they argued about.

Finally, the last witness to be questioned was the Sheriff of the Little Rock Canyon police station. He was more calm and formidable than any of the other witnesses. The prosecutor immediately became very happy when he saw the sheriff's face. "Mr. Sheriff, may I ask if you arrested a Barbadian man suspected of arson and murder in the early morning hours of October 29th? Is this man in the courtroom right now?"

The sheriff glared fiercely at the prosecutor and said with a sigh, "Yes, he's right here in the courtroom. That's him." As he spoke, he pointed to Ye Xuan. Ye Xuan looked down at the table in front of him and didn't even look at the sheriff at all.

"May I ask why you arrested him?"

"Because he was suspected of arson and the murder of Mr. Vanderbilt's entire family! He is extremely wicked, and the crime he committed is very evil!" the sheriff said sternly and confidently with an infectious and righteous arrogance on his face. Two of the jurors were nearly brainwashed by his words, so they began to think that Ye Xuan was guilty.

He Zhichu raised his hand. "Objection. Mr. Sheriff's words are only subjective and arbitrary. He arrested my client without any witnesses or evidence to support, and detained him for more than 72 hours without any reason. We reserve the right to claim compensation from the Little Rock Canyon police and the sheriff."

"What did you say?! Compensation?!" The sheriff was enraged now. He stood up from the witness stand and shouted angrily at He Zhichu, "Are you questioning my professional abilities?! I've been sheriff for 30 years, and no one has ever questioned me!"

"There's always a first time for everything. Mr. Sheriff, you should get used to being questioned by others from now on." He Zhichu spread his palms, his gaze sweeping across the faces of everyone in the courtroom again before finally stopping on the sheriff's face. "Mr. Sheriff, can you please explain why you think Ye Xuan is the primary suspect?"

"Very simple, he had a dispute with Mr. Vanderbilt, and then no one knew where he went for four hours afterwards. It was in these four hours that Mr. Vanderbilt's family was brutally murdered and set on fire. This kind of person would be the type to commit such an atrocious crime!" The sheriff's words once again echoed inside and outside the courtroom, so everyone couldn't help hearing them. All the judgmental gazes were cast upon Ye Xuan. Ye Xuan continued looking down and sat with his back straight in the defendant's dock.

After the sheriff finished speaking, the prosecutor rose. He animatedly read out the accusations against Ye Xuan. "Barbadian man, Ye Xuan, is accused of setting fire to the Vanderbilt home in Little Rock Canyon, Utah, on October 28th and murdering the entire family of 12 people. I ask the judge and jurors to consider the severity of the case and sentence penalties appropriate to it." The prosecutor simply stated the allegations and the remaining time would allow the defendant's lawyer cross examine the witnesses and examine the evidence to refute the prosecution's allegations.

It was due to the urgency of time that He Zhichu wasn't able to tell Smith the key points. He was also worried that Smith couldn't adapt to the situation quickly and would botch the trial, so he chose to personally appear in court. He calmly stood up from the defendant's dock and first walked up to the middle of the courtroom where he politely gave a subtle nod to everyone out of respect. Nearly everyone in the courtroom had a good impression of him at first glance. The sheriff was the only one who stared coldly at him. He Zhichu pretended to not see the sheriff's glare and walked directly before the prosecutor. He asked in his fluent and authentic Oxford English accent, "Prosecutor, may I ask what direct witnesses and direct evidence you are basing these allegations on? Just now I did not see you mention direct witnesses or evidence at all."

"The direct witness is Mr. Housekeeper, and the evidence is the scene of the fire. Do you have any questions?" The prosecutor gave a sarcastic smirk and didn't have such a high regard for He Zhichu anymore.

He Zhichu was stony faced as he walked in front of him and gently rubbed his chin with one hand while holding the elbow with the other. He said thoughtfully, "It turns out that in the eyes of the prosecutor, someone who was seen four hours before the murder occurred could be considered direct evidence. No wonder you've only won ten percent of your cases and lost the other 90 percent in your 30-some years as a prosecutor."

"You are making false accusations!" The prosecutor never thought that He Zhichu would know the ratio for his work performance and was instantly furious. "You violated my privacy! I will sue you!"

"Prosecutor, as a civil servant, your work performance is not private. The taxpayers have a right to know the truth." He Zhichu's voice turned icy, and he turned to look at the agitated sheriff. "Also Mr. Sheriff, you are using your subjective judgement instead of objective evidence to arrest someone. That is a serious abuse of public power." The prosecutor's heart dropped as soon as he heard He Zhichu link the incident to the police abusing public power. He knew things were not good... As expected, the jurors' expressions immediately changed, including the three men who had originally been dismissive of Ye Xuan. They began to consider the issue of the police abusing public power as He Zhichu mentioned.

"Members of the jury, the case of Mr. Vanderbilt's murder is very complicated. But the case involving my client is actually very simple. In short, he accidentally appeared in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of this, he was used and framed by someone, but this sheriff didn't go arrest the real murderer. Instead, he arrested my client just based on hearsay and without any direct witnesses or evidence. He also refused to release him on bail. If this is ok, then where is the dignity of law? Where are the personal rights of citizens?!" He Zhichu's clear voice was sharp, and every word hit the hearts of all the people in the courtroom like a heavy hammer.

The sheriff was starting to sweat profusely from He Zhichu's words, so he quickly stood up to defend himself. "I didn't abuse public power! I have evidence!"

"What evidence? That a housekeeper saw my client speaking with Mr. Vanderbilt on the street at night? That's called direct evidence? With that inference, then the housekeeper should be even more suspicious, since he had spoken with Mr. Vanderbilt god knows how many times. I'm guessing that they've argued before, too. But more importantly, Mr. Vanderbilt's entire family was murdered while the housekeeper and cook are both ok. By that inference, you two are suspect as well!" He Zhichu pointed at Mr. Vanderbilt's housekeeper and cook. They were terrified and protested in unison, "No! It wasn't us! You don't have any evidence!"

"You know now that I don't have any evidence? Mr. Housekeeper, then why did you keep saying that my client murdered and committed arson? May I ask where your direct evidence is? I remember that you said in the police transcript that you didn't see who did it because you were already asleep." He Zhichu squinted and raised his chin slightly as he coolly stared down at the sweaty faced housekeeper. "According to Mr. Sheriff's logic, you don't have witnesses to prove you were sleeping at the time, so you are also suspect. In fact, you are even more suspect because statistics show that 99 percent of these family murders are committed by people they know."

The housekeeper looked at He Zhichu, flabbergasted. He didn't understand how he suddenly went from a key witness to a key suspect!