Body Talk – 109

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Lt Commander Teresa Coulter had come to her parents house and found her mother dead in bed. She turned down the thermostat, opened the window, stopped the record player stuck on a depressing song and noticed the dead goldfish. Ten years later she stormed into Harm’s (H) JAG office having discovered that he had just obtained her father a new trial from an appellate court. He was doing time in Leavenworth for murder. Harm told her that the defense attorney was only 26 years old, his first murder trial, had conducted ineffective cross examination, and failed to interview key witnesses. Captain Chaddock, her father, said that he’d written to Teresa many times without response. He was self castigating regarding being abusive to his wife and forcing Teresa to hate him. He wasn’t worried about Hs conflict of interest knowing his daughter, because “H was a principled man.”

Back at JAG headquarters, Mac (M) was assigned to prosecute and Bud (B) as Hs second chair. Capt French, Chaddock’s next door neighbor, said he’d heard many arguments from the Captain but only twice from the wife: once, the day of the death when the Captain left; and, second, the day before with Teresa’s husband, Rory Coulter. French had told the NCIS about it but they weren’t interested. French said that a furnace repairman had been there and heard the argument as well. Teresa informed her mother that Rory had a job offer in California and they were moving there, which upset her mother greatly. Teresa said that Rory was a weak man who ran from problems and had left his wife after their mother died rather than face Teresa’s grief. She told H that if he valued their friendship, he’d drop Rory as a suspect. Harm went to talk to Rory and found that he had stolen a car when he was 18, hadn’t put it on his job application, and his mother-in-law had told him that she had “ways to stop me” from taking Teresa to California. The job offer was withdrawn shortly afterward so she must have called the company and told them. Rory got upset with H and B and stormed out, leaving his jacket.

Harm was showing plainly in court that all the prosecution evidence was circumstantial. Teresa wouldn’t speak to her father in court. She testified that he had berated her mother on a daily basis and had threatened to kill her if she ever told him to shut up again. A week before her death, her mother had called Teresa and said she had thrown the Capt out because he had assaulted her. Bud got her to admit that her mother and husband had been angry with each other. There was a single un-identified hair found on her mothers body which B matched to a hair on Rory’s coat left in the office. Mac refused to bargain. Gunny (G) discovered that the repairman Ramón Arguento had run out of material and had left the repair of the propane furnace undone and had advised against using it.

Rory refused to talk to M, on his attorney’s advice, so she brought Teresa. Teresa asked him why he was acting so guilty. Later he skipped town which hurt Ms case so Teresa offered to help “find more evidence against him” and asked for the autopsy. Instead, she found that the autopsy showed “minimal brain swelling” which didn’t match at all the supposed cause of death by trauma. She refused Hs request for exhumation. Her father testified that he had threatened his wife many times but the first time he ever hurt her was a week before her death when he pushed her and she hit her head on a bed post. She never left him because she was afraid to be left all alone but she had called him every day at the motel. He had argued with her but she refused to take him back. Based on that, Teresa allowed the exhumation which showed that there had been some bone healing of the fracture before death. Harm and B stayed into the night going over seemingly unrelated clues then, the next day, were shown examining Teresa on the stand and revealing that her mother had committed suicide by turning on the defective furnace expelling carbon monoxide into the room and also killing the fish. Chaddock was acquitted. Harm and M pushed Teresa into finally talking with her father. She just said “Hi.”

Lt Irene Charter, daughter of deceased Admiral Leslie Charter and close friend of Chegwidden’s (C) came to ask C a favor. She said that she was “terminal” in 3 months with pancreatic cancer and wanted to be buried next to her parents in Arlington but was getting run-around from the cemetery supervisor. Chegwidden told her that he would try and help then went to speak with the supervisor. The supervisor told C that reservations were not allowed then lied that the plot in question was already filled. Chegwidden confronted him with his lie and said “tell me the truth or I’ll walk out there with a spade and check for myself.” The supervisor said that he “wasn’t in a position to reveal who had ‘reserved’ it,” and C threatened “exactly what position would make you change your mind?” Not able to find a phone number, C went to General Pipin’s address and found that he was having a retirement party. Pipin was being shagged by a widow, Marjorie, and told C he would relinquish the plot if he would do him a favor. Chegwidden had to dance with Marjorie.

Dr Walden came to visit Cs office and was told “she looked luminous.” She told him “you look vigorous.” Harm accidentally walked in on them and Walden suggested that they “double socially” to Cs stares. Then Irene came back and, before C could tell her that he had gotten the plot, said that she didn’t want the plot anymore because she had sought a second opinion and had been misdiagnosed so she wasn’t dying.

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