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Defending the Dead RingerFacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Deep inside a high security prison the meeting room is small and windowless except for an eye-level square of thick glass in the door. A large guard, accompanied by another, lets me in. I wait for the door to close before stepping to a small table where sits a lady in her fifties. I shake her hand and say, “Good morning, Mrs. DeLorca, I’m Joseph Brady.”

“Forgive me, Mr. Brady, but I’m no longer sure I want to appeal my sentence.”

“In that case, you have less than a month to live.”

I put my briefcase on the floor and sit across from her.

“This is quite a unique case, Mrs. DeLorca,” I say. “What we currently know is that you’ve been convicted of using arsenic to murder your wealthy husband Frank. You lover Tony Collins also would’ve been convicted but your Great Dane attacked and killed him. Didn’t you try to call off the dog to save a man I assume you cared for?”

She averts her eyes and says, “It was so sudden. I must’ve been in shock.”

“Mrs. DeLorca, given your circumstances, I’m going to be frank. I’ve interviewed two of your employees and learned the dog hated Margaret until the death of her identical twin sister Edith. At that time Margaret, who hadn’t smoked in years, suddenly began chain smoking. Edith was a heavy smoker, wasn’t she?”

“I think so. I hadn’t seen Edith for eighteen years prior to Frank’s funeral. Afterward, I invited her to my mansion in Beverly Hills. And that evening I was delighted she called and asked me to come to her apartment above the cocktail lounge she owned. She offered me a cigarette. I still haven’t been able to quit.”

“Later that night, your sister committed suicide. Did she seem despondent?”

“Not at all. We enjoyed talking about old times.”

“What about the present? How was her business, Mrs. DeLorca?”

“Not very good. She faced eviction.”

“So, after being estranged almost twenty years, she suddenly felt comfortable asking you to come over and give her some money.”

“I think she still loved me and knew I’d help. I promised to cover her business expenses.”

“What was the nature of your estrangement?

Looking skeptical, she says, “Surely, Mr. Brady, you’ve already looked into that.”

“Indeed, I have. Frank DeLorca was Edith’s boyfriend until Margaret swept in, won his affection, and told him she was pregnant. Were you pregnant, Mrs. DeLorca?”

“I certainly was.”

“I’d like to talk to your doctor.”

She points to the heavens. “You can’t. He’s dead.”

“But his records are somewhere still alive.”

“What’s your point, Mr. Brady?”

“I’ve talked to some of your friends, those of Margaret DeLorca, that is, and most tell me you aren’t Margaret.”

“That’s preposterous.”

“Is it? I have three ladies anxious to come here and ask you questions only Margaret could answer.”

She says, “I won’t agree to see them. Besides, what’s the difference?”

“Living and dying…”

She closes her eyes and rubs them. “It’s all so frustrating. Maybe if you’d defended me, Mr. Brady, I’d have been found innocent.”

“Not guilty is the correct legal term, and I don’t think that would’ve been the finding of the jury.”

“I wanted my attorneys to put more blame on my boyfriend Tony Collins.”

“Collins only procured the arsenic. He had no way to feed it to Frank DeLorca. Only his wife had the opportunity and motive to do that.”

“What do you recommend, Mr. Brady?”

“First, we can easily prove you aren’t Margaret DeLorca. Even a Dead Ringer isn’t exact.”

“But they’ll know I shot Margaret, wrote a suicide note, and changed her hair to the style I wore.”

“That’s correct.”

“What would happen then?”

“No defense attorney can get you off, but with the new trial for the murder of Margaret, and vigorous appeals, we can keep you alive a few more years.”

Movie Trailer for “Dead Ringer”

This entry was posted in Bette Davis, Dogs, Infidelity, Karl Malden, Marriage, Murder, Sex.