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Authors: Garret Holms

Grant of Immunity

BOOK: Grant of Immunity
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Grant of Immunity
Garret Holms
Book Description

t’s 1976
, Los Angeles. Sarah Collins, a young mother of two, is brutally raped and murdered at the Hollywood Reservoir. For nineteen years, the murder remains unsolved and the case goes cold.

In 1995, the streets of Los Angeles are being terrorized by Jake Babbage, a traffic cop who uses his position of power to rape and murder innocent women. On his way to court one day, Babbage sees Judge Daniel Hart. The two recognize each other, and the terrifying night of nineteen years ago comes back to haunt the highly respected judge. The aftermath of the encounter brings long-buried secrets to light and tests the moral fiber of Judge Hart, who has committed himself to protecting those victimized by the very crimes of which he is now accused.


Garret Holms is a judge and criminal trial expert with more than fifteen years of on-the-job experience. He has worked all aspects of the justice system, from superior court judge to defense attorney to criminal prosecutor. Holms has tried every type of criminal case imaginable, including special circumstances homicide, sexual assault, police corruption, and gangland murder. Garret Holms knows the justice system as only an insider can, and he brings that expertise to his prose, creating one of the most truthful, accurate, and tension-filled suspense novels ever written.

© 2016 by Garret Holms All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


Los Angeles, 1976
Danny Hart
Sunday night, July 4, 1976

t was just
before midnight when fifteen-year-old Danny Hart heard Snake tap on his bedroom window. Snake motioned for him to come outside. Danny was wide-awake and ready to go—he’d slept in jeans and a T-shirt, and even had on his canvas-tops. He scrambled out of bed, shoved open the window, and climbed out into the hot, humid July air.

A full moon illuminated the yard, but Snake stayed within the shadow of a fruitless mulberry tree. Even so, his six-foot-two muscular profile was unmistakable.

“You got the money?” Snake’s breath smelled of beer and the sweet scent of pot. He stepped into the moonlight and held out his huge, calloused hand. A mosquito buzzed; Snake glanced down at the insect on his forearm and crushed it, splattering and smearing its engorged blood.

Danny nodded, looked into Snake’s cold eyes, and then had to look down. Snake’s stare always intimidated him, since that first day they’d met at the pet shop where Danny worked after school. Danny reached into his pocket and pulled out six crumpled ten-dollar bills. It had taken him eight months of cleaning cages at the shop to save that money, but it was worth it. Snake was taking him to the reservoir tonight—giving him a chance to “grow up and be a man”—to hang out, drink beer, and smoke dope with Snake and his girlfriend, Sarah. Danny just had to “do as he was told, keep his mouth shut,” and pay for his share of the beer and the dope.

Sarah wasn’t waiting outside her apartment building when they drove up. Snake parked the GTO in front. She’d moved since the last time Danny babysat her kids, and he noticed it was one of those rundown places, maybe even public housing. Trash littered the gutters. Two rough-looking guys sat on an old couch someone had dragged outside. They were smoking and drinking beers.

“Shit,” Snake said. “Bitch is always late.”

Danny saw the door open. His breath quickened at the sight of her. She was taller than him, and so pretty with her long, red hair, swept up on one side, and blue, blue eyes. She hurried up to the car and motioned for Danny to get out. As he did, he noticed immediately that she was not wearing a bra.

She smiled. “Sorry to take so long, but Sean had a nightmare, so I had to read to him till he dozed off.” She looked at Danny. “Both he and Erin are fast asleep, so you shouldn’t have any problems.”

“Danny-boy’s not babysitting tonight. He’s coming with us,” Snake said.

Sarah frowned, hesitated. “I don’t know—”

“Get in the car,” Snake snapped. His voice had a hard edge to it that Danny recognized. This was a command to be obeyed. “We’ll only be gone a couple of hours—just to the reservoir to chill out. They won’t wake up. I told the kid he could get loaded with us tonight, as a reward for babysitting last time, and you’re not going to make a liar out of me.”

Sarah paused, shrugged, and then slid in. When Danny moved next to her, she was wedged between him and Snake, and Danny could feel the heat of her thigh next to his. He inhaled her clean, shampoo smell.

“Okay,” she said. “But
no more
than two hours.”

Snake grunted, floored the gas pedal, put the stick shift into first gear, and popped the clutch. The tires screeched as they grabbed pavement and launched the GTO forward. To get to the reservoir, Snake drove to the top of Lake Hollywood Drive. There, he forced open a gate and drove over the gravel access road. They parked ten feet from the water’s edge. Snake opened the trunk and took two six-packs of Brew 102 out of a Styrofoam, ice-filled cooler. They walked down a narrow landing over the water and climbed up onto the flat roof of a roundhouse at the end of the pier. Each took a beer.

Snake lit a joint and passed it around.

The three of them sat, looking out at the moonlit water. Gradually, Danny began to relax and to feel a buzz coming on. He heard the chirp of crickets, felt an insect bite, became aware of the hard surface of the roof he was sitting on. He took a sip of beer, savored its crisp, bittersweet tang, and contemplated the lake. He noticed the sounds of traffic from the highway below, inhaled the pungent aroma of pot. He threw a rock, listened to the sound of the splash, and studied the expanding circles it created, finding himself fixated on the liquid motion of the waves. For the first time since his parents died, Danny felt like he belonged, like he was okay, not someone to make fun of. He decided Snake was his best friend—his only friend.

Sarah Collins was old—twenty-two—two years older than Snake. She was Snake’s girlfriend, even though she had two kids. She unfastened the combs holding up her red hair, and it fell over her shoulders and down her back. She was barefoot and wore jeans and a loose-fitting pullover blouse. Danny felt a deep stirring inside as he noticed the movement of her loose breasts whenever she shifted position.

The moon vanished behind a cloud. The only light came from the burning cherry tip of the joint, illuminating their faces as they inhaled. Snake put his arm around Sarah and started kissing her. Sarah kissed Snake back—a long, lingering kiss. It was very dark, but Danny thought he saw Snake put his hand on Sarah’s breast. Danny’s heartbeat quickened. He was glad it was dark, so no one could see the bulge in his pants.

Snake unbuckled Sarah’s belt and started to unzip her jeans. Danny felt a thrill so intense that he worried he might come in his pants.

But Sarah pushed Snake’s hand away. “Don’t,” she whispered. “Not in front of the boy.”

“It’s okay,” Snake replied. “He likes it.”

“I don’t,” Sarah said sharply.

She climbed down from the roof and rushed to the car, shaking her head and fastening her belt as she walked.

Snake tensed and his eyes darkened. “Don’t you fuckin’ walk away from me,” he shouted after her.

Sarah turned, and then a little more slowly continued toward the car.

Danny remembered the last time he had seen Snake’s rage—that night when Snake had cut Danny’s arm and then locked him in the shed with the boa constrictors. Just because he’d refused to help Snake get food for them. By the time Snake let him out, Danny was nearly out of his mind with panic. Thinking about it scared the shit out of him.

Snake’s face contorted. A vein on his neck began to throb. He jumped off the roof and caught up to Sarah as she reached the car.

“Please,” Sarah pleaded. She started to cry.

Despite the sweltering heat, Danny shivered. He decided to get the hell out of there. Sixty bucks or not, he was terrified. He maneuvered down from the roof and tried to sneak away. He knew of another path that led toward the highway, where he could hitch a ride home at Barham Boulevard.

“Where’re you going, Chief?” Snake called after him. “The fun is just starting.”

“I’d better get back,” Danny said, turning. “My grandmother is probably missing me right now.”

“Let’s all go,” Sarah said. “It’s late and I need to get back to my kids.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Snake said to Sarah, then called back to Danny. “I thought you said the old lady wouldn’t even know you left the house.”

“Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night.”

“That ain’t what you told me. Get your ass over here, Chief.”

There it was again, that angry edge to Snake’s voice. Danny hesitated an instant, and then hurried to where Sarah and Snake were standing.

Snake said to Sarah, “We’re gonna put on a little show for the kid. Take off your clothes.”

She didn’t move.

“I said take … off … your … clothes.”

But Sarah stood still, glaring at Snake.

Finally Snake said, “Okay. Then I’ll take them off for you.”

He put his hand at the neck of Sarah’s blouse and yanked, tearing it down the center. Sarah jumped back with a startled look on her face. Danny’s heart raced uncomfortably when he saw her ragged top dangling, her breasts showing.

Then she lunged at Snake. “You son of a bitch. You cocksucker. That blouse cost forty bucks!”

She tried to scratch him with her fingernails, tried to hit him with her fist, but Snake caught her wrists, and bent them back, forcing her to her knees. She screamed. Snake let go of her, but before she could get up, Snake drew back and punched the side of her head with his fist. The force of the blow knocked her flat on her back. She lay there, dazed.

Danny felt the blow as if he’d been struck. He couldn’t believe—couldn’t accept—what he’d just seen. Snake unsnapped the leather holder on his belt and took out his hunting knife. He went behind Sarah and dropped down on one knee. Pulling her up so she was sitting, he put one arm around her neck and held the tip of the knife at the side of her neck. The knife drew a drop of blood as Snake spoke directly into her ear. “Fucking cunt. You’re gonna pay. You’ll do everything I say or you’re dead. Understand?”

“No!” Danny said.

Snake took the knife from Sarah’s neck and pointed it toward Danny. “You want some of this, Chief? Keep your fucking mouth shut and do what you’re told. Like her.”

Sarah, still dazed, still crying, was nodding. “Please don’t hurt us. I’ll do anything you say. Please.”

“Okay,” Snake said. He put the knife back in its leather holder. “Strip. Get naked.”

This can’t be happening
, Danny thought.

Sarah began to undress, taking off her torn blouse. At that moment, the moon vanished behind a cloud, and it was dark again. Danny couldn’t see anything other than movement. It seemed that Sarah was still on the ground. She took off her jeans and her panties. She started to shiver, although it was hot and muggy.

Snake unzipped his fly.

“Now, suck my dick,” he said.

Sarah got to her knees, reached into Snake’s pants, put it in her mouth, and began. “That’s it. Good,” Snake said. Danny could see Sarah’s head moving back and forth.

Again Danny tried to sneak away. “You can’t leave!” Snake called. “It’s your turn next!”

Danny froze.
His turn?
“No,” he said. “I don’t want—”

“You’re part of this, Chief,” Snake said. “Either she sucks your cock, or you suck mine. And then I put you back in the shed with the boas. Only this time, I cut your balls off, first.”

Danny considered running for it. After all, Snake couldn’t manage Sarah and run after him. He could run as fast as possible back to the highway and hitch a ride home. But he knew Snake would find him later and hurt him the way he was hurting Sarah.

So he stayed. Even though he knew this whole thing was wrong. Even though he knew he should do something to stop Snake. But he didn’t know what.

Snake’s body tensed. He grunted, shuddering.

Then he looked at Danny. “Your turn, Chief. Come here!”

Danny walked over to Sarah. Snake stepped back and pushed the boy to her. “Take out your dick and put it in her mouth.”

, Danny thought.

He leaned over to Sarah and whispered in her ear, hoping that Snake couldn’t hear. “It’s okay. We’ll pretend. It’s dark. He won’t know.”

Danny unzipped his pants, but didn’t take out his penis. Sarah put her face against Danny’s crotch, and pretended to suck.

Just then, the moon reappeared.

Snake came near to them, peering closely. “What is this shit? You’re not doing anything. We need some light. Come with me.”

Snake grabbed Sarah by the arm, forcing her to stand. He pulled her toward the GTO. The boy followed but stopped a few feet before the car. Still holding Sarah’s arm, Snake forced her to walk with him around the car. At the driver’s side, Snake opened the door, reached in, and turned on the headlights. Then he took Sarah to the front of the car and forced her to her knees again. Bright light illuminated her naked body.

He spoke to Danny, “Come here and take out that dick, Chief.”

This time Danny did as he was ordered.

Sarah was once again on her knees in front of him. She put his flaccid penis in her mouth and started sucking. Danny could see her face and naked body clearly. Could feel the warmth of her mouth. Sarah’s eyes were closed and tears were streaming down her cheeks. Danny started crying, too.

He closed his eyes. But still he felt her mouth on him and heard her sucking sounds. Sarah kept on sucking, but the boy could not, would not have an erection. In desperation, he told Snake he was done.

“Did you get your rocks off?” Snake asked.

“Yes,” he said, lying.

Sarah stopped, pulled her head back and away from Danny’s penis and looked up. There was gratitude in her eyes.

As Danny put himself back into his pants and zipped himself up, Snake reached down, took Sarah’s arm, and pulled her to her feet. “Get in the car,” he ordered her.

“What about my clothes?” she asked.

“Don’t worry about them. Just get in the back.”

“I’m not getting in the car without my clothes. Let me get dressed first.”

Snake dropped her arm and took out his knife. Sarah stepped back, turned to run, but Snake caught her arm and swung the knife at her. Sarah slapped Snake’s wrist.

The knife fell.

Sarah managed to scoop up the knife and tossed it at Danny. “Run!” she screamed. “Run!”

Danny picked up the knife and ran. Behind him, he could hear Sarah screaming.

Then, suddenly, she stopped. And Danny stopped. He waited, listened. No sounds.
Maybe Sarah got away. Maybe everything is okay.
He started walking again, toward the highway. Then he paused.
Maybe Sarah’s not okay
, he thought.
Maybe she’s hurt. Maybe she needs help.

He had to find out. He turned and went back.

He still had Snake’s knife in his hand.

BOOK: Grant of Immunity
10.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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