Chapter 301: Someone Saw Her
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Huo Jialan’s face was now deathly pale. She nodded slowly and said, her voice growing weaker with every syllable, “…On the night of my mother’s death, my… my mother suddenly called my room’s extension line. She asked me to go downstairs to see her.”
“What happened after that?”
“It was the middle of the night, and I was asleep. Her phone call woke me up. She sounded very weak, so I rushed downstairs to see what was going on.”
“Wait a minute—you said it was the middle of the night?” Gu Nianzhi asked. “But you previously said that you found your mother’s lifeless body on her bed in the early hours of the morning. Are you saying that you went to your mother’s room before that?”
Huo Jialan pressed her lips together in an expression of pain and closed her eyes. There was a sob in her voice when she said, “Yes, I went to her room the night before.”
Bai Jinyi’s heart raced as a chill ran down her spine. She could hear her heart hammering in her ears.
She had not expected Luo Xinxue to have had the strength to call her daughter that night!
So she had been playing dead before that!
Gu Nianzhi watched Bai Jinyi from the corner of her eye as she questioned Huo Jialan.
Every change in Bai Jinyi’s expression, no matter how slight, did not escape Gu Nianzhi’s hawk-like eyes.
Gu Nianzhi nodded to herself. She knew that she was on the right track.
10 years had passed, and there was virtually no direct evidence left. The best they could do now was to try and find first-hand witnesses.
Huo Jialan had been the first to discover Luo Xinxue’s lifeless body, which meant she was either the murderer, or the person most familiar with the scene of the crime.
Gu Nianzhi was fully aware of that, and had summoned Huo Jialan to the witness stand to—as the saying went—kill two birds with one stone.
She calmly said, “Tell us what you saw the night before.”
Huo Jialan pressed her lips together. She looked at Bai Jinyi, over in the dock, as she said slowly, “That night, my mother called me over the extension and asked me to go to her room. As soon as I entered her room, I saw her lying on the floor…”
The tears finally overflowed from her eyes.
10 years had passed, but her heart had never ceased aching. She had lived in mental anguish the entire time.
“Lying on the floor? Why was she on the floor? Did you see anyone else in the room?” Gu Nianzhi pressed her for more answers.
“…There was no one else in the room. I don’t know why she was lying on the floor. When I entered the room, she was already unconscious. The phone receiver had fallen off the bedside table, and the room had been turned inside out. There were letters scattered on the floor.” Huo Jialan wiped her tears away. “I carried my mother to her bed. She looked like she was asleep. I shook her and she opened her eyes to look at me, but immediately went back to sleep.”
“Your mother called you on the extension, asked you to go to her room, but didn’t say anything to you?” Gu Nianzhi asked skeptically. Luo Xinxue’s behavior did not make sense to her.
“That’s right. Maybe she was already too weak to speak by then. If I had known that my mother would be dead the next morning, I would have done everything in my power to wake her up that night and ask her what she wanted to tell me…” Huo Jialan covered her face as she wept. “I really had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see my mother alive.”
Gu Nianzhi quietly waited for Huo Jialan to stop crying before asking her next question. “So what you’re saying is that your mother’s room had been ransacked by burglars the night before her death?”
Huo Jialan nodded. “Yes, I believe someone broke into my mother’s room. I’d always assumed that my mother had flown into a rage and trashed her own room after reading the love letters, but now that you’ve brought up the possibility of my mother’s death being a murder, I see things more clearly now. I no longer believe it was my mother who trashed her own room.”
“That’s strange.” Gu Nianzhi spread her hands quizzically. “How is it possible for a thief to sneak into the Huo Residence, considering the Huo family’s status, and the security measures in place? Think again, Huo Jialan—what was the situation back then, really?”
Huo Jialan’s eyes flickered uncertainly. After a while, she said slowly: “…You’re right. There’s no way a thief would be able to sneak into the house, not with my family’s status and security measures. But what if it wasn’t an outsider? What if it was someone within the Huo family, or someone we know?”
Gu Nianzhi had been waiting for Huo Jialan to say this.
She had carefully considered this possibility when researching the case.
In order to collect incriminating information on Bai Jinyi, they had to first get Huo Jialan to accuse her of the crime.
Huo Jialan was, to put it simply, the key to solving the case.
But she was a tough nut to crack. Huo Shaoheng had used a lie detector on her, with little to no success.
Gu Nianzhi, with the help of the forensic expert Director Wang, had noticed that there was a birth certificate listed as part of Luo Xinxue’s belongings.
She decided to use the birth certificate to force Huo Jialan into a corner. Huo Jialan would then have to charge Bai Jinyi with the crime of murdering Luo Xinxue to clear her own name.
Gu Nianzhi immediately pounced on what Huo Jialan had just said. “You sound like you know who might have done it. Who do you have in mind?”
Huo Jialan hesitated.
Lawyer Jin immediately shouted: “Objection! That is a loaded question!”
“Objection sustained.” The judge brought his gavel down. “The plaintiff’s lawyer shall refrain from asking loaded questions.”
Gu Nianzhi immediately changed her strategy. “Huo Jialan, there wasn’t a burglar that night. You made up the whole thing! In fact, you were the one who killed your mother!”
“It wasn’t me!” Huo Jialan shrieked out in panic. She pointed towards Bai Jinyi, standing in the dock. “It was her! When I went downstairs to look for my mother, I saw her come out of my mother’s room!”
This unexpected outburst was met with dead silence in the courtroom. Then suddenly, like a drop of water that had fallen into a pot of hot oil, the courtroom erupted into chaotic shouting and chatter.
“Someone saw her?!”
“How is that possible?!”
The 15 lawyers working for the Bai family exchanged incredulous glances as they questioned each other. They wondered whether they had misheard.
Bai Jinyi trembled all over, her face an ashen gray. She quickly straightened herself and closed her eyes as she said with a sneer: “Lies and slander! Huo Jialan, I know you’re desperate to wriggle out of the crime of murdering your own mother, but that doesn’t mean you can go around making up wild stories. I hope you realize it’s a felony to give false testimony in court!”
“Oh?” Gu Nianzhi walked over to the dock. She clasped her hands behind her back as she scrutinized Bai Jinyi. “But what Huo Jialan said just now is logically consistent with what happened that night. Bai Jinyi, would you care to explain what you were doing in Luo Xinxue’s room that night, 10 years ago? It was the middle of the night, and according to Huo Jialan, her mother was already more or less out of it when she saw her. Were you the one who fed her with sleeping pills? You’re a psychiatrist, after all, which means you can prescribe sleeping pills.”
Bai Jinyi refused to look at Gu Nianzhi. She kept her eyes closed as she said scathingly: “What proof do you have that I was in Luo Xinxue’s room? All you have is Huo Jialan’s claim that she saw me. Well, how about this: I’m accusing her of killing her own mother. There, why don’t you take me at my word? And yes, I can prescribe sleeping pills because I’m a psychiatrist. So what? Are you saying every psychiatrist on this planet who have sleeping pills at their disposal should be suspected of murder?”
“I’m not saying every psychiatrist is a murder suspect.” Gu Nianzhi wagged a finger at Bai Jinyi. “I’m saying you’re the only psychiatrist we know who has a connection to Luo Xinxue and can enter the Huo Residence without triggering suspicion, Physicist Bai—or should I call you Psychiatrist Bai?”
Bai Jinyi wanted to continue arguing the point with Gu Nianzhi, but Lawyer Jin put a warning hand on her arm and shook his head. He stood up and said to the judge: “Your Honor, the plaintiff’s witness has given us new information in her testimony. We would like to ask for some time to investigate the credibility of the witness.”
The judge nodded. “Agreed. Court is adjourned. The next hearing will be in three days.”
The gavel fell upon the sound block, indicating that the second hearing was now over.
Bai Jinyi was escorted back to the detention center by the bailiff. She could not be released on bail for the moment due to the possibility of the Bai family smuggling her out of the country.
Huo Jialan was still a suspect, but she was currently too emotionally unstable to be kept in the detention center. She was escorted back to the Huo Residence by Huo Shaoheng’s men, where she remained under close surveillance. The security measures around her were now even stricter than the ones she had been subjected to at the detention center.