The other thing that came up a lot during this time was that Adrian Paige was incarcerated nearby, just south of Mount Morris, and they all wanted me to go see him. This was not a bad idea – Adrian had been the ringleader and when he pleaded guilty he made a clumsy effort to exonerate Sephora – but I couldn’t think of a way to approach him. Such an interview would require a plan. It was not a social visit. I had to have a way to be assured that he might actually talk to me and tell me the truth, and perhaps even something useful.
As fate would have it, during that one week adjournment of the Grand Jury appearance I thought of something: I would tell Adrian that I had determined that a second car and a second female were involved and that I suspected his girlfriend Angela, even though I really suspected it was Mechal. Then I would threaten to implicate Angela if he didn’t tell me all the facts he knew and the whole truth.
I got permission from Adrian’s attorney to talk to him and arranged to see him on Saturday, October 9th. It became the interview that changed my life forever, which sounds, you know, melodramatic but there it is.
There’s something about finding out you have been lied to in a major way, when you weren’t expecting it at all. It provokes a temporary paralysis. It’s as if the brain experiences a short circuit and shuts down to receiving new input while it figures out how to re-route your thought process away from what you now know is false. But it takes a while to close off this wayward detour and direct your mental traffic properly.
I remember the first few minutes of my interview with Adrian Paige on October 9th, 2004 pretty much perfectly. The rest is a blur. I had to go back two days later, on the 11th, because the prison wouldn’t let me bring a paper and pen in with me the first time, and the details were important, as they usually are.
After clearing the security areas I was directed to the prison cafeteria, which is just like a school cafeteria – a big room with collapsible tables, vending machines and so on. There were private rooms off to the side with big windows so that the guards could see in. Mostly this is where inmates would have some private visiting time with children who came to see them. The private rooms had toys and games for the kids to play with.
I took Adrian into one of these rooms and asked him if he wanted something to drink. At first he said no but then agreed to a Pepsi. I got one for him from one of the vending machines, brought it in, closed the door and sat down at the small table across from him. As I slid the can of Pepsi over to him I identified myself as Sephora Davis’ attorney and told him I had gotten permission from his own attorney to talk to him. From there it went like this:
“I’ve been investigating this case. We’re going in to testify in front of the Grand Jury in a couple of days. I’m sure that there was another car and another female involved in this robbery, and unless you can tell me otherwise and it’s the truth I’m going to have to assume that it was Angela and she will be implicated in front of the Grand Jury…”
Adrian reacted right away: “Wait a minute, wait a minute….” He was shaking his head and motioning with his hands, the sort of jerky, palms down gesture indicating he wants you to stop. “You want the truth? You want the TRUTH?” he asked twice.
“Yes,” I replied, “I need the truth, Adrian, and I need it right now.”
“Sephora was sick all day. All day.”
“What do you mean, ‘sick’”?
“She was sick. Passed out. Out of it.”
“What are you talking about? She was driving you guys around.”
“She wasn’t driving. I was driving.”
Now, you may need to go back and review the documents I’ve already uploaded to appreciate just how shocked I was, absolutely shocked, at this statement. Because of the circumstances of the interview there was no doubt in my mind, none whatsoever, that Adrian was telling me the truth as we sat there off the prison cafeteria. But if Adrian was telling the truth, that meant that Eric Harder’s statement was false. And Harder had lied when he pleaded guilty. And so had Adrian. And so had Shaun Theriault. And William Annis’s statement was a lie. And my own client’s statements, while perhaps not intentional lies, were nevertheless untrue.
In sum, everything I thought I knew or might know about what had happened was wrong. Everything I had inferred from what I thought I knew was also wrong. My second car theory was wrong. Sephora had not been the “wheelman” at all; she hadn’t even been conscious for the crime.