Devil s Due





FILE #20050228-


INVESTIGATION SUBJECT: BENJAMIN MCCARTHY, 44-year-old white male BACKGROUND: Exemplary Kansas City police detective. Decorated multiple times and given awards for meritorious service. Served with the KCPD his entire career, from 1985 until his suspension and subsequent conviction for murder in 2003. Incarcerated in the Ellsworth correctional facility. Appeals continue.

PERSONAL: McCarthy was born and raised in Kansas City to a middle-class family. Background prior to joining the police department is relatively unexceptional. Scholastic history indicates high aptitude for problem solving. Parents reside in a retirement community in Arkansas. One brother, a commercial fisherman living in Florida. No evidence of close ties with other, more distant relatives. Never married, although he has been involved in two documented serious relationships, both prior to becoming a detective. (Neither with Jazz Callender, see separate file.)

FACTS OF THE CASE: At 2:34 a.m. on October 4, 2002, three bodies were discovered, bound hand and foot, shot in the back of the head execution-style. Victims were identified as Joseph Lozano, 23, a convicted drug dealer; Katherine "Kat" Vargas, 18, Lozano's girlfriend; and Navio Veracruz, 19, also a known drug dealer. No drugs or money found on the bodies. Forensic investigation yielded several key pieces of circumstantial evidence, including tire tracks taken at the scene and footprints preserved in mud. However, the ballistics tests came back with a startling result: the bullets matched another case on file that had recently been entered in the computer system, an officer-involved shooting.

The bullets came from the service weapon of Detective Ben McCarthy.

McCarthy was unable or unwilling to provide a reliable alibi for the time in question, including any corroboration from his partner, Detective Jasmine "Jazz" Callender. Convicted on the basis of ballistic and forensic evidence, he was sent to Ellsworth for thirty years. Callender insisted on his innocence, but no supporting evidence was found. It does not appear, even on detailed examination of the facts, that Det. Callender was party to his criminal acts. Her dedication to clearing her partner's name has been noteworthy during the period of his trial and incarceration, and likely resulted in the state in which she first came to my attention: broke and verging on a serious drinking problem.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Files regarding Det. McCarthy's case and Callender's investigations were stolen from her apartment recently, during an apparently unrelated breaking and entering. We have turned up no information about the whereabouts of the files.

NEW EVIDENCE: Last month, Callender received a set of photographs, via former FBI agent Manny Glickman, that show McCarthy at a separate location during the time period of the murders. (Manny Glickman has been investigated. His background is clear and, in many ways, more convincingly above reproach than Callender's. See separate file for details.) Photographs show McCarthy accepting envelopes from two known members of an organized crime family and are evidence of corruption. This explains why McCarthy chose not to use the alibi at trial, relying instead on the hope that he would be acquitted. Separate investigation has thoroughly authenticated the provenance of these photographs.

I accordingly submitted the photographs and supporting materials to the district attorney and McCarthy's defense team as exculpatory evidence. The district attorney, moving a great deal more quickly than is typically the case in these matters, has moved to vacate McCarthy's conviction.

On a personal note, I wonder at the speed with which this has been accomplished. In my professional experience, the right thing rarely happens quickly in the judicial system.

Lucia Garza, Partner

Callender & Garza Investigations

Chapter One

The gavel fell, and Ben McCarthy was free. Mira, that was fast, Lucia thought, stunned. She'd been expecting...something else. A bit more theater, perhaps; at the very least a token few questions or some fussiness from one attorney or the other.

The prosecutor looked pale and drawn in the early morning hour, squinting against the harsh overhead lights. She was a hard-looking woman, with dark hair and a fashion sense that tended toward square-cut shoulders and block skirts with sensible shoes. No doubt she won a lot of cases, but it wasn't on style points.

Lucia didn't begrudge her the lemon-sucking expression, considering how humiliating it was to have to publicly acknowledge a prosecutorial mistake of this magnitude. This had been a gigantic miss for the cops and the district attorney's office. A murderer had gone free, and a cop - not a good cop, granted - had been wrongly accused and convicted. McCarthy's life was over, professionally speaking; he was damn lucky that it wasn't over in every sense. The time