An Interview with Public Defender Alex Stone
As a former trial lawyer and best selling author of crime novels, I’ve decided to interview Public Defender Alex Stone. She can shed some light on both the true crime scene and that set up in crime books like the ones I write. But first I’ve got to pin her down. I got to know Stone when I wrote my short story, Knife Fight, and we became even more familiar with each other during my time writing the novel Stone Cold. Ms. Stone agreed to meet me outside of the Jackson County courthouse in Kansas City for an interview and I want to share her answers to my questions with you.
Alex is usually punctual and often the first PD out of the door. So, I’m surprised when I don’t recognize her confident stride making her way through the ranks of attorneys and their clients, officers of all stripes, and the inevitable trial-watchers exiting the courthouse en masse at the close of the day.
Then I spot her, I think, or someone who could be a ghost of her bending down to collect an armful of files that have splattered on the stone steps before her. Her tightly cropped black hair gives her away, although she appears to have lost weight on her already lean frame. I make my way toward her to help retrieve her papers, she instinctively declines assistance–very Alex Stone of her, until she squints up at me in recognition.
Our eyes meet, and I am struck by her grey pallor, almost identical in color to her grey suit, and red eyes—the telltale signs of sleeplessness and anxiety that I will soon learn have come to characterize her very existence. We collect her files and she collects herself just as quickly as we get down to business.
JG: First, I’d like to thank you, Alex, for joining me for this interview. I know you’ve been busy lately with case after case.
AS: It’s my pleasure, Joel. And you’re correct, I’ve been almost overwhelmed with my case load the last few months. But, it’s just the way it is. In the words of one of my clients, “Everyday is a knife fight”.
JG: I understand completely. I’d like to begin by asking about your recent case involving Dwayne Reed who was convicted of mutilating and brutally murdering Wilfred Donaire. You won an acquittal for Reed. You must be ecstatic. Can you talk about this victory and how it’s changed your life?
AS: Considering that I lose most of my cases because the majority of my clients truly are guilty, it felt good to finally win one. At first.
JG: You say, “At first”. What do you mean by that? You’re no longer happy about winning an acquittal for Reed? Do you think he’s guilty?
AS: I don’t know if he’s guilty or not, Joel. I do know that I can’t sleep at night for fear that he or someone else will kill Jameer Henderson for testifying against him. I know it’s a little crazy. Ok, it’s a lot crazy, but I keep driving by the Henderson home every morning before work and every night after work. You know, just to check on them and make sure they’re ok.
JG: Alex, I know you understand that you have no control over what happens to these people once the case is closed. You can’t continue beating yourself up about it. What does Bonnie think? [To the readers: Bonnie Long, MD, is Alex’s girlfriend. She works as an ER physician at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, MO]
AS: I haven’t talked all that much about the case to her. She knows I’m in fear each and every day for the lives of Henderson and his family. Also, I’m worried that Reed may do something to hurt Bonnie. That has me beside myself with worry. I can’t sleep. Can’t eat.
JG: Has Reed threatened you or Bonnie in any way, Alex? Because if he –
AS: No. He hasn’t, but I just have this nagging feeling about this case. It won’t go away. I feel like I’ve gotten myself into a situation that I can’t handle without crossing over some lines. Know what I mean?
JG: I know exactly what you mean, Alex. I think every trial attorney feels that way at one time or another. [Alex’s cell phone rings and she takes the call. She smiles and her face softens as she hears the voice of the caller. When she hangs up, she cuts the interview short.]
AS: I’m sorry Joel. I know I agreed to talk about additional specifics on this and my other cases. I’ve got to go. Can we meet back here in two days or so?
JG: Certainly, Alex. I’ll see you in two days. Take care and don’t worry so much.
But, of course, Alex is worried; and, for good reason. However, for just this one night, Alex allows herself not to hope for the worst, to believe that perhaps there is some sort of universal justice in this world. Bonnie has called and she is waiting to take Alex home.
It’s two days later and I’m on the courthouse steps again with my friend and Public Defender Alex Stone. She looks even more drawn than she did the other day. I’d say she looks agitated and on-edge.
We approach one another and something compels me to put my arm around her in a light hug when greeting her.
AS: Hi Joel. How goes the task of writing the best crime thrillers ever?
I’m not fooled by her pretense of light happiness.
JG: It’s going well, Alex. But I can see that something’s up with you. What’s going on? Did something happen in your current case with Travis Runnels?
AS: I can’t fool you, can I Joel? There’s always something going on with Runnels. But that’s not what’s getting at me now. Eating at me, really.
Her eyes begin to tear up. I move closer to her so I can hear her quiet, desperate voice.
AS: He killed them Joel! Murdered that man Henderson, his wife, and their two beautiful kids. Innocent little children Joel! Henderson was just trying to make it in this hard world…on these hard streets. He was a business man. A family man. He loved his family.
JG: Who killed them Alex?
I put my hand on her shoulder to steady her as she attempts to collect herself and stop the silent weeping.
AS: I don’t know. They arrested Reed for the murders, but they don’t have any real evidence against him. I helped put this man…this good man…in harm’s way!
JG: You did your job Alex. Nothing more nothing less.
AS: I know. At least that’s what I thought, until this…
She trailed off, wracked with sobs again. We sat on a nearby bench and I tried to comfort her.
JG: Until what, Alex? What happened?
AS: I got that bastard, Reed, out on his own recognizance and found out later that the son of a bitch threatened to rape Bonnie while she treated him in the ER for an injury he got when Detective Rossi arrested him. My Bonnie! He’s threatened my Bonnie, Joel!
Then her eyes got hard and she said she had to go. She wouldn’t say what…just that she had to set things right.
Want to know how the story really plays out for Alex Stone? Buy my best selling thriller novel, Stone Cold to find out.
Image credit: acslaw [dot] org