"Detective, how much time does it take to get from the police station to the Kenwood address where the homicide occurred?"
It amazes me when a defense attorney asked for measurements, distances, amounts. It's their way of making a detective look incompetent. The jury really doesn't care. Unless you are talking about drugs and money. This time we were talking about a domestic case that ended at the police department. I thought about it and looked at the defense attorney. I answered with "4 minutes," adding the disclaimer if the driver obeyed all traffic signals and speed limits.
The defense attorney held up some papers and dropped them down suddenly after my answer, nodded his head and looked at me, "That is exactly what Mapquest says."
Now did I know I was going to be asked that question? No. Did I look it up in Mapquest previously? No.
I had lived, breathed, ate, drank, and slept this case in the weeks prior to the preliminary hearing. When I was asked the questions, I put myself back in the time and place, imagining myself driving my detective car to and from the police station to the homicide scene as I had done many times before. That's how I answered questions like that or others involving place and time.
Then, my internal thought was...if you were a pissed Irish dude and just saw your wife with another man, disregarded traffic signals, and drove erratically, it would be much faster.
The defense attorney and I had a mutual respect for each other most times. However, over the years I had learned to be on my A -game with him as he tried to slip little things in to make cops look bad or make us mad. He shook my hand afterward as you do in a golf match and told me I did well. He asked me how I knew the times and distances so perfect. I just smiled. Never give your opponent too much strategy...keep them guessing.
In fact, the suspect's erratic driving and time traveled to the police station could be estimated by the dispatch calls. However, the prosecutor added that in. I didn't testify to that information.
The following is one of the articles from the preliminary hearing. Josh is a great reporter and a good person. He and Susan Burk were two upstanding reporters in my neck of the woods. Burk was obviously my favorite and featured in The Boogie Man Is My Friend: The Rookies. She, too, thinks highly of Joshua Wolfson. I do miss my morning meetings with the press. They treated me well as a detective and I never got bad press. I am sure that is because I gave them respect and interviews when allowed.