“There was suppressed deep inside Niki Crawford the knowledge that all of her compassion and caring, all of her responsibility, had for one moment come up against something else, another part of her she’d only guessed was there, and that other part had prevailed. Without clearly understanding it, she knew she had been all that had stood between order and chaos, sanity and madness. But it had been raining. And now her mind, unable to absorb the magnitude of the consequences of her decision, erased from her memory everything she had seen.”
Niki Crawford could have saved the life of eight year old Robin Samsoe. But it was raining, and despite being troubled by what she saw, she drove quickly past the scene. Now a little girl is missing, presumed kidnapped, and Niki’s decision not to intervene when she saw the kidnapping unfold torments her so deeply that she returns to the scene of the crime and finds the girl’s lifeless body. Now she is so traumatized that she is unable to remember the events of that fateful night, and the key evidence that would identify the murderer.
The arrest of suspect Robert Engle can bring the case to a speedy conclusion. Deputy District Attorney Judith Thornton is the assigned prosecutor. But a series of police errors grinds her case to a halt. In a dramatic courtroom confrontation that leaves even Engle incredulous, he offers to plead guilty, but the law will not allow it unless his attorney agrees. And Alan Larson, his notorious defense attorney will not agree. As the case spirals through trial toward jury deliberations, Judith desperately needs Niki to cooperate with the investigation and remember the events surrounding the murder –before Larson discovers on his own what Niki really saw, and using her fragile mental condition, destroys her testimony, setting a murderer free.
Guilty By Choice is the first novel in the acclaimed Judith Thornton series. The book probes the importance and effects of personal choices on lives and the criminal justice process. It enjoyed a first printing of 100,000 copies. 352 pages. Other titles in the Judith Thornton series include McGonigle Canyon, Graffiti, and An Honorable Man.