She walked back to her car, cursing under her breath. “Damn.” She had hoped to take her lunch hour talking to the owner and make it back to the office before Summers started asking Karen where she was. Now she felt compelled to track down the owner at home and question him there. She didn’t even know if Summers approved of this type of thing. In New York, prosecutors talked to witnesses at home or at work if they felt they wanted more information, but who knew how things were done here? Well, she needed some answers, and the only way to get them was to talk to the owner herself.
The owner of the liquor store, Mr. Lin, lived about a mile away in Venice in a small run-down house in a lower-middle class neighborhood. I guess the liquor business isn’t doing too well, Rosemaria mused. A car was in the driveway, so he must be home. She walked up the cement steps and knocked on the door. She immediately heard loud whispering inside the house that sounded like it could be Korean. She shouted, “Hello, I’m from the Los Angeles prosecutor’s office. I’d like to talk to you if you have time.” Th e door opened slightly, and a short, thin Korean man in his fifties peeked out at her.
“We say everything to the police. You ask them what we say.”
“I need to ask you some questions myself. Please open the door.”
She heard the voice of a woman, who she assumed must be his wife. The woman spoke to him in Korean. He shook his head. “We don’t want to talk. We say everything already.”
Rosemaria was tired of being jerked around by this guy, victim or no victim. “You can let me in and talk to me now, or you can talk to me in my office. Your choice.”
The man turned around, had a whispered conversation with his wife, then came back to Rosemaria. He opened the door wide so she could come in. The wife was al so small and thin. Both looked nervous. The wife indicated for Rosemaria to sit, and she chose a chair next to the coffee table. The husband and wife huddled together on the couch. “Mr. and Mrs. Lin, my name is Rosemaria Baker. I’m going to be the prosecutor on your case. You do know that the robbery suspect is in custody and will not be able to make bail? You’re not in any danger now.”
The wife said something to her husband in Korean, and he turned back to Rosemaria. “We know that. We are not afraid. We don’t like talking to government people. We have done nothing wrong.”
“I didn’t say you had done anything wrong, Mr. Lin. After all, you are the victim. I just have a few questions, and then I’ll be on my way. All right?”
He nodded, his face set in a scowl.
“First of all, how long have you owned the store?”
“Why you ask?”
“Just answer my questions, please, and we will get this over with a lot sooner.”
“Have you been robbed before?”
“Maybe two times before.”
“You don’t remember?”
“Would it surprise you to know that you have been robbed five times in those eight years?”
“When you were robbed before, was it the same people or different people?”
“Were they arrested and prosecuted?”
“Had Mr. Rham been in your store before?”
“Mr. Lin, you’re making this very difficult. Had he been in the store before?”
He squirmed on the couch and hesitated, then said, “Yes.”
“How many times?”
“Maybe two or three.”
“Had he ever given you any problems before?”
“Did he always wear the same jacket when he came in?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Okay, that’s fine. I can sit in the car outside your house until you do remember. Maybe turn on my flashers.” Threatening an old Korean couple. Wow. What flashers? She didn’t have flashers anymore. She asked the question again. “Did he always wear the same jacket?”
“Think so. And he have fancy shoes, like Nike, maybe.”
“Just like in the video.”
“Yes. Just like.”
“You had ten thousand dollars in your safe the night you were robbed. That seems like an awful lot to be keeping in the store. Why was so much money in the safe?”
He was looking more and more uncomfortable. “I told other police that I hadn’t been to the bank in a week. It had added up.”
“Added up? Uh-huh. Mr. Lin, I don’t believe a word you’re telling me. You’re still scared to death even though Mr. Rham is in jail. I think you recognized the real robber, and he’s frightened you into lying to us. Is he threatening you, Mr. Lin?”
Mr. and Mrs. Lin engaged in frantic exchanges. Rosemaria couldn’t make head or tail of what they were whispering to each other. Finally, Mr. Lin turned back to her. “We have nothing to say. We get lawyer if you try to take us in.”
Rosemaria sighed and rolled her eyes. She didn’t want to be accused of browbeating a victim. “Take it easy, Mr. Lin. I’m not taking you in. I wouldn’t want the real robber to think you’re cooperating. But I’m not putting an innocent man in prison because you’re scared, do you understand that?”
She got up, walked to the door, and opened it. “This is not over.” On her way out, she heard their whispers growing more urgent.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish
Comment on this Bubble
Your comment and a link to this bubble will also appear in your Facebook feed.