by Jack Thrift
Case Number 9712345
Investigation into the attempted homicide of Raymond Clarence Marcus, which occurred on 2-15-xx at
approximately 1:30 am on Nebraska Avenue N. The following statement was taken from Danielle Kerry Marcus,
mother of the victim, w/f, DOB 12/19/64, in Interview Room 1, by Detective Hal Peterson at the Hillsborough
County Police Office, Homicide Division, on 2-15-xx at 11:32 am.
(Note: The original transcript has here been edited and begins after rights have been read and D. Marcus has
stated her name and address for the record.)
H.P.: You understand you’re not under arrest, correct? And that you’re free to go at any time?
D.M: Uh-huh. Yeah.
H.P.: And that we are interviewing a lot of people, not just you?
D.M.: I understand all that.
H.P.: Okay. I’m going to ask you some questions, Danielle, and a few of them may be kind of difficult. I know
you’re going through a lot emotionally right now, but it’s important –
D.M.: Can I smoke in here?
H.P.: Certainly. Now, Danielle –
D.M.: You got a light on you?
(Five second silence.)
D.M.: Thanks, hon.
H.P.: Danielle, when was the last time you saw Raymond?
D.M.: Ray. Nobody calls him Raymond.
H.P.: Fine. Ray.
D.M.: Last night.
D.M.: After supper. We got in an argument. This was maybe six, six-thirty, sometime around then. He stormed
off to his room and come out with a duffle bag over his shoulder. Last thing he says to me as he’s leaving: ‘How
can you live with yourself?’ That’s the last I saw of him.
H.P.: What did you take him to mean by that question?
D.M.: Bunch of things. Little things.
H.P.: Like what? What were you arguing about?
D.M.: Mostly? He doesn’t like my new man. Nothing new there, he never likes my men. This is Kyle I’m talking
about, Kyle Merrill. I imagine you all are talking to him, too, but he wasn’t the one shot Ray.
H.P.: Why do you say that?
D.M.: Because he was with me last night. All night.
H.P.: What did you and he do last night?
D.M.: Cooked out on the grill. Watched a movie we rented, went to bed early.
H.P.: This before or after Ray left?
H.P.: What movie?
H.P.: You said you watched a movie. I’m curious which one it was.
D.M.: I can’t remember the name. Some Adam Sandler flick. It was pretty awful.
H.P.: And there was never a time when you and Kyle were apart? Even for a little while?
D.M.: Except for going to the bathroom, no. But even if we weren’t together all of last night, I’d know he didn’t
shoot Ray, because I know Kyle. He’s a decent guy, doesn’t have a shred of violence in him. You know what he
did on my last birthday? Sent me a singing telegram. Do you believe that? Who does stuff like that anymore?
But that’s Kyle for you. An old-school romantic. And steady, too. He works at the body shop on Wilson Avenue,
pulls some long hours but makes good money. He’s good with his hands, see. And I don’t just mean on cars.
H.P.: How long have you been seeing Kyle?
D.M.: About three months. We met at the Crazy Corner, where I tend bar. It was maybe two-thirty in the
morning when he come in that first time, ordered a coffee. I couldn’t believe it – a cup of coffee. That time of
night, everyone is pretty lit and rowdy, and here’s Kyle, all respectful and quiet, stirring cream and sugar into
his decaf. You could say it caught my attention. Most of the drunks in there, the men, anyway, they were
hitting on me left and right – but Kyle? He wouldn’t even look at me. When he took off, he left me a five dollar
tip – this for a two dollar coffee, mind you – but here’s the beautiful thing. He wrote me a message on the back
of the tip, right on the five dollar bill itself, and it said he thought I was pretty and wanted to take me out for a
steak. Didn’t leave a number or nothing, so I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ But he come back the next night, drank
another coffee, and asked me what I thought. I’m like, ‘About what?’ He goes, ‘About what I wrote on your tip.’
I frown at him with my lips pushed out, kind of flirty, and go, ‘Oh, did you write something on my tip? Shoot, I
guess I missed it. I went right out and bought a pack of smokes with that money.’ He gets this stricken look on
his face. That’s when I show him the five dollar bill with his note on the back, give him a grin, and tell him I
might be able to see my way to having dinner with him.
H.P.: Did you two date exclusively?
D.M.: Oh, yeah. At the time I met him, I already had a boyfriend, name of Gene Creeley, you may know him? He’
s been in lockup quite a bit, is why I ask. But I met Kyle right around the time Gene started his stretch at
Starke for attempted robbery, so Gene wasn’t what you would call in the picture. And we were never exclusive
or nothing. So, yeah. Me and Kyle started going out and got serious real fast. He’s a sweet guy, you know, but
strong, kind of traditional with his opinions. A little quiet, which is a nice change after the loudmouths I’m used
to dating. He moved into my house about a month ago.
H.P.: How’d your son take that?
D.M.: Ray? He was pissed. My mistake was not giving him any warning. Kyle showed up with a couple of
suitcases and his guitar and his iguana, which aren’t exactly the kinds of things you bring over if you’re just
planning to spend the night, and Ray flipped out. He ran off to some friend’s house and stayed gone about a
week, until the school called and told me he’d missed a couple of days. That’s when I went out to find him and
bring him back. Which I did. Brought him back, I mean.
H.P.: He’s been with you ever since?
D.M.: Since last night, yeah.
H.P.: And how is his relationship with Kyle?
D.M.: There isn’t one. Ray stays away from him. Whenever Kyle comes home from work, Ray holes up in his
bedroom or heads out God knows where.
H.P.: The two of them ever fight?
D.M.: Yeah, you know. Some.
H.P.: Did it ever get violent?
(A four second silence.)
D.M.: Haven’t you been listening to me? Kyle was with me last night, all night. He couldn’t be the one tried to
kill Ray. You want to know who I think done it? Ray’s father. Talk to him. Frank Marcus is his name. I can give
you his address and everything. Or, hell, ask Ray himself.
H.P.: Danielle, come on. You know as well as I do Ray is in no condition to answer questions. With that bullet in
his head, there’s a good chance he isn’t ever going to wake up.
D.M.: Well, then I’ll be the one to tell you. His daddy must’ve done it.
H.P.: What makes you think he shot Ray?
D.M.: He owes back child support. He’s already spent some time in jail for that. With Ray dead, well, guess
what? No more child support. Plus, as much as it pains me to say it, I think he hates Ray’s guts. Resents him,
you know? He told me once he considers Ray a living, breathing testament to the bad decisions he’s made in
life. And Frank’s got a gun. A .38 revolver, I think. You might want to look into what kind of gun it was shot
Ray, and I’ll bet you my good looks it was a .38.
H.P.: If Ray ran away last night, how would his dad have known where to find him?
D.M.: Search me. Maybe Ray called him asking for a place to stay.
H.P.: Danielle, we’ve already interviewed Frank. We had to do it over the phone, because he’s across the
country, in California, visiting his dying mother. He seemed genuinely broken up by the news of what happened
to Ray. He literally wept, said he’d be on the next flight down here. I think you’ll agree, with his being in
California, there’s no way Frank could be our shooter.
(A seven second silence.)
H.P.: We asked him whether he owns a gun, and he didn’t hesitate to tell us about his .38. He says during your
divorce the gun went missing. He thinks you hid it somewhere.
D.M.: He’s a liar. He’s trying to put this on me.
H.P.: Aren’t you trying to do the same to him? But let’s come back to that. I want to ask you something, and
be honest. Did you call Ray on his cell phone last night to see where he was?
H.P.: So if we looked at your phone records –
D.M.: I said no.
H.P.: Danielle, just listen to me for a second.
D.M.: Can I get a Coke or something? I’m parched in here.
H.P.: In a minute.
D.M.: No, now. My throat’s too dry to talk anymore.
(A four second silence.)
H.P.: Is that what you want? A Coke?
D.M: Make it a Mountain Dew. And if they don’t have that, a Sprite. And give me your lighter again. I need
(Sounds in the room: A chair scrapes over the floor, the door opens and closes, a cough, a sigh, the grinding
flick of a cigarette lighter, a long exhalation. Silence. Another flick of a cigarette lighter, another audible
exhalation, the door opens and closes. Total time of silence: twenty-six minutes.)
D.M.: You get lost or something?
H.P.: Let’s switch gears here. I want to ask you about Ray’s arrest record.
D.M.: What about it?
H.P.: About a year ago he was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamines with the intent to
D.M.: I’m aware of that. So?
H.P.: That’s a very serious charge. I read the report, said he had a lot of crystal on him, well over the legal line
that separates simple possession from possession with intent, on top of which he had a suitcase full of
ingredients for meth manufacture in the trunk of his car, including thirty or so boxes of Sudafed. Which makes it
open and shut as far as the intent to distribute part. But for some reason the charges were lowered to simple
possession, and he got off on probation. That strikes me as odd.
D.M.: Ray didn’t have a record. They cut him a break.
H.P.: I’d call that an unusual break.
D.M.: Am I an expert on that kind of thing? They cut him a break, and that’s all I know.
H.P.: Do you know a man by the name of Garrett Merrill?
D.M.: Doesn’t ring any bells.
H.P.: Well, the last name must. He’s Kyle’s brother. Are you telling me Kyle never mentioned him? In all the time
you spent with Kyle, the subject of siblings never came up?
D.M.: He said he had a deadbeat brother he didn’t like to talk about.
(A four second silence.)
H.P.: The day after your son was arrested for meth possession, a warrant was issued for a search of Garrett’s
trailer in Okeechobee. He was running a meth lab, got pinched during the raid, and pled out to ten years’ hard
D.M.: I don’t see what that has to do with anything.
H.P.: Your son was working for him, Danielle, selling his meth. When Ray got arrested, he rolled on Garrett.
Gave him up to save his own neck.
D.M.: I don’t know anything about that.
H.P.: Maybe not. But Kyle certainly does. Kyle knows who Ray is and what he did to his brother.
(Sounds in room: A knock on the door, the door opening. Detective Ryan Tate enters.)
R.T.: Hal? Excuse me, can I see you for a moment?
H.P.: I’ll be right back, Danielle.
D.M.: Don’t take so long this time.
(Sounds in room: Door opening and closing. Silence for nine minutes. Door opening and closing, Detective Tate
enters with Detective Prince.)
H.P.: Danielle, I’m afraid I have some bad news. We just heard from the hospital. I don’t know how to say this.
R.T.: Ray’s dead.
D.M.: Oh, God. Ray’s dead? He’s…oh, no, no…(indecipherable)
(A sixteen second silence.)
H.P.: This is Detective Ryan Tate. He’s going to be joining us.
R.T.: This is now a homicide investigation, Mrs. Marcus.
D.M.: He’s really dead?
H.P.: I’m afraid so.
R.T.: You should also know that we have Kyle Merrill in another interview room. We’ve been questioning him on
and off for a couple of hours.
D.M.: He’s here?
R.T.: Yes, ma’am. And he’s talking.
H.P.: I don’t know how involved you are in this thing, Danielle. Maybe you’re in love with Kyle and you don’t
want him to go to jail, so you’re giving him an alibi. Or maybe you carried out the act of shooting Ray yourself.
Maybe anything. You see what I mean? If all we have to go on is what Kyle tells us…
R.T.: Then you’re in a whole heap of trouble.
H.P.: You need to protect yourself.
R.T.: This may be the most important moment of your life, Danielle. Your whole future hangs in the balance,
and you need to stop and think. Real hard. Stop worrying about Kyle and start worrying about yourself.
D.M.: He’s saying I did it? What exactly is Kyle telling you?
R.T.: I could answer that, but I don’t need to. Have you ever heard of Prisoner’s Dilemma? It’s a – what do you
call it, Hal? A metaphor? An allegory? Anyway, it’s a story that’s used to illustrate a concept in economics
called game theory, wherein a player’s strategy for success has to take into account the choices of other
players. Here’s how it goes. Two men are brought in by the police and put in separate interrogation rooms, both
of them suspected of being partners in a crime. These guys, they’re guilty as sin, but they know the cops have
very little evidence on them. The cops offer them each a deal. Give up your buddy, and you may get to go
home tonight, no charges. Now, given the scant evidence against them, the suspects figure if they knuckle
down under the pressure and manage to keep their mouths shut, they’ll get charged with a lesser crime and will
probably each do six months. That’s the win-win scenario, because it minimizes the number of combined time
they’ll do – one year. But here’s the rub. Since they’re separated, each doesn’t know what the other is saying.
If one of them comes clean and implicates the other, the snitch gets off free of charges while his buddy, who
keeps his mouth shut, gets ten years. That’s what you call win-lose. If they both snitch on each other, they
each get ten years, twenty years total. Lose-lose. Rationally, they should keep their mouths shut and go for
the win-win scenario. Funny thing, though – the suspects almost always wind up snitching on each other. In
this kind of setup, lose-lose is the norm. Why, you’re wondering? Human nature. As a species, we just flat-out
don’t trust one another. We assume the worst in everyone else. The theory behind Prisoner’s Dilemma explains
why countries go to war and why companies run each other out of business, even when it’s in their mutual
interests to cooperate. Sounds cynical, right? But I’ve seen it bear out over and over in these very rooms. That’
s what we have here, Danielle. Right now you’re wondering what Kyle’s saying about you. I could tell you
anything, but what’s to stop you from thinking I’m bluffing? In fact, maybe Kyle’s saying nothing at all. But, and
here’s the key, maybe he is. Maybe he’s spilling his guts. I’m not going to tell you. It’s enough to let you to
wonder. You’re in a hell of a bind right now, Danielle – if you’re guilty, of course. Seems to me, your situation is
a literal case of Prisoner’s Dilemma.
D.M.: But I’m not a prisoner.
R.T.: Neither were the suspects in the story – yet. But that’s the whole point. Once those two were
separated, the die was cast. It’s called Prisoner’s Dilemma because the fact of their eventually winding up in
prison is a foregone conclusion, a fait accompli.
D.M.: I don’t know what the hell to say to that. What do you want me to say?
H.P.: Just the truth, Danielle.
R.T.: We want to hear something sensible out of you.
H.P.: The second you start being straight with us, Detective Tate and I will jump to your side. It’s a whole
different ballgame when you’re cooperating. Right now it’d be nice to hear some honesty.
R.T.: Nice? Try necessary.
D.M.: I am being honest.
R.T.: Let’s stop, back up, and take a look at what we got so far. Ray snitches on Garrett Merrill to avoid going
to prison. Not long after, Garrett’s brother Kyle shows up at the bar where you work and asks you out. He turns
on the charm, moves into your house. By and by he turns you against your own son as well. A few months go
by, Ray gets shot in the head, and he winds up dying in the hospital. If we assume Garrett Merrill had a beef
with your son and wanted to make him suffer, which is really more of a given than an assumption, it’s fairly
easy to tie all this together. Not a bad revenge strategy of Garrett and Kyle’s part.
D.M.: If you’re so smart, explain why Ray didn’t tell me any of this. Why didn’t he tell me Kyle was this drug
H.P.: Kyle probably threatened him. He probably said he’d kill you and Ray both if he told you. Or maybe Ray
didn’t even know who he was. I doubt that, however. Like Detective Tate here said, Kyle would have wanted
Ray to know he was Garrett’s brother. That would have been an essential ingredient in his punishment.
(A four second silence.)
R.T.: No offense, Danielle, but something’s been bugging me. Kyle’s half your age. He’s young and good looking.
Didn’t you ever stop and wonder why somebody like him would be interested in somebody like you?
D.M.: Fuck you.
(Sounds in room: Detective Tate laughing.)
D.M.: You’re an asshole, you know that?
R.T.: Yes, ma’am, I do.
H.P.: I’m going to ask you again, Danielle. I’m going to give you another chance. Was Kyle with you every
second of last night? Or was there maybe a time when he was gone?
(A five second silence.)
R.T.: Do you know what obstruction of justice is, Danielle? It’s when you willfully get in the way of a police
investigation. Like, I don’t know, giving a false alibi for a suspect of murder. It’s a serious offense. You don’t
need that on top of all your other problems.
H.P.: Talk to us, Danielle. This is your chance to tell us your side.
(A twelve second silence.)
R.T.: Or don’t talk to us, I don’t care. I’ll tell you something, though. I’ve been watching you from the
monitoring room, listening to your cute little story about how you met Kyle. I saw the way you lit up when you
talked about him. And I’m sitting there thinking to myself, ‘Christ, this lady’s son is dying in a hospital room with
a bullet in his brain, but you sure as hell wouldn’t know it by looking at her.’ If it were my son? I’d be hysterical.
I’d be demanding to know what his condition was.
(Sounds in room: fist pounding on the table.)
R.T.: I’d be saying, ‘Take me to the hospital so I can be by his side.’
D.M.: You don’t know anything.
R.T.: I know some things.
D.M.: If I had anything to do with what happened to him, why would I have told you that me and Ray had a
fight last night and he ran off angry at me? Huh? If I was guilty, that’d be the last thing I’d want you to know.
H.P.: You just answered your own question. You’d do it so we’d wonder why anyone who was guilty would
admit to something like that. It’s a diversionary tactic, we get it all the time. We’ll bring in a suspect and right
away he’ll give us a little sliver of hard truth. He’ll tell us he was smoking marijuana on the day in question or
had recently had a falling out with the victim, something like that, the idea being that we’ll be disarmed by his
candor and think, ‘Jeez, he admits to that, he must be telling the truth.’ How often would you say that
happens, Detective Tate?
R.T.: At least fifty percent of the time.
H.P.: It’s nothing new, is what I’m saying.
D.M.: I’d like to leave now.
R.T.: Whoa – leave?
D.M.: You said in the beginning that I wasn’t a suspect and that I could leave any time I wanted.
H.P.: I said you weren’t under arrest. I never said you weren’t a suspect. In an investigation like this,
everybody’s a suspect. You want to stop talking to us? That’s your right. But given what Kyle’s been telling us,
we have enough to arrest you. Send you straight to jail.
R.T.: Do not pass Go.
H.P.: We’re going to have you take a GSR test, Danielle. A test that determines whether there’s any residue on
your person indicative of having recently fired a gun. We already have the warrant, we’re just waiting on the
guy from Forensics to get here.
D.M.: I can’t believe this shit.
H.P.: What happened, Danielle? What happened to Ray?
(A ten second silence. Sounds in room: woman crying.)
H.P.: You want another cigarette?
H.P.: What happened?
(An eight second silence.)
D.M.: He wasn’t supposed to kill him.
(A five second silence.)
H.P.: Go on.
D.M.: Kyle’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, okay? I mean, you’re right, look at me. I’m fifty pounds
overweight, my ass is sagging over this chair. I’m wrinkly from all the smoking. I’m all used up. Before I met
Kyle, I made peace with the idea that the best part of my life was behind me. To make matters worse, Ray
started turning into a little shit. Taking my car without permission, stealing money from my purse. Taking drugs.
What do you do? You figure you can either end it all or go kind of dead inside. And that’s what I did, went with
the second option. I just sort of fell into a routine, and that became my life. I got up in the morning, did my
thing, and went to bed, and I tried not to think about all the things I hoped for as a kid and how they’d never
be. Then Kyle showed up. It’s like the world was suddenly beautiful again, almost strung with lights, the way it
seemed sometimes when I was a kid; it felt like my head was stuffed with clouds that wanted to lift me off my
feet. Things that used to be a drag and a chore, like just getting through the days, now had meaning. You
H.P.: Must’ve been something.
D.M.: It was. It is. And I don’t care what you say, Kyle loves me. Okay, fine, maybe this whole thing with me
started off as a way to get even with Ray on behalf of his brother – I don’t know anything about that – but it
doesn’t matter. He fell in love with me. Do you understand that? We’ve had moments, real moments, that took
my breath away.
H.P.: Tell us what happened to Ray?
D.M.: Ray’s the one put the ultimatum out there. Last night, right before he took off, he told me it was him or
Kyle. Later on, Kyle told me it might be a good idea to put a little fear in him. Lord knows I’ve tried everything
else to get Ray going on the straight and narrow, so I told him to go ahead. I called Ray on his cell until he
answered, and I asked him where he was. Kyle insisted on picking him up himself, alone, said he wanted to
have a man-to-man with Ray, set him straight on how things were going to be from now on. But when he come
back, Ray wasn’t with him. Not long after, the hospital called, said Kyle’d been shot and was barely hanging on.
H.P.: So you did call Ray after he left. You were lying about that, huh.
D.M.: I guess.
H.P.: Did Kyle tell you what happened?
D.M.: Yeah. I finally got it out of him that he shot Ray in the head. He said it was an accident, and begged me
not to tell the cops. I said I had to. He said he’d kill me if I did.
H.P.: Did Kyle tell you what gun he used?
D.M.: He used my husband’s old .38.
H.P.: You hid it during the divorce, like your husband said?
D.M.: Uh-huh. And I showed it to Kyle one time because I knew he liked guns.
H.P.: Meaning Kyle knew where to find it.
H.P.: So you were lying then, too, when you said Ray’s daddy had the gun.
D.M.: I don’t –
H.P.: What movie was it you say you rented last night?
(A four second silence.)
H.P.: The movie. Remember? That’s what you told me you did last night, watched a movie. What was it?
D.M.: I don’t remember.
H.P.: Who was in it?
D.M.: I…uh –
H.P.: Don’t think about it, just answer.
D.M.: Jim Carrey.
H.P.: You told me earlier it was Adam Sandler.
(A four second silence.)
R.T.: You feel that, Danielle?
D.M.: Feel what?
R.T.: Your whole world, falling apart around you.
(Sounds in the room: a cell phone ringing.)
R.T.: Excuse me a moment. Yeah…Uh-huh…You saw it yourself?...Okay…Okay, thanks.
H.P.: Who was that?
R.T.: That was Lieutenant Gonzalez. He says Kyle’s alibi checks out.
D.M.: He…Wait. His alibi?
H.P.: I might as well fill you in. Kyle’s been telling us he spent last night at the body shop, said he had to get
away because the two of you had a fight.
D.M.: You’re lying. He didn’t say that.
R.T.: The body shop’s owner set up surveillance cameras everywhere – the parking lot, the waiting room, the
inside of the shop. Turns out the place has been hit twice by burglars, and I guess the owner’s a little
paranoid. Can’t say I blame him. Lieutenant Gonzalez went to look at the tapes this morning and confirmed that
Kyle was there from about seven yesterday evening until about five this morning.
D.M.: No. That’s a mistake.
H.P.: You want to know my take on all this? I’m thinking that killing Ray was all Kyle’s idea, and he persuaded
you to carry it out. He must’ve told you to do it or say goodbye forever to him and all the head-full-of-clouds,
lovey-dovey crap you mentioned. His being at the body shop, where he knew all those cameras would be on
him, is a bit too convenient in my book, but it does tell me one thing. He isn’t our shooter. You should also
know that he’s been telling us that you confessed to him that you killed Ray. He says he had no knowledge you
were going to do it. In other words, he’s putting it all on you. I’m not sure I believe him. No, I think his hand is
in this, even if that hand didn’t itself pull the trigger. Kyle screwed you over, which is no doubt how he planned
it all along, since that night you first laid eyes on him, when he ordered that coffee in your bar. I don’t know if
we can’t prove his involvement, but it’ll be pretty easy to prove yours.
D.M.: No. No, no, no.
H.P.: Before we do that gunshot residue test, is there something you’d like to tell us? Honesty goes a long way
with me, Danielle. If you tell us what happened – what really happened – then Detective Tate and I can go to
the DA and say, ‘Here’s her involvement, here’s what she did, but she’s working with us, being truthful, so
maybe we can cut her some slack.’ Understand, there’s no guarantee here, but it can certainly help. What do
D.M.: I say I’m done talking to you.
H.P.: That’s fine, no problem. But you should know I’m placing you under arrest for the murder of Raymond
R.T.: Your flesh and blood son.
D.M.: I want to go home.
H.P.: Oh, Danielle, don’t you get it?
R.T.: You are home.
End of transcript.