• Sara McNabb

Season 1 Episode 5 Transcript


Episode 5: “Attorney/Client Privilege”

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE

SARA: It’s him.

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE

LINDY: Pick it up.

SARA: I don’t want to.

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE

LINDY: Sara.

SARA: No.

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE

LINDY: We have to find out --

SARA: I don’t know if I want to find out any more.

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE

LINDY: He’s gonna hang up!

SARA: It was one thing when I came back to Etta to get a wrongly-convicted man out of prison. But now there’s a murder covering it all up?

SFX: Sara’s Phone Ringtone

SARA: And supposedly, everybody’s lying about it all -- which as far as I know, may be a lie itself.

LINDY: Don’t let it go to voicemail, Sara. He might not call back.

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE

SARA: Hello.

SFX: LONG, UNCOMFORTABLE DEAD AIR HUM

MR. X: You’re calling attention to yourself. You’re on the right trail.

SFX: LONG, UNCOMFORTABLE DEAD AIR HUM

LINDY: Put him on speaker.

SARA: You need to tell me more.

MR. X: Asking questions about this matter isn’t safe in Etta. They all lie. They’ve all lived lies for years.

SARA: Who are they? Give me that much. If they’re going to come after me, knowing who they are --

MR. X: One man’s died to keep their lies and secrets from coming out. Don’t fool yourself into believing they won’t pile another corpse on top of their lies to keep them hidden from sight.

SARA: But who are they?

SFX: LONG, UNCOMFORTABLE DEAD AIR HUM

SARA: Tell me that much at least -- who are they?

SFX: LONG, UNCOMFORTABLE DEAD AIR HUM

SFX: BEEP OF CALL DISCONNECTING

SARA: It’s like he doesn’t listen.

LINDY: You’ve been getting calls like that for days? No wonder you’re freaked out.

SARA: This one was different.

LINDY: What, he’s usually scarier?

SARA: He gave me no information in that call.

LINDY: He said “one man died.”

SARA: Not a name. Not a fact. Every other time, he tells me something. ”Rufus was innocent,” “Petra was lying” -- This call was just a spooky pat on the head -- “Keep going, but be careful.”

LINDY: I’m not following.

SARA: Neither am I . . . So it’s time to ask more questions. Where’s Eddie Dial’s nearest billboard?

SARA: I don’t know if this is going out to the knowers or not, but I’m going to keep recording. Just in case.

SFX: CAR DOOR OPENS

SFX: CAR DOOR SHUTS

SFX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

SARA: Strangely for Etta, the street near Eddie Dial’s office is parked up. But there is a public lot at the end of the street. Not that getting anywhere in Etta is a long walk . . .

SFX: CAR LOCKS, BEEPS

SARA: It was one thing when I came back to Etta to get a wrongly-convicted man out of prison. But last night . . . last night I learned a police officer may have been murdered to cover it up.

SARA: And I’ve been told everybody is lying about this case -- but lying about what? My brother was able to get his editor pal at the Weekly to confirm that real estate Eddie Dial is in fact the Edward Dial who was Rufus’s first public defender. It should be the one of the next buildings -- Bingo. “Dial Eddie to sell your house for cash!” That’s a slogan . . .

SFX: OFFICE DOOR CHIME

SARA: Hi! I’m Sara McNabb. I called earlier about meeting with Mr. Dial?

SFX: OFFICE DOOR CLOSING

ASSISTANT: Right. We spoke earlier. I’ll let Eddie know you’re here.

SFX: PHONE HANDSET PICKED UP

SARA: Thanks.

EDDIE DIAL: Sara McNabb?

ASSISTANT: Oh, Eddie -- I was just about to call you.

SFX: PHONE HANDSET HUNG UP

ASSISTANT: Ms. McNabb is here for your appointment.

EDDIE DIAL: Come on back to my office.

SARA: Good to meet you.

EDDIE DIAL: Grab a seat.

SFX: EDDIE’S OFFICE DOOR CLOSES

SARA: Thanks for seeing me on short notice.

EDDIE DIAL: “Hopping” is not the term I would use right now to describe the real estate market here and in the nearby counties. So I’ve got some bandwidth.

SARA: Let’s start easy: why real estate after law?

EDDIE DIAL: There’s not a ton of legal work to do in a place like Etta. Mostly wills and contracts, but not a whole lot. You get to a point where you either have to move or change your business.

SARA: You obviously picked “change your business.”

EDDIE DIAL: When I was doing law full-time, I was already doing a lot of work for my realtor friends, writing and reviewing contracts, answering questions . . . Packaging it all myself seemed an easy step to make.

SARA: Plus, it’s probably a trip seeing your face on billboards every four or five miles in any given direction.

EDDIE DIAL: (Laughing) Maybe not every four or five.

SARA: So what I came to talk to you about was the work you did as an Etta public defender.

EDDIE DIAL: Okay, so the first thing to understand is that Etta doesn’t actually have a public defender on payroll -- there’s just not enough work, and Etta doesn’t have the budget to keep someone on full time.

SARA: I didn’t know that. But it makes sense.

EDDIE DIAL: So like a lot of small towns, they co-opt --and sometimes conscript -- anyone with a law license and assign them to cases. I actually didn’t mind it for the most part -- it was my pro bono time, as far as I was concerned.

SARA: Gotcha. How long did you do it?

EDDIE DIAL: Five, almost six years.

SARA: And where in that timeframe did you get assigned to defend Rufus Knobbe?

EDDIE DIAL: Rufus Knobbe. That’s a name I haven’t thought of in a long time. You mentioned on the phone you grew up here.

SARA: I did.

EDDIE DIAL: You must have been a kid when all that happened.

SARA: Junior high.

EDDIE DIAL: So what are you trying to find out?

SARA: I host a true crime podcast. I review cases, narrate events -- Recently, I started a livestream for my listeners, so we could discuss cases on the show.

EDDIE DIAL: You’re a regular Art Bell.

SARA: Who?

EDDIE DIAL: Showing my age, aren’t I?

SARA: I didn’t mean --

EDDIE DIAL: Don’t worry about it. It’ll happen to you one day.

SARA: If I’m lucky.

EDDIE DIAL: What do you want to know about Rufus?

SARA: I know what I’ve read in the newspaper accounts from back then.

EDDIE DIAL: I don’t remember anything incorrect running in the news stories.

SARA: They’re news stories. Organized lists of facts.

EDDIE DIAL: You want the backstage stories.

SARA: I want the human stories. That’s what people want to listen to.

SFX: CHAIR CREAKING

EDDIE DIAL: Sit back, relax. Let’s see what stories I can come up with.

SARA: You mind if I record this?

EDDIE DIAL: Not at all.

SARA: Okay . . . let me get this started . . .

SFX: RECORDING BEEP

SARA: The counter’s going, and we’re good to go.

EDDIE DIAL: Little piece of free legal advice: You should be getting a release when you do this.

SARA: Probably, but I don’t have --

EDDIE DIAL: Just take note of this language and use it later: I, Edward Patrick Dial, understand and grant permission to be recorded by Sara McNabb for her podcast titled --

SARA: Oh, Somebody Knows.

EDDIE DIAL: -- Somebody Knows. And I agree that this interview may be used for the podcast and in any derivative works and in other media, in all languages throughout the world, in perpetuity.

SARA: Thank you. So, you want to start at the beginning, or at the end?

EDDIE DIAL: You’re an interesting interviewer. Why start at the end?

SARA: Another public defender took your place before the trial started. There’s a story there.

EDDIE DIAL: He took my place because I walked away.

SARA: Tell me about that.

EDDIE DIAL: Let’s start at the beginning.

SARA: Maybe less edgy and dramatic, but easier to follow.

EDDIE DIAL: Etta police had a reputation for mistreating the poor people in the area. Not just the flat-out homeless like Rufus and a couple other indigents that used to drift through from time to time, but some of the just plain needy who lived here.

SARA: Mistreat how?

EDDIE DIAL: Harassing them when they were in town -- following them, stopping and questioning them, sometimes even frisking them.

SARA: You represented some of them.

EDDIE DIAL: Getting them out of jail, pleading down the ridiculous charges they were sometimes hit with . . . Where are people in those situations supposed to go?

SARA: And Rufus Knobbe?

EDDIE DIAL: This town was lit up when the word came out that Petra Novak had been abducted in her own car at knifepoint. It felt like a miracle when Tom Novak brought her home, relatively unhurt.

SARA: She was stabbed.

EDDIE DIAL: In the shoulder. You have kids?

SARA: No.

EDDIE DIAL: With everything that could have happened, all the bad ways that could have turned out, trust me, a lot of parents would be relieved at that outcome.

SARA: I hadn’t thought of it that way.

EDDIE DIAL: The police had gotten word Rufus had been seen in Scottsville. Sent a few officers out to look for him. And they found him and brought him back.

SARA: That’s when you were called.

EDDIE DIAL: I was called after they’d been interrogating him for almost eleven hours. Egregious violation as far as I was concerned. They said Rufus agreed to it, and never asked for an attorney.

SARA: But Rufus had already been declared incompetent.

EDDIE DIAL: You’ve been doing your homework. Yes. He legally couldn’t consent. But Rufus . . . for all his mental and behavioral issues, he never wavered. He outlasted four cops through that interrogation, played all their games but never admitted to anything regarding Petra Novak.

SARA: Is he that out of it? That stubborn?

EDDIE DIAL: He’s got this focus to him. And his gaze -- it’s what makes him so scary to some people.

SARA: You don’t think he’s dangerous.

EDDIE DIAL: Oh, I think Rufus would be far better off in some kind of care facility. Not prison. But the world he lives in doesn’t always align with ours. He’d benefit living someplace that could keep him out of trouble.

SARA: So why not get him admitted somewhere?

EDDIE DIAL: Because he won’t go. For the same reason that he’ll serve his full sentence, with no chance of parole.

SARA: Why?

EDDIE DIAL: The Parole Board requires that a prisoner show remorse in order to be eligible. And Rufus has never demonstrated any inkling of remorse. And never will.

SARA: But he’s already been convicted. If it would get him out earlier . . .

EDDIE DIAL: I already told you, his reality doesn’t always line up with ours. He knows he didn’t do anything, and even if saying he’s sorry would set him free right on the spot, he’ll never say it. It’s part of that scary intensity.

SARA: Which is what made him the right person to blame, wasn’t it?

EDDIE DIAL: I don’t think I understand your question.

SARA: You weren’t just defending Rufus to protect his rights. You believed he was innocent. There was no DNA, no fingerprints -- There were no witnesses. Where was the proof?

EDDIE DIAL: I don’t know who abducted young Miss Novak, but it wasn’t Rufus Knobbe.

SARA: And you walked away from the case ten days before the trial commenced.

EDDIE DIAL: I did.

SARA: What changed your mind?

EDDIE DIAL: Nothing changed my mind about Rufus. He was innocent, in my opinion. But he was also his own worst witness. I could count on him to say he didn’t do it. But any more than that -- Do you know why he was a drifter?

SARA: I assume because he couldn’t hold down a job or pay for a place to live.

EDDIE DIAL: Rufus believed he was being spied upon. And if he went home to the same place every day, they’d know where he was.

SARA: Who were “they”?

EDDIE DIAL: I don’t know. And neither did Rufus. He told me once they were watching him, waiting for him to have a vulnerable moment, and take him.

SARA: For what?

EDDIE DIAL: To implant things in his body to make him easier to watch, and ultimately, control him.

SARA: Holy . . . prison for him has to be --

EDDIE DIAL: -- a personal vision of Hell, made real. You have no idea how many alternative arrangements I worked on offering the court as a better solution for him.

SARA: I’ve seen some of the records. He was incompetent, unable to consent.

EDDIE DIAL: There was an officer at Scottsville who said she saw him there the afternoon he was supposed to be abducting Petra Novak.

SARA: That was never admitted into the record.

EDDIE DIAL: No it wasn’t.

SARA: Somebody wanted him locked up.

EDDIE DIAL: Maybe. More accurately, someone wanted the trial and the investigation to go on.

SARA: I’m not following.

EDDIE DIAL: The whole thing could have ended relatively quickly. He was already declared incompetent. I wanted him to get help. But there was . . . pressure.

SARA: Pressure? Who?

EDDIE DIAL: Pause your recorder.

SARA: I don’t know if I should --

EDDIE DIAL: Please.

SFX: RECORDING “PAUSE” BEEP

SARA: Recording’s stopped.

EDDIE DIAL: Rufus is innocent of this. I had no doubt then, and I have no doubt now. He needed care and I wanted him to get it. Getting him examined, putting the right paperwork in front of a judge, it would have been quick. That’s not what others wanted.

SARA: They wanted it to drag out?

EDDIE DIAL: A prolonged investigation. And a trial.

SARA: For what?

SFX: CHAIR CREAKING

SARA: Mr. Dial, for what?

EDDIE DIAL: I wouldn’t do that, couldn’t do that. So I made the appropriate excuses and got myself replaced on the case.

SARA: And you went into real estate.

EDDIE DIAL: I almost moved away. But Etta is home.

SARA: I don’t understand -- who benefits from a vagrant going to trial?

EDDIE DIAL: You’ve done a lot of homework. I suggest you do a little more. Read up on the police union in Etta, particularly in the weeks before the abduction.

SARA: What am I looking for?

EDDIE DIAL: You’ll know when you see it.

SARA: This has been very helpful, Mr. Dial.

EDDIE DIAL: Eddie.

SARA: Eddie.

SFX: CHAIR CREAKING

SARA: One more thing: You’ve been the only person to really give me any insight on Rufus Knobbe. I’m not family, and Rufus doesn’t know me. So my odds of getting a response from him are --

EDDIE DIAL: You want to interview Rufus?

SARA: Yes.

EDDIE DIAL: Leave me your card. I still know a few people, maybe Rufus remembers me . . . Let me see what I can do.

SFX: Fumbling in purse

SFX: snap of card on desk

SARA: Thank you.

EDDIE DIAL: You do know what happens when you start poking around a hornet’s nest.

SARA: The hornets come out.

EDDIE DIAL: Don’t get stung.

SARA: Knowers, this started as a wrong man case, with some unfortunately not-uncommon prosecutorial misconduct to cut through. Now . . . now it appears more and more to be a conspiracy, with roots that reach back decades. One with all the inherent danger of when people with secrets -- people in power -- will do whatever they can to prevent those secrets from being uncovered.

SFX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

SARA: It scares me, and -- why’s my car tilted like that? Great. I’ve got a flat.

SFX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

SARA: Two flats?!? What did I hit . . . the sidewall’s slashed -- and what the hell happened to my windshield?

SFX: DIALTONE, PHONE DIALING

SARA: Lindy, it’s me. Someone vandalized my car while I was interviewing Eddie Dial. Yes, I’m sure -- the sidewalls are slashed wide open on both tires on the driver’s side. And it looks like somebody took a sledge hammer to my windshield! Yeah, I’m at that public lot at the end of Oak Street. No, I didn’t call the police. I called you.) Hang on, there’s a police cruiser slowing down. Probably sees me freaking out . . .

LINDY’PHONE VOICE: Don’t go to the police! I’ll be right there!

SARA: Hello! Officer!

SFX: Phone Hangup Beep

SFX: CAR PULLING UP

SFX: Power Window Down

C.J.: Sara.

SARA: C.J.! Am I glad to see you. Someone vandalized my car.

C.J.: Let’s have a look.

SFX: CAR DOOR OPENS

SFX: POLICE RADIO STATIC

C.J.: This is Unit Two. I’ve got a 10-62.

SFX: POLICE RADIO STATIC

POLICE DISPATCHER: 10-4 Unit Two.

SFX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

C.J.: These have been slashed.

SARA: I know. I’m going to need a tow --

C.J.: They busted out your windshield, too.

SARA: Right. I don’t know who to call in Etta for this, so if you can tell me --

C.J.: What are you doing out here today?

SARA: Oh, I had a meeting just up the street, and this was the closest parking I could find --

C.J.: For how long?

SARA: The meeting? It wasn’t more than an hour.

C.J.: So it was okay an hour ago?

SARA: Well, I didn’t drive it over here in this condition.

C.J.: Sara, I’m making a determination --

SARA: I know. This is really stressing me --

C.J.: Understandable. But this isn’t just some kid thinking it’s funny tearing up property to be annoying --

SARA: It’s somebody --

C.J.: -- this is a message.

SARA: W-what -- what do you mean?

C.J.: It’s not like you were parked here all day. And the car’s clearly visible from the road -- not a good target for random damage.

SARA: You’re probably right.

C.J.: You haven’t done anything to piss anyone off since you got back, have you?

SARA: I’ve only been back a couple days.

C.J.: Some people work fast. With things like this happening, you’d best start watching yourself.

SARA: What are you trying to say?

LINDY: Sara!

C.J.: Just that an incident like this is usually the start of something, not the end of it.

SFX: Running Footsteps, coming to a stop

LINDY: Sara!

SARA: Did you just run here from your shop?

LINDY: Hey, C.J. What luck you were here when Sara needed help. Yeah, Sara, you called and you sounded really distressed. So I locked the door and just dashed over -- not that far, really.

C.J.: If you want to hop in the patrol car, Sara, I can bring you in to file a report.

SARA: Oh, probably I should --

LINDY: You know what, for the insurance company, why don’t we get a bunch of pictures here and C.J., we’ll meet you over at the police station in bit. How’s that sound, Sara?

SARA: Like, like a plan to me.

C.J.: Can’t really argue with more documentation. I’ll head in and meet you over there.

LINDY: Cool. We’ll be, we’ll be right over.

SARA: Thanks C.J.

SFX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

SARA: See you at the station.

C.J.: This is Unit Two. Calling in a 10-19.

TOM NOVAK (RADIO): 10-4 Unit Two. See you shortly.

SFX: CAR DOOR CLOSES

SARA: Was that Tom Novak on the radio?

LINDY: Smile and wave.

SFX: CAR PULLS AWAY

LINDY: What was that? What’s going on with C.J.?

SARA: I don’t want to talk about it here.

LINDY: What exactly have you stirred up, Sara?

SARA: I wish I knew.


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