Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beyond Reasonable Doubt - the new novel by Dennis Gelbaum

Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Written by
Dennis Gelbaum

Beyond Reasonable Doubt - a dramatic , character driven story that will engage you - with more twists ands turns than a double helix.

The deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule is the genetic blueprint for each cell and ultimately the blueprint that determines every characteristic of a living organism. In 1953 American biochemist James Watson and British biophysicist Francis Crick, described the structure of the DNA molecule as a double helix, somewhat like a spiral staircase with many individual steps. Their work was aided by X-ray diffraction pictures of the DNA molecule taken by British biophysicist Maurice Wilkins and British physical chemist Rosalind Franklin. In 1962 Crick, Watson, and Wilkins received the Nobel Prize for their pioneering work on the structure of the DNA molecule.

To get his hands on his family fortune, Jason Warren has to prove DNA evidence convicting his stepfather of his mother's murder was wrong. With the help of research scientist and DNA expert, Dr. Jennifer Neal and a team of doctors and graduate students from the USCOM North American Research Center at UC Berkeley, he sets out to challenge the International scientific community and the American judicial system.

Hal Warren was convicted of killing his wife, Ruth, solely on DNA extracted from hair samples and bodily fluids found at the crime scene. The prosecution convinced the jury that the DNA Profile matched and identified Hal Warren as the killer. There were no fingerprints found at the crime scene. There were no eyewitnesses to the crime. In fact, Hal Warren had an airtight alibi. He was someplace else when the crime was committed. But he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. This illustrates just how strong DNA evidence can be. But what if the DNA results were wrong? What if the DNA samples actually belonged to someone else? What if Hal Warren did not commit the crime he was convicted of?

Jason asks us to think about this - without the presence of collaborative evidence, how can we trust DNA - especially if he can prove DNA is not only not as accurate as we have been led to believe, but that DNA in fact, might just be the fabrication of scientists and is based more on theory than fact? DNA Profiling has become big business. Think about all those we have found guilty solely on DNA evidence - think about all those we have set free solely on DNA evidence? Think about it.

But what is Jason Warren really up to? What has he done? What is he about to do? What's his motive in all this? Is he as innocent as he wants us to believe or is he manipulating everyone and everything around him? Is he that smart, that clever, that ruthless? Will Senator Thayer and USCOM be able to control the damage as Jason jeopardizes his run for the Presidency of the United States? Is this the story of a really bad person who wins it all at the end?

Jason hired me to tell his side of the story. But I had one condition to accepting the assignment, I wanted to tell the entire story, the true story and I wanted complete access to all of the players. Jason promised me there would be no restrictions on where I could go, who I could speak to and what I could write. Jason would make all of the arrangements and coordinate all the introductions. I brought in two experts, a retired FBI Profiler and a Psychiatrist, to help me through the process. They warned me about Jason. I could not tell this story without them.

The ocean water was seventy-eight degrees warm. The emerald color, the shade of green that is particularly light and bright, with a faint bluish cast was breathtaking. The water was crystal clear. A forty-seven foot Catalina Yacht is anchored about two hundred and fifty feet offshore. The Yacht, registered in Newport Beach, California was named 'The Double Helix'. A Bayliner Runabout, registered in Fort Lauderdale, named 'Reasonable Doubt', is on shore.

On the secluded, powdery soft beach, a couple with their young child are enjoying a beautiful day in Antigua, away from their home in Montserrat. The woman wearing a soft, white and lilac lace summer dress turns to her male companion and embraces him. He kisses her, gently and them more passionately.

The young girl snuggles up between the couple. She reaches for her daddy. He lifts her up and turns her around so her back is facing him. He wants her to say hi to her grandmother who is sitting in a chair on a porch about one hundred and fifty feet away. The young girl waves to her
grandma and blows her a big kiss. She giggles as her daddy places her back on the silky sand.

Grandma waves back to her granddaughter and smiles. She reaches for a glass of lemonade and brings the glass slowly to her lips. The man lifts up his daughter and turns her upside down, threatening to dunk her in the ocean where she will be eaten by the fish. Grandma yells at her son-in-law to stop playing with his daughter like that. The man yells back to Grandma, not to worry. He has everything under control. Daddy, mother and child sit down on the beach, facing the ocean. It is a perfect day.

I walk in on Stuart, apparently unexpected. It's been some time since we last spoke. As I enter his office, I pick up an envelope off the floor. It is from the Lawyer's Club of San Francisco. I place it on Stuart's desk. Stuart is sitting in his worn, dark brown leather chair. He had been
packing. Boxes were everywhere. I knew he was moving to his new office in the Civic Center Courthouse on McAllister Street. He was headed to Department 622 that had been vacant prior to his appointment. Stuart looked right at me but didn’t say a word. He motioned to me to sit down in one of the two chairs opposite him. I picked the one closest to the door. I removed the boxes and papers from the chair and sat.

The blinds are closed, blocking out the sunlight. He is listening to his IPod, with his eclectic mix of music. The sound coming from the BOSE Sounddock is truly fantastic. Stuart has the black one. I have the white one in my study at home. Stuart is trying to find just the right song to play.

He finally settles on Jimmy Buffet's 'Margaritaville'. He is holding a postcard in his right hand. He offers it to me but I ask him to read it out loud. He does, speaking loudly over the music, "Wish you were here." Stuart offers me the postcard again and this time I accept it. I read the writing on the postcard. It is signed by Jason, Valerie, Morgan and Grandma Jennifer.

Stuart hands me a sealed, white envelope. I knew what was inside. It was the results of the fingerprint analysis on Jennifer Neal. I don't bother to open the envelope. I looked at Stuart. He looked at me. I looked at my watch. I knew that this was probably the last time I would ever see Stuart.

Stuart's cell phone rings. I got up to leave. He asks me to wait for a few minutes while he answered the call. I knew it was time to go.

I had a plane to catch.

Dolphin Boy - A New Children's Book by Dennis Gelbaum

Dolphin Boy
by Dennis Gelbaum

Caleb is a ten-year old boy who has the ability to communicate with dolphins. Although he tries to convince others of his unique and often magical ability, no one believes him – except for his best friend and neighbor Sara and her father Sam, who is a Marine Biologist and a Professor at the local University.

Caleb has been diagnosed with a life ending disease and although he has days when he feels he can do anything, he is digressing very quickly. The doctor’s agree that he has very little time left and they recommend that he spend his time out of the hospital and at home with his family. They offer the family very little in the way of comfort but do try to prepare them for the inevitable. They are told Caleb should die within the next few weeks.

Every afternoon, Caleb, Sara and Sam visit the beach and swim in the ocean. Sam is amazed to see the number of dolphins who appear and he begins to notice that their numbers are increasing each day. When Caleb enters the ocean, he is instantly surrounded by dolphins. And with every swim in the ocean, with every touch of a dolphin, Caleb gains some of his strength back. But the improvements in Caleb’s condition are only temporary, remaining for less than a few hours after swimming in the ocean.

One morning, Caleb calls his parents into his room. He calls for Sara and Sam too. He tells everyone that he is OK and that he is ready to die. He assures everyone that he is not in pain, but that he must go now. He explains that he wants to go out on the family boat.

Caleb, his parents, Sara and Sam are in the family boat holding Caleb, who is going in and out of consciousness. He whispers to his mother and father that they need to place him in the ocean. He wants to feel the coolness of the sea.
They reluctantly agree. They jump overboard and Sam and Sara gently hand Caleb to them. As they do, dolphins appear, swimming right up to the family..

One of the dolphins places his head on Caleb. Caleb strokes the dolphin and the dolphin responds to Caleb’s touch and sounds. Caleb looks up to his mom and asks her to let him go. She doesn’t know what he means. Caleb tells her that she needs to let him go with the dolphins. She becomes hysterical and as she and her husband loosen their grip on their son, a miracle begins to occur.

Caleb grows stronger and a bright light shines through his eyes and his smile provides a sense of warmth and calmness for everyone. He takes one last look at his parents, Sam and Sarah and says goodbye. Caleb is slowly transformed into a dolphin and jumps high in the air as if to celebrate life. He is alive and he is home.