Ji Yunshu interrupted Li Zhao, “But Master Jiang didn’t agree to do so and berated you instead, saying that he would tell your sister. You were very afraid and begged him not to say anything, but Master Jiang wouldn’t listen. Although you were a coward, you were drunk at the time, and your muddled mind gave you the courage to grab the dagger. In your rage, you stabbed him multiple times.”
“No, I didn’t kill him, I didn’t!”
“While you were stabbing Master Jiang, he accidentally pulled off the button on your waist. Then, when he fell backwards, he twisted his ankle and bumped his head against the tree and at that time, his life had expired!” As she spoke, she accosted Li Zhao, whose face was pale and who limbs twitched.
He shook his head furiously as he kept repeated in a trembling voice, “I really didn’t kill him, I didn’t!”
“It was you. You were the one who stabbed him to death with a dagger. Then, you buried him.”
“No, it was someone else who killed him, it was someone else. All I did was push him, and I just pushed him a little. I don’t know who killed him. I just buried the body.” Li Zhao’s voice was very loud.
Very good. As long as you admit it.
Li Zhao’s confession shocked everyone. He confessed that he was present when Master Jiang died, and he did so without any torture at all!
Having gotten a satisfactory answer, Ji Yunshu’s lips opened slightly as she felt a heavy weight fall off from her shoulders. She spoke, “I finally got you to confess. Li Zhao, what you said was correct. Even if you lied and said the button was yours, there was no way to prove you were the murderer. This was enough to make you feel afraid though. When someone is beset by both terror and an intense interrogation, they will naturally crack and reveal what the interrogator wants to know just to escape from the stress.”
Once her words were out, Li Zhao realised his mistake. However, it was too late for him to regret it now. His entire body seemed as if all the air had been sucked out of him as his hands fell from the yamen runners’ grips, hitting the floor. His gaze was filled with despair and sorrow.
The magistrate’s body was nearly completely lying on top of his desk by now, as he pointed at Li Zhao and asked, “Li Zhao, you have already confessed. I shall ask you one more time, was it you who got into a struggle with Master Jiang and killed him, as Teacher Ji described?”
Li Zhao was in a daze as he sat on the floor but he continued to chant, “I didn’t, I didn’t. Yes, I did owed people a lot of money and didn’t want my sister to know about it, so I went to my brother-in-law for money. But that old thing said he wouldn’t give me a single cent and even threatened to report me to my sister and my father. I was very angry then but… but I just pushed him. After I saw him fall on the ground, I left.”
“Since you only pushed him, then where did the knife wounds on his body come from? Furthermore, the fact that you buried his body proves that you had a guilty conscience and wanted to hide it.”
He shook his head and continued speaking in a much calmer voice than before, “I really just pushed him once, then I left. When I returned, I found- found him dead with… blood all over his body. I was very scared so... so I buried him.”
There were holes in his story! Without waiting for the magistrate to question him any further, Ji Yunshu spoke, “Since you didn’t kill him, why did you bury the body and not report it to the yamen? Also, Madame Jiang helped you to bury the body. She knew you killed Master Jiang but couldn’t bear to send you to the officials, so the two of you buried the corpse before hastily moving to the capital.”
“I already said that’s not the case. I didn’t kill anyone and I’m the only one who buried the body. I hated that old fellow for not giving me any money, so I felt he got he deserved and even wanted to thank the person who killed him. I felt that since someone killed him for me, I’d bury the body for that person. It’s really like this, that’s all there is, there’s really nothing else.”
This reason was simply ridiculous!
Li Zhao clenched his teeth, his entire expression was devoid of hope. All the fear and timidity from before had been swept away. His tone and attitude both clearly indicated he was hiding something!
Ji Yunshu pondered. If what Seventh Uncle said was true, then both Li Zhao and Madame Jiang buried the body. However, Li Zhao didn’t admit to killing Master Jiang, just that he buried the body. He also refused to admit that Madame Jiang helped him bury the body. The worst part is that the witness died, leaving me without much evidence!
Seeing that Ji Yunshu was deep in thought, Li Zhao suddenly laughed and spoke to her, “Teacher Ji, is it? I’m telling you I didn’t kill the man. So you can’t prove I’m the murderer just based on that button and you won’t be able to find any more evidence to prove that I did it. I also know how the law works, the most you can do to me is accuse me of burying the body and not reporting it to the officials. And I still have my grandfather and father who will get me out of jail in a few days at most.”
Is it really alright to so openly say you have a strong backing? This sounds the same as that “My dad is Li Gang” business!
The magistrate was powerless and when he looked at Ji Yunshu, he only got the same gaze in return. I really don’t have anymore evidence!
Hence, the magistrate spoke to Li Zhao, “Since you’re still not confessing, I have many ways to open your mouth.”
He then ordered a yamen runner, “Take him to the prison and question him.”
“Yes.” The yamen runners supported Li Zhao up.
He was still all smiles even with his body dragging across the floor, “If you dare to torture me, the Li family won’t let you off.” His voice got further and further.
The magistrate walked over to Ji Yunshu’s aside and asked quietly, “How is it? Any new evidence that will prove he’s the murderer?”
“None.” Her reply was very concise as she spoke the harsh truth.
The magistrate lifted his sleeve to wipe away at sweat before clapping his hands together and muttering, “The Li Clan did produce many good officials. If we aren’t able to get a definitive answer then perhaps… the Li Clan will come and force me to release him.”
“They don’t even care about the law?”
The magistrate sighed, “This isn’t the capital, and the Emperor is far away.” The underlying meaning was that he was just a minor country magistrate. If his superiors forced him to release Li Zhao, he really had no choice but to release him!
Ji Yunshu was worried too. Even if she had not solved thirty cases she had at the very least investigated a good seventeen or eighteen; however, none of them had a perpetrator with such an impressive background!
Thinking more deeply, she realised that this case was being investigated on the orders of a son of the Emperor! No matter how impressive Li Zhao's background was, could it beat Jing Rong’s?
Of course not!
After all, the only one who had a higher rank than Jing Rong was the Emperor himself!
Grenn's Rants Corner
The more they dig for the truth, the more people this case seems to involve.