I sat in my office chair with a smile on my face. I was closing all the files on my desk and putting them in a box. Lucy was found innocent of poisoning her husband. It was a difficult case. The evidence was stacked against her. Her personality did not help either. She was a materialistic woman that married an old rich man. She was 40 years younger than him. He was poisoned and she would inherit his fortune and never have to worry about money again. The problem, of course, was that she was arrested for poisoning her husband.
The trial was not easy. The jury did not like her and it did not help that she insisted on wearing designer clothes at the trial. She showed no emotion what so ever. The evidence against her was very convincing. However, I managed to create doubt and build on this doubt. In the end, the Jury saw Lucy as a victim and an innocent young woman, that lost the love of her life.
Everyone was shocked when the verdict was “not guilty.“. This was the only time I have seen Lucy show any emotion. She was shocked and wanted to shake my hands. I did not shake her hand but told her that she would get the bill. My job was done and I had no intention of being her friend. Deep down, I knew she was guilty!
You may ask me why I defended a woman that I knew was guilty. Some would think that this makes me responsible for the death of her husband not being punished. The fact is that this is how a good Justice system works. It is up to the prosecutor to show the jury that a person is guilty. It is up to the defense to challenge this. Maybe, in this case, I just did my work better than the prosecutor. I had no doubt that I was better than the majority of them, and unlike a public prosecutor, I did not have 90 cases on my desk.
People hate lawyers, especially those that help guilty people go free. The way I look at it, it’s best that the accused gets the best defense that is possible, as the thought of an innocent person being accused of something is scary.
I must also admit, that people were willing to pay me a lot and they get what they pay for.
Shortly after the Lucy case, an old woman came to my office. She wanted me to defend her son that was accused of killing a 13-year-old girl. When she said this, I felt sick as I had a daughter that was 9. How could anyone kill a girl?
The woman was his mother. She told me that her son was arrested when the police found him in the girl’s kitchen and he was holding the dead girl telling her to wake up. I listened as she told me this story with pictures of my daughter in my head. It seemed to me as if he was guilty when he was caught with the dead girl in the girl’s house!
His mother disagreed. She told me that her son was mentally handicapped. She explained that he was an adult, but had the mind of a 4-year-old. The lady was crying as she explained that he was her only son, and he was not capable of hurting anything. She also explained that she had no money and begged I would take the job.
I looked at a picture of my daughter on my desk and lit a cigarette. How could anyone kill a small child? I knew this case could be a big case and it definitely would get media attention. I honestly did not want to get involved. What reputation would I have if I defended a child killer that was guilty! What if I won the case and he was allowed to roam the streets. I looked at the picture of my daughter once again thinking that no child would be safe. I had to turn this case down. It had nothing to do with that the mother had no money. It was because I did not want a case that I did not feel comfortable with. I just finished one case that took many hours from my life and this includes family life. I needed some time to lay low and be with my family.
The old woman broke down crying when I explained that I would not take the case. She offered me all the money she had saved up. This would pay for a few hours. I explained that it was not money. My wife would be looking for a divorce if I did not spend time with my family. She broke down and said he would get the death penalty. This was most likely true. How could I tell her that anyone that killed a child deserves to be put to death?
It was hard seeing her leave the office as she sobbed and said I was her last chance. I could understand how hard it is for a mother when everyone says her son is a murderer. I felt sorry as she left the office and even said a little prayer for her.
I was not in a mood to do anything. I could not stop thinking of the old lady. Who would help her? I am not talking about saving her son from the death penalty. I mean who would help her cope with her son’s trial and explain that what he has done was not her fault. She most likely raised him in a good way. However he was not mentally developed, so he made a bad mistake that cost a girl her life. Someone had to be punished for her death. If he has done it, then he would get what he deserved. This did not make the mother a bad woman. She did nothing wrong.
I went home and spent some time with my wife. We ate a great dinner and it was nice being with my family. I enjoyed hearing about my wife’s shopping trips and the gossip she had about all her friends. I never had to look at “Hollywood wives” to hear gossip. I just had to listen to my wife. The fact was that some of the gossip was very interesting while some gossip was the same thing I heard the last time. I don’t know how many times I heard that Mrs. Dickens was on a diet. It was like she was starting a new diet every Monday.
After dinner, I played with my daughter. Her name is Wendy. She has this game where she tries different clothes on her dolls. I sat down next to her and suggested some clothes the doll should wear. Wendy would laugh and tell me that the clothes I suggested would not go well with what the doll had on. I must have a bad fashion sense. Despite this, I enjoyed sitting with Wendy and being part of her world.
When Wendy went to bed, I felt depressed. I picked up the newspaper and it was all about the dead girl. I felt sorry for the parents. I just spent some time with Wendy while at another house in town, there was a dad that was mourning because his daughter was killed.
What I did not like was that the media already had the handicapped man convicted. The proof was that he was in a house that he did not know and holding a dead girl he did not know. The media had him convicted before there was even a trial. Editorials were demanding the death penalty for the man. It annoyed me when the media assumed things and did not cover both sides of the case. Despite it was hard to believe at times, the media should remember that people are innocent until proven The trial should be in the courtroom and not the media.
The next day was the girl’s funeral.
I thought about the funeral when I was sitting in my office. I had a few files out and was halfway going through them. It looked like the day would be a lazy day, in which I did not do much. For some reason, I kept looking at the picture of my daughter.
My secretary came in with some coffee and told me that she thought it was good that I did not take the case. She read the newspapers and it was obvious that the handicapped man killed the young girl. I did not answer her, as she was being honest in saying what the majority of people thought. The man had not been put on trial yet, and yet the media and public have already convicted him!
I picked up my coat and drove to the funeral. There was a crowd there, and I kept my distance as I observed the sad occasion. The atmosphere was grim as people grieved over a small white coffin. The reality stroke me, that a young girl was killed. This girl had a future and who knows what this future could have been. She could have been the best president we ever had, or cure cancer or she could have been a good mother. Now we would never know.
The parents were mourning and this was understandable. Which parent wants to outlive their child and on top of this witness that their child was murdered! They must have thought that the purpose of their life was over, and they must have had unwarranted guilt. They were most likely asking themselves if they could have protected their daughter better. Could they have done something to avoid this tragic death?
I was not the only one standing at a distance. I noticed the media and there were some detectives from the police station. I also noticed the lady that visited my office the day before. She was hiding behind a tree, However, I noticed a man standing alone looking down at the funeral. I could not see his face and yet I wondered who he was. He was wearing a baseball cap. Why did he not want to stand with the other people?
I was heading back to the office when I thought about this man. At the same time images of newspapers that convicted the handicapped man and my secretary went through my head. The accused man deserved a proper defense This was also for the dead girl. She was murdered and I did not want a man that could be innocent to die. The murderer had to be the one to be punished.
So I drove to the jail and asked to speak with the accused man. I was kicking myself inside why I was even doing this. I suppose the reason was that I had to see for myself if the man was innocent or not. During my career, I had this ability to look into a person’s eye and I knew if they were innocent or guilty. It was like the case that I just finished. I knew that Lucy was guilty.
If I thought this man was guilty, I would not defend him! That was a promise I made to myself.
As I entered a small room, the accused was sitting there. He was very overweight and looked older than his age. I noticed he had small fat fingers. I sat down on a chair and started talking with him. He was very afraid and kept asking if he could go home. He had a painting class at the community center and did not want to come late to that, as he looked forward to it all week.
His name was Jimmy and I could see that I was not speaking with someone that was mentally an adult. I asked him why he was here and he told me the police said that he hurt a girl. Then he started crying and said he did not mean to hurt her. He was just trying to help her. I asked why he was in a house that he did not know. Jimmy did not look at me but swayed back and forth in his chair crying like a 5-year-old. The only thing I could understand was that she was crying and he wanted to help.
Then Jimmy looked in my eyes and asked if the young girl was mad at him. I slowly said that she was dead. Jimmy then stopped crying and got defiant telling me that only old people die. He still wanted to know if she was mad at him.
I looked into his eyes and for the first time, I could not see if he was guilty or not. He definitely did not understand the fact that he was accused of murdering a child. It seemed also as if he did not really understand that the girl was dead. Was this just an act or was it because he could not think like an adult?
I told him I would represent him and be his lawyer. Jimmy nodded and asked me if he was a bad boy? I told him that a judge will decide that.
The next day, I got the case files and started reading the police report. The police got an anonymous call that there was trouble at the girl’s house. When they came, they found Jimmy kneeling on the floor as he held the girl. He was telling her to wake up. There was an old iron frying pan on the ground with the girl’s blood on it.
The evidence was substantial. The frying pan had Jimmy’s fingerprints on it. He did not know the girl or the parents and never was in the house before. Why was he there? The girl was not sexually abused, which was a small consolation. The front door and back door was open. There was no evidence of a fight, It appeared as if the girl was just hit by the frying pan and died.
There was no confession from Jimmy. He explained to the police that he was walking by the house, and heard a scream. He walked in to see if someone was hurt and seen the girl on the floor in the kitchen. He noticed a man running out the back door and he was wearing a baseball cap. Jimmy explained that he knelt by the girl and noticed she was bleeding. He tried to wake her up so they could walk to the doctor for a big band-aid.
This would be a difficult case. While the evidence against Jimmy was convincing, it led to some critical questions. Why was he in a house he did not know? Why were his fingerprints on the frying pan? Was the front door open, so he went in and the girl confronted him? He could have been afraid and without thinking hit the girl with a frying pan. My mind was going in circles thinking why he was actually in the house.
On the other side, Was there a man that ran out the back door. The strange man at the girl’s funeral also had a baseball cap on. Was this something the police should have considered? If Jimmy did see a man run out, then he could be the murderer.
There was a doubt in this case.
That night, my wife was mad at me. She did not speak to me while we ate. Our daughter started talking, but when she noticed that her mother seemed upset, she stopped talking. So we ate our dinner in silence.
Later, when our daughter went to bed, My wife came down. I was reading some case files which she did not like.
" I do not want you to defend this man!” she finally said
" He is a child murderer. That poor girl laying in her grave and you are defending him!”
" He has not been convicted yet!”
" It is clear that he murdered the girl. Did you think about what would happen if you won the case, and a child murderer is out there in public”
“It’s not that simple dear, He could be innocent. Would it be worse in convicting an innocent person and a child murderer is still out there?”
My wife was not listening. She told me she was still against me taking the case. She was also worried about how the case would affect our family. What would the school say to our daughter when they found out? What would our friends say? Would we have any friends left when this was over?
I sat staring at a cross of Jesus hanging on the wall. My wife was right. This would be no ordinary case. I was not even sure if Jimmy was innocent. Defending him would give me the reputation that I was willing to defend the worse people here on Earth. I doubted anything good would come from it.
This case would not be good for me or my family! Then why did I decide to defend Jimmy?