The Terra Core

A young man is forced from his home to the stars after a terrible crime (inspired by a dream I had!)

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3. The Trial

~~The man I'd killed had gone by the name of Vincent 'Violent' Thomas. No doubt he wanted to sound more impressive than he actually was. As I sat in the court room, looking resplendant in my suit and tie, I heard stories from the prosecution about Vince, and his poor, tragic life.

The prosecution were trying to generate sympathy with the jury (they were also pushing for a murder conviction), and this included wheeling out Vinnie's mother and father, heartbroken about the loss of their wayward son. They argued I'd planned the whole thing- that I'd murdered Vincent in cold blood.

When I took to the stand and took the oath to tell the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I was feeling angry. This man had robbed me of my father, and we were supposed to feel sorry for him? So he'd fallen on hard times. Big deal, lots of people did, and they didn't resort to a life of crime to make ends meet. They didn't calmly murder someone to steal their car.

I'd felt the eyes of Vincent's parents burning into me. I returned their heated gaze with one of my own before I gave my version of events. 'I was angry, and frustrated, and I didn't know what I was going to do. I'd never intended to kill him, but I wanted to frighten him, to hurt him, to make him understand what he'd put my mother and I through.'

I heard the United States flag rustling behind me. In front of me, dozens of people watched, waiting to hear what else I had to say.

"Why do you take a knife with you if this was a moment of frustration and anger? Unless you make a habit of carrying blades?" Asked the prosecuting lawyer, a small stubby bald man, who I took an instant dislike to. He seemed to look down upon me, peering at me from the top of his spectacles.

"I took a knife because I was worried he might try to attack me. He made a habit of carrying guns with him."

The jury murmured a little. The judge raised a hand to bid for silence.

"But you couldn't possibly know that he was armed at the time- indeed, no weapon was found on his person. The only one that took a weapon- a pre-meditated decision- was you."

Inwardly I bristled. "As I said, I took it because he had made a habit of carrying guns- like on the night he shot my father and killed a security guard. You're right, I couldn't know if he was armed- so it was better to err on the side of caution."

"Nevertheless..." Mr Beady Eyes swept his arms out and turned to face the jury. "The defendant took a weapon with him, indicating he was prepared to use it. He knew full well there might be consequences to confronting Mr Thomas, and he was prepared for those consequences. This does not speak of rash action."

When the final arguments were to be made, the prosecution kept hammering home this point. I'd taken a knife, deliberately, expecting a fight. I'd gone looking for Mr Thomas, blah blah blah. At this point I was getting worried- if I were sent down on a murder charge, even as a minor, I'd be imprisoned for at a minimum of twenty years, probably more.

When the prosecution rested their case, the defence rose to make mine.

My lawyer was a family friend- a close friend of my dad's. He'd offered his services for free, given the circumstances, and he spoke with confidence and passion.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what we have here is a boy, a boy who has been tramatised by the sudden, violent death of his father, that he witnessed." Ted's puppydog eyes zeroed in on the jury. "Imagine for a moment, if you can, the anguish, the pain, the grief that he must have gone through- is still going through. Was Mr Adams stupid to confront Mr Thomas? Absolutely. Was it a reckless, impulsive thing to do that was highly dangerous? Of course it was. Did he, in the midst of his grief, plan to kill Mr Thomas? No, he did not." Ted ran a hand through his blond hair. His charm offensive was well underway.

"Mr Adams acted out of anger and grief. However if the police had done their jobs properly, he would never have had cause to act. They had been searching for Mr Thomas for several weeks, yet he had evaded them. Then, one of Mr Adams' friends spots Mr Thomas, walking brazenly out in the open. Should they have called the police? Yes! But they understood the pain Mr Adams was going through and they made a foolish decision. They did not act of malice toward Mr Thomas but out of love and friendship for Mr Adams, who in turn acted out of anger and grief, which, in the spur of the moment, after Mr Thomas had further provoked Mr Adams, led to Mr Thomas' death."

Ted clasped his hands in front of him. "Ladies and gentlemen, this young man- this boy- has his entire life ahead of him. He has made a mistake, a mistake borne out of tragedy, and the failure of our police force to apprehend Mr Thomas. He has lost his father. I would say he has suffered enough already. Please, do not punish him still further. Mr Adams accepts and has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsbility. Let the sentence for that charge be the end of it. I rest my case."

Next came the waiting- the agonising wait.

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