a mystery novel
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Chapter 23 – Opposition’s Opening Gambit
The next morning the actual trial began with the judge talking to the jury, reviewing their requirements and restrictions during the trial. There was one notable addition to the cast: the District Attorney herself, a sternly handsome, gray-haired woman in her fifties with the reputation of being a barracuda in the courtroom when she had been an assistant DA, now led the prosecution team as chief prosecutor. After introducing herself to the jury, she began the prosecution's opening argument, immediately justifying her reputation, “I have prosecuted more than fifty murder cases and I can say without hesitation that this is the most vicious murder I have ever seen, and the killer who committed this horrible crime, that man sitting right there, the defendant, is the most depraved individual it has been my misfortune ever to come in contact with.” And that was the nicest thing she had to say about me.
She described what had happened to the victim, as if the jury had been living on the International Space Station with all communication malfunctioning for the past few months. Then she outlined the evidence the State would present which, she assured us all, would convince any rational person not only beyond reasonable doubt but beyond any possible doubt that I was indeed the depraved monster who had committed this horrific crime. She stated that, although the State was not required by law to prove motive, the evidence would show that I had impregnated the victim and, to prevent that inevitably becoming common knowledge if the baby were born, had not only killed and mutilated my lover but had torn my own child from within her body and ground it up in a blender with bleach and acid to utterly destroy any trace of it along with my incriminating DNA.
After a long pause ostensibly to recover her composure and let the jury do the same, she went through the individual charges against me, emphasizing the special circumstances that would qualify me for the death penalty, briefly describing each while saying that the judge would provide more detailed definitions when he instructed them on the law just prior to the start of their deliberations. Sentencing someone to death was a grave responsibility, she said, and should be reserved for cases of the most heinous crimes. She was confident the jury would agree that this was indeed such a case.
Damn! She had me convinced! Forget the damn trial; take me directly to jail.
Another pause before she ended with, “In evaluating the defendant's character, observe that, although he has a lawyer generously provided for him by the State, the defendant chooses to act as his own lawyer.” Even as Tanya started to rise to object the judge turned toward her in expectation. Although we knew what was coming and the prosecutor commenting negatively on my availing myself of constitutional rights was improper, I grabbed her hand and shook my head. Better the opposition say what the jurors were bound to be thinking so I could confront it directly. Without the anticipated objection, the DA continued full bore, “Now, although that is his right, you may conclude he must be arrogant to think he is so smart that, without any training, he can do a better job than his attorney who has spent years studying the law and capably served defendants in more cases than I have prosecuted. If you find that arrogant, it would be hard to disagree with your conclusion.”