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100% Not Guilty
For a few fleeting moments, everything is silent in the courtroom. “Will the foreperson stand,” The judge says. “Has the jury reached a unanimous verdict?” Cameras snap pictures as the man in the blue suit nods his head.
“The jury finds the defendant guilty on all counts.” A hushed whisper is spread throughout the crowd of observers. Quiet sobs break out in the first and second row. Media representatives turn in unison to look at the man accused of murder, and yet the look on his face tells them he is not sorry. His smile stretched ear-to-ear, and he giggles softly under his breath.
It’s not that he’s trying to seem smug. It’s just his way of coping. Ever since he was a boy, getting caught ripping the heads off his sister’s Barbie dolls, even the thought of reprehension sends him into a fit of laughter. His attorney leans in and whispers, “You’d better wipe that smile off your face, Michael, unless you want to end up in the chair.” It doesn’t make a difference.
Just over a month ago, Mike had been sitting in the visitation room, watching his attorney pull papers out of a folder from the other side of a glass panel. “You have to consider the evidence, Michael. They not only have several witnesses who saw your car parked outside the house, the neighbor’s testimony of hearing screams that night, and the fact that your alibi was totally false, but the DNA evidence all stacks up against you.” Michael was tired of hearing s*** about his alibi. Had he known he wasn’t required to give the police a statement after his arrest, he might not have even ended up in a cell in the first place.
“Listen…realistically, getting off scot-free isn’t likely.” His attorney shuffled through the pages with a grim expression. “Your best bet is to go with an insanity plea or heat of passion. It’ll still be manslaughter, but that’s a much lighter sentence. The way you’re going now, you could end up spending fifteen plus years in prison.”
Looking back at it now, Michael wished he had taken his lawyer’s advice. Instead, he chose to maintain his innocence, and that cost him dearly. His smile wobbled as his brow furrowed deeply. He shifted his gaze across the courtroom to look at the jury. Twelve of his peers gathered their belongings, ready to be dismissed. He envied how little this decision affected them. From two rows back, he heard a familiar voice speaking in a hushed tone. “Thank god they’re putting that monster away. He deserves the death penalty.”
Michael always thought they were being too harsh on him. A white, straight male from a nice neighborhood, he was used to seeing darker men be charged harshly. Wasn’t his social class supposed to protect him from prison? Where was his privilege when he needed it? Certainly not when the prosecutor stepped up in front of the jury and explained that, for the past several months, he and his cousin had an ongoing argument over the circumstances of his previous arrest. “Tony Brown had been fabricating details to tarnish Michael Murphy’s reputation,” the prosecutor said.
“According to the evidence, detectives believe that on the night of the murder, Mr. Murphy arrived at the Brown residence to confront the victim. Upon finding that the doors were locked, he entered through the back window and engaged Mr. Brown in the bedroom. As an argument ensued, Mr. Brown repeatedly told the assailant to leave the property or he would contact the police. Mr. Murphy then grabbed a metal globe off the nightstand and hit Mr. Brown on the head with it. He then proceeded to beat the victim with the blunt end of the murder weapon until he was dead.”
Of course the jury fell right into the prosecution’s lap then. With a story as believable as that, who wouldn’t side against him? On the news, they zeroed in on the ‘hard evidence.’ Fingerprints collected from him after his first arrest matched the ones found on the murder weapon, but he told his attorney over and over again that it had to be planted there. Someone was trying to frame him, and they were succeeding.
The judge clears his throat and looks down at the sheet of paper in his hands. “The jury, having found you guilty of 2nd degree murder, it is now my duty to sentence you to life confinement. Do you have anything to say before I sentence you?”
Michael recalled the ABC interview with Uncle Billy and Aunt Josephine. “We all knew something was off with Michael,” his aunt said, shaking her head. “He had these anger issues. Little things would send him off.” Uncle Billy squeezed his wife’s shoulder as the camera panned back to the interviewer who nodded her head sympathetically. “Nobody wanted to say it, but…it was just a matter of time before he snapped.”
The smile on Michael Murphy’s face quivers as the judge peers over his glasses at the man, suddenly capturing the whole country’s attention in a single moment. “I am one hundred percent not guilty. I hope justice finds you all as it has failed me.”