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Sentence of the Five judges
Sentence of the Five Judges
Norman looked at the piece of paper that had been given to him by the head juror. To his left and right behind him were four other judges, who would work with him to determine the sentence they would give a Mithonical citizen. In front of him to his left and right were seven other jurors, totaling eight jurors who determined whether the criminal was guilty or not. “Thanks,” Norman said. He then took the piece of paper, and showed it to the other judges. “Guilty of all charges,” it read. He and the other four judges then entered a private room to debate what they should punish the woman with.
“I say we kill her,” one of the judges said. “Her driving while intoxicated has taken five lives, and destroyed numerous others. I say we kill her.”
“Stan please, we can’t,” Norman said.
“Why not, the evidence all points to her being guilty, she should be punished.”
“Stan, just because she’s guilty doesn’t mean we should kill her,” a woman said.
“Why not Grace, the only thing these killers understand is death. We should do to them what they did to others.”
“It wasn’t her fault Stan, it was the alcohol’s.”
“With that kind of logic, it wasn’t the man who killed that bank teller, it was his gun. People need to be held accountable for their actions, no matter how much an object helped them perform those actions.”
“Both of you, calm down and stop yelling, they can hear us from the other side of town,” Norman said, desperate to get the two judges to lower their voices.
“What do you think we should do Norman?” a fourth judge, Justin, asked.
“I say we sentence this woman to life imprisonment.”
“Life imprisonment? For one little mistake?”
“It’s not one little mistake Grace. Bank robbery is a little mistake. Mugging someone is a little mistake. Violating litter laws is a little mistake. Killing five people is not a little mistake,” Stan said.
“What do you think we should do Grace?” Justin asked.
“I say we put her in jail for ten years, then let her out.”
“Ten years? Do the lives of those killed matter to you at all?”
“Enough Stan, what do you think Justin?”
“I’m with you Norman, you Sarah?” The fifth judge, Sarah, was the youngest of the five, and unsure of what to say. This was the first time she had to judge someone who had killed others, and didn’t know how harshly to punish her.
“I don’t know what to say, I… I think I need some time to think about this.”
“Well we can adjure for half an hour. Go for a walk, clear you head, you’ll be able to figure this out.”
“Thanks Norman, I will.” Sarah then left, hoping to realize what should be done with the woman. Grace, Norman, and Stan left shortly thereafter, each hoping to create more arguments to defend their viewpoints, leaving Justin alone in the room. A short while later, Justin felt hungry, and left to get himself a snack.
Sarah walked out into the fresh outdoor air, and looked around, trying to decide where to go. She saw a stone park bench nearby, and sat down on it. She then looked at the sky, and hoped she would discover what was to be done with the criminal. A woman slightly older then she was walked up to her, and asked to sit down. “Sure,” Sarah said. The woman then sat down, and, after a short pause, began talking.
“Are you one of the judges?” she asked.
“Look, I’m… I’m Beth’s sister, Clara. I know she’s no saint, and that she’s done something horrible, but please, don’t kill her. She deserves punishment, but not death.” Sarah could not believe what she was hearing, but managed to respond to Clara nonetheless.
“Okay, I’ll consider what you’ve told me,” Sarah said.
“Thank you.” Clara then left the bench, feeling happy knowing that there was someone fighting for her sister’s life.
Stan sat on the wooden bench in the courthouse hall, struggling to keep his eyes open. He had spent the night before celebrating his anniversary, and had spared no expense on the evening. He began to fall asleep, telling himself that his arguments could be prepared on the spot.
“You are sentenced to death by syringe,” Norman said. Stan was standing behind Norman, and couldn’t see what was happening. He walked up to see the face of the woman, but gasped in shock at what he saw. He didn’t see Beth being taken away by the guards to be executed, he saw himself. “No, no, please,” he begged. As Stan watched his other self get taken away, he screamed.
Stan’s eyes shot open, and he sprung out of the bench. A second later, he heard something fall to the floor. “Nice going Stan, you knocked over my ice cream.” Stan looked around, and saw that he had knocked into Justin.
“S’okay, just pay me three dollars for the ice cream, and I’ll forgive you.”
“Three dollars? For one cone of ice cream?” Stan asked in disbelief.
“You’re not just saying this to get my money, are you?”
“I swear I am not.” Stan then angrily paid Justin the money, and asked him a question.
“Hey Justin, I had this crazy dream, could you tell me what it means?”
“What was your dream about?” Stan then told Justin about what he had seen. Justin thought about it for a moment before he responded. “Hmm, well, I think this dream means that if you kill Beth, you’ll become just like her; a killer.”
“That’s different, I’m only killing because she killed.”
“What difference does it make, either way, a human being is killed?” There was a short pause, before Stan responded.
“I guess you’re right,” he said, reluctant to admit that Justin was right. “Hey, how’d you know what my dream meant?”
“Because I’m not some idiot who failed Mithonic and can’t see past the literal meaning of things,” Justin said. The two of them then began to walk back to the room where they would hopefully agree upon a sentence.
Grace took a large bite out of her sandwich in the courthouse cafeteria. For some reason, she thought clearer when surrounded by the sound of people talking about their day to day lives over a meal. As she ate, she was approached by a small group of people. “Are you one of the judges?” a young woman from the group asked.
“Yes,” Grace responded.
“Please, kill Beth and make her pay for what she did.”
“What?” Grace asked, not believing the request.
“My husband was one of the people she killed. I only want her to know what death feels like.”
“I’m sorry, but, I can’t do that,” Grace said.
A boy in his teenage years came forward, and spoke to grace.
“My older brother killed no people, and was murdered by this woman. I’m asking you to ensure the murderer is given justice.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t sentence another person to death without being a killer.”
“A killer is not always a murderer,” the boy said.
“Remember, compassion is no substitute for justice,” the young woman said.
“You’re not after justice, you’re… you’re after revenge. I…I can’t do it,” Grace said.
“You, you are worse than Beth,” an elderly man from the group said. “You are letting a murderer get off light, and to add insult to injury, our taxes are going to be paying for her meals and healthcare in prison. Does the life of my daughter mean anything to you? Do the lives of all those killed mean anything to you?” At this point, Grace decided to leave the room, fearing what would happen to her. Though they didn’t follow her, she was still worried about herself. Her body was safe, but her mind had been changed in ways she could not mend alone. She was starting to think death was the answer.
“Well then,” Norman said, “let’s send this woman to her fate. I still saw we imprison her for life.”
“I still agree with you,” Justin added.
“Sarah?” Norman asked.
“I agree with you Norman,” Sarah said.
“Grace?” Norman asked.
“I agree with you.”
“I thought you wanted her to be able to get out and have a second chance?” Sarah asked.
“Well, I learned something today. No matter how human a killer is, those they killed were human too.”
“Okay then,” Norman said. “Stan, what do you think?”
“Well, I think that…” Stan paused before giving his response, looking around at the other judges. “She should be given life imprisonment,” he finally said.
“What happened to kill her for killing others?” Grace asked.
“Well, I had a dream, and I realized that, if I have someone killed, I’m just like the killer.”
“Well then, we’re agreed, we’ll sentence Beth to life imprisonment,” Norman said. The judges then left the room, except for Justin and Stan.
“You feeling okay Stan?”
“Yeah, I’m just thinking if I made the right choice.”
“You did, trust me. Prison is a fate worse than death Stan, she will pay for the lives she took by being forced to serve the community she damaged.”
“I don’t think so, but it’s the harshest we can punish her without killing her.”
“Don’t worry Stan. She’ll be kept alive, but just barely. She’ll be forced to work hours that would be human rights violations if she wasn’t a criminal. She will suffer, for I can’t believe in a society that doesn’t make murderers do so.” The two judges then left to join Norman, Sarah, and Grace, so the five of them could give their sentence.