Footfalls were the only sound disturbing the quiet peace of night, as the ragged man raced away from the body lying in the alley. As he turned the corner his face was illuminated by the searchlight mounted in a police car. His eyes blinded, he froze as an officer climbed out of the cruiser and walked toward him. The cop handcuffed him, read him his rights, and put him in the back of the car.
At the police station, the homeless man was taken to an interview room for questioning. He sat at the cold metal table in the stark room for what seemed like an eternity when the door finally opened. A man sat down across from him and identified himself as a detective. When asked what his name was, the man answered that it was John. The detective immediately interrupted and said, “Do not lie Carl, we already know who you are. And we know that you killed that young woman in that alley.”
Carl blinked and stammered out, “I swear I was running because I saw the blood and felt scared.” The detective told him to save his breath because he was being charged with first degree murder. Carl looked truly shocked but decided to ask for a lawyer instead of trying to defend himself. After all, who would believe him with his record? Over the years on the streets, he had been arrested several times for things ranging from theft to assault which he claimed was self defense to no avail.
A week later, Carl found himself in a courtroom where it was determined that he should be held for trial. On shaky legs, he found himself being led back to the courthouse for the trial a month later. After three long days of testimony and another two of deliberation a verdict was coming in.
The judge asked Carl to rise to hear the verdict. After the judge looked at the slip of paper, he handed it to his bailiff to be read by the jury foreman. Carl’s knees buckled as he heard the word “Guilty!” resound throughout the courtroom. He was sent back to his cell to await sentencing.
Upon returning to the courtroom Carl rose as the judge prepared to read his sentence. The only words he could remember clearly were, “Life without possibility of parole”. As he sat handcuffed to the bench waiting to be taken to prison; the judge approached, leaned, and whispered with an ugly smile, “Not guilty Carl. She was my mistress and had threatened to tell my wife.”