• Nayana Sen

NOT GUILTY - Original Short Story



It was kind of quiet in the courtroom when the defendant pleaded "not guilty." It was almost like you could hear a collective sigh of "really dude?"


The prosecution called their first and only witness in the case, the defendant. He walked to the stand with nothing but confidence. He sat there and waited to answer the questions.


"Mr. Saunders isn't it true that you shot your neighbor after a friendly game of poker," asked the Prosecutor.


"I did shoot him. The game wasn't that friendly though. Kind of a hostile," James Saunders responded.


The Prosecutor asked him "Isn't it also true that you called 9-11 and said you shot your neighbor?"


"That is correct. I called 9-11. I'm no hero, but I do try," James said.


The defendant was defending himself, so there wasn't anyone to object to these questions. The Prosecutor almost felt bad about how easy the case would be to win. He didn't offer him a deal knowing he could get the maximum jail time allowed by law for this guy. He really needed a slam dunk case.


The Prosecutor asked without hesitation "Isn't it true that you killed your neighbor by shooting him?"


"I didn't kill him. I'm not a murderer. If I did kill him, I wouldn't have pled not guilty. I'm old enough to know the difference between right and wrong," he replied.


The Prosecutor was starting to question his own sanity. He responded "I'm sorry. You called 9-11 to report that you shot your neighbor and he died. Isn't that true?"


"I shot him. He died. It's cause and effect. But, I didn't kill him," Saunders said.


In the 15-years the Prosecutor had been a Prosecutor, he had never had a witness and defendant that both confessed to shooting someone and pleading not guilty simultaneously. It was out of sheer morbid curiosity he asked the next question.


"Well then Mr. Saunders who killed your neighbor," the Prosecutor asked.


Mr. Saunders leaned into the microphone and said "your momma."


There was a wave of laughter in the courtroom and the Judge was stubbing his toe in an effort not to laugh. He was known in his social circles for inappropriate bursts of laughter. He didn't want his friends to know he laughed in court during a murder trial. He banged his gavel on the table instead and demanded quiet in the courtroom.


"Mr. Saunders, my mother did not call 9-11 that night, but you did. You called and said you shot your neighbor. You said he died," the Prosecutor said without flinching.


"I'm sorry for my ill-mannered attempt at lightening the mood in this room. You could cut the tension in here with a knife. For Pete's sake," James replied.


"Do you understand the seriousness of the case today? You are being accused of killing a man," the Prosecutor said.


"Look, I shot him. He died. I didn't kill him. It's kind of like the old chicken or egg argument. He asked me to shoot him, and so I did. He died as a result. Therefore did I kill him or did I grant him his last wish? The way I see it, I did the old bastard a favor," James Saunders replied.


The Prosecutor felt little beads of sweat start to form around his collar. He asked Mr. Saunders "did you shoot him and did he die as a result of that shooting?


"Did you hear about my state of mind at the time of shooting? My neighbor asked me to shoot him. I was traumatized. No one even cares about how I felt then. Not one person in here. Anyone in my place would have done the same," he said.


The next question would determine whether this man walked for murder or went to jail. The Prosecutor knew it. It was match-point blank. He asked the last question "Why did he ask you to shoot him?"


James Saunders gave the following answer wearing nothing but his poker face "he was a recovering gambler. He put a deal on the table saying that I should shoot him if he didn't know when to quit. I always take the deal."


Wouldn't you know it, Mr. Saunders walked out of that courtroom that day a free man. The Prosecutor left court and had a drink.


*The original version of this short story was written by me in high school. I was on the Mock Trial team, and I always thought about arguments to win fake cases. I can't find the original paper, as it's in storage somewhere. Just wanted people to know my weirdness didn't just start this year. I also updated the story to include a your momma joke. It seemed appropriate.




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