Jason Lawrence Bell
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09-19-19 Jury Fooled


‘Hi guys, take the chairs to the meeting room and spread the table out’. Fredrick was working down his to-do list preparing with party organizers. Tomorrow was his big day. Weeks of planning and a carefully constructed agenda were about to unfold. It should be a surprise to all attending because Fredrick’s true intentions are known only to himself. What looked like a fun day with friends reuniting was in reality a much different event.

Guests should start arriving around 6:00 PM for dinner and socializing. These were a special group of friends. They shared an experience that brought them together about 1 year ago. They were all members of a jury that over-saw Fredrick’s trial. Fredrick was on trial for the murder of his wife and three children. It was a crime that shocked the entire country. A family senselessly wiped out one summer day and the main suspect was the husband and father, Fredrick.

The case, at first, seemed solid and newspapers described the trial as a formality. The jury would convict the husband and justice would prevail. But that was not how the trial unfolded. At the end Fredrick was found innocent and freed with no possibly of retrial.

Now the jury that freed him was all arriving to the party. They were all happy to see each other. Together they went through a demanding three-month trial that left them exhausted. They had a strange bond that would always connect them. They were satisfied. They were all convinced of Fredrick’s innocence and glad to see him freed. So, everyone was in good spirits especially after the open bar and fine dinner.

After dinner Fredrick stood up and addressed the crowd. ‘First I would like to thank you for coming tonight and making this a very memorial event. You are responsible for my freedom and I wanted you to be the first to know about my book. I have decided to write about the story of my family and the details of the trial. I am currently working on the last chapter and tonight is about that last chapter. I would like to asked the group a few questions about the trial to add to the book. Is that okay with you all and may I use your names in the book?’

The group was fine with the questions and liked the idea of having their names in a book that would certainly become a big seller. So, Fredrick began, ‘Okay first how many of you at one time during the trial thought that I may be guilty?’ All the guested raised their hands. ‘Okay, how many are now convinced my wife killed the children then killed herself and burned the house down?’ Again, everyone raised their hands. ‘Now I would like to ask, what evidence changed your minds about my guilt? Who would like to answer first.?’

The Forman of the jury started first, ‘I changed my mind just watching you in the court. You seemed so sad and sobbed so deeply when your wife or children’s names were mentioned. How could you love them so much and kill them?’ Two other jurors nodded with agreement. Another juror spoke, ‘I was convinced when every day you carried with you a toy that each child loved and wore your wife’s ring. How could you do that if you killed them.’ Another juror offered, ‘I was convinced by the baseball cards. When the house was burned to the ground your much-loved baseball cards worth over $100,000 were destroyed. If you planned the murder you would have saved the cards, but you didn’t and it shows you are innocent.’

‘Wow, this is great’, said Fredrick. ‘Now when were you convinced my wife was the killer.’ A juror spoke, ‘the gun, it was your wife’s gun that she bought the week before. She kept it a secret and you didn’t know about it. She bought the gun for a reason and we now know the reason.’ Then another spoke, ‘it was the fire, her finger prints were on the bottles of alcohol that started the fire. Then I knew she was the one that was responsible for the fire.’ Another juror offered, ‘it was the photo of you in your car at the market at the time when the murders were occurring. You couldn’t be two places at one time.’

‘This is great. I could not hope for more. Thank you for your information. I would like to make a few comments before we all leave tonight.’ Fredrick stood still for a moment, his faced looked very sad and his hands began to shake. Tears rolled down his cheek and he began sobbing with deep moans. He looked to be in deep pain and sorrow. Some of the jurors began crying as well. Then he stopped abruptly. And a smile came to this face then he started to laugh out loud. This startled the crowd. Then Fredrick said, ‘it took me a lot of practice before I could do that on cue. My best performance, however, was at the trial I must admit. You all look very confused.’ As he looked around the room. ‘Let me clear this up. I can say this freely because you made it possible. You all cleared me without possibility of retrial. So, first,’ he pulled from his top pocket a baseball card and said, ‘most card collectors have two sets of cards. It was my starter set that burned. My good set is safe and sound. And the gun, yes, my wife bought the gun because she was afraid of me. But I found the gun and used it for my own purposes. After she died, I put her finger prints on the gun and bottle of alcohol. Regarding the photo, I drove to market and parked near the cameras then walk thru the store to a waiting Uber. It was easy really.’ The crowd was frozen with their mouths open and their minds putting the pieces together.

Fredrick continued, ‘so let me tell you about my book. It is titled ‘How I got away with murder.’ Catchy title do you think.’ The jurors started looking ill with pale faces and silent repulsion. Fredrick finished, ‘you have just helped me with my final chapter, it is titled ‘The ease of jury manipulation.’ Peace***