A Jury of His Peers

Neither the young father nor neither of his two children seemed to have a chance. The car swerved off of Main Street at close to ninety kilometres an hour, separating the two young children from their father’s grip but somehow avoiding their protector altogether. Neither the car nor the driver were harmed much at all. The father was not physically injured either, but no one who saw him lying comatose, hugging the lifeless bodies of his two young children, believed that he would ever recover from his wounds of a different nature.

The police reports had been filed, the accident site had been cleaned up, bail had been posted for the drunken driver and he was back on the street, literally. He was in a vehicle borrowed from a friend, parked on a deserted laneway in downtown Houston, smoking a cigarette and wondering how the previous day’s events would alter his carefully laid-out plans for his future. His driver-side window was fully open, both to let out his own cigarette smoke and also to let in a cooling nighttime breeze.

Lost in his own thoughts he probably never heard a sound from the approaching pedestrian nor saw a glimpse of the handgun pulled silently from a vest pocket. There must have been a silencer on the fatal weapon as no one ever came forward nor could be found who ever claimed to have heard, let alone seen anything untoward happen on that empty cul-de-sac.

There was little doubt as to who the primary suspect would be. The father was arrested that night, the police pounding on his door as he lay asleep, passed out from the sedatives his doctor had prescribed.

The investigation was thorough, but any evidence produced was only circumstantial. The coincidence, however, was too great to be ignored. No gun of any kind could be traced to the father, no weapon being found on his premises nor had any firearm ever been registered under his name. No residue of gunpowder could be traced to his person. However, the father was charged with first-degree murder and so of course his fate would be decided in a court of law by a jury of his peers.

The jury foreman’s voice was clear, steady and definitive after being called on by the judge for the decision. He declared before the court that the jury found the accused not guilty of the charges of first-degree murder.

From the files of the Houston Chronicle.

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