Members Of The Jury

They had walked into the court as strangers. Little had occurred since to alter the situation. The pressures of determining a man's fate were hardly conducive to friendship. The chosen twelve filed from the room in the same order as they had entered on that first day.

The thin lips of Juror One tightened with an elderly spinster's disapproval. Men were animals, every last one of them, thinking they could get away with murder. She chuckled softly at her little joke. Well, she wasn't about to let this one get away with anything. She wanted to be home, in her virginal cottage with her neutered cats where, God forbid, any filthy male should venture across her threshold. Guilty...as original sin.

Juror Two felt ill. Why did they have to show those awful photographs again? Once had been more than enough. She doubted she'd ever forget them. So much blood. That poor woman must have suffered horribly. Nobody deserved to die such a violent death. How could a husband do such a thing to his wife? Perhaps he hadn't...he said he hadn't...but wouldn't he say that anyway? Maybe he'd been telling the truth. It bothered her that she couldn't be sure. Decisiveness had never been her forte.

Juror Three worried about the farm. His wife had assured him all was going well, but she was a city girl. What did a city girl know about farming? He'd told her to contact his brother, ask him to come down and keep an eye on things, but the suggestion had offended her and they'd ended up in a fight. He'd have to make it up to her when all this was over. He reproached himself for thinking about his potato crop and marital troubles when a human life was hanging in the balance. Try as he might, he couldn't concentrate on the matter at hand. He had no business being in a jury box.

Juror Four had kids of his own and refused to believe a father would deliberately leave his children motherless. At least not one who appeared as decent and normal as the accused. Such a man would have to be unhinged and he'd observed no indications of insanity. Besides, the possibility of an intruder nagged at him...those reports of a strange man in the vicinity at the time. It seemed nobody had really explored that contingency in any great detail. It left too much room for doubt in his opinion. Innocent.

Taking a quick look at the accused, Juror Five left the room. He certainly was attractive. Then again, she thought Theodore Bundy had been handsome too. Good-looking men like that never even glanced her way. They always ignored her like she didn't exist. She'd never turned a single male head in her entire miserable life. She stole another peek. He didn't look back. It was no surprise. He was probably guilty...if not of this, then most certainly something.

Juror Six was thinking he could be her son...the sweet baby she had been forced to give up for adoption when little more than an infant herself. He was about the right age. Her son would never have done anything so brutal. He would have been a good boy, a good man. He could be her son. Anything was possible. Innocent.

The prisoner reminded Juror Seven of his ex-lover, now dead from AIDS, who had passed along a death sentence and then laughed at the disbelief on his devoted partner's face. HIV positive...because of a man who had no scruples, no morals, no compassion. A man who had looked very much like the one sitting in the dock. His eyes narrowed. Guilty, as sure as God made little green apples!

Juror Eight saw herself in the pictures of the poor woman whose life had been bludgeoned out of her. She sympathized...she empathized...she feared the same thing would some day happen to her. She could easily become that woman in the pictures. Men could be so cruel to the ones who loved them most. A husband was supposed to cherish his wife. Her heart called out for retribution. Guilty.

The former military man who was Juror Nine fancied himself an excellent judge of character. The accused stood straight and tall, looked a person in the eye when he spoke and had an honest air about him...was ex-Navy, for crying out loud! A lifetime in the armed forces had taught Juror Nine to recognize a damnable liar and miscreant when he saw one, but he hadn't seen one on this day. Innocent.

Juror Ten ran his fingers through his dark hair. He had initially believed himself honored to be among the chosen. Now, he wasn't so sure. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. He refused to be the one to cast a stone. If the man were guilty, then the Almighty alone had the sole right to administer justice. He wondered if it were too late to excuse himself and decided, more than likely, it was. In that case, he really had no choice. Innocent.

With the facts categorized in her mind, Juror Eleven left the room. She agonized over which way to cast her vote. One minute she was convinced of guilt...the next, equally as convinced of innocence. She would listen to the opinions of the others and weigh them as best she could before finally reaching her conclusion. She was afraid of making a mistake, afraid of having to live with a wrong decision. What a terrible thing it was to be uncertain in such circumstances.

Like many of the others, Juror Twelve had already made up his mind. Guilty. No question. He'd be crazy to cast his vote otherwise. With a little coercion, the rest of the jurists would also see it his way. Piece of cake, really. He was charming and had a very persuasive tongue. He would never have gained entry into the murdered woman's home without it.

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