The Trial

{Lord willing, this story will be in my book, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? AND OTHER STORIES. I hope to have this book finished within the next year or so.}

   Joel Rogers sat up and yawned. Reaching over, he shut off the annoying alarm clock. He quickly dressed and went to the kitchen. Today was the day of a trial, and he had to be there. This trial had been waiting for eleven long weeks. First the detective had to find who all could have killed Brent Johnson. Then the detective had had to find the murderer out of the seven people that could have done it. And now the trial was scheduled for today.

   Joel arrived at the courthouse at eleven minutes past eight. The trial was scheduled for ten o’clock. As defending attorney, Joel had to prepare his papers and everything else.

   While the jury arrived, Joel quietly went to a storage room. Kneeling down, he prayed for guidance and wisdom. Although he doubted that the defendant was innocent, he prayed that the trial would go smoothly.

   When the clock turned 10:00, the judge entered the room, and the oath was taken. Only two people, Joel noted, affirmed. But that makes three of us, he thought, for Joel would not swear. He affirmed, but he didn’t swear.

   The court clerk read the charge:

   “On this day, August 8th, 20__, the Ford County Court in Dodge City, Kansas, brings to trial Miss Jennifer Ramsey of Huston, Texas. Miss Ramsey was arrested on charges of murdering Mr. Brent Johnson. During her hearing, Miss Ramsey pled ‘Not guilty’. We have, therefore, brought her before the honorable Judge Hansburg for the proper trial.”

   The trial then proceeded. The attorneys argued back and forth. Joel was glad for a break when the clock struck eleven. It gave a person a chance to clear his mind and prepare for the next round.

   As the hour neared noon, the jury decided enough evidence had been presented and began deliberation. Joel ate his meal, totally lost in thought.

   The jury finally finished deliberating around 1:30 in the afternoon. They declared the defendant guilty. The judge asked if the defendant had anything to say before he passed the sentence.

   Joel stood up. “Your honor,” he said, “I ask that you will allow two minutes before you pass the sentence.”

   The judge nodded his head. Joel had often done this during criminal cases. “Yes,” the judge answered, “you may have two minutes.”

   “Thank you, your honor,” Joel said, sitting down. Turning to the defendant, Joel kindly spoke:

   “Miss Ramsey—the jury has found you guilty of murder. This crime could warrant the death penalty. But if you would just admit the truth, then I will handle the rest.”

   Joel cleared his throat. “Miss Ramsey,” he said, “did you indeed kill Mr. Johnson?”

   In those long, few seconds, the courtroom was deathly still. Miss Ramsey’s eyes looked from one side of the table to the other. Her brain was in a whirl. The clock neared the two-minute deadline.

   “Miss Ramsey?” Joel prodded as the last ten seconds ticked off.

   Miss Ramsey nodded her head. “Yes,” she whispered softly, “I killed Mr. Johnson.”

   Joel stood up and addressed the judge. “Your honor,” he said, “the defendant has pled guilty as charged. I ask that you extend mercy in the sentence.”

   “Why?” asked the judge.

   “Your honor,” Joel replied, “it says in the Bible that the wages of sin is death. It also says ‘the soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ Someday, your honor, we will all stand before God Almighty, the Judge of the world. At that time, it will be too late for any mercy. But while we are on this earth, God offers mercy to all of us here on earth, no matter what your crime.

   “Your honor,” Joel continued, “I believe the Bible. And the Bible states that those who do not accept this mercy will go to Hell, ‘Where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.’ And Hell, your honor, lasts forever. I don’t want anyone to go to Hell, and neither does God. I am afraid that the defendant is not ready to die, just like many other people in this earth.

   “So your honor,” Joel concluded, “For the defendant’s sake, and in light of eternity that we all face, I ask for mercy in sentencing.”

   Joel sat down and leaned back in his chair, propping his elbow on the armrest and resting his chin in his hand. Everyone waited. One could have heard his heart beat in the few moments that passed. Tears were in the eyes of Miss Ramsey’s bent head, along with a few of the jurors. The case was so serious, and yet Joel has presented something that many in the room had never thought of. They waited in suspense.

   Finally the judge spoke. “Mr. Rogers,” he addressed Joel. “I admire you for standing up for your beliefs. You have argued your case well. The defendant has much to be thankful for. I guess it was a good thing you were the defending attorney.”

   The judge took a deep breath and looked at the defendant. “The jury has found you guilty of murder. You could have been given the death penalty. But because your attorney has pled for mercy for you, and since you have admitted to your guilt, I am sentencing you to life in prison with no parole. Court is adjourned.”

   “Excuse me, Mr. Rogers,” a juror addressed Joel as Joel neared the door. “But I wanted to talk to you.”

   “Sure,” Joel kindly answered.

   “I was wondering why you pled for mercy when the defendant was guilty,” the juror said.

   “The Bible says that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. Jesus pleads for mercy for us. God will grant that mercy if we will admit to the guilt,” Joel explained.

   “So you’re saying,” the juror said, “that if we admit that we have sinned, just as Miss Ramsey admitted that she killed Mr. Johnson, then God will forgive us?”

   “Exactly,” Joel agreed. “God has offered forgiveness if we will only accept it.”

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