Breadcrumb #15

Bob Raymonda

They stand around the tape recorder like a pack of vultures waiting for a meal to finally expire before they feast. They are not a subtle duo when they’re this close to what they’re looking for. They will linger until both of their appetites for justice are satisfied. And can you blame them? What they heard on that tape recorder was despicable. And the things the suspect says in defense of himself? Pathetic.

It was a rickety little machine. Having survived decades that seemed to promise its continued existence was futile. But its digital counterparts could never count on the novelty of the physical object. When the suspect revealed the victim’s love of the real, the tangible, proof of its existence became top priority. And when it was found tucked beneath the mattress and the bedspring, a collective sigh of relief was uttered by all around.

She was heard, never seen, because the archiving of audio interested her far more than watching a video. She screamed out, goading him on to go faster, harder, to cause her more pain until she shrieked in what sounded like pleasure. She is a masochist, and the tape proves that. Correction, she was a masochist, because now she lay cold in the morgue.

He sat in the middle of the room on a cold metal chair with his hands behind his back. He hyperventilates as they play the recording for him. To them, this was proof of his guilt, even after he explains himself. It was an accident, he screams with ragged breath. Please, turn it off. It was never supposed to happen this way, and he’d done it to her a thousand times before. He didn’t want to hear it, because he was there when it happened.

Our daughter was a good girl, despite what they say they heard on it. Our daughter would never get herself into this kind of trouble willingly. Our daughter would have brought him to our home, shared her life with us. Our daughter would still be here today, if it weren’t for this deviant. That is why justice won’t be served until he’s prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I have prosecuted perverts like him countless times, and he is no different. Pay no mind to his crocodile tears. I’ve looked in the eyes of men and heard their tails of the impressionable young women that take part in kink. He’ll tell you that she asked for it. He’ll tell you that she told him to do it. And I’m here to tell you, he’s lying. Who do you believe? Her caring and attentive parents? Or the man that inflicted the wounds you see in Exhibit J?

You will not enjoy what you are about to hear, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. It is private, it is pornographic, and it is proof that he isn’t entirely responsible for her death. Partially, for certain, but you’ll be able to tell from this recording, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was a consensual act. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are not being asked to give him a free pass. You are just being asked to be sympathetic to the fact that he was very much in love with her. That this was an accident, and that he’ll live with the burden of her death for the rest of his life.

We spend no more than an hour and a half in the cramped private chambers of the courthouse. Not a single one of us thinks that he is an innocent man, though none of us thinks he’s fully at fault either. We deliberate long enough to earn our free lunch, and in a pile of empty Chinese food containers and evidence, we make up our mind. We return shortly after eating and deliver our verdict. We find the defendant guilty of murder in the second degree.

They stand in the back of the courtroom with their hands at their hips. They’re satisfied that their detective work allowed her parents some sense of closure. Even if it didn’t bring her back to life.

It is ushered back into its clear plastic evidence bag. Normally, it would be offered to her family, but due to its voyeuristic nature, it would end up forgotten in a dusty cardboard box at the precinct.

She is buried on Wednesday. Her casket is ornate — her parents spare no expense. Only the best for her. Her friends and family huddle together in the cool autumn morning and mourn together. Some cry, some stand silent, all remember her.

He is sentenced to twenty to life. His lawyer is confident that he can reduce it with an appeal, but he doesn’t care. He’s lost the one he loves, and it is his fault. No amount of legal finesse will change that. At night, in his cell, the sound of his sobs are pitiful.

Our daughter’s killer is going to rot in hell for the things that he put her through. Our daughter’s jury made sure of it. Our daughter died by his hand, and he deserves whatever happens to him.

I haven’t received a paycheck this big in years. Clearly the kid was innocent, but I can talk a man into sawing his own arm off. I think I’ll buy myself a new boat, or a car, or something else that’s flashy. I’m worth it.

I think I’ll buy myself a new boat, or a car, or something else that’s flashy. I’m worth it.

You are soulless bastards, you know that? This kid was as much a victim as she was, but since her daddy was rich and her mommy cried theatrically, you put him away for life? You’re disgusting. You’re… You…

We are never going to see each other again. And that is a good thing. Being on a jury wasn’t on a single bucket list among us. We’ll go to our separate homes, take a shower, and forget the look on his face doomed him. It doesn’t feel like justice. It feels like revenge.

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