Innocent Until Proven Guilty (An Original Fiction)
The prosecutor walked up to her, staring hard into her soul.
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
Donna agreed and sat in the chair next to the judge. The whole courtroom was staring at her. At the table, sitting across from her were, her friends who were also going to be questioned. Each of them felt that they should be defended, but then again, none of them had any memory from that night.
The prosecutor walked up to her, staring hard into her soul. They did something so horrific her mother wouldn’t look her in the eyes.
“Can you tell me your name?”
“And how old are you?”
He looked amused by this. “A little young to smoke marijuana and drink, aren’t we?”
Donna made eye contact with her parents. Her Mom’s eyes closed and her Dad’s mouth gaped.
The prosecutor began pacing the area. They always did that for dramatic effect. “Donna, why were you and your friends hanging out on Conch Street in downtown Minneapolis on Friday night?”
“We wanted to have a little fun.”
It was a stupid answer, but it was a stupid idea in the first place.
He turned back and asked her, “Did this fun have a murder on the to-do list?”
They all asked that. As soon as her head was clear the next morning she had no idea why there was blood on her hands. With how the weed made her feel, she wasn’t surprised if they did something so crazy.
“I don’t know, sir.”
“How ya feeling, Donna?” Trey asked seeing the girl stumble around. He was holding a bottle of vodka which smashed to the ground.
“I’m b-baked, and I don’t mean as in hot,” Donna laughed.
Their laughter was so loud that night. Someone called the police to make a noise complaint. That would have been what they were caught for if the other events didn’t happen.
“Hey, does anyone think this town looks a lot better when you can’t see straight?” Upon saying this Christina fell against a store window.
She smashed through it setting off the alarm.
The impact of Christina wasn’t the reason for the glass breaking, but a gunshot that rang across the street.
“Tell us, Ms. Babson,” the prosecutor said to Christina, who was now being questioned. “Were you the one who shattered the glass with a gun?”
Christina hadn’t said much in days. The morning she woke up behind bars she had a panic attack. Her body was covered in scars. She thought drinking would be cool, but instead, she was a suspect in a horrible crime.
“I guess, but I don’t remember having a gun,” she said very softly.
“You four were smoking marijuana, correct?”
“Where did you find this marijuana?”
She stared at Carlos. He was the one who had been stashing it for the longest time.
“Carlos kept a stash in his room.”
The courtroom was silent. What were they expecting? For her to cry and beg to say that she didn’t remember and wanted to go home? Christina had no idea if she could go home. She talked with her Mom on the phone. When she was asked if she killed someone her mother hung up when she answered that it was possible.
“I understand your legs needed stitches because of the glass from the store window.”
“And then when you got in the store who shot the woman?”
Tears dropped from her eyes. “I really wish I could remember, sir.”
“Christina, look what you did! Are you okay?” Trey asked climbing into the store.
It was a bad idea, but they all climbed in. They tripped up on the glass.
The store was dark that it was tough to see. Carlos could hear footsteps and two people talking. If he was able to think straight he would have been able to smell blood.
While his friends were tending to Christina he noticed a light on in the back room. It was after 11 o'clock at night. All the stores were closed. If it weren’t so dark he would have seen that items of the store had been thrown about. There was a jewelry box that tripped him up.
There was a bunch of shuffling. Like lighting two men dressed in black burst out.
One of them punched Carlos in the eye. He fell to the ground.
The men were so quiet escaping that nobody else would even know they were there.
“You okay, man?” Trey asked bending down to his friend who was regaining consciousness.
“Guess I shoulda asked what was in the weed,” Carlos said, rubbing his sore eye.
The light in the back room attracted the four.
What they were met with was the most devastating image.
“How did you hurt your eye, Carlos?” the prosecutor asked.
“I remember tripping up on something. But, I don’t think the impact of my fall gave me a black eye.”
“Really? Did one of your friends do it?”
“I remember Trey looking me over, but I don’t remember.”
“Do you think there was anyone else in the store at the time you murdered Ms. Swetcot.”
A chill ran up his spine at the mention of "murder." The first time he wanted to get high turned him into a killer. All four of them. At least he was not alone.
“I don’t know, sir.”
“Onlookers claimed they didn’t see anyone else, only you four on the street that night. Is this true?”
“Probably. I don’t remember anyone else. It was very late.”
“Mr. Ventullo, what was your relationship with Ms. Eva Swetcot?” the prosecutor asked.
“She was the owner of the jewelry store. I didn’t know her,” she replied. “My Dad and I occasionally bought jewelry for my Mom when it was her birthday. She seemed like a very nice woman.”
“And why did you kill her?”
Carlos wished he had his hat so he could pull it over his eyes to hide the tears.
“I don’t know, we were under the influence.”
There was a woman on the ground with blood pouring out from the side of her body. Donna was the first to step closer to her. A knife was retracting out from below her chest.
“Ms. Swetcot?” Carlos asked, realizing who it was.
The woman was still alive, but barely. She was unable to move her body, but she pointed with her eyes to the corner of the room.
Christina picked up the gun which was still smoking from the other end.
Donna bent down to the woman, resting a hand on her shaking body. Her body was cold to the touch due to more and more blood pouring out.
Trey was standing far from the group, but he saw the woman tilt her head up and then say in a barely audible tone, “Please get them caught.” She knew these four kids weren’t the cause of her death.
And then she died in the pool of blood that grew bigger and bigger by the second.
That was when the police showed up to see Donna removing the knife, Christina holding a gun, Carlos standing over the body, and Trey with his hood up to his black coat glaring at the body.
“I’ve been told that you have been pretty quiet, Trey.”
Trey didn’t answer. He had no idea what he saw that night. The sound of a gunshot, the glimpse of two men running away and some lady saying something must have been his imagination. He wanted to talk about that, but then they’d question him more thinking that he was lying.
“We have a lot of evidence that tells us you and your friends killed Ms. Swetcot. Do you have anything that will prove you innocent?”
“I don’t know.”
The jury was excused to make their final verdict. When they returned all four of them were found guilty and sentenced to different lengths in prison.
The four silently agreed to never get high or go under the influence again, not like they could anyway.