“The Reasonable Doubt”

A short story by Jaiden Moreno

There were a good thirty seconds of silence before the first one broke it. “I don’t like her,” she said uninterestedly.

“Me neither,” said the fifth one. “She was really smug. And she looked weird.”

“And, did you see her lawyer?” This was the tenth one. “Why was she speaking like that?”

The eighth one spun around in his chair. “It was an accent,” he answered back. “Irish, I think.”

The tenth one snorted. “Well, I couldn’t understand a thing she was saying the entire time. And she was limping.”

“I noticed that!” said the fourth one from the far side of the room.

“Well, what do you guys think?” asked the second one. The first one checked her watch.

“I mean, she didn’t do it.”

Everybody turned to look at the sixth one, who had clearly not expected the reaction she received. She sat up in her chair.

“How do you know that?” asked the tenth one.

“Well, I mean, did you see the evidence? There was a video of her at the museum while the murder took place. And there were four different witnesses who all said they very clearly saw an old man with a gun going into the restroom. It was not her.”

Nobody responded.

“Am- am I the only one who thinks that?”

“She kept stuttering,” said the second one. “The whole time. Between her and the lawyer, I had no idea what was going on.”

The eighth one leaned back in his chair. “Probably because she was nervous.”

“Well, it was very suspicious. I think she did it.”

“Me too,” said the fourth one, who was playing a puzzle game on her phone.

The sixth one looked around the room. Nobody was looking back at her.

“Are you guys all serious?” she asked. For a couple of seconds, there was no response.

“I thought it was funny when she tripped,” said the ninth one. Everybody but the sixth laughed.

“This is a murder trial!” said the sixth one more forcefully than her previous responses. The fourth one briefly looked up from her phone, then looked back down.

“Should we vote?” asked the first one, checking her watch again.

“I vote guilty,” said the tenth. “The stuttering gave her away.”

“Guilty,” said the eighth.

“Innocent!” Obviously innocent! What is wrong with all of you!?” yelled the sixth one. Eleven heads turned to look at her.

“Well, that one guy seemed very sure that she did it,” said the twelfth. “I trust him.”

“He was blind!” responded the sixth, who was now visibly angry with her eleven peers.

“So what, that means we shouldn’t trust him?” asked the fifth one. “You know, my father’s blind, so I take offense to that.”

“How is that offensive!?” yelled back the sixth. “How can you all say you’re so positive she did it? There was no evidence whatsoever!”

“Except for the stuttering,” said the tenth. The eighth nodded his head in agreement.

“So, we all agree she was guilty?” the first responded. Ten heads nodded back.

“No! Not at all!” the sixth stood up and shook her head. “I can’t believe any of you!”

“Come on, just admit that she was probably guilty,” said the eighth. “The sooner that happens, the sooner we get out of here.”

“I am not moving on this,” said the sixth. “I know that she is innocent, and no matter what you say it won’t change me.”

Forty-five minutes later, the girl was sentenced to thirty years in prison and the twelve jurors went home. Eleven of them never thought about it again.