Guest post by David MacMillan
Defense: Your honor, my client is not guilty. He has already explained that he only drew his gun to check the safety, and it went off by mistake.
Prosecutor: You’re joking, right?
D: Absolutely not! How could you joke at a time like this? One man is already dead and an innocent man’s freedom hangs in the balance!
P: Innocent? The victim is dead because your client shot him. Four times. That is not an accident.
D: Now, I think we all know that’s just your assumption. Don’t act like your whole “four shots” theory is fact.
P: It is a fact. The victim had four bullet holes in him.
D: Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t, but I’m just saying, let’s not let your obvious assumptions get in the way of justice. After all, you are the prosecutor; it’s not like you’re unbiased.
P: Four bullet holes. Four.
D: I wish you’d stop repeating that assumption. Look here, bullets can bounce, right? You assume the so-called victim was shot four times but only one bullet was actually in his body!
P: The victim was shot twice in the chest, once in the abdomen, and once in the head. There are clear entry and exit wounds on three of these, and the fourth bullet was found embedded in his spine.
D: Fourth bullet? There you go again with your biased assumptions. How can you possibly know which bullet was fired last, especially when we don’t even know for sure that there was more than one shot? Have you even considered the bounce theory?
P: I didn’t mean that was the fourth shot fired; I simply meant the one round that didn’t leave an exit wound.
D: Sure, whatever, backpedal all you want. But it’s awfully suspicious that the only bullet you find just happens to be the one that didn’t leave an exit wound, huh? Mighty convenient if you ask me.
P: Nonsense. Are you confused or something? Four entry wounds, three exit wounds, one bullet recovered. What is unclear about that?
D: See, you’re changing your story. Earlier you said there were four holes in the body, but now you want us to believe there are a total of seven wounds? Your tale just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
P: No, it isn’t. Three of the four bullet holes had both entry and exit wounds.
D: Look, whatever you need to do to make the math come out for your model, I get it. I know how to mess around with the numbers too. I’m really more interested in how you seem to just know there was more than one shot. Let me ask you: were you the person who discovered the body?
P: No, I’m a prosecutor; I don’t do field work.
D: So you’re just relying on what other people tell you. I don’t see how you can act so sure. Maybe you just have more faith than me.
P: Faith has nothing to do with it, I…
D: No, it’s okay, everybody has faith. Let’s just move on. When the first officer arrived at the scene, he radioed that a man had been shot. Singular. Not four times or seven times or whatever you believe now.
P: What…huh? Why am I even explaining this to you? “Shot” is an adjective; it describes the man’s state. It’s not plural or singular.
D: Whoa, let’s not get into a grammar lesson here! I’m just saying, there’s some inconsistency here that I’ve got some major questions about. Why wouldn’t the officer at least say the man had been shot more than once? Isn’t that important? Seems suspicious to me.
P: I don’t even know why I’m doing this, but look — here’s the transcript of the 9-11 call. See how it says “shots fired”? There’s your plural, if you’re so bothered.
D: Ah, so even before officers responded, they already had a presupposition that there were multiple shots. It’s easy to see how they’d just look at everything through that lens, since that’s the assumption they started with.
P: No, that’s not the case. There were multiple bullet holes in the body. That’s why we know he was shot multiple times.
D: Well, that’s what you keep insisting, but I’m not so sure. How do you even know that the other holes are bullet holes? They could be anything. Knife wounds, holes caused by an arrow, even a ruptured appendix!
P: You’re…you’re insane. A ruptured appendix looks nothing like a bullet hole.
D: Whoa, enough with the ad hominem attacks! And look here, I have a book by a trauma surgeon that says otherwise. On page 188, he says, “The ruptured organ might as well have been a bullet for the amount of damage it did.” Wasn’t one of your so-called bullet holes in the abdomen?
P: That book is fiction.
D: But it’s written by a real trauma surgeon and it says it is based on real events! Are you a trauma surgeon? How can you be so sure?
P: Look, whatever this doctor of yours was saying about the damage from a ruptured appendix, or any other organ, it’s not going to cause the appearance of a bullet hole. Acting like something else could have caused the wounds is ridiculous. We found the rest of the bullets lodged in the brick wall behind him.
D: Oh, so earlier you only recovered one bullet, but now you recovered more? See, your story is changing again.
P: We recovered one bullet from the body and the rest of the bullets from the wall.
D: Hey, bullets sometimes break apart.
P: These didn’t; we recovered all of them intact.
D: Answer this: would it be possible for two bullets to strike the exact same spot and thus only leave one wound?
P: Yes, I suppose so.
D: So you don’t actually know how many times he was shot. If you can’t even tell for sure that he wasn’t shot more times, how do you know he was shot more than once at all?
P: That makes no sense. This hypothetical possibility that two bullets passed through the same hole doesn’t erase the fact that he had four bullet holes in him.
D: Whoa, you really like those ad hominems, don’t you?
P: Saying your argument makes no sense isn’t actually an ad hominem.
D: Maybe not according to you. But hey, if there are dozens of shots — maybe ten or eleven flying everywhere — where are all the shell casings?
P: In the gun. He was firing a .38 revolver.
D: Oh, so he just happened to have a gun that didn’t drop shell casings. Very convenient. Doesn’t a 9mm pistol fire bullets with the same diameter? How do you know he wasn’t firing a semiautomatic?
P: Because he wasn’t. He admitted the revolver we found at the scene was his gun.
D: So you trust the word of someone you believe is a murderer? I don’t have that much faith.
P: His fingerprints were on it. The metallurgy matched the bullets to that specific gun.
D: Now, now, I think we all know there are some pretty big assumptions in metallurgical analysis, and none of us here are experts. But I’ll let it slide. I’m just saying that you can’t prove some of the bullets didn’t come from another gun at some other time.
P: I don’t have to. He had four bullet holes in his body.
D: See, that doesn’t match the evidence. One of the witnesses says she counted five shots, not four.
P: Yes, he fired five shots; one missed. We recovered that round as well.
D: You can’t keep your story straight at all! First it was one bullet in the body, then three bullets in the wall, and now five bullets! With four wounds or seven wounds or even more wounds! And we don’t even know all those holes were made by bullets! Look, how many rounds does this supposed revolver hold?
D: If my client had really wanted to kill the so-called victim, why would he only fire five shots and not all six?
P: That’s not relevant. We’re interested in the five shots he did fire.
D: Four shots, five shots…I feel like you’re trying to confuse us here.
P: I’m not the one who is trying to confuse the issue. Besides, that type of revolver doesn’t actually have a safety, so your story about checking the safety doesn’t add up.
D: Surely you’re not going to convict a man based on whether his gun has a safety! Besides, like I said earlier, a 9mm is the same size bullet and those guns definitely have safeties!
P: I’m not prosecuting him for his story; I’m prosecuting him for gunning down a man in cold blood.
D: Wow, your bias is really showing. I thought justice was supposed to be blind. It’s disappointing. Anyway, look at this. You’re saying he shot five times, even though he had six bullets, but four of the bullets struck this so-called victim of yours. I have an article here by the director of the FBI saying that even seasoned agents rarely hit their target more than 20% of the time! Are you really asking us to believe that this innocent man is four times more accurate than FBI agents?
P: That’s the stupidest argument I’ve heard so far. That article says that 80% of the shots fired in prolonged firefights miss, when the target has cover. On average. And that article isn’t even written by the director of the FBI; it just says “from the office of the director”.
D: Hey, you can split hairs all you want. I’m just looking at the facts. 20% accuracy rate.
P: This is ridiculous. Are you actually even an attorney?
D: Hey, I was an office assistant in a big law firm for almost a whole summer! You’re saying just because you have a big fancy degree, you’re better than me?
P: So you aren’t an attorney.
Judge: Gentlemen, you realize this isn’t actually the trial? We’re just here for the bond hearing.