Chapter I: The Trial Chapter II: Life in Prison


It was all over the news yesterday. On all the television stations, and in the Star Tribune of course. And when the verdict came in, they reported ‘LIVE’.

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“We’re live at the Hennepin County Court House, and the defendant has just been found guilty on all charges. The round faced, unsmiling, pasty-faced defense attorney appeared briefly on the screen, appearing haggard. We didn’t agree with the verdict and will appeal. Standard fare. William Selman seems to represent many defendants on these types of charges. He doesn’t seem to win many of the cases, but he is well sought out for his expertise.

Motive is always a part of any criminal trial. There was some speculation about a check the victim had, but it was never disclosed whether it actually existed or not. The brutality and rage that fueled the non stop blood bath, and left two people dead, did not in the end, enrich the accused.

Grieving relatives too, whose lives have been forever changed, were briefly quoted on their statements of loss, but in the few seconds they were given to summarizing their depth of feeling and confusion, we had no way to gauge the level of personal pain and sadness they endure, now and forever more.

He is going to prison. For a very long time. In ten years, if i happen to remember -writing this down, he will still be in prison. If in 20 years, when i am in my 70’s and probably won’t remember much about anything, if i find this file on some excursion looking for for another electronic fragment of my former life which has changed in ways i cannot now imagine , he will still be in prison. And if life without parole is meted out, as promised by the judge, as i exhale my last dying breath, he will still be locked up. But he will have grown older and wiser. At least one of those will be true.

The defendant does not have his GED or HS Diploma. I know this because Minneapolis public schools hired me to go tutor him. Now he has the time to get his GED though the adult education department in the Department of Corrections. He may, over time, gain knowledge about different viewpoints about violence, and the sanctity of life. But he won’t learn any of this from living in a Minnesotan prison. What he will learn is how a small society living at the mercy of a larger one, carves out its own rules and rituals. Inside he will only learn to watch his back, and commit to memory the arcane rules for survival in prison for a very young inmate. There is a small error of margin for people who appeal to older inmates. From the frying pan into the hot, searing, unrelenting, fire.