Monday, March 2, 2020

Microstory 1311: Suspected Arson

Defense Attorney: Are you an arsonist, sir?
Arsonist: I am, yes.
Defense Attorney: Are you saying that because you were convicted on two counts of arson in the past, or because you admit to your guilt?
Arsonist: Both.
Defense Attorney: But you’re reformed?
Arsonist: I don’t like to use that term. It suggests that I’ve been cured of my condition, and now no one ever has to worry about me. But that’s not the case. I meet regularly with both my parole officer, and a state-provided therapist. I go to support groups, and I keep myself away from fire as much as possible. I even had to buy an electric stove, because a pilot light alone could trigger me.
Defense Attorney: But these techniques are working, correct? You’ve not set any fires since you were released from prison.
Arsonist: I switched from smoking to vaping, just so I wouldn’t even have to use a lighter anymore. So no, I’m not reformed. I’m recovering, just like any addict who’s recognized they have a problem. But yes, the program is working.
Defense Attorney: Okay, okay. Are you guilty of the crime in question today?
Arsonist: If there was a crime, then no.
Defense Attorney: Why do you say that?
Arsonist: I’m not convinced this was arson at all. But again, if it was, it was absolutely not me.
Defense Attorney: What do you believe led the authorities to rule that arson was the cause of the fire?
Arsonist: There were multiple points of origin, which is highly suspect, I admit. It’s not too terribly common, but it is possible for a building as old as that to have such bad wiring that seemingly separate fires begin at around the same time. But they are more connected than the fire marshal realizes. Well, I shouldn’t say that.
Defense Attorney: Why not?
Arsonist: The fire marshal might have been able to come to the same conclusion as I did, but he was evidently not allowed to conduct a thorough investigation. The police linked me to the building so quickly that they steamrolled the marshal into rushing the paperwork.
Arson Case Prosecutor: Objection. He doesn’t really know any of this. Where is he getting his information?
Arson Case Judge: Mr. Arsonist, I highly doubt you are close enough to the investigation to have any knowledge of how it was conducted. Please refrain from speculating about it.
Arson Case Prosecutor: I’d also like to—
Arson Case Judge: Yes, yes. I understand he is behaving more like an expert witness than a suspect, but I would still like to hear what he has to say as his opinion speaks to his credibility, and reasonably contributes to his defense.
Defense Attorney: Your Honor, the purpose of the United States judicial system is to find the truth at nearly any cost. I believe we have provided the court with more than enough reasonable doubt that my client had anything to do with this tragedy. Mr. Arsonist has never killed anyone before. In fact, the reason he was given so much prison time before is because he planned every one of his crimes down to the last detail, which ruled out the possibility of a lack of impulse control. He always made sure no one was in the building. If this fire we’re talking about today was indeed a crime, it was sloppy and poorly-planned, and that simply isn’t how my client would have done it. We also believe the authorities to have mishandled this case, and jumped to conclusions based on discriminatory sentiments, and weak circumstantial evidence. We intend to sue the city for their actions.
Arson Case Judge: That is your right, but it has nothing to do with me. The case I’m hearing today is in regards to Mr. Arsonist’s guilt. Am I to understand that you wish to file for this case to be dismissed.
Defense Attorney: That is correct, Your Honor.
Arson Case Judge: The defendant will be returned to City Jail while the prosecution attempts to complete the investigation. Prosecutor, you have forty-eight hours to come up with some real evidence against the defendant, or he will be released.
Arson Case Prosecutor: Thank you, Your Honor.
Defense Attorney: Thank you, Your Honor
Arsonist: Thank you.
Defense Attorney: ...
Arsonist: ...Your Honor.

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