The Definition of Death

“This is unprecedented and absurd!”

I pointed at the prosecutor as I spoke to the judge.

“Something like the dead coming back to life, I’ve never heard anything of it in my entire life!”

The judge was taken aback, his eyes left blinking as he looked at the prosecution, the victim from his head to his toes, and toes to his head a number of times.

“Yet another mystery…”

The gallery was restless. There were some leaning forward to get a better look of the victim, and some holding their mouths open blankly.

But the most surprised, perhaps, was Claudia herself. She stood with her whole body frozen, without even the slightest twitch. Without blinking, her eyes remained sharply focused on the victim.

Of course, Hal Anderson himself took on the surrounding atmosphere as something that did not concern him.

He painstakingly narrowed his eyes, lowering himself into a chair near the prosecution.

… Was he really the real deal?

Acting proxy to my doubt, Prosecutor Schaefer continued.

“The one here is undoubtedly Hal Anderson. From the results of the forensics and magic theory labs, that has been made clear without a doubt.”

“Hmm, that means… what does it mean?”

The judge shifted his gaze to the victim, next looking at the female prosecutor, and questioning her.

“As a result of analyzing DNA taken from Hal Anderson while he was alive, the forensics team have confirmed the samples were a match.”

Assistant Eugene distributed medical certificates from the forensics department. Accepting it, I read it from start to finish.

‘The genetic information taken from post-revived Hal Anderson, and the DNA collected from the portion of remains found on the scene, as well as the victim’s DNA conceded by the security company are all a perfect match.’

… The hell’s this?

It’s true, from what I could read on the medical certificate, the one sitting in the witness-exclusive chair was undoubtedly Hal Anderson.

But the hell’s this!? It’s not making any sense.

 

“How idiotic.”

I slammed the certificate on the desk, and objected.

“This is a trial for first degree murder. If he isn’t dead, we don’t even fulfill the actus reus of murder!”

“Idiotic?”

The female prosecutor scrunched her brow, glaring at me.

… Ah this is bad. It’s time for her counterattack.

“The actus reus of first degree murder has absolutely nothing to do with whether the victim is dead or not. The requirement is that the assailant killed the victim.”

“That’s just semantics! They’re the same thing!”

“No, they’re not,” Prosecutor Schafer continued on. “Shall I tell you my basis, Mr. Lawyer?”

“First, there are two precedents in Grimbeld’s court where where the assailant was convicted for murder when the victim was still alive.”

Prosecutor Schaefer looked at the judge.

“In the first one, the victim was resuscitated after the defendant received a death sentence. That one was precedent from seventy years ago, and it originated from a physician’s misrecognition back when our health care system was undeveloped, but by the authority of double jeopardy, the defendant was prosecuted with capital punishment.”

… Bang. I hit the desk, collecting attention on myself before I refuted.

“You mean the verdict of the first hearing of the Lakeside Incident? Then the high court overturned that precedent. Infliction of bodily harm was adopted in the third hearing, and it’s not as if the defendant was convicted strictly for murder.”

Prosecutor Schaefer tilted her head. “Are you misunderstanding something?” she refuted.

“I said I had two precedents, right? I just explained an unfortunate event brought about by our undeveloped medical system. The problem is the second one, the Growout Murder Case six years ago.”

The judge furrowed his brow, making an unpleasant face.

“In the Growout Murder Case, the defendant received a guilty verdict, and was properly executed. But there was a single large problem with this case. While the victim’s mind was gone, his body was still alive. He was in a so-called brain-dead state.”

After a sharp glare at me, Prosecutor Schaefer spoke to the judge.

“Were you aware, m’lud?”

“Hmm, I still have a vivid recollection of that case.”

“The victim in the case suffered a deep cut into their brain, and the hospital declared them brain dead”

Prosecutor Schaefer spoke without even reading the document in her hands.

“From then on for the rest of her life, it was certain she… the victim would never recover consciousness, but the problem was that her body was still alive.”

The judge made a grim expression as he nodded. “It became famous at the time as a tragedy brought about by modern medicine.”

“Our current medical technology is at an exceedingly high level. Even if the brain was dead, it’s at a level where the body can still maintain life.”

…! I remembered Jessica’s state this morning.

With tubes connected to every part of her body, she was unable to live on her own power, kept alive by the machines.

“If you’re a lawyer, you should at least know the three signs of death, right?”

The female prosecutor asked me.

Three signs of death. Those were…

“Stopped heartbeat, stopped breath, failure of the pupil to reflect light… those are the three indicators to determine a person is dead, right?”

I answered with elementary knowledge from my criminal law class in school.

“Exactly. Grimbeld’s justice system once used these three criterion to distinguish the dead from the living. But brain death didn’t correspond with any of them.”

The prosecutor made an especially gloomy expression.

“Even if their breath air and their heart beats, if the brain dies, then they canno hold conversation or laugh, or experience anger or sorrow. They can no longer do anything.”

… That’s why a murder charge was applied.

“The defendant of the Growout Case was charged for murder. It was this country’s first ever execution based on murder from brain death.”

… This flow isn’t good.

I know of the Growout Case’s precedent. We had to argue left and right about its result in our student days.

It was a troublesome point of our legal system. The greater the brutality of an incident, the more feelings there were that couldn’t be overturned with logic.

… But I’m an attorney. Even if I must speak ill of it coldheartedly, I have to object for the defendant’s sake.

“I do know of the Growout case. I don’t have any objections to using it as precedent. But this tim’s case is clearly different. The brain of the victim over there seems to be functioning just fine.”

I pointed at the victim. He hadn’t uttered a single word, but for some reason, that man with a leisurely look on his face grated on my nerves.

“Is he brain-dead? The forensics lab’s evaluation speaks of no such diagnosis.”

“I haven’t spoken of my third precedent yet.”

At the end of the end, Prosecutor Schaefer spoke with a decisive face strangely full of confidence as she looked down at me.

“This isn’t a very famous precedent, so it wouldn’t be strange if some of you didn’t know it.”

Prosecutor Schaefer crossed her arms, and continued.

“Around a week ago, a certain thief was indicted for the sin of larceny. But the culprit in this incident went and did quite a troublesome thing. He returned the stolen goods to the victim the next day.”

What Compared to the first and second case, this one seemed quite small in scale.

But that only made me anxious.

“Why did you do such a thing? The police asked, and the thief answered. When I took it to the pawn shop, they wouldn’t give a dime for it… he said. Understand? This thief returned the stolen goods because they held no value.”

… But that’s irrelevant, continued Prosecutor Schaefer in a cold tone.

“Whether it be a pebble on the side of the road, or junk that looks like nothing but trash, someone’s belongings are their property. If you take them, it’s larceny. It doesn’t matter if you return it or not. If an injured person’s wounds heal up, it’s no longer inflicting bodily harm? If you steal money and give it back, you get off scot free? If you take a person’s life, and they happen to come back, it’s not a problem?”

… Idiotic, said Prosecutor Schaefer to me.

“Whatever happens to the victim after that is something that doesn’t matter to the assailant, right? We’re here to blame you for the crimes you committed.”

… Don’t try and make it someone else’s fault, said the female prosecutor.

3 Responses to The Definition of Death

  1. Thyros says:

    I guess the prosecutor is brain dead – if you didn’t get the end result, you have attempted something, and if you return what you stole without being asked/found by the police, in a reasonably timeframe, and the person haven’t had any damages for the lack of what you stole, then you aren’t guilty of theft!

    Sure, that may be only in my country (hardly, but could be), but it’s still a good read, I just want to know why they want to put that girl in jail…

    Like

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