“Victimless” came from annoyance with the number of television programs I’d seen recently that try to paint convicted criminals who happen to have children as pitiful victims themselves. The push seems to be to stop punishing parents who are criminals because their innocent children will suffer (almost feels like an opportunity for these parents to use their children as human shields, doesn’t it?) I thought I’d posit a different way to keep the innocent children from being impacted in the future.
Here’s the Blurb
A murderer’s defense team proposes a novel approach to making crime truly victimless. Read Victimless” and see if you agree.
And Here’s This week’s Excerpt
Janet Drexler could not keep still – she couldn’t match the detachment of the other three people in the courtroom. How could she? They were all officers of the court, here to decide her fate. Her hands seemed to wander about of their own volition – they slid across the defense table, and began to trace the edges of the folders that Ms. Porter had lined up between them.
Ms. Porter placed her hand over Janet’s, in part to reassure her client, but also to silence the susurration of paper and skin against the smooth wooden tabletop. Its soft whispers echoed through the nearly empty courtroom. State Attorney Roberts kept eyes front, but Ms. Porter could see the slight upturn at the edge of his mouth, and knew he could smell blood in the water. An anxious client never presented well.
Judge Abernathy sat quietly behind the bench as he read through the briefs. He occasionally paused, and his eyes searched the ceiling as though he expected to find answers there to some unvoiced question. The litigants sat straighter at their tables at these times, ready to respond if the judge were to actually ask those questions, but then he would return his attention to the documents, and neither party was reckless enough to speak; experience told them they didn’t want to start off on a bad foot by being the first to breaking Abernathy’s self-absorbed concentration.
The flutter of Judge Abernathy’s page turning dueled with Mrs. Drexler’s fidgeting for what seemed an eternity, until he finally spoke.
“Everything seems to be in order, here. I would like to thank both sides for their thoroughness in preparing these briefs,” Judge Abernathy said as he closed both folders. “This being a sealed forum, all participants have been sworn to secrecy regarding what will be decided here today. Also, as there will be no audience to play to, there will be no need for theatrics. Counsels will keep things congenial and to the point. Is this understood?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” Ms. Porter and Mr. Roberts said in unison.
“Now, the defendant has opted to forgo the traditional judicial process, but still there are forms to be followed. The defense will rise.”
Ms. Porter stood up calmly. Janet Drexler followed her lead hesitantly.
“The defendant, Janet Drexler is accused of manslaughter of her husband, Thomas Drexler. Counsel, how does your client plead?” Judge Abernathy asked.
“As per the plea bargain with State Attorney Roberts, guilty, Your Honor,” Ms. Porter said.
“Janet Drexler, are you in agreement with this plea,” Judge Abernathy asked.
“Yes, but…” Janet said.
“There are no buts in this forum, Mrs. Drexler. Answer either yes or no,” Judge Abernathy said.
“Yes, Your Honor,” Janet said.
“Thank you. We are now officially in the punishment phase. The defendant may be seated,” Judge Abernathy said.
Janet and Ms. Porter sat.
“Oh, not you, Ms. Porter,” Judge Abernathy said, and gestured for her to stand, which she did. “You have proposed a novel sentence, and it deserves some discussion. You may begin.”
“Yes, Your Honor,” Ms. Porter said. “As a compassionate society, we have striven to consider the negative impact that not only crime but incarceration has on the innocent bystanders involved. The Drexlers have a child – Madison – who would be adversely affected if deprived of her mother.”
“Perhaps the mother should have considered the impact of depriving her daughter of her father,” Mr. Roberts said.
“Mr. Roberts has a point, Ms. Porter,” Judge Abernathy said.
“But Mrs. Drexler did consider this, Your Honor, and sought to protect her daughter from Mr. Drexler’s – tendencies,” Ms. Porter said.
“Objection. The defendant’s claims of abuse are totally unsubstantiated, and are off-limits for these proceedings, pursuant to our agreement,” Mr. Roberts said.
“We are not trying to establish just cause for Mr. Drexler’s demise, merely to demonstrate that Mrs. Drexler does consider her daughter, who does not deserve to be punished for her parent’s actions,” Ms. Porter said. “Mrs. Drexler even arranged it so that Mr. Drexler’s demise would not occur in Madison’s presence.”
“Well, that was certainly considerate of her,” Mr. Roberts said.
“Unnecessary baiting, Counselor,” Judge Abernathy said.
“My apologies, Your Honor,” Mr. Roberts smirked.
“So, is Madison still unaware that her father is no longer with us?” Judge Abernathy.
“Yes, Your Honor. She was away at camp during the commission, and is now on a visit with her grandparents,” Ms. Porter said.
“Maternal or paternal?” Judge Abernathy asked.
“Paternal, Your Honor,” Ms. Porter said.
“And do they know that their son is dead?” Judge Abernathy asked.
“No, Your Honor,” Ms. Porter said.
“How have they been kept in the dark?” Judge Abernathy asked.
“They never liked me,” Janet said.
“So you simply haven’t told them, Mrs. Drexler?” Judge Abernathy asked. “I’m afraid I don’t see any virtue in that.”
“My client took positive action to prevent them from knowing, Your Honor,” Ms. Porter said. “She contacted Good as New Remediation immediately after the incident. Technicians were dispatched to the residence, and they were able to complete an extraction of the victim’s memory deltas before the neurons had deteriorated. They used the completed model to fabricate an answer bot – this handled phone conversations with the family.”
“You said they extracted deltas. The deceased had been mind-dumped before?” Judge Abernathy asked.
“Both of the Drexlers had, Your Honor, in the anticipation of medical breakthroughs in life extension, they have each maintained a memory vault, with updates at the recommended intervals,” Ms. Porter said.
“That is an expensive process, Ms. Porter,” Judge Abernathy said.
“Yes, Your Honor, but as noted, the Drexlers were sufficiently wealthy to afford it,” Ms. Porter said.
“The State is willing to accede as to the value of Mr. Drexler’s fortune,” State Attorney Roberts said.
“Objection,” Ms. Porter said. “This was their fortune.”
“Except for the prenup, Your Honor. One might even argue that wealth was a prime reason for the… incident,” State Attorney Roberts said.
“Objection, Your Honor. My client has already admitted her guilt. Motivation is no longer in play,” Ms. Porter said.
“It’s a pity with all Mrs. Drexler’s data available that we couldn’t just query it,” Mr. Roberts said.
“That would be a violation of the defendant’s fifth amendment rights, Mr. Roberts. Objections sustained,” Judge Abernathy said. “Our purpose here is to determine damages. Does the State have any evidence that Mr. Drexler’s demise has been made public?”
“State analysts have no indications of traditional news or social media exposure, Your Honor,” Mr. Roberts said.
“There is no dissemination at all concerning his death?” Judge Abernathy asked.
“No, Your Honor,” State Attorney Roberts said. “It’s as if it never happened.”
“And we can keep it that way, Your Honor,” Ms. Porter said.
“And so we come to the defense’s proposal,” Judge Abernathy said. “Proceed.”
“Your Honor, it has long been the goal of the justice system to reduce the impact of crime on the innocent,” Ms. Porter said. “Mrs. Drexler would like to spare her daughter the debilitating affects both of the loss of her father, and the knowledge of the circumstances of his death.”
“You mean his murder,” State Attorney Roberts said.
“It’s unnecessary to press the point, Mr. Roberts. We all know what we’re talking about here,” Judge Abernathy said. “Continue, Ms. Porter. Tell us how you intend to keep Madison from missing her father.”
“By furnishing a cybiotic replacement, Your Honor,” Ms. Porter said.
An interesting premise, but does the proposal play out the way Mrs. Drexler hopes? “Victimless” is a speculative fiction short story. It’s available at many online retailers, including, but not limited to:
“Victimless” is also included in the collection Goddesses, Sleep with the Snowmen, and Other Fantasies (purchase the collection on Smashwords with coupon code NQ72T will receive a 67% discount – that’s only 99-cents for TEN stories – such a deal!):
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