Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Opening Statement, First Draft

May it please the Court?

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury,

Today, you have been called by the state to take a test. This test has but one, true/false question: “Richard Steven Mantooth is guilty of burglary of a habitation.” You don’t have to go this alone, though. We will paint a picture for you, one which will lead you to the correct answer. Consider the facts and evidence carefully, though, because only the correct answer will lead to justice being served.

Joseph and Katharine Bass are your neighbors. Like all of you, they live in Newtown. They are not natives; they came to Newtown pursuing their piece of the American dream – a home of their own in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, the type of neighborhood we all strive to keep alive. The Basses wanted a yard, a place for their child to play, a place for barbeques, a place with a patio, where they could sit on a warm summer evening and drink lemonade while their son chased fireflies. They wanted a street, with sidewalks upon which their son could learn to ride his bike, and friends with whom to play ball. The Bass family found that home at 316 North Manus Drive, and for three years, they had all this, here in Newtown.

Then, just after they rang in the new year last year, something happened to their serene world. On January 17th, while her husband was at work, Katharine was called away on an errand, a short jaunt from home, one of those things that we all have to do from time to time. Like most errands, she was not gone long, less than an hour. But that’s all it took to destroy the tranquility the Basses found in our town.

It was like those “what’s different in this picture” invasions – one where everything looked right, but was certainly not. The house seemed normal enough at first glance, but quickly, Katharine noticed something askew. The Bass’ bedrooms, the most private places in their home, where they felt most secure, had heard the steps of foreign feet. Their dressers, probed by strange hands, dirty fingers rifling the private recesses of their home.

These hands didn’t stop at disturbing the security the Basses had come to know in our town. They took from the Basses. The police report said jewelry and radios, total value between $2500 and $300 were stolen, but that’s only because there were no boxes marked security, or memories, and no report could estimate the sentimental value of those items stolen.

The next day, January 18th, the police receive a call from a local pawn shop. A man was in, trying to sell jewelry and radios – the very same items those foreign footsteps walked off with from the Bass house the day before. That man was Richard Steven Mantooth.

The state will introduce evidence demonstrating that Richard Steven Mantooth entered into the Bass’ home at 316 North Manus Drive on January 17th of last year, without permission. The state will show that Mr. Mantooth intended to commit a theft from the Bass’ home. It will show that Mr. Mantooth took from the Bass’ home, without permission, two transistor radios, jewelry, including a brooch, an antique lapel watch, and an heirloom watch. The state will offer evidence that Mr. Mantooth then took his ill-gotten gains to a local pawn shop, where he intended to sell the items. The state will show through evidence that Richard Steven Mantooth is guilty of burglary of a habitation.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, the state has one question for you to answer: “Richard Steven Mantooth is guilty of burglary of a habitation, true or false?” By the end of this trial, you will have been provided with all the information you will need to reach the right conclusion. If you believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Richard Mantooth is guilty of burglary of a habitation, then you will answer true. If there is ANY reasonable doubt, after hearing all the evidence, then you will answer false. Your answer will be the right answer, so make sure you are well prepared to find it.

1 comment:

Weary Hag said...

Nice first draft.
I was very moved by the dressers being probed by strange hands because my apartment was burglarized many years ago in NJ and the sense of walking in to my place and feeling like I had just invaded someone else's house was overwhelming.
This is interesting... very.