The courtroom was silent, the air thick with questions. Would Peter Falcone go free? The question was plastered across every newspaper around Huntsport. No one seemed to have the answer. District Attorney Carolyn Fleming entered the courtroom first, though she lacked her characteristic confidence. Roger Harper followed after her, along with Peter Falcone. All their faces looked somber, unsure of what the future would hold.
After Judge Cartwright entered, Fleming was permitted to begin her closing argument. Mustering up the necessary confidence, she began, “Ladies and gentlemen, in the past few days, a murderer has stood before you pleading self-defense. He has stood before you claiming to defend the honor of his family. Peter Falcone is able to look each of you in the eye and say with confidence that he killed John Romano, and rationalize it. Where I come from, ladies and gentlemen, murder is murder. Steven Bains saw him shoot Romano in cold blood, then leave the body for someone else to find…”
The faces of the jurors were blank and expressionless, and completely absorbed in Fleming’s words. “Steven Bains testified that Falcone made a threat against him, which led to his subsequent ‘death.’ We have phone records indicating that Peter Falcone obsessively called the Bains’ household…we mustn’t forget the suicide note left by Diane Bains detailing the behavior of her husband and Mr. Falcone the night of the murder…No, this was not planned, ladies and gentlemen, but it certainly helped Peter Falcone’s circumstances…”
Peter looked around the room and locked eyes with his wife. Behind Josephine sat Michael and Louise, both angry and bitter.
“John Romano’s widow, Francesca, was reduced to poverty and misery because her husband was taken away from her. Just the mention of the name ‘Falcone’ branded her for life. She knew Peter Falcone as a friend, and her friend turned on her when she needed him. What does that say for his character? Now, you’re all probably thinking that this case is tough…I’d have to disagree with you there. Peter Falcone had a lot to gain from John Romano’s death. For whatever reason he did it, murder is murder. He killed John Romano, knowing it would protect his family. What he didn’t consider was all the other families he would hurt in the process. Think about your family. Does anyone deserve that kind of anguish?”
Carolyn Fleming nodded to the jury, then sat down. Roger Harper rose, inhaling deeply. It was his last chance.
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Now, Ms. Fleming has sold you cold, hard facts, and that’s all. I agree that facts are the only thing we can rely on in situations like these, but what she continues to neglect is feeling. When your children are in danger, don’t you do everything you can to protect them? Wouldn’t you do anything in your power to save them pain? I’m sure you would…Peter Falcone killed John Romano in self-defense. As you’ll recall, Mr. Romano was intoxicated that evening, and had a gun. He assaulted my client, so my client defended himself…”
Michael Falcone rubbed his temples, thoroughly frustrated with his family. Harper continued, “But there’s another form of defense here. As Ms. Fleming told you, in rather blase fashion, Peter Falcone defended his family. He defended his child. He did what he needed to do to save his family from falling apart. Was it the wrong decision? Of course. It could’ve been handled a dozen different ways, but given the situation, he had no choice. As for the others he affected? Let’s not forget that the Romano family supported blackmailing my client, using another human being, Michael Falcone, as a pawn for money. Peter Falcone did not use his child. He loves him, and did what was best for him. He did not make him a bargaining chip. They made their choices… You see, ladies and gentlemen, life is about choices. We all hope we can make the right choice when the time comes. I ask you, if you were in Peter Falcone’s place, would you have made the right choice? Thank you.
Court was dismissed, and the jury rose, ready to deliberate the fate of Peter Falcone: father, husband, and…murderer?