He sat on the curb, legs bent so he could rest his elbows on his knees. A freshly fired pistol, now unloaded and its clip removed, lay on the sidewalk beside him, but out of reach.
Dressed in clean jeans, his most comfortable pair of running shoes and the red plaid button-down his wife always complimented him on, he looked like an average, middle-aged man. Except for the blood spatter hidden in the pattern of his shirt, and flecks of crimson dotting his face, he could be the guy next door.
His cell phone buzzed, but he ignored the noise. The last number he called was showing on the caller ID, but he had nothing left to say to the person on the other end. He said it all minutes before:
“I need a police officer and ambulance at 1212 Caster Street. I just shot someone.”
He was sure his target was dead, but he requested the ambulance just in case. He wanted the other man dead, hoped he was, but another bullet would only make the situation worse. He made his point already, anything more was unnecessary.
This was his last act of hopelessness. All his complaints, all the emails and voice messages, the notes left on her windshield, even hospital photos of ghastly injuries weren’t enough to get anyone to help. If the legal system wouldn’t stop the abuse, then there was only one option left.
When he finally came to trial for the murder of the man he claimed was physically and psychologically tormenting his daughter, neighbors and friends asked the inevitable questions about why he did what he did.
What gave him the right to take the law into his own hands, to act as judge, jury, and executioner.
In her opening statement, his attorney answered:
“Desperation had given him authority.”