Grant Wiggins recalls the outcome of a trial. He says that he was not there, but he knew what the verdict would be. He pictures the courtroom, the judge, and the attorneys. He pictures his aunt, Tante Lou, sitting beside the defendant’s godmother, Miss Emma, both watching the proceedings with solemn rigidity. Grant can picture the back of Jefferson’s close-cropped black head as he sits at the defendant’s table.
Grant recalls the incidents leading up to the trial. Jefferson, Grant says, was on his way to the White Rabbit Bar and Lounge when Brother and Bear, two young black men, drove up beside him and offered him a ride. The three men drove to a store, where Brother and Bear demanded that Alcee Gropé, the store owner, give them drinks on credit. Alcee refused, and the ensuing argument led to a shootout. Alcee, Brother, and Bear all died, leaving Jefferson alone in the store. Grant says Jefferson stood at the scene of the crime, confused and frightened, and took a slug of whiskey to calm his nerves. He looked around and saw the open cash register full of money. He knew that stealing was wrong, but he also knew that he would need to run, so he took some money. He had nearly reached the door when two white men walked into the store.
Grant says the prosecution argued that Jefferson had gone to the store intending to rob and kill Alcee Gropé. The prosecution claimed that Jefferson stuffed the money into his pockets and celebrated the murder by drinking some of Alcee’s liquor. Grant says that Jefferson’s attorney defended Jefferson by insisting that he is a boy and a fool, and therefore incapable of planning the robbery and murder. The attorney said he would rather put a hog in the electric chair than such a mindless individual. The white jury members deliberated for just a few hours before finding Jefferson guilty of robbery and murder in the first degree. A few days later, the judge sentenced Jefferson to death by electrocution.
Summary: Chapter 2
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