The scene switches to a flashback sequence in which Steve remembers a class with Mr. Sawicki, his film club mentor. The teacher explains “if you make your film predictable, the audience will make up its minds about it long before it’s over.”
Then, reality returns with the entrance of the jury. Steve asks if they look alright, but O’Brien’s comment is just as realistic. They are what they have for a jury and they have to deal with. This is followed by Prosecutor Petrocelli’s opening statement. Her words are even more realistic than the jury coming into the room. She refers to the two accused men as the “monsters in our community.” She unfolds the events from the viewpoint of the prosecution, pointing out that James King and another man named Richard “Bobo” Evans entered the drugstore, fought Mr. Nesbitt, the victim, for his gun, shot him, stole money and cigarettes, and fled the store. She insists there was a premeditated plan to commit the crime that included another conspirator who was expected to enter the store in advance and check it out for police and yet another whose job was to impede anyone who might chase the robbers. She points out Steve as being the lookout.
Steve, in the meantime, is systematically writing the word monster all over his notebook. His attorney takes the pencil from him and just as systematically crosses out all the words. She tells him, “You have to believe in yourself.” Petrocelli ends her opening statement by saying that James King and Steven Harmon were all part of the robbery that caused the death of Alguinado Nesbitt.
O’Brien also gives her opening statement in which she emphasizes that the American Justice System also protects the rights of the accused. As such, it allows her to prove that the evidence presented by the prosecution is seriously flawed, and that there is overwhelming doubt that Steve Harmon has committed any crime at all. She reminds the jury that by law, they are required not to prejudge him. Her opening statement is followed by that of Asa Briggs who is the defense attorney for James King. He emphasizes that the witnesses for the prosecution are the most self-serving, heartless people imaginable, and that the jury must judge their testimony carefully.
These statements are followed by the first witness - José Delgado - who testifies that as an employee of the drugstore, he had gone out for Chinese food around 4:35 in the afternoon, and everything was fine when he left. When he returned, he discovered Mr. Nesbitt on the floor with blood everywhere, the cash register opened, and a lot of cigarettes missing. It is established by the prosecution that the robbery took place, because everyone in the neighborhood knew that José had a black belt in karate. When cross-examined by Mr. Briggs, José is forced to admit that he has no medical skills, even though he determined immediately that Mr. Nesbitt was dead. He also makes the witness admit that he took the time to check the inventory before calling the police.
The next witness is Sal Zinzi, a young man who had been imprisoned on Rikers Island at the time of the crime. He was in there for accepting stolen property. Sal testifies that he had spoken with another prisoner named Wendell Bolden who told him that he knew about a drugstore holdup where a man had been killed. Bolden was thinking of turning in the guy who committed the crime in the hopes of shortening his own sentence. Instead, Zinzi got to the police first so as to shorten his own time in prison. He also testified that Bolden knew about the crime, because he had gotten some cigarettes from the guy involved with the holdup.
When Mr. Briggs cross-examines Zinzi, it comes out that the prisoner wanted out early even though he only had two months to go, because he was being sexually harassed. Briggs emphasizes through his questions that Zinzi is willing to lie to avoid being gang-raped and that he had pre-empted Bolden by cutting a deal with the District Attorney. O’Brien follows this up by emphasizing that Zinzi was desperate to get out even though Petrocelli has him insist that he wouldn’t lie.
The chapter ends with another flashback, this time to four years before when, at the age of 12, Steve and his friend Tony were throwing rocks. Steve accidentally hits a young woman walking with a tough guy. When the tough guy threatens them, Steve yells at Tony to run which makes Tony the object of the tough guy’s punches. The couple eventually walks away, and Tony questions Steve for telling him to run. Steve insists he didn’t say that Tony had thrown the rock. He had just told him to run.
This chapter is all about reality - the disgusting part of the Manhattan Detention Center, the types of witnesses and how they’re willing to say anything to get out of prison early, and Steve’s awareness that everyone thinks he’s a monster. It’s also about whether Steve also believes he’s a monster and how he must come to believe in himself.
It’s also interesting to note one of his flashbacks - throwing rocks with Tony. He had willing given up Tony as the thrower of the rocks by yelling run when the tough guy came after them. He is comparable to the witnesses who are all willing to lie to avoid punishment also.