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His Only Defense
"Margie, don't cry. Seth is in with the psychiatrist now. I'm sure we can use an insanity defense."
Margie nodded and sniffed into her tissue.
"Any defense is better than the one he's claiming. I've never heard of anyone using the-devil-made-me-do-it defense."
Margie blotted her eyes with her tissue. "Oh, Donald. That was always his excuse growing up, and you know when he was little, it was kind of cute. He'd steal a cookie from the jar, and when I'd scold him he'd look up at me with those large brown eyes and say, 'Sorry, Momma. The devil made me do it.'" She took a deep breath. "And then, as a teen, he'd get into trouble and use the same excuse. I thought he was just being fresh, so I'd tell him he could just thank the devil then that he'd be spending the next two weeks grounded to his room." Margie blew her nose. "I guess it's my fault. I shouldn't have let him keep it up. I should've gotten him some help."
Donald rubbed Margie's back. "Don't blame yourself. There is no way you could've known it would lead to this. And don't worry, I've successfully handled insanity defense cases in the past. And at only 17, he's sure to get the help he needs, instead of the death penalty. "
Seth set slunched in the chair across from Dr. Whitmore, staring out the window.
"Seth, I want you to tell me what happened."
"Why should I? No one believes me."
"You have to understand that your story is quite complicated, so why don't we figure it out together."
"All my life the devil has come to me and told me to do bad things." He sat up and leaned forward in his chair. "I didn't want to do them, but he made me. Why is that so hard to understand?"
"How, Seth? How does he make you?"
"He told me if I didn't do what he says, he'd kill my family. So, I did them."
"So, the devil told you to kill your neighbor?"
Seth scrunched back down in his chair. "Yes, he did." Tears hovered on his lower eyelids.
"Have you ever told the devil no? You know--call his bluff?"
"I did once. I told him I wouldn't do bad things anymore, and then the next morning, my dad died." The tears broke free when he looked down.
"Seth, your dad died of a heart attack. No one killed him."
"No human, you mean." Seth wiped the tears off his cheeks. "My dad was healthy. He didn't have heart problems."
Dr. Whitmore handed Seth a box of tissues. "Heart attacks often happen suddenly."
Seth took a tissue and blotted his eyes. "But it was the very next day."
"Does this mean you're going to keep doing whatever the devil tells you to do?"
"Yep, or my mom is next."
"Has he given you any new orders, since you've been in the hospital?"
Seth nodded and rose from his chair. He walked over and stopped in front of Dr. Whitmore.
"Seth, go back to your seat, please. I need you to sit and answer my questions." Dr. Whitmore busily made notes.
"I can't." He grabbed the doctor's throat. Seth's face turned red as he squeezed. He watched Dr. Whitmore's eye bulge as his grip tightened on the doctor's neck.
Dr. Whitmore's arms flailed knocking a lamp off his desk. Donald heard the noise from the hall. He and Margie rushed in.
"Seth, Stop!" Margie shrieked.
Seth let go of Dr. Whitmore's throat and pushed him away. "I'm sorry, Momma. The devil made me do it." He dropped down to his knees, sobbing into his hands.