“While the victim does serve as the defendant’s exclusive chauffeur, there exists no prior history of violence involving him. Grounded in this premise, we deny the charges.”
“Understood. Let’s review the evidence list. Hmm… It’s simpler than I anticipated. There are only two witnesses involved, the victim and a bystander. Any contested evidence from either party?”
“None, Your Honor.”
Following Hyun-seong’s response, Yi-soo stepped forward to address the court. The judge, his gaze prompting her to proceed, fixed his attention on her.
“With your permission, I’d like to introduce a final witness.”
Objection came promptly from Hyun-seong. “I object, Your Honor. This witness wasn’t part of the prearranged list. Scheduling an additional examination would be…”
Yi-soo swiftly interjected. “Your Honor, due to the witness confirming their availability in court only late last night, the application was unavoidably delayed. We request your understanding in this matter.”
“Both the defense and prosecution, approach the bench.”
At the judge’s directive, Hyun-seong rose from his seat and exchanged a look with Yi-soo. While she felt the weight of his gaze, she maintained her composure as she walked towards the judge’s bench.
As they drew closer, the presiding judge deactivated the microphone in front of him and let out a resigned sigh. “Let’s strive to file these applications in advance whenever possible, Prosecutor. You’re not new to trials. You should be well aware of the protocols.”
“I apologize, Your Honor.”
The judge’s gaze held a touch of reprimand, but Yi-soo met it with an understanding nod.
“Is this witness crucial to the case?” the judge inquired.
“Yes, Your Honor,” Yi-soo replied, “this individual is currently the sole eyewitness to the incident. I believe their testimony will wield a considerable impact on this trial.”
Upon the mention of an eyewitness, a flicker of intrigue danced across Hyun-seong’s features. Despite exhaustive reviews of both black box footage and CCTV recordings, there had been no indication of anyone passing by at the time of the incident. They had even gone as far as checking nearby cafes, only to find no one who could verify Jae-young’s alleged assault on the victim.
His typically controlled demeanor was momentarily disrupted by surprise. The head judge, sensing this, cleared his throat and affirmed, “Very well. Then, once we’ve questioned the victim and the medical expert, we’ll proceed directly to the witness testimony. You both may return to your seats.”
“Thank you, Your Honor,” Yi-soo replied with a nod.
Hyun-seong murmured a concurrence, “…Yes.”
Unforeseen as the request for a witness was, it was undeniable that the sole eyewitness needed to present their account of the case. Adjusting his tie with a slight tug, Hyun-seong returned to his seat as the defense attorney. Had he ever felt so stifled by the formality of a necktie over the course of his career?
In due course, the examination of the victim commenced. Dong-yeong recounted the assault he had endured, his testimony aligning with his recollection to the best of his abilities. Subsequently, the medical expert provided their analysis, delivering their professional judgment without embellishment. The extent of the injuries was pronounced – a span of twelve weeks of healing lay ahead. Based on the fractures and contusions, they affirmed that the victim had endured a severe assault, likely inflicted with a golf club.
Up to this point…
Yi-soo’s heartbeat quickened as she internally steadied herself. She stole a glance towards the spectator seats. Nervous anticipation etched across Gi Dong-yeong’s face, and seated behind him was Su-bin, whose presence Yi-soo had personally secured. At that very moment, the commanding voice of the presiding judge reverberated throughout the courtroom.
“Yes… Now, please bring in the eyewitness.”
Upon this directive, Su-bin approached the witness stand with a mixture of apprehension and resolve. The presiding judge proceeded with the customary formalities.
“Witness, if your testimony would incriminate you in any criminal activity, you hold the right to refuse to testify. Is such a situation applicable?”
“Very well. You may now recite the oath.”
“According to my conscience, I will speak the truth, without omission or falsehood, and I solemnly swear to accept the penalty for perjury should I lie…”
Perhaps owing to nerves or the weight of the moment, Su-bin’s voice quivered slightly towards the oath’s conclusion. With the judge’s permission granted, Yi-soo stood and advanced towards the front of the witness stand. Though she knew what answer awaited, this remained the most tension-filled instant. At last, she inquired, her voice unwavering.
“On the evening of July 13th, around 10:30 PM, were you present at a cafe situated across from the scene?”
“Did you bear witness to the defendant, Seo Jae-young, engaging in an assault against the victim, Gi Dong-yeong?”
This was the pivotal query that underpinned the entirety of the trial’s proceedings. With a reassuring yet watchful tone, Yi-soo posed the question while intently studying Su-bin’s countenance. Despite the palpable tension in the air, Su-bin’s lips appeared dry, a manifestation of the strain this environment had imposed upon her.
Several moments of hushed anticipation ticked by, and then, like a cautious tide, Su-bin’s voice finally broke through.
“Yes. I witnessed it.”
It was a response delivered with an unflinching calmness. Yi-soo exhaled a controlled breath, readying herself for the next inquiry as she flipped through her notes. Yet, before she could proceed, Su-bin’s voice resounded once more.
With each passing word, Yi-soo’s brow furrowed imperceptibly.
What is happening?