In Monster by Walter Dean Myers, what are some of the reasons why Steve Harmon is pronounced not guilty/innocent?

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In Monster , while Steve Harmon is pronounced "not guilty," he is definitely not pronounced "innocent." While that is not the heart of this question, it is worth mentioning. Steve doesn’t go to prison at the end of the story, but every one of his relationships is changed by the...

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In Monster, while Steve Harmon is pronounced "not guilty," he is definitely not pronounced "innocent." While that is not the heart of this question, it is worth mentioning. Steve doesn’t go to prison at the end of the story, but every one of his relationships is changed by the accusation and trial. His parents see him differently, his lawyer doesn’t want to associate with him, and people look at him as a monster despite the verdict. Along with that, the court cannot pronounce someone innocent—that is not something any court of law can do.

Why was he given the not guilty verdict? The plainest answer is that the prosecution really had a terrible case. Their evidence almost entirely focused on James King, which is why he was found guilty in the end, but Steve is almost shoehorned into the trail as an attempt by the prosecutor to punish someone for the murder. Steve is only nominally connected to the murder, there isn’t clear evidence that he was the lookout, and the prosecution doesn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he played a part. The only real evidence against Steve was that two of the people who participated said he did as well, but they couldn’t explain how his part in the crime was supposed to work, and they didn’t share any of the spoils with him after the robbery. Ultimately, the only reason Steve would have been found guilty was that he was a black young man and the system was stacked against him before the trial.

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The main reason that I believe Steve Harmon was found not guilty is because there was a general lack of evidence showing that Steve actually did something. The jury is told that Steve was supposed to be the lookout and give a signal, but even Evans confirms that Steve gave no such signal. The fact that Steve received no portion of the robbery money is also solid evidence that even the criminals did not think that Steve played any part in the robbery.

There is always the chance that Steve is guilty, but the main evidence to that would be the fact that he occasionally hung out with people like Evans and King. That may cast suspicion on Steve, but it hardly proves he had anything to do with the murder. Based on the evidence alone, readers are not likely to think Steve is guilty; however, the narrative point of view is Steve's point of view. He repeatedly considers whether or not he is a monster rather than firmly believing he is a good kid and played no part. This causes readers to always wonder if he really did play more of a part than he let on.

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There are two real reasons that Steve Harmon is found not guilty of the robbery and murder. First, Bobo and Osvaldo both claim that Steve was supposed to be the lookout and not inside of the drugstore during the robbery. However, both of these witnesses prove to be unreliable. Steve testifies that he was simply walking around for a school project, which does help his cause, but Lorelle Henry and her testimony that Steve was never in the store before the murder greatly help prove his innocence. Likewise, Mr. Sawicki's testimony also greatly helps Steve. His discussion of Steve's character and his description of Steve being such an outstanding individual truly help Steve's case. Steve's own testimony, along with Lorelle's and Mr. Sawicki's, allows Steve to walk free.

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There are several reasons why Steve Harmon is found not guilty in the robbery and murder of Aguinaldo Nesbitt. Both Osvaldo Cruz and Richard "Bobo" Evans testify that Steve Harmon was supposed to be the lookout. However, they are both excepting plea bargains for their testimonies and are considered unreliable witnesses. Richard "Bobo" Evans testifies that he did not have a conversation with Steve about Steve's job in the robbery, and Steve did not receive a portion of the stolen money. Evans also says that Steve was supposed to give a signal when he left the drugstore, but did not. The only reliable witness, Lorelle Henry, testifies that Steve Harmon was not in the drugstore immediately before the robbery took place. Steve Harmon testifies that he was walking around the neighborhood looking for a good place to film for his next school project. Mr. Sawicki, Steve's teacher, takes the witness stand and comments on Steve's outstanding character, which distances him from the other individuals involved in the crime. When the jury takes into account Steve's upstanding character, coupled with Henry's testimony that he wasn't present in the drugstore before the robbery, they find Steve Harmon not guilty.

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