Chapter 3 Summary

The third chapter opens with Harmon explaining in his diary that they take away the inmates’ shoelaces and belts so inmates cannot commit suicide. He concludes that “making you live is part of the punishment.” There are many punishments in prison. Harmon explains that before he is able to talk to a preacher, the other inmates start to harass the minister so he will leave. The guards escort the preacher out and then turn off the television and send the inmates back to their cells as punishment.

Harmon says he is starting to feel detached from his trial. He argues:

The lawyers and the judge and everybody are doing a job that involves me, but I don’t have a role.

When the trial starts, one of the court officers is complaining that he and his wife have termites in their house. They wonder what a termite looks like and O’Brien explains that they look like ants with wings. The judge wonders why termites have wings if they spend their life inside of wood. The casual routine of the scene stands in stark contrast to Harmon’s life-or-death thoughts while in prison. He seems to have entered an entirely different world.

After the trial is back in session, Petrocelli continues building a case that will link Harmon and John King to the murder. She interviews the detectives, who walk the jury through the steps of the investigation. Upon cross-examination, Briggs establishes that there is no physical evidence, including fingerprints, linking King and Harmon to the crime. Briggs suggests that the police have failed to find evidence; therefore, their case relies on the testimony of criminals seeking to reduce their sentences.

The second witness is Osvaldo Cruz, a fourteen-year-old boy. There is a flashback in which Osvaldo is teasing Steve because he does not have the heart to be anything but a “lame.” In fact, Steve might be “hanging out with some people, but when the deal goes down, you won’t be around.” In court, he testifies that he was afraid of Bobo Evans, James King, and Steve Harmon and that he only participated in the robbery because he was worried about what they would do to him. However, Briggs begins to object to the prosecution’s questions until the trial is ended for the day.

O’Brien explains to Harmon that the prosecution is trying to tie him to the crime in the minds of the jurors. However, when he looks at them, he has a different interpretation. He thinks Petrocelli is parading all of these disreputable witnesses so they will look terrible. As a result, the jury will start to notice that he and King look very similar to these criminals. Regardless of what is happening, O’Brien does not think things are looking good for her client.