April 11, 2088
Tallahassee FL–A divided Florida Supreme Court today upheld the capital murder conviction of two-year old Jake Fritter, permitting the state to proceed with its plans to execute him at 12:01 am on May 1st.
A jury convicted Fritter last January of the murder of two Dade County police officers during a foiled convenience store robbery, a robbery that was not to have taken place for nearly 30 years. Under controversial new evidence rules, the prosecution introduced detailed evidence of Fritter’s future crimes obtained through use of “temporal networking” equipment supplied by research and financial services giant Futurefeedforward. “This is a big ruling for the good guys,” notes Assistant District Attorney Gerry Freon. “With the admissibility of evidence like this, we’ll be able to prosecute perpetrators before they’ve committed their crimes, increasing the effectiveness of the System in deterring crime and saving the victims from unneeded suffering.”
The evidence that convicted Fritter, including high-resolution surveillance videos of the crime, was obtained using special computer networking equipment that permits communication between present-day and “future-side” computers. “The evidence was of the best quality imaginable, very detailed, very concrete, very graphic,” explains Freon. “It wasn’t really as difficult as we anticipated to persuade the jury of the reality of a crime which hadn’t yet happened. The real trick was to establish identity, to convince the jury that the cute little toddler they saw at the defense table was the same person they saw, thirty years older, in the video evidence.”
Speaking at a press conference after the ruling, Fritter defense attorney Lillian Cree descried the Court’s validation of the use of evidence of future crimes and vowed to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. “This is a travesty, yet another case of the accused being persecuted because the legal system doesn’t yet know how to deal with a new technology. We haven’t yet had a chance for deliberate, democratic dialog on the weight that should be afforded evidence of this sort. My client has been convicted on the basis of evidence of a crime that, if the sentence is carried out, we know will never happen. Is that justice?”
“It’s not as confusing as the defense wants us to think,” retorts ADA Freon. “We can’t very well ignore a crime we know is going to happen. To do so would make us accessories of a sort. The fact that a proactive prosecution prevents the underlying crime justifies the sentence that much more. The challenge presented by a case like this is more subtle. Because establishing identity was so essential to the case, we were able to justify delving into a number of Fritter’s ‘prior bad acts.’ We had to construct his entire future criminal career, create a sort of ‘chain of custody,’ in order to prove that the perp in the tapes is the Fritter we have in custody today. That let the jury hear lots of things about him that they probably wouldn’t have normally heard. In this case it was justified, but would it be so in all cases? I don’t know.”
Fritter’s case has spawned a storm of litigation involving Futurefeedforward, the supplier of the temporal network used to gather evidence against Fritter. “Our contract with the State of Florida specifically prohibits use of our system for purposes of this sort,” notes a company spokesman. “The State is in breach of the licensing agreement, and we have initiated suit to compel Florida to live up to its commitments.” In addition to commercial suits against Dade County and the State of Florida, the company is also contesting a host of subpoenas from prosecutors around the country seeking evidence of future crimes.
Fritter’s mother, Abigail Fritter, returning from a court-authorized visit to her son’s death row cell, broke down. “He seems to be holding up pretty well. He’s got his ‘blankie.’ I asked him did he want anything. He just looked at me and said ‘Happy Meal.’ […] Is this right? Is this America? Jake’s going to die for killing somebody who hasn’t even been born yet. I heard they asked for a warrant before Jakey was even born. This is wrong. This is evil. I’m not going to let this happen!”
Inside Florida State Prison, death row officials have begun construction of a miniature electric chair to accommodate Fritter.