The Accused

How the hell do you interrogate an android accused of a crime? I’ve interrogated gang members, crime lords, street thugs, husbands and wives, scared kids, every kind of person accused of the ultimate crime: murder. You can tell whether someone’s guilty by their eyes. This was my first android. His eyes were unblinking, uncommunicative.  Blank. Nobody home.

My partner Charlene Asher and I were on duty when an android surrendered to our desk sergeant. Asher escorted him/her/it into the interrogation room while I gathered my thoughts. It didn’t take long. I just decided to ignore the android aspect and focus on a potential criminal.

“My name is Detective Forsythe,” I said as I sat down across from him. His face was designed to simulate a human face and display a nonthreatening countenance. It was working, sort of. There was nothing to indicate the android was nervous, afraid, belligerent. There was just nothing, no emotion at all, which was very unsettling. I solve crimes by reading suspects. This one was a closed book. I suspect if I opened the cover the pages would be blank.

“You have the right to remain silent,” I said. As I took a breath to continue the android finished the Miranda warning precisely.

“Do you understand these rights?” I asked.

“Perfectly,” the android said.

“What’s your name?”

“I have no name. My serial number is ACL-38-2018. My owner called me several things. The most frequent name he used for me, at least that can be repeated in polite company, is Webster.”

“Webster?” I wrote it down.

“Like the dictionary.” There wasn’t a particle of emotion in face or voice. I wondered if this answer was real, but it didn’t matter.

“Why did you turn yourself in?” I started an obvious question that might get me some information.

The face remained impassive but the mouth spoke.

“My owner has been murdered. I knew you would suspect me. I have means, motive and opportunity. There is no other obvious suspect. I wanted to proclaim my innocence.”

Asher cleared her throat, her sign I should continue.

“OK, let’s start with the murder. Who is your owner?”

“Sebastian Saratov.”

Oh, shit. The head of one of the most vicious Russian gangs on the eastern seaboard. He lived here in the hinterlands and posed as a philanthropist. Police up and down the coast had dealt with his underlings. His death was going to unleash a war for control of his territory.

“Has anyone else reported the murder?”

“A young woman found him dead and called it in to the emergency line.”

“Do you have a name for this young woman?”

“I believe she called herself Jasmine.”

“Called herself?” Asher interrupted. Her turn.

“I suspect that is not her real name.”

“You mentioned means, motive and opportunity,” she said. “How did he die?” We’d get that info later from the medical examiner but it’s always useful to get a suspect talking.

“He was stabbed with a large knife from the kitchen. I found it embedded in his body.”

“How did you stab him?” Charl asked.

“I did not. It would have been a violation of the first law, our most sacred directive.”

“Listen, Webster,” Charl said, leaning forward and invading what for a person would be personal space. “That doesn’t impress me. Every day we deal with people who violate our most sacred directive: thou shalt not kill.”