The first day of the trial is adjourned. Back at the detention center, Steve overhears a fellow inmate being beaten and sexually assaulted. He dreams of watching television at home with his eleven-year-old brother, Jerry. Steve writes in his journal, and explains how he feels as if he is watching his trial from a distance instead of being directly implicated. Another inmate named Sunset reads Steve’s screenplay.
Steve tells the story of a preacher coming to visit the prison. Although Steve is at first excited to meet with the preacher, his feelings are interrupted by the outbursts of Lynch, a fellow inmate on trial for killing his wife. Lynch explains that everyone’s desire to meet with the preacher is rooted in each prisoner’s denial of their own lack of morals. Steve begins to question what it means to be a good person. At night, Steve has a bad dream. In this dream, Steve is in the courtroom attempting to ask questions. Although he is screaming in his dream, no one hears him.
The trial resumes. Petrocelli calls Detective Karyl to the stand to testify about the crime scene. The detective explains that when he arrived at the scene, Mr. Nesbitt was already deceased. In addition, he found that the cash register was open. The Detective was then tipped off by Zinzi, who explained that he knew what happened with the cigarettes stolen from the register.
At the 28th precinct, Steve is being interrogated by Detective Karyl. Steve repeatedly denies his involvement in the crime, but Detective Karyl is insistent. Detective Williams, one of Detective Karyl’s colleagues, urges his partner to stop being so hard on Steve. Detective Karyl rebuts and explains that Mr. Nesbitt was a very respected man in his local community. For this reason, the accused are eligible to receive the death sentence. Steve grimaces as he imagines himself on death row.
On the witness stand, Detective Karyl explains to Briggs that there were no fingerprints found at the crime scene. Inside the jail, Steve speaks to an older prisoner. The prisoner explains that Steve has a very small chance of walking free. Inside the courtroom, O’Brien tells Steve that no facts have clearly pointed to Steve’s innocence. Steve grows nervous at O’Brien’s comment.
In a flashback sequence, Steve sits on a stoop with fourteen-year-old Osvaldo Cruz. Osvaldo calls Steve insulting names, insinuating that Steve has a reputation of being weak despite hanging around some “tough guys.” The scene then transitions to Osvaldo on the witness stand. Osvaldo claims that he participated as a lookout boy in the robbery because he was threatened by Bobo. Osvaldo also explains that he is testifying because he is getting a deal from the government. During Osvaldo’s cross-examination, O’Brien brings up the fact that Osvaldo is a member of a violent street gang called the Diablos. This point casts doubt on Osvaldo’s innocence and his alleged fear of Bobo.
Steve’s journal entry suggests his discouragement about his case. Steve writes that the prisoner in the next cell is expecting a verdict. Steve’s neighbor’s uncertainty compounds Steve's own anxiety. He begins to think about his life at home, particularly about his mother’s warmth. Steve also writes that O’Brien placed the photos of the crime scene in front of Steve in order to analyze his reaction and thus evaluate his morality.
The reader is prompted to evaluate the differences between Steve’s journal entries and Steve’s screenplay. In Steve’s journal entries, he candidly delves into his emotional health and his suffering. He expresses his anxieties about his court case, his fears of familial abandonment, and his speculations about his attorney’s opinions of his character. Steve even explains his most psychologically trying times, such as when he experiences dissociative episodes or has suicidal ideations.
Steve’s screenplay, however, is a highly dramatized version of his reality. As the screenplay continues, we understand Steve’s trial from a somewhat fictionalized perspective. Steve himself explains that the screenplay is the only thing that is keeping him sane during his trying times. However, we also notice that the screenplay prevents Steve from truly seeing his situation as it is. Through the lens of the screenplay, Steve feels as though he is watching his trial from a third-person, omniscient perspective. This prompts the reader to ask the following questions: is the screenplay merely a form of delusion? Is it a positive thing if Steve is deluded?
In the second day of the trial, we also learn more about the murder of Aguinaldo Nesbitt. As the detectives are called to testify, we learn about the ambiguity of the American legal system. Because there are no fingerprints at the scene of the crime, there is no concrete or scientific evidence that connects a particular suspect to the murder. However, the jurors are pressured to convict a suspect regardless of the lack of concrete evidence. In this way, the novel explores the danger of ambiguity.
Steve’s first nightmare provides valuable insight into his psyche. In particular, this dream is a projection of Steve’s feelings throughout the course of the court proceedings. Due to the judicial process, Steve is unable to independently and candidly express himself. Rather, he must relinquish control and rely on O'Brien to tell his story. Steve feels trapped in his own thoughts, which further exacerbates his feeling of isolation.
Finally, the introduction of Osvaldo Cruz’s character introduces the reader to the theme of deceit. Cruz is a perfect demonstration of the selfishness and untrustworthiness of all of the witnesses called to testify. No one can be trusted, as nearly everyone has made a deal with a lawyer to exchange testimony for a sentence reduction. The pervasiveness of deceit reiterates the inhumane conditions rampant in United States prisons. Prisoners are forced to resort to survival tactics and act immorally in order to catch a break.