"Thirteen Cuts" is a short story from the Starbreaker saga, set after Nationfall but decades before the events of the Great Defiance.
I wrote this in 2018 after a couple of years of writers' block and several months of supporting my wife through a mastectomy and a course of chemotherapy after a diagnosis of breast cancer.
The story was inspired by a discussion on social media about the implication of holding jurors personally and criminally responsible if they convict a defendant who turns out to have not been guilty after all.
Wrongful incarceration isn't fictional; it happens entirely too often, which is why we have organizations like the Innocence Project.
In the world of the Starbreaker saga, capital punishment is administered by the judge and jury who convicted the defendant and condemned them to death. They don't get to simply wash their hands of the consequences of their actions. While this system was intended to raise the stakes to a level that deterred juries from condemning people to death on shaky evidence, there are unintended consequences.
Looking back, there's a song by a NWOBHM band called Satan that would go well with this story.