I am Phoenix Wright, an attorney who is considered the best in the world. My current case involves a football player accused of two counts of first degree murder. He had allegedly killed his wife and her lover after discovering them together when returning home. After leading the police on a high speed car chase, he surrendered himself to the authorities.

My client, Mr.{redacted} claims to have been possessed by a demon at the time of the murders, and had been controlled by the malevolent spirit for some time before them. After the murders, the spirit left his body, dumping him with the responsibility while cackling that nobody would believe his story. As he was not in control of his actions, we plan to present this as evidence to the courts.

The existence of demons have been known to the public for some time, as they have occasionally crossed the barrier separating our world from theirs. They manifest in physical forms to wreck havoc on society, only burning into ash after they have sustained significant damage. They are also known to possess living organisms. However, humans that have been killed while being possessed also burn to ash, leaving behind only a blackened stain on the ground. No documented cases exist in which a human survived possession, as they are usually killed in the pursuant conflict with authorities.

An ancient religious text speaks of a part-time carpenter turned messiah who once exorcised a demon called "legion" from the body of a young man. Various other texts speak of exorcisms by holy men to free people from possession. However, in my research both historical and folkloric, I have found no information on how to determine if someone was possessed by a demon after the fact. This would make proving my client innocent rather difficult.

Is there any way to test whether or not a person has been possessed after the evil spirit leaves them in order to exonerate my client?

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    $\begingroup$ Uh, do you want there to be a test? Then you can have one. $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2020 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ Have you actually researched how the Catholic Church makes such determinations? Maybe this is a question for Christianity.SE although I would omit the sarcasm there... $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Jan 10, 2020 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ How is this about worldbuilding? To me it sounds like a "I need help with my plot" $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jan 10, 2020 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ Have your client pretend that the gloves don't fit, and spend a lot of time confusing the jury about the reliability of DNA evidence. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jan 10, 2020 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ @workerjoe interesting tidbid - exorcism was extremely rare practice by the Catholic church. The manual for "how to do exorcism" even explicitly said that this should be the last thing to try after factoring out mental illnesses and similar problems with the mind. The exorcism cases saw a dramatic increase only relatively recently - from 1973 onwards. It's no coincidence, either - that's when the movie The Exorcist came out. Until then, nobody had really asked for an exorcism for quite a long time. When the request came pouring in, the priests had to re-learn the rites. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 10, 2020 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


The answer is no, unless you want your story to be extremely boring. (It further does not make sense that there would be a method if no one has survived possession before, since who could know of such a method?)

A better method is for Phoenix Wright to establish the demon as a better suspect than your client. For example, by showing the demon has a motive for the killings, has done similar things before, and so on, and if possible, summoning the demon to the stand.

If the public know of the existence of demons, then it follows that it should be legally acceptable to have them as the culprit in a murder. The real-world standard that declaring a super-natural explanation is invalid as a defense would not apply.

  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea of summoning the demon in the courtroom. Of course in no way will that go wrong... $\endgroup$
    – Riddles
    Jan 10, 2020 at 16:29

It's up to you as the author to define whether there is some forensic way to prove a demonic possession after it has run its course.

If demonic possession alters the outward appearance of a person (slit pupils, longer nails, pointy teeth) during it, then security cameras might be an option.

Blood spilled during possession might have different qualities. Maybe the possession also has a smell and you could detect traces of some unworldly substance.

As a last resource have a priest examine the defendant. Depending on how much of a theocracy the state is, you might just be able to win the case. And in a world where demons are considered to be a real thing, people are more likely to believe priests. I would totally believe in a priest if the supernatural entities of their creed manifested themselves physically in such an explicit way as demons do in the scenario you propose.


However, humans that have been killed while being possessed also burn to ash, leaving behind only a blackened stain on the ground

What about parts of humans?

Whereas humans leave DNA evidence behind at a crime scene, this DNA is from dead tissue, so would it not burn to ash? Therefore the existence of traces of ash is evidence that the person was possessed at the time of the crime.

Even better if the ash can be analysed and it can be determined that it is possession ash (e.g. former human tissue) and he didn't just pick up a pinch or two from the fireplace and spread it around...


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