UNITED STATES—I promised in my last column that there were fireworks during deliberation when I served jury duty for the umpteenth time. Never have I encountered a deliberation like this people. Tensions were high, people were invested and opinions were heard. After closing arguments, we were taken to the jury room to begin our deliberation in the case as the bailiff gave instructions on what do to if we have a question we want the court to answer.
First, we had to select a Forman to speak on behalf of the jury. No one wanted to volunteer, so a woman who previously served as a Forman during her first time serving on a jury stepped to the plate. We received that binder with all the details about the case and clear instructions on making a decision on the four counts.
I must say the legal jargon at times when you are dealing with the courts can be frustrating and hard to decipher at times. We go over all the instructions so we have a clear understanding what we need to do. I’m glad we did that as it made the actual deliberation process a bit easier. With that said, we only had about 25 to 30 minutes to deliberate the first day as we were expected to be released by 4 p.m. per the judge and he held true to that promise. So we have to return another day for jury duty to continue our deliberation.
The great thing about returning the next day is we had our badges, we didn’t have to wait in that massive line and we could head straight into the courtroom. Well not exactly, we were to start at 9 a.m., but as always procedural stuff was transpiring, so we didn’t start prompt at 9, but maybe 10 to 15 minutes later and we were immediately ushered into the jury room to continue deliberation. The day before we read all four counts we had to determine rather guilty or not guilty. The first one was decisive so we put that on hold and went looking at the other 3 counts: all involving felony counts of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm with a weapon.
These counts were not as difficult to determine because of the lack of evidence presented in the case. There was no clear evidence the defendant had a gun in his possession and it was used during the assault. The victim stated he was carrying a pistol the entire day, however, no gun of that magnitude was found at the scene. No prints, no pics, nothing. If there was blood on the gun, DNA from the defendant on the sawed off shotgun at the scene, as jurors we might be able to make a connection, but we had none of that. So we had to vote the defendant was not guilty on counts 2, 3 and 4.
Then we return to count one that was the most contentious as we are discussing various scenarios, various predicaments and people are giving their opinions on the matter. The first count was assault with intent to commit great bodily harm. Almost the entire jury thought he was not guilty on this count; however, myself and another juror had other thoughts. There was a third juror who also felt the same way, but was slightly afraid to speak up. However, the older gentlemen argued there was no way this guy was not guilty of committing assault and I felt the same way. We had testimony from the victim and pictures of the injuries she sustained during the incident. The other members of the jury were arguing the defendant was defending himself in self-defense. So I posed the question: show me that? Prove to me that self-defense was at hand.
What injuries did he sustain? If he went to the hospital, where is the medical report? If his aunt testified she saw him get struck by the victim, why didn’t she and her nephew stay at the scene until the authorities arrived on scene? Do you see, there are loopholes here people? The evidence just wasn’t there to prove self-defense, not to mention this victim had her teeth knocked out and bite marks on her arm that were visible. The one juror got loud and boisterous when talking about the defendant. He was not buying that this guy was not guilty and I was in agreement and I let my voice be heard based on the evidence in front of us.
Should the juror gotten loud and a bit dismissive? No, because it led to others feeling attacked and belittled; this was not good! Emotions were heightened and people felt how they felt and personally I love that in a jury. I wanted everyone to take this seriously and that’s what was taking place. We start to describe the scenarios, as one juror brought up the victim trying to call for help after the defendant refused to leave her vehicle, but he kept grabbing at her phone. It clicked, she likely had her phone in the car, which explains why she got back into the vehicle as she needed to call for help and considering they were both drinking, that prompted him to attempt to get her phone out of her hands as she described while testifying.
He couldn’t move his legs so he started to bite her arms and that all culminated with him likely punching her in the mouth knocking her teeth out. Light bulbs go off; as a jury of 12 with 3 people voting guilty, and the other 9 not saying guilty, things start to shift towards guilty votes. Except for one juror who was still not convinced, but our goal was not to persuade her it was for her to look at the evidence and prove beyond a reasonable doubt self-defense transcribed for the defendant. Guess what? She wasn’t able to prove it, neither was the defense and we come to a unanimous decision.
The decision on the four counts is written on a piece of paper, which is passed off to the bailiff who presents the information to the judge. We wait before we are summoned back to the courtroom. It is time for the verdict to be announced people, and remind you there are more people in the courtroom then when we first entered.