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Entries in Jurors (10)

Sunday
May262013

Jodi Arias Jurors: 'She Is Sentenced to Death No Matter What'

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Three jurors from the Jodi Arias trial said the sentencing phase was "absolutely awful" after they were unable agree on whether the woman they had found guilty of first-degree murder should get the death penalty or life in prison.

"We can't come to a decision, and it was gut-wrenching. It was absolutely awful," said Diane Schwartz, a retired 911 operator, who for the duration of the five month trial was known as Juror No. 6.

The jury took a short time to convict Arias of first-degree murder in the 2008 shooting and stabbing death of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, but when it came to the sentencing phase, they were split.
Schwartz, along with fellow jurors Kevin Spellman and Marilou Allen-Coogan, spoke exclusively with ABC News about the grave responsibility that they said ended with a deadlock of eight jurors voting in favor of the death penalty and four supporting life in prison for Arias. All three said they favored giving Arias the death penalty.

"It was a very trying experience," said Spellman, a banker who was known as Juror No. 13. "How do you weigh a person's life?"

Arias, 32, had been branded a liar by the prosecution because she initially denied killing Alexander, then claimed two years later that she killed him in self-defense, citing Alexander's physical and emotional abuse.

Some of the most intense moments during the trial came over the 18 days when Arias took the stand and described her relationship with Alexander.

"Based on what we saw and the evidence presented, it was very apparent that we weren't being told the truth in a lot of the matters, and there was a lot of cover-up," Allen-Coogan said, adding that she believed Arias was playing to the jury.

"The state proved their case. It was premeditated," she said.

After three days of deliberations, the jury's hung verdict was read Thursday, leaving the case open and the jury dismissed.

"I felt like we had failed the system," Schwartz said. "As I walked out, I remember looking towards the prosecution table. I thought, 'They won't even look at us.'

"I immediately, as I was stepping down, told them, 'I'm sorry,'" she said. "It was heartfelt because I was. I was very sorry."

Despite the deadlock, Spellman said he believes no matter what sentence Arias receives, she is dying.
"She is sentenced to death no matter what," he said.

Arias' fate is now left up to the prosecutor, who will decide whether to retry the penalty phase. If he decides to try again for the death penalty, a new jury will be selected and both the prosecution and defense will present evidence and arguments over what sentence Arias should receive.

The retrial, in which Arias could either be sentenced to death or to life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole, would begin July 18.

If the prosecution chooses not to retry the penalty phase, Arias will get life in prison, either with or without parole.

The prosecutor's office has not yet decided what it plans to do.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar062013

Jurors' Questions Betray Suspicions About Jodi Arias

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Questions posed by jurors to accused murderer Jodi Arias Wednesday showed skepticism toward many of Arias' claims about her relationship with ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander and the alleged confrontation that resulted in his death.

Members of the jury submitted more than 100 questions to Judge Sherry Stephens after Arias finished testifying in direct and cross examination. Arias, 32, is charged with murder in Alexander's death and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Arizona is one of three states that allow the jury to ask questions of witnesses on the stand.

The jurors asked Arias why she never took photos of the bruising she claims she suffered at the hands of Alexander, never reported his allegedly abusive behavior to police, and carried on a relationship with him despite her claim that he was sexually interested in young boys.

They also asked specific questions about the incident in which Arias killed Alexander during a violent confrontation at his Mesa, Ariz., home in June 2008. She stabbed him, slashed his throat, and shot him in what she claims was self-defense.

"Did Travis' closet doors have locks? If not, how did you get the gun down from the shelf if he was right behind you?" Stephens read from the question card.

"I don't recall there being locks. I don't know if he was right behind me, I just had the sense he was chasing me," Arias responded.

Arias was then asked to explain the confrontation using a map of Alexander's bathroom and bedroom.

The questions, which are expected to continue Thursday, are the final part of Arias' time on the stand. She has been testifying for 16 days.

The questions offer a glimpse into the thinking of the jury as the case winds toward its conclusion and jurors are forced to weigh the evidence in what could be a death penalty case.

She is accused of premeditated murder for the death of Alexander. The pair had dated for a year and then continued to sleep together for another year until Alexander's death, according to testimony.

During her testimony, Arias has claimed that she was forced to kill Alexander after he flew into a violent rage during an argument and allegedly threatened to kill her. During her days on the stand, Arias portrayed Alexander as increasingly demanding, abusive, and sexually deviant. The prosecution countered with photographic -- sometimes pornographic -- evidence Arias was apparently a very willing participant.

The jury is currently made up of 18 people, four of whom are alternates, in case one of the official 12 jurors falls ill or has to be excused from the jury ahead of deliberations.

The jury is made up of seven women, all in their thirties and forties, and 11 men, nine of whom are over the age of 40.

The jurors have been outspoken in asking questions of previous witnesses, submitting them on written cards that are then read aloud by the judge.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun012012

John Edwards Jurors Explain Why Guilty Verdicts Weren’t Possible

Courtroom Sketch by Christine Cornell(NEW YORK) -- The jurors in the John Edwards trial spoke Friday morning for the first time about their nine days of deliberations that resulted in a not guilty verdict on only one count and a mistrial on the remaining counts.

One of the jurors, Theresa Fuller, told ABC News' Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos that she didn’t even think the case should have come to trial at all.  

“I felt like the evidence just wasn’t there.  It could have been more.  It could have been a lot more than what it was,” she said.

Despite the inability to reach a unanimous decision on most of the counts, the five jurors who appeared on GMA, including two alternates, were in good spirits about their experience in the highly dramatic case.

Jonathan Nunn, a juror and a maintenance specialist at the University of North Carolina, explained why he was unconvinced of Edwards' guilt in taking illegal campaign contributions in order to hide his pregnant girlfriend.

“In my opinion, it was personal gifts,” Nunn said.

Another juror, Sheila Lockwood, a telephone operator in a hospital, said she felt that because the money didn’t go to Edwards directly, she could not find him guilty.

“I just felt that he didn’t receive any of the money so you can’t really charge him for money that he got.  He didn’t even get the money so I just didn’t think he was guilty,” she said.

The 12 jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict and some stood their ground in opposition to Nunn and Lockwood.  Nunn says it occasionally grew tense in the jury room.

“There was a couple of times that it did but at the end of the day we were all just one big happy family and that’s the way we tried to keep it.  We tried to keep level-headed.  So at the end of the day everybody got along,” he said.

One of the strangest developments throughout the case were reports that one of the alternate jurors seemed to be flirting with Edwards.  That juror, Denise Speight, dismissed such assumptions with a laugh.

“I thought it was just the most funny thing I’ve ever heard.  Actually I was giggling over, I think, the media reaction when we walked into the courtroom over our outfits and color.  No intention of flirting with John Edwards and I don’t think he had any intentions of blushing or flirting back with me,” Speight, a pharmacist and mother, said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May302012

John Edwards Judge Lets Colorful Alternate Jurors Stay Home

Courtroom Sketch by Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The judge in the John Edwards campaign-finance trial Wednesday told a group of four alternate jurors known for wearing color-coordinated outfits that they no longer have to attend daily court sessions while the other 12 jurors deliberate.

Despite sitting through the entire month-long trial and being ordered to appear every day while the regular panel considers the evidence, the three women and one man who are alternates have had no input in those deliberations and are not permitted in the jury room.

The alternates last week began wearing matching clothes. They've appeared in court wearing matching yellow, red, black or gray, and purple outfits.

"We will miss your cheerful faces," Federal Judge Catherine Eagles told the alternates. "And we will regret not knowing the color for tomorrow."

Though they no longer have to attend the daily court sessions, the alternate jurors are still under orders not to discuss the case or give media interviews. They could also be called to take the place of a juror if one or more are unable to complete deliberations.

The panel has deliberated for 45 hours over eight days and through several delays.

Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate and former senator, is accused of using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy political backers to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter and their love child during his 2008 campaign.

If convicted Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison and could be fined as much as $1.5 million, although it is unlikely he would face the severest penalties.

Deliberations were briefly stalled Wednesday when the judge received a mysterious note from a juror, prompting a closed-door session to deal with the jury matter, the third such delay in as many days.

It is unknown what information was contained in the note.

Later in the day, the judge cleared the courtroom a second time to discuss the matter with lawyers for Edwards and the government.

The judge signaled Tuesday that potential scheduling conflicts could cause additional delays. Some jurors have requested time off for personal matters, like attending a child's high school graduation. The judge said she will soon have a meeting in her chambers to address those conflicts.

The regular panel of jurors ended their eighth day of deliberations Wednesday evening, adding to anxiety and anticipation surrounding the verdict.

Edwards and his legal team had, until Wednesday, waited out every day of deliberations from a second-floor room inside the courthouse. Early on, Edwards could sometimes be seen pacing the room and looking out the window at journalists assembled outside.

Edwards was not at the courthouse Wednesday morning, but came back following a lunch break.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May292012

John Edwards' Judge Quips, Lawyer Doesn't Laugh

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) --  John Edwards' lawyer dropped his head to his courtroom table in exasperation as jurors concluded a seventh day of deliberations without reaching a verdict in the former presidential candidate's mistress-and-money trial.

Judge Catherine Eagles inadvertently caused a small stir Tuesday afternoon when she entered the courtroom and announced, "The jury has sent a note that they've reached..."

After a long pause as lawyers and observers held their breath, she continued: "a good stopping point."

As the courtroom erupted in laughter, Edward's attorney, veteran lawyer Abbe Lowell, put his head on the defense table.

Eagles later apologized for the confusion, apparently making the joke inadvertently.

The brief moment of levity contrasted with a much darker mood earlier Tuesday when Eagles appeared to scold jurors, slightly delaying their ongoing deliberations.

Following the long weekend jurors returned Tuesday for a closed-door meeting with the judge. It is unclear what jurors did that Judge Catherine Eagles felt compelled to hold a closed-door session with them, the second such hearing since Friday.

When the court reconvened, Eagles gave a longer-than-normal speech to the jurors, reminding them to carefully choose their words, and not to discuss the trial in small groups or outside the jury room.

It raises the possibility that juror behavior could later be grounds for an appeal.

Jurors have deliberated the case for seven days, methodically working through six campaign-finance charges.

Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate and former senator, is accused of using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy political backers to hide his mistress and love child during his 2008 campaign.

The month-long trial concluded on May 18. A panel of eight men and four women have been deliberating ever since, breaking each day only for lunch.

If convicted Edwards face up to 30 years in prison and be fined as much as $1.5 million, although it is unlikely he would face the severest penalties.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

John Edwards Jurors Make Little Progress in Three Days of Deliberations

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The jury in the John Edwards mistress and money trial ended its third day of deliberations Tuesday after apparently making little progress, asking to review evidence that suggests they are still focused on just one or two of the six counts with which the former presidential candidate is charged.

The panel of eight men and four women has six felony charges to consider, each of which carries a maximum penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine. Edwards is accused of soliciting money from wealthy donors to conceal his mistress and love child during his 2008 bid for the White House.

For three days, observers have noted that jurors have requested evidence relating only to the second count, and perhaps the third, that deal specifically with money obtained from 101-year-old heiress and Edwards supporter Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

Tuesday evening, after nearly 16 hours of deliberations, jurors asked for two more exhibits related to Mellon. One exhibit was a letter from her lawyer Alex Forger to Edwards' aide Andrew Young. The second was a letter from Mellon to Forger.

Forger first learned that Mellon was writing checks to Young in 2007 and became suspicious about for whom the money was really intended.

Edwards was spotted waiting out the jury's decision in a second floor room of the courthouse. Reporters have spotted him pacing the room, looking out the window.

The government alleges in count two of the indictment that Edwards and Young illegally solicited the money from Mellon as part of the effort to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign.

Jurors were charged by federal Judge Catherine Eagles last Friday to first consider counts two through six of the indictment and consider the first count, dealing with conspiracy, last.

The counts the jury will consider in order are as follows:

Count 2: Illegal Campaign Contributions

During 2007 John Edwards, while a candidate for federal office, knowingly and willfully accepted and received contributions from Mellon in excess of the $4,600 limits of the Election Act (Mellon's checks in 2007 totaled $525,000).

Count 3: Illegal Campaign Contributions

Same charge and wording as count two but for calendar year 2008 (Mellon wrote one check in 2008 for $200,000).

Count 4: Illegal Campaign Contributions

Same charge and wording as count 2 but related to excess contributions from backer Fred Baron in 2007 ($61,942 in flights and hotel bills for mistress Rielle Hunter, Andrew Young and his family).

Count 5: Illegal Campaign Contributions

Same charge and wording as count two but related to contributions from Baron in 2008 ($131,143 in flights, hotel bills, home rental for the Youngs and Hunter -- the total also includes $10,000 in cash).

Count 6: False Statements

Edwards concealed from the John Edwards for President Committee hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mellon and Baron causing the committee to file FEC reports which failed to disclose those contributions

Count 1: Conspiracy

Edwards conspired with others to accept and receive excess contributions from Mellon and Baron. Edwards also concealed material facts from the John Edwards for President Committee causing the committee to file false and misleading campaign finance reports.

The jury will soon likely turn from contributions donated by Mellon to those given by Baron, before ultimately considering the conspiracy charge.

At the end of the day on Monday, the jurors informed the judge that they'd prefer to keep to a set schedule for deliberations, starting each day at 9:30 a.m. and calling it quits by about 4 p.m. The Middle District of North Carolina covers 24 counties and several of the jurors have long commutes to court each day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Petit Home Invasion Trial Hit with New Mistrial Request

Connecticut State Police(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Lawyers have asked for another mistrial in the death penalty trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky because a supporter of Komisarjevsky's alleged victims approached a juror.

Komisarjevsky, 31, faces 17 counts in the gruesome home invasion case that left the wife and two daughters of Dr. William Petit dead in the smoldering remains of their suburban Connecticut home.

A juror told Judge Jon C. Blue Monday morning that a Petit family supporter talked to him in the security line last week and said "Thank you for what you're doing" as they entered court.

The juror told Blue that the encounter did not have an impact on his ability to serve or to be impartial, but the defense immediately called for a mistrial.

Blue denied their request, but did issue a warning to courtroom spectators that they could not approach jurors for any reason.

Walter C. Bansley, a defense attorney, said that he did not believe Komisarjevsky could get a fair trial. Bansley called the spectator's actions part of a "pattern of intimidation" by Petit supporters.

It's the third time that Komisarjevsky's legal team has asked the court to declare a mistrial. They made the request last week after the Petit family arose en masse and walked out of court before the coroner gave detailed testimony of the autopsy of Petit's 11-year-old daughter Michaela.

It was the second time that the Petit family left the courtroom together before gruesome testimony began.

Defense attorney Jeremiah Donovan called the move a "stunt" last week and said it was highly prejudicial to his client. The judge rejected the request last week.

Blue also rejected a mistrial request last month when the judge stopped playing Komisarjevsky's recorded and very detailed confession of what happened in the Petit house because a juror appeared to be having trouble handling the gruesome details.

Komisarjevsky and his accomplice broke into the Petit family home in Cheshire, Conn., in the early morning hours of July 23, 2007.

According to prosecutors and testimony in Hayes' trial, they beat Dr. Petit with a baseball bat and tied him up. They raped and strangled Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48. The two daughters Hayley Petit, 17, and Michaela were tied to their beds for hours and terrorized. Komisarjevsky also admitted to sexually molesting Michaela Petit.

The house was doused with gasoline, including the girl's beds, and the home was set on fire. Dental records had to be used to identify Hawke-Petit's body. Experts have testified that the death of the young girls was likely agonizing. Pictures of the attractive, smiling family torn apart by this vicious crime have saturated Connecticut media for years.

Hayes was convicted last year for his role in the murders and given the death penalty. He is currently on Connecticut's death row.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul082011

Casey Anthony Judge Seals Jurors' Names to Protect Them

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The judge in the Casey Anthony case refused on Thursday to release the names of the jurors who acquitted the Florida mom of killing her daughter for fear that people upset with the controversial verdict might harm them.

During the trial, Judge Belvin Perry sealed the juror's names from public view and on Thursday he kept them sealed despite requests from media organizations to make them public.

"I feel for individuals who simply wanted to do their civic duty," the judge said.  "Our landscape in this country has changed.  People have no reservation…about walking up to an individual, pulling a gun or knife….and because they disagree with them, hurt them or kill them."

Protesters outside the courthouse on Thursday carried signs expressing their dismay that the jury acquitted Anthony, 25, of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.  As an example of public fury over the verdict, the Skyline Chili in Clearwater, Florida put up a sign that read, "Pinellas County jurors NOT Welcome!!!"

The Casey Anthony jury was selected from nearby Pinellas County because the court feared that it was impossible to get an unbiased jury in Orlando where the death occurred.

Anthony was found not guilty of murder, but she was found guilty of lying to police four times.  She is scheduled to be released from jail on July 17.

Two jurors have come forward to describe their anguish over their inability to find Anthony guilty of murder.

Jennifer Ford, who spoke exclusively to ABC News, believes that prosecutors could have won a guilty verdict if they had brought a lesser charge than first degree murder, which carried the possibility of the death penalty.

"If they charged her with other things, we probably could have gotten a guilty verdict, absolutely," Ford told ABC News on Thursday.  "But not for death, not for first-degree murder.  That's a very substantial charge."

Ford said the prosecution's case left too many holes for her and the other 11 members of the jury to know for certain that Anthony killed her daughter.

"I can't find her guilty of a crime if I'm not sure a crime was committed," said Ford, who was known only as juror number three during the trial.  "I'm not convinced that she didn't do it, but I also couldn't exclude the possibility that it was an accident."

The second juror to speak publicly was juror number two who spoke anonymously to the St. Petersburg Times.  He is a 46-year-old married father of two and one of two African-American jurors on the panel.

He told the newspaper that if they had reached a verdict based on emotion, Anthony would have been guilty, but that there was not enough evidence to convict her of murder.

"I just swear to God...I wish we had more evidence to put her away, I truly do," he told the paper emotionally.  "But it wasn't there."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May202011

Casey Anthony Trial: Jury Chosen after 11 Days; Opening Arguments Tuesday

Comstock/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- Jury selection was finally completed late Friday in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman charged with the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. A panel of nine women and eight men was chosen. Twelve will comprise the actual jury and five will be alternates when court resumes Tuesday morning for opening arguments.

So ended 11 grueling days of jury selection, lengthened by yet another round of drama Friday morning when an outburst from a courtroom spectator brought proceedings to a halt.

A woman in the courtroom gallery yelled, "She killed somebody, anyway" as jurors were being questioned.

The outburst forced Judge Belvin Perry, who is presiding over the trial, to call for a hold.

The woman held tennis shoes tied together and said, "I'm sorry," as deputies quickly escorted her out of the Clearwater, Fla., courtroom and into a holding room.

The woman, later identified by local media as Elizabeth Ann Rogers, 29, of St. Petersburg, was brought back into the courtroom to face the judge.

"I'm mentally challenged," she sobbed. "I have a 3 year-old son. I've never been to court like this."

"My fiance is in jail for domestic violence," she said.

Judge Perry found Rogers in contempt and ordered that she be taken into custody. She was sentenced to two days in jail, although Perry told her she could have received as many as 179 days.

The outburst not only caused a delay in the jury selection proceedings but the loss of a juror from the trial's already dwindling juror pool.

Perry excused another juror because she had witnessed the outburst.

Jury selection had already suffered several hiccups this week, but Perry told the courtroom he planned to swear in jurors Friday afternoon.

Anthony is accused of killing her daughter, Caylee Anthony, who was last seen alive in June 2008. Anthony has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The child had been missing for a month before Anthony told anyone, and when she did, it was her mother, who called 911. Anthony told police she had not seen Caylee since dropping her off with a babysitter.

Anthony was arrested and charged with murder in October 2008, and a few months later, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.

Her daughter's skeletal remains were found in December, less than a mile from the home the child and her mother shared with the toddler's grandparents.

The little girl's death was ruled a homicide of undetermined means.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar182011

Cost to Fund Casey Anthony Jury Might Jeopardize Trial, County Clerk Says

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORANGE COUNTRY, Fla.) -- The high-profile trial of accused child-killer Casey Anthony is at risk of being suspended or even cancelled, because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it will cost to sequester a jury for the Florida case, according to a county official.

Lydia Gardner, the Orange County clerk of circuit courts, said in a statement that without more funding, the court might not be able to afford Anthony's May trial.

Due to media attention, a jury will be brought in from an undetermined location outside Orange County and will therefore have to be accommodated. The estimated cost to support 20 jurors for eight weeks is more than $360,000, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court spokeswoman Karen Levey said.

"Judge [Belvin] Perry was trying to get a handle on the cost associated with the jury sequestering and the price includes the estimated cost of lodging, meals and transportation for the jury," Levey said.

But Gardner said that unless the state senate allocates more money to the court, the trial, which she calls one of the states "most notorious murder cases," will be in jeopardy.

"What is in question is whether or not this trial will be suspended or canceled if the clerk is not able to meet her statutory responsibility to pay the jurors for their service," Gardner said. "As you are aware, this trial in particular has garnered not only local attention, but also national and even worldwide attention."

"The Florida Senate has proposed a five percent cut to our budget in the [fiscal-year] fourth quarter, just as the Anthony trial is scheduled to begin," she said. "If the Senate proposal goes through, the trial is in jeopardy of being canceled or suspended."

But the judge set to preside over the case, Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr., has said that no such suspension or cancellation will occur.

"Judge Perry is going forward with the case on May 9," Levey said. "He has no plans to cancel or discontinue this case. This is going forward."

Anthony, 24, is accused of killing her daughter, Caylee Anthony, who was 2 years-old when she disappeared in June 2008. Anthony has pleaded not guilty.

Caylee's disappearance wasn't reported until July 2008, nearly a month after she disappeared. Her remains were found in December, less than a mile from the home she and her mother shared with the toddler's grandparents. Her death was ruled a homicide of undetermined means.

State prosecutors have said that they will seek the death penalty for Anthony if she is convicted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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