Sunday, August 5, 2012

Juror Number 11

So about the trial I served as a juror on. The case involved allegations of rape of four prostitutes, and although I won't be very graphic in telling you about it, I want to warn you up front that there will be some sex terms in case this story might not be something you'd want to read.

None of the women were beaten; there was no violence of that nature, although they were threatened with violence if they didn't cooperate. One woman was threatened with a knife and another was threatened with a gun. All of them were told they'd be beaten if they didn't do what they were told.

The four rapes occurred over the course of the last three or four years. Two of the four women were under age--one was 16 and one was 17. Those two women had listed their services online; one on Craig's List and one on a website specific to prostitution. The other two women, who were a few years older, were picked up off the street.

The defendant was in his late 30s, I'd guess. He was divorced with a teenage daughter. He had a girlfriend during much of the time period in question. On most days during trial, his mom and dad were present in court. They seemed like nice, respectable people.

During trial, we heard testimony concerning drug use by the victims. There were residual drugs found in testing the two older women after the rapes, although the drugs were simply marijuana and amphetamine metabolite--nothing that would have altered their perceptions or made them paranoid or delusional.

As the jurors, we were asked to consider 18 separate counts along with special findings related to many of those counts. Among the charges against the guy were vaginal and anal rape, oral copulation, skin-to-skin touching, and kidnapping. The kidnapping charge only applied to one of the prostitutes who asked him to drive her to her motel room; instead, he drove her a few miles away to a deserted industrial/warehouse district where he parked in a sunken loading dock with the passenger side of the car up against the wall of the dock so she couldn't get out.

When they initially reported the crimes to the police, all of the prostitutes lied about what led up to the rapes. That didn't surprise any of us. All four of them testified in trial that while they didn't admit they were engaged in acts of prostitution at first, they were truthful in their reports to police and medical personnel of the events surrounding the rapes, and they eventually confessed to the police that they were initially hired by the man for sex. Unfortunately, one of the women had changed her story so many times and told several different people that some of her story was a lie, that when we deliberated, we couldn't reach a consensus on what was believeable, so we were hung as to the three counts involving that victim.

All four women testified in court, and their testimony seemed truthful. The defendant, as is his right, didn't take the stand. I can't say whether he should have or not, but without his testimony, there wasn't much to contradict the testimony of the victims.

In the end, we found the guy guilty of just about everything except the three counts involving the one woman I mentioned who had lied too many times and a couple other counts involving multiple rapes of another woman. As to that other woman, the prosecution alleged that he raped her three times just because he had trouble maintaining an erection and "fell out" a couple times--they took the position that each time he began again it was a separate rape--we didn't buy that argument and found it was all one rape.

We also found him guilty on many of the special findings, such as using a dangerous/deadly weapon, committing the same acts with two or more women, etc.

As the verdicts were read, the defendant broke down and cried throughout. I think most of us felt sorry for him in a way. Had he simply paid the prostitutes the couple hundred dollars it would have cost him and not physically threatened them, the most he'd be looking at would have been whatever the punishment is for engaging in prostitution. Now I suspect he'll serve a long time in jail.

During the trial, the defense tried to suggest that the four women had somehow conspired with one another to frame this guy, but they weren't able to come up with anything linking them. All of them testified they didn't know one another and all of them "marketed" themselves in slightly different ways, so they probably wouldn't have come into contact.

The deliberation process itself was interesting. Most of the jurors were reasonable about discussing the evidence and explaining why they thought one way or another, but there was one older guy who was a bit of a bully and tried to intimidate and argue the rest of us into his narrow minded view--especially the women on the jury. We weren't about to be bullied, though. The jury consisted of six men and six women. During one vote, four of the women were of one opinion contrary to the rest of the jurors, and this jerk suggested it was a "woman thing." Now and then, if someone disagreed with his view, he'd say things like "stupid!," half way under his breath. Because I was sitting next to him, I couldn't help but hear, and he really pissed me off.

There was one discussion about the victim's testimony that she didn't see the defendant with the knife as she was being forced to have oral sex--the count against him had to do with whether he used a knife or threatened to use a knife during that act. This jerk next to me said that of course the knife was there even if she didn't see it, because "when you're orally copulating a man and have your head in his lap, you can't see anything!" I turned to him and asked him if he knew that from personal experience. It took him a minute, but the rest of the room exploded in laughter. There were a couple other exchanges like that between us. What a jerk!

The biggest problem with this guy was that he seemed to be making up stories in his head about what had taken place and wasn't looking at only the evidence we were presented with. In the end, though, it didn't really matter what he did since he couldn't impose his opinions on the rest of us and our findings were consistent with what he believed had happened anyway.

After spending three weeks with these other jurors, it was sad to say goodbye. I exchanged contact information with one woman and I hope we'll get together for lunch one of these days. All in all, though, I'm happy to get back to my "real life."

16 comments:

Robin said...

Wow, Kim, that is fascinating!! I LOVE watching trials on Tru TV (which, to me, will always be Court TV.) It's interesting to get a glimpse into what serving on a jury is like!

Quilt Hollow said...

How interesting. I've never benn called to jury duty. Isn't that wild?

Me and My Stitches said...

That is crazy. I've been on jury duty a couple of times, but have never been chosen as a juror. That is a really long trial - I'll bet you are more than ready to return to your life!

Phyllis said...

I am disappointed that you feel that you had to share all of this information. Really!

Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I served on a jury two year ago and found it to be an eye opening experience-and much harder than I ever expected it to be. Also, good for you for holding your own and not being bullied by another juror. That jury room can be VERY intimidating.

Synthia said...

The jury and the prosecution were very fortunate to have a straight-thinking person like you on the panel. I'm on jury duty right now. It's an inconvenience to need to have one's personal schedule 'tentative', depending on the Court's schedule, but somebody's got to do it to make the system work. It's nice to know that you only had one jerk in your midst!!

Nicole said...

Really interesting! I've never been on a jury. I think we are lucky in our society to have someone as level headed as you are who is willing to serve. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

Interesting, Kim! Thank you for doing your civic duty and for sharing about it.

sunny said...

I served on jury duty for a month last summer. Although I won't say I liked it, it was very interesting to see how the process worked. We had to declare Not Guilty on one of the short cases because the Prosecuter really didn't present much of a case. I thought the guy was probably guilty, but there was certainly reasonable doubt!

Marla said...

This is to Phyllis: Kim warned you in the beginning so you did not have to read this post. Besides, it is her blog and she can write whatever she wants. 'Nough said. Kim, this was fascinating. I have never served as a juror but kind of want to some day. Sounds like an episode of "Law & Order"!

Gran - Knot-y Embroidery Lady said...

Congrats. on your jury adventure. You need to write a book!

Anna said...

Jury duty is the responsibility of us all...one thing I have always been curious about...is in all the jury duty requirements I have participated in...not once have I been chosen...hummm????

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you shared your jury experience. And as Marla said, this is your blog and you can share anything you want. For some of us who don't get out much, it's interesting to read about what is going on in the 'real world'. Thanks for sharing.
cindy

Elizabeth S. said...

Wow, fascinating experience, Kim. I was surprised to hear that the majority of jurors were willing to convict even though the victims had been prostitutes. Shows you how far we've come! Sadly, as your experience with the male juror shows, we still have a long way to go. Thanks for sharing.

Jen in NY said...

Very interesting case...sounds like justice was served! I was called to Jury Duty earlier this year...only had to be there one day, which I must say I was relieved about. It's hard when you have little kids, you know? Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience! xo Jen

Josie McRazie said...

Bwahahahaha!!! Oh, you make me laugh! Good for you for slapping the jerk with that one! Oh, and the reast sounds cool and interesting as well! I think you showed GREAT restraint if that is all you said to him! I know it supposed to be 'profesional' and all, but if he starts it...