I reported for jury duty on Monday for the fifth time in my life. My longest previous service was about half an hour in traffic court, after which the judge threw the case out. This time it was different. 81 of us were interviewed for one trial. The defendant was accused of sexual indecency with a 7-year-old girl. 12 of us were picked and there were 2 alternates. It was an extremely draining experience, as you can imagine. The girl (who had just turned 9) testified and was a credible witness. Her great grandmother and great grandmother's friend told the same story. A counsellor also testified. And a sheriff testified. We were played an audio CD of his interview in his car with the defendant, during which the defendant changed his story three times.
Ten of us were convinced that the guy was guilty. The other two came around after about three hours of heated argument. From what we heard, I felt that this was the first time it had happened, and knew that if we found him guilty his whole life would change. He'd be a registered sex offender and would have difficulty finding employment for the rest of his life. The fact remained, though, that he'd done what he was accused of, and we had to find him guilty. He broke down when the verdict was read, and so did several members of the victim's family.
The lawyers came into the deliberation room afterwards to thank us for our service and asked us if we had any questions. I asked them what they expected the sentence to be. They said that he was going back to jail as he'd violated his probation. Turned out he had a string of offences, including a sexual offence while a minor. Hearing this made for good closure.
We got it right.
The Judge's sentence was 36 years (18 mandatory)
|Friday, July 13, 2012