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January 2, 2014

Reflections on Being Petit Juror #4

(Continued)

On Tuesday morning, the jurors selected met in the assembly room promptly at 10:00 a.m. We were seven men and six women ranging in age from the twenties to late sixties. I was clearly the oldest of the group. A bailiff came in and lined us up according to our juror number, highest to lowest.

In a routine that would become very familiar to us over the next four days, we filed into the jury box, eight in the back row and five in the front. Judge Delker started by reading the four charges against the defendant: conspiracy to commit burglary; conspiracy to commit theft; burglary; and theft by unauthorized taking. As the trial progressed, the judge called a 10-minute recess about once an hour. Since we couldn’t discuss anything about the case, we took these breaks as an opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level.

The county attorneys alleged that the defendant had organized and conspired with two other individuals to break into a secluded home and rob a safe of cash and guns. The other two co-conspirators did the robbery, were promptly caught by the police, pleaded guilty, and were incarcerated. The prosecution witnesses included several police officers, the victim of the home invasion, and one of the co-conspirators. This woman testified that the defendant had driven them to the house and had drawn a map of the safe’s location in the bedroom. Text messages between the defendant and her while the robbery was in progress were shown.

The defense based their case mainly on the testimony of the defendant who said he had no motive to rob anyone as his business was thriving and he didn’t need the money. Friday morning, the defense and prosecution gave their closing arguments and the case was given to the jury to deliberate.

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