An interesting week on jury duty. . .

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An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby fickman » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:31 pm

I ended up on this trial a few weeks ago:
Link to Star Telegram Article

There's lessons all over the place on this one.

  • The criminals acquired most of their guns by burglarizing houses. They started skipping school and burglarizing houses when they were in 9th grade.

  • The victims had a gun cabinet, but all of the guns were locked inside of it in the parents bedroom. This actually had two negative impacts:
    1) They couldn't get to the guns to use for defense
    2) The criminals saw the guns and - because they heard an ambulance and thought it was the police and left early - they actually went back later that night to see if the house was empty so that they could steal the guns.

  • The dad who showed up to pick up his son and got beaten severely tried a martial arts disarm move. He was overpowered when he was clubbed with the barrel of the firearm. They broke his orbital bone in his eye (near the nose), gave him a concussion, and he required more than 35 staples to close the back of his head up.

  • The criminals were stupid.
    1) They returned to the crime scene that night.

    2) They had an after party and bragged to their friends, reenacting the events. Two of those friends testified for the state.

    3) They tried to burn the Lexus they stole because the drive wasn't wearing gloves. They lit paper on fire, threw it in the seats, closed the doors, and drove off. The fires went out when they closed the doors.

    4) They stole cell phones from teenagers, most of which had tracking apps on them. The police had a nice, clear map of everywhere they went.

    5) They defaced one victim's Facebook page from his phone. His phone company located the phone and found the final location.

    6) Our defendant left the uncleaned gun in a seat pouch in his car, with the victim's blood on it. He had it in his car at school when a drug/bomb dog sniffed it - unrelated to the police investigation.

    7) The criminals took photos of themselves in their masks while pointing their guns at the mirror.

    8) Two of the criminals conspired to plead not guilty and one was going to take the fall for everybody, but did so by writing letters to each other in jail through an outside forwarder. The jail provided the DA with copies of every letter. The defendant's witness didn't know the DA had the letters until they showed them to him on the stand.

    9) We found out afterward that our defendant had been offered a 20-year plea bargain and didn't take it. The one remaining perpetrator who was still pleading not guilty changed to guilty and accepted 20 years about two weeks later.

    10) A friend of the criminals had moved school districts and was invited to the party that got robbed. He gave them the idea for the party, the address, and posed as a victim. They returned his stuff to him later that night at the after party.

    11) The long gun was actually a pellet gun. One of the handguns was a commemorative revolver that was welded and inoperative. The other two in the house had a .380 and a 9mm while the driver who stayed a block away had a .45 ACP. The driver testified for the state.

    12) They used one guy's nickname and his real name during the event. A witness recalled hearing the names and told the detective two days later. The name was our defendant's. They drove his car, and he was portrayed as the ring leader of this group of thugs.

-----
If any of you think I'm crazy for posting this, let me know and I'll pull it down. Otherwise, I'm willing to answer any questions. It was an eye-opening week for sure. I've spent a lot of time putting myself in the homeowner's shoes and in the dad who showed up to pick up his son's shoes. And the shoes of the kids at the party. (Her little brother had a friend over to play video games for the evening, they even put them on the floor at gunpoint and stole their wallets. The brother's friend had $2. They took it.)

I was also thinking of you guys here, and how we often discuss holding people who do evil with guns accountable. Once the prosecution satisfied their responsibility to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, a message needed to be sent to the victims about the value of their lives and to the community about how we feel about these sorts of crimes. Even the defense attorney admitted during closing arguments - after the DA's rebuttal witnesses testified - that we'd heard "devastating evidence".

It took us one hour to find him guilty on Thursday and two hours to agree on the sentence on Friday.
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby The Annoyed Man » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:40 pm

fickman wrote:It took us one hour to find him guilty on Thursday and two hours to agree on the sentence on Friday.

Yer gettin' soft, fickman. It should have only taken 15 minutes to find him guilty, and 5 minutes to hang him. :lol:

Not saying good/bad, one way or the other, but it is in that kid's interest that he didn't wander into the homes of half the people on this board. Getting in would be a whole lot easier than getting out......in the same condition in which he'd arrived. And I use the term "kid" loosely. Someone who is a full-blown predator at age 15/16/17 is just as dangerous as a full blown predator at age 29/30/31, and they are also old enough to know better. If they didn't know it was wrong, they wouldn't have tried to cover it up. Ergo, guilty as an adult. Throw 'em in a deep dark hole and leave 'em there for a while. Like maybe a decade or two.

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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby C-dub » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:35 pm

The Annoyed Man wrote:
fickman wrote:It took us one hour to find him guilty on Thursday and two hours to agree on the sentence on Friday.

Yer gettin' soft, fickman. It should have only taken 15 minutes to find him guilty, and 5 minutes to hang him. :lol:

Maybe they wanted to get a lunch out of it. :roll:
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby C-dub » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:36 pm

fickman wrote:10) A friend of the criminals had moved school districts and was invited to the party that got robbed. He gave them the idea for the party, the address, and posed as a victim. They returned his stuff to him later that night at the after party.

I don't understand this one.
"Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions." Thomas Paine, 1776
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby Hoosier Daddy » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:31 pm

C-dub wrote:
fickman wrote:10) A friend of the criminals had moved school districts and was invited to the party that got robbed. He gave them the idea for the party, the address, and posed as a victim. They returned his stuff to him later that night at the after party.

I don't understand this one.

Inside job.

More and more, I think the old time cowboys had it right. Hanging thieves really cuts down recidivism.
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby The Annoyed Man » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:09 pm

Hoosier Daddy wrote:
C-dub wrote:
fickman wrote:10) A friend of the criminals had moved school districts and was invited to the party that got robbed. He gave them the idea for the party, the address, and posed as a victim. They returned his stuff to him later that night at the after party.

I don't understand this one.

Inside job.

More and more, I think the old time cowboys had it right. Hanging thieves really cuts down recidivism.

It actually eliminates it. :mrgreen:
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby stealthfightrf17 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:22 am

If people who commeit vilont crimes were sentenced to death by any means, they could never do it again. Plus it would send a very strong message to those thinking about it. The older I am getting the more pro I am for public executions. I see how it would send a very strong message that we will not tolerate this.
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby C-dub » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:48 am

Hoosier Daddy wrote:
C-dub wrote:
fickman wrote:10) A friend of the criminals had moved school districts and was invited to the party that got robbed. He gave them the idea for the party, the address, and posed as a victim. They returned his stuff to him later that night at the after party.

I don't understand this one.

Inside job.

More and more, I think the old time cowboys had it right. Hanging thieves really cuts down recidivism.

Ah ha! I still had to read it a couple more times, but got it now. :thumbs2:
"Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions." Thomas Paine, 1776
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby VMI77 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:57 am

stealthfightrf17 wrote:If people who commeit vilont crimes were sentenced to death by any means, they could never do it again. Plus it would send a very strong message to those thinking about it. The older I am getting the more pro I am for public executions. I see how it would send a very strong message that we will not tolerate this.


Our system works (well, is supposed to work) on proportionality. The problem with execution for mere violence is that it creates the perverse incentive to kill all victims and eliminate them as witnesses, since if the thugs are caught, they'll be executed anyway. The death penalty needs to be reserved for those who actually kill their victims, otherwise it is likely to increase the number of dead innocents. Of course, to be effective, it also needs to be imposed regularly and swiftly --not an occasional execution 10 years after the crime.
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby steve817 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:23 am

fickman wrote:I ended up on this trial a few weeks ago:


Thank You for your service. Without having to read the article, I knew which crime this was. I know some of the kids that got robbed here. One of them even testified in this trial I believe.
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby fickman » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:13 am

C-dub wrote:
Hoosier Daddy wrote:
C-dub wrote:
fickman wrote:10) A friend of the criminals had moved school districts and was invited to the party that got robbed. He gave them the idea for the party, the address, and posed as a victim. They returned his stuff to him later that night at the after party.

I don't understand this one.

Inside job.

More and more, I think the old time cowboys had it right. Hanging thieves really cuts down recidivism.

Ah ha! I still had to read it a couple more times, but got it now. :thumbs2:

Sorry for not being clear. . .

There were five actors in the crime. They had grown up with criminal #6. #6 had moved to a new school district and met these new friends but maintained ties with his old crew. He tipped off the old crew that the party was going to happen, acted like a victim, and showed up at the criminals' after party a few hours later to retrieve his "stolen" stuff.

The DA is going after everybody:
1) Juvenile, sentenced to 10 years
2) The driver, cooperating with the DA (does not have a deal), pleading guilty and hoping for leniency
3) The defendant's buddy and brother of the juvenile, pleading guilty, awaiting sentencing, and will now face perjury charges
4) Our defendant, sentenced to 99 years. He had an adult felony conviction for burglary of a motor vehicle, has plead guilty to two other felony burglaries, is guilty of taking a firearm to school, is guilty of possessing a firearm as a felon, and had juvenile convictions for: burglary of habitation, burglary of motor vehicle, 2x cocaine possession, shooting a BB gun through the window of a driving car, and more.
5) Another actor in the crime who was pleading guilty until a week or two after our verdict. He changed it to guilty and accepted 20 years.
6) The DA is building the case and hopes to file charges

The funny thing is that I bet the criminals thought, "Oh, a party! We'll go in, blend in, nobody will notice us, then we'll pull out our guns." Their understanding of a high school "party" was probably debauchery, wildness, alcohol, and a lack of supervision. I'd assume they had no concept for what the "good" kids do when they get together. It turns out that this was mostly kids from the gymnastics team and a church youth group. There was no alcohol. They played cards and talked on the back patio while listening to music until dark, then went inside to watch a movie. When the BGs came in, they were noticed immediately.

Our defendant was going to an alternative school but his mom and sisters had gotten together to sign an apartment lease for him. He had three buddies crashing there, and he was on his own for three weeks before this happened. The apartment was essentially furnished with stolen goods. His dad was an illegal immigrant who committed a violent felony and was deported when the defendant was a kid.

The defendant's brother testified for his alibi. What was it? The night of the crime, at exactly the moment the crime was happening, he met the defendant at a gas station to give him some money he owed. He never mentioned this to any detectives or prosecutors (who could have gotten video surveillance) until the day he testified. He had priors for drugs and lying to the police. He will also face perjury charges now.
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby fickman » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:34 am

The Annoyed Man wrote:Yer gettin' soft, fickman. It should have only taken 15 minutes to find him guilty, and 5 minutes to hang him. :lol:

:mrgreen:

All joking aside, there were many gut check moments where this weighed heavy on me. I wanted to see justice done, but I mulled over the facts obsessively wondering "has the prosecution met their burden?" I was there after the defense rested, but the rebuttal witnesses for the prosecution removed any lingering hesitation I might have had. :smash:

The sentencing took *longer* because there were a few softies in our mix. One was an overwhelmed 22 year old female college student who was home for the summer. The other was a very tender-hearted suburban mother from a left-coast state. They were genuinely sweethearts and very naive in an endearing way.

I was the presiding juror, so I methodically took them back through the evidence to turn their compassion to the victims: we listened to the 911 tapes again*, I asked for the photos of the beaten victim, and for the photos the criminals took of themselves in their gear. I figured neither of them were experienced around guns, so I asked for the pistol with the blood on it to be brought into the room. I guessed correctly that they'd be nervous just being around a firearm with zip ties all over it. I'm assuming their imaginations considered that thing pointing at them or hitting them in the face. I also reminded them that every time the defendant hit a new level of maturity, all he did was commit more mature crimes. He had been escalating his crimes for years, and all he had left was murder or capital murder. We finally got a unanimous vote.

Then I had a mountain of paperwork to sign. That took at least 20 minutes! :rules:

*I didn't realize they'd make us go back into the courtroom with a full audience to hear the tapes again. When the audio began, the defendant couldn't hold back a smirk. He smiled for a few seconds, fought it back, smirked, then finally got his face back to neutral. A few waffling jurors saw it. The other striking thing from the tapes is that when the dad who had been beaten got back inside, the first 911 calls were frantic. The operator asked if he had been shot, and he was in such bad shape that nobody could tell.

One more lesson reaffirmed:
The police arrived less than 90 seconds after the first 911 call. The criminals were long gone. The officers started first aid and began taking witness statements.

The police effort was great, and they had some arrests a few days later, but they weren't on scene in time to intervene. The victims couldn't call during the event because the BGs took all mobile phones, had four gunmen in the house, and had the victims face down on the floor.
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby powerboatr » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:38 am

Thank you
for the article and your view
99 years......sounds crazy, it would seem better to extinguish his lights
save all of us $$ housing and feeding this turkey for 99
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby RHenriksen » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:59 am

I'm so glad you were there in that role - sounds like you did a great job.

fickman wrote:I was the presiding juror, so I methodically took them back through the evidence to turn their compassion to the victims: we listened to the 911 tapes again*, I asked for the photos of the beaten victim, and for the photos the criminals took of themselves in their gear. I figured neither of them were experienced around guns, so I asked for the pistol with the blood on it to be brought into the room. I guessed correctly that they'd be nervous just being around a firearm with zip ties all over it. I'm assuming their imaginations considered that thing pointing at them or hitting them in the face. I also reminded them that every time the defendant hit a new level of maturity, all he did was commit more mature crimes. He had been escalating his crimes for years, and all he had left was murder or capital murder. We finally got a unanimous vote.
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Re: An interesting week on jury duty. . .

Postby recaffeination » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:50 pm

powerboatr wrote:Thank you
for the article and your view
99 years......sounds crazy, it would seem better to extinguish his lights
save all of us $$ housing and feeding this turkey for 99

Ship them to DC or Chicago. They will fit right in.
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