Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Jury Duty - Day 2 - AM

Tuesday, June 8, 2010: Being so thoroughly ME, I arrived in the jury room of the courthouse 20 minutes early this morning. Even so, I was not the first juror there. Unfortunately, one of our number managed to be 40 minutes LATE and delayed the trial. He did not win a lot of friends today!

During our long morning wait, I discovered several connections with other jurors. One young man is a coach at one of our local high schools and had been a student of both our son and our daughter-in-law. Another juror had been a teacher in the school where our son is Assistant Principal. Another teaches with our daughter; another knows my sister; and another is related to another close acquaintance.

As soon as our tardy cohort arrived, the trial began. We filed into the jury box, were sworn in, and the prosecutor gave his opening statement. The defense attorney then took his turn. Both told us what they hope/expect that the evidence will prove. Our defendant faces 7 charges, including: terroristic threats; damage to property; aggravated assault; criminal trespass; domestic violence; and simple battery. After the Grand Jury indicted him, he pled "not guilty," and thus we were impaneled for a trial.

The prosecution's case took most of the day. The first witness was the lady (Mrs. R.) at whose house the alleged assault took place. She is the person who called 911 and the "virtual mother" of the victim of assault (Ms L.) She testified that the defendant and Ms L. have had an on-again-off-again relationship for almost 20 years, and they have a 10-month-old child together. There have been a number of occasions when the police have been called because of their conflicts. This witness testified that the assault victim was "staying" with her at the time of the incident because the couple was feuding. However, she testified that the defendant had also spent the night there the night before the incident.

According to Mrs. R.'s testimony: The defendant and Ms L. had a long, loud, and profane argument on the telephone that afternoon because she planned to move out of his house into an apartment with a friend. The defendant then came to the house, and the two became involved in a loud argument in the front yard. In the course of that argument, Ms L. screamed for help; and Mrs. R. came to her aid from the backyard. Ms L., her "daughter", was running away from the defendant, screaming in terror, and the defendant was chasing her with a knife. She acknowledged that she never actually saw a knife and that none was ever found but insisted that there was "something shiny" in his hand. She says that Ms L. picked up a shovel from the yard and struck the defendant in the shoulder to try to stop him. At that point, the defendant grabbed the shovel and used it to pull Ms L. to him for repeated "headbutts." Then he used the shovel to hit Ms L. in the face.

As she sat on the ground, bleeding from the nose, the defendant then approached the door of the house where Mrs. R stood calling 911. Ms L. screamed for Mrs. R. to block the door and not allow the defendant into the house to have access to the baby. When Mrs. R blocked the defendant's access to the house, he threatened her with bodily injury, ran into the yard again, grabbed the shovel, and attacked Ms. L's car. He broke every window in the car except the one on the driver's side door. Then he ran off into the woods behind the house.

The second witness was Ms. L, the victim, who was a hostile witness. She claimed that they were both yelling and cursing at each other and that the argument was about unpaid bills. She expressed extreme dislike for law enforcement and denied having said almost everything that the police records and the EMT records report her saying. She testified that the defendant did not "headbutt" her and that the shovel hit her in the face by accident when they were struggling for control of the implement. She also testified that she gave the defendant permission to destroy her car and that there was no blood on her clothes (contradicted by the EMTs and the first witness.) She testified that the relationship between her and the defendant is "normal" and that they don't argue any more than anyone else does. She said that the car windows were not broken when the defendant ran off into the woods and that she had no idea HOW or WHEN they were broken.

Both EMTs and one of the arresting officers testified. A neighbor, who came to see what the commotion was about and was on the scene, also testified.

We broke for lunch at 12:00 - 1:45. Seven of us jurors had lunch together at Shroeder's - YUM. We were good little boys and girls and talked about everything from high school to grandchildren -- everything, that is, except the testimony we had heard in the morning.

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