Day 1 - March 1
We had approximately 60 prospective jurors to begin with. The small courtroom was pretty much full. We started by watching a video about trials by jury being a constitutional right, and of course saying our state has one of the most efficient trial systems in the country. (I have no idea how they came up with that so called fact.)
From the 60 prospective jurors, 38 numbers were drawn. The judge then asked these 38 people, of which I was one, various questions to determine if there were any conflict of interests, or reasons any of these prospective jurors may be biased in their decisions concerning this case. Next the prosecuting attorney asked a number of questions to make sure these prospective jurors would be suitable, followed by the defense attorney asking a number of questions to make sure the prospective jurors would be suitable.
One of the 38 was replaced by another person from the original 60, because this person had an alleged hearing problem.
The attorneys marked off the prospective jurors they didn't want from the list of 38 leaving 14 of us, 12 plus 2 alternates. The remaining prospective jurors were released to go home.
By this time it was 12:40, and we had a recess for lunch until 2:00.
After we returned from lunch, we were made aware of what the trial was about heard the attorney's opening remarks. This was followed by the prosecution bringing forth its witnesses. At 4:30 PM, we were told the next witness would take a while, so court went to recess until 9:00AM the following day.
Day 2 - March 2
The prosecution finished up with its witnesses, including the 12 year old girl who had allegedly been sexual abused by her father, the defendant, when she was 6 to 7 years old. This was the most difficult part for me, both when she was being questioned by the prosecutor and by the defense attorney. She was an emotional mess, and many people in the courtroom were in tears or close to tears.
At 12:00 we had recess for lunch until 1:30 PM.
Upon returning, the defense stated that it would have no witnesses and the defence rested. We had another long recess of about an hour and a half, for which time we were kept sequestered in the jury room while the attorneys prepared their closing arguments. One juror was allowed to leave because her child had gotten approval for heart surgery.
Next we heard closing arguments. After closing arguments a number of one of the remaining jurers was drawn to be dismissed to go home, leaving just 12 of us to go to deliberation.
During deliberation we went through the testimony and evidence with care, because the life of a man, the defendant, was in the balance and we didn't want to take this case lightly. Deliberation lasted for 3 hours, including a short break in which the bailiff brought us some food. (pizza)
We deliberated the first two charges one at a time, voted on each, and found the defendant guilty. These involved the defendant leaving the state and not notifying the authorities within 5 days as he was supposed to (not even within a period of months), and then not making his yearly appearance to authorities. He was caught when he ran a red light near where he was living with his girlfriend and their 3 month old twins in a neighboring state. He had previously been convicted of statutory rape in Missouri in 1998. Police questioned the defendant about new allegations of lewd conduct in 2009, which afterward is when he disappeared.
The last two charges we deliberated together, because they both were about sexual abuse to the daughter by the father. One count was doing this within the home, and the other was doing this within vehicles the father had been driving. We sent one message back to the judge during this time for clarification on one of the counts. Soon after, we found the defendant guilty on the two remaining counts as well.
The four charges were officially made up of two counts of failing to register as a sex offender and two counts of lewd conduct with a child under 16 years of age.
We notified the bailif, who then escorted us out to the jury box. The bailif was handed the verdict by the lead juror, and then handed it to the judge. The judge read the verdict, the defendant being guilty on all 4 felony counts, then read the verdict out loud to the defendant. From what I could see, there wasn't anyone very surprised by the verdict.
At 7:40PM, we jurors made up of 7 men and 5 women, were dismissed and allowed to go home.
Day 3 - March 3
Yes, the trial is over but I felt completely drained, both physically and emotionally. I ended up sleeping until early afternoon.
Over the following days I experienced nightmares about the trial.
Update: Sentencing is scheduled for May 23. The defendant faces a sentence of up to 10 years on each of the failure to register charges and a possible life sentence on each of the other two counts.