My Private Area (pt. 1)

A week ago we wrapped up deliberations on our two week long trial. To this day I still have some nightmares about the trial. If you’re squeamish, this may not be the post for you.

Before any opening statements were read, I think it’s important to let you know it took three solid days to pick a jury. Roughly 200 potential jurors were called into the courtroom and I ended up being one of the final fourteen, including two unknown alternates. Many jurors were dismissed because they said they’d have biases towards protecting children. The judge was careful to remind all jurors how the burden of proof in this trial is on the prosecution. The defense does not have to prove a single thing.

Prior to the opening statements, the judge read the alleged seven counts accused of the defendant. The defendant, a 44 year old male, entered a plea of “not guilty” on all seven counts listed below.

I. First degree rape of a child
II. Second degree rape of a child
III. Third degree rape of a child (victim #1)
IV. Third degree rape of a child (victim #2)
V. Third degree child molestation
VI. Sexual exploitation of a minor
VII Possessing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct

Now that the jury was aware of the charges, it was time for the prosecution and defense to give their opening statements.

Prosecution opened by talking about the importance of being a parent and looking after your child. The prosecutor talks extensively about how victim #1, we’ll call him RB, had very little family structure. His mom was a stripper and the dad left the house at an early age. Prosecution alleges the victim fell into the wrong crowd and didn’t have any valid role models until he met the defendant at the age of 10. The defendant and the victim became instant friends, despite their age difference of nearly 25 years. Shortly after they met, the prosecution alleged an intimate relationship formed between the two males. We were first introduced to RB via a Polaroid photo shown to the jury. He appeared to be about 8-10 years old in the photo with a big toothy grin on his face. The prosecution concludes her opening remarks stating how the prosecution witnesses will corroborate the testimony given by the two victims and that the jury will find the defendant guilty on all seven counts.

Defense’s opening arguments centered on police procedures the day the defendant was arrested. Their argument was that the Seattle Police detectives were quick to judge in this case and didn’t do an adequate job gathering the evidence. They alleged that friends of the victim planted significant evidence in the defendant’s apartment in the immediate days following the defendant’s October 2008 arrest.

SIDEBAR: the defendant was arrested by Seattle Police after serving a search warrant on his apartment in late October of 2008. He has been in jail since October 2008 up to the time of the trial.[/SIDEBAR]

Defense alleges the character of the prosecution witnesses is questionable at best. They also allege the detective work to be shoddy and rushed.

The defendant was flanked on both sides by his attorneys. He will wear the same outfit every single day of the trial, a long sleeve button shirt. He’s largely emotionless during the two weeks of testimony with a few key exceptions, keeping his hands hidden under the table. The accused appears to be in his 40s and has dark hair with grey streaks. His eyebrows are bushy and dark as well.

I was seated closest to the judge, about ten feet away in the front left row. The witness box was between me and the judge. Without any effort, I bumped feet with a couple of the witnesses. If I looked to my right, there was a Visio screen where we’d see much of the critical evidence and slightly to the right I could see the defendant. I studied his expressions extensively during the trial since I had an unobstructed line of sight. I carefully studied his reactions as we heard testimony, looked at pictures, watched video, etc.

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About lessinges

Seattle native, discovering life! I like ice cream, cold cereal, and The Amazing Race.
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18 Responses to My Private Area (pt. 1)

  1. logo™ says:

    I don’t think I could have done.
    Thank you, Egan, for sitting on that jury.
    No matter how the rest of the story goes, I am so thankful that you were able to do that, and help our legal system function properly.
    You da man.
    Oh,
    and also?
    Run, bitch, run!
    :p

  2. Kailyn says:

    When I was in law school, I interned with the local women’s shelter. A part of my job was to sit through juvenile/domestic relations court for the county each week. It was almost 20 years ago and I still remember the things I heard in that courtroom.

  3. meno says:

    Um, who wouldn’t have a bias towards protecting children?

  4. I don’t know if I could have listened to this, it is making me tear up just thinking about it. I can’t even imagine what you must have felt like while you had to listen to this and see the people involved.

  5. JLee says:

    Wow, that is a tough one. I agree with meno. Who doesn’t want to protect children? But, you can still listen and try to collect facts. Still, humans can’t help but pick up on nonverbal things from defendants…you can tell a lot from that. Can’t wait to hear the rest!

  6. Gwen says:

    Good lord, dude. That is a crazy intense trial. Now I’m not at all envious of your experience, although I am looking forward to hearing more about it.

  7. egan says:

    Logo – I’m most certain, if I had two boys the age of your kids… I couldn’t do the trial. I’m glad I did my part, but it still haunts me today. My dreams last night were very odd. I will leave it at that.
    Kailyn – you’re a brave soul. I’m certain I will remember almost all the details of this trial 30 years from now. I was answering questions posed of the witnesses in my head. I may have taken too many notes.
    Meno – perhaps I didn’t word that correctly. What the judge wanted to make sure is that we’d leave an open mind. Just that it is possible a child could potentially make up a story to frame the defendant. I do believe that could happen, but as you’ll read… I didn’t believe it happened in this case.
    Tori – yeah, it’s damn difficult to remain emotionless as the key witnesses told their stories. I was sitting right next to the witnesses. I had to cover my mouth with my hands to hide my own expressions. Very tough indeed.
    JLee – true, we all want to protect children. More it was about being open minded from the beginning. Many potential jurors claimed they already assumed the defendant was guilty without hearing a single word of testimony. Kind of sad if you ask me. We all deserve a fair trial. Gestures can be oh so telling, you’re so right.
    Gwen – it was hella intense. It was so damn hard to go back in the jury waiting room after watching a disgusting video and pretend like you just watched a Disney flick. The experience is still incredible.

  8. Golden says:

    He plead not guilty or guilty? You say: “The defendant, a 44 year old male, entered a plea of guilty on all seven counts listed below.”
    Anyway.. probably just a typo.. I’m just trying to make sure I understand..
    Just wow. You know. I sit here and when you mention the video, my mind kind of ‘goes there’ then I realize I am being very rated PG in my head, and that you were basically watching Porn that had children involved. OMG.

  9. egan says:

    Golden – good catch on the typo. You’re correct, he did enter a plea of “not guilty” to all seven counts. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but maybe they figured there might be a police technicality or something.
    Yes, I was watching videos you wouldn’t want to see. The most awkward videos you could watch with 13 strangers. It was porn and involved the very young victim. I can still hear the stuff the defendant said to the victim in my head. The next blog post about this could be rather graphic, consider yourself warned.

  10. Golden says:

    I may not read it. The first time ever that I will NOT read a blog post by you! It depends.. I seem to carry stuff with me. I know that the atrocities that this man committed are beyond what my imagination even wants to conjure up and I think I want to leave it that way.

  11. egan says:

    Golden – I might offer a very bland version of what we had to witness so you can still read the post. I really don’t want to relive what I saw and heard in graphic details. It’s not good for anyone, but it did make me very sympathetic to the victim knowing I only had to watch something that they actually endured.

  12. Golden says:

    You post whatever you want.. whatever works for you.

  13. egan says:

    Golden – thanks for the green light.

  14. Pants says:

    I know how hard it is to see such truly evil and heinous crimes committed against children but I think it is immeasurably honorable of you to serve on a jury, to help those poor little boys voices be heard.

  15. Golden says:

    LOL.. not that you needed my permission.. I wasn’t like.. saying it like.. that..

  16. C says:

    You’re very brave to put yourself through this. I’m glad that there was an out for people called to jury duty who couldn’t endure it.

  17. egan says:

    Pants – thanks for the compliment. I didn’t really see it that way, more that I had the time and the jury process fascinates me. I would much prefer a different subject matter though. I’m glad that we as a jury we are able to work things out rationally. Nobody got angry at one another and everyone’s voice was heard.
    Golden – I know you weren’t saying it like that, I just have to give you a bad time.
    C – Bonjour! I’m very glad they carefully screened people. Nothing could be worse than going through all the painful testimony and evidence then lose it all to a mistrial. That didn’t happen thankfully.

  18. Maggie says:

    Wow, that’s a heavy trial.
    The experience of jury duty can be tough, frustrating, satisfying. But in the end, it is a great deed you’ve done.

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