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Jury Duty Part 12

Day 8 (Tuesday, October 16)

When the members of a jury are deliberating and they want to review a piece of evidence, they write down their request on a piece of paper and give it to a court officer, who then delivers the note to the judge. I walked into court today with a certain amount of trepidation, because I knew that there had been testimony of other witnesses that Juror #11 wanted to review. I didn’t know what was written on that piece of paper, and I was afraid that the court reporter was going to read back the testimony of every single witness that testified. Luckily, it wasn’t that bad.

The first thing we did was we watched Boyd’s video statement. None of the jurors (including myself) noticed this the first time we watched it, but Boyd told the DA two stories that were completely different. The DA asked him where he was when Deron Powell was shot, and Boyd told her that he was at his girlfriend’s house. Boyd then went into a long monologue about how much he loved Deron Powell, about how he was his “nigga,” and how, if he ended up fighting Deron Powell on Patchen Avenue, they would have made up shortly after and smoked a blunt together. This monologue went on for at least eight or nine minutes, and then Boyd told the story about how Ghost shot Deron Powell. I will repeat that Boyd is really fucking stupid for not sticking to one story, but it’s interesting to note that the DA didn’t even catch on to this. Either way, when we saw the video statement again and heard Boyd tell two different stories, several jurors turned to each other and started chatting, meaning that I wasn’t the only one to pick up on this. Good! I was now certain that Juror #11 would be convinced of Boyd’s guilt. I was wrong. It all comes down to one fundamental aspect of human nature that I already knew long before this trial: you can’t win an argument. You can certainly persuade someone to see things your way, but you can only do that through discussion, not argument. When you discuss something, that means that you’re listening to the other person’s point of view. When you argue, you’re no longer listening; you’re just trying to “win.” That being said, what started out as one or two fairly decent points made by Juror #11 evolved into pathetic, desperate attempts to disprove EVERYTHING. Now I’ll admit that I was just as guilty as everyone else in displaying my outright hatred towards him. At one point, I asked him, “What would it take for you to find Boyd guilty? Did you have to actually see him shoot Deron Powell in order to find him guilty?”

“Yes!”

“Yes?”

“Yes! At this point, with all the things in this case that don’t add up, yes, I would’ve had to have witnessed the shooting!”

“WHAT OTHER THINGS DON’T…” I started to ask, but then I stopped myself. I stopped myself because I knew that there was no point. Other jurors finished my question by asking him what other things don’t add up, but by then, pissed off, I stopped listening. What was the point? It was abundantly clear that that guilty FUCKING CUNT was going to get away with murder! I tried to convince myself that it didn’t matter, that if Boyd “walked,” he would eventually end up dead or in jail anyway. After all, it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t going to go on to become a cardiovascular surgeon. But you have to understand that in a deliberation room, these arguments can get pretty heated. Why shouldn’t they? Not only were we given a tremendous responsibility, but we spent eight days on this.

But then, about ten minutes later, things finally changed. We had asked to see the gun, and it was at that point that Juror #11’s autism was actually put into good use. Remember that Boyd claimed to have pushed the gun down while trying to stop Ghost from shooting Deron Powell. Juror #11 asked me to help him act out Boyd’s story. He then pressed the gun into my stomach, which was really quite creepy. Granted, the gun wasn’t loaded, and it was in a clear plastic bag, but there’s something really disconcerting about having a gun pressed into your stomach, especially when you know that that very same gun has been used in the past to end someones life. Anyway, acting like Boyd, I grunted something in ebonics and pushed the gun down. The gun was smaller than my hand (as well as every other man’s hand who served on the jury) which was the one fact that FINALLY convinced Juror #11 of Boyd’s guilt.

Allow me to explain. When a gun is fired, the casing from the bullet’s shell comes out of the top of the gun. If the gun that was used to kill Deron Powell had been bigger, it’s plausible to think that someone can push the end of a gun down without any consequence. However, the gun being as small as it was, Boyd would have burned the living shit out of his hand. He had testified that he only burned his hand a little bit. It wasn’t until three days after the murder occurred that the cops arrested him down in Florida. Therefore, if he had been only slightly burned, the burns could have healed by then. But Juror #11 explained that with a gun as small as this one, Boyd’s burns would have been so bad that he would have needed to be hospitalized. “Yeah, ” said Juror #11, “he’s definitely guilty.” YES!!!”

Unfortunately, the jury found Boyd guilty of manslaughter and weapons possession, but not guilty of murder. Again, the difference between manslaughter and murder is intent. The reason why certain jury members didn’t think that Boyd intended to kill Deron Powell wasn’t because of what Guardanino said in his closing arguments about how Boyd only fired one shot, and how it was “only” fired into Powell’s stomach instead of his head. It was because during cross-examination, Boyd testified that his reputation in the neighborhood was really important to him, and that he wanted to fight Deron Powell to show other people not to “snitch.” Even though the jury found Boyd guilty of shooting Deron Powell, several of them thought that he only shot him to “send a message.” Can you believe that? I said, “That’s bullshit! If you shoot someone in the stomach, then you’re a stupid animal who deserves whatever comes to you, regardless of what your intention was.” There were jurors who agreed with me, but due to the concept of reasonable doubt, all twelve jurors needed to agree with me in order to find him guilty of murder, which they didn’t. I didn’t argue with them. I was just relieved that we finally found Boyd guilty of something.

* * * * * * *

We filled out the verdict sheet and gave it to a court officer to deliver to the judge. The room that we were kept in had two bathrooms, and I suggested to my fellow jurors that we quietly hide in the bathrooms and make the court officer think that we left. Everyone laughed, not knowing that I was serious. This is a problem that occurs every day of my life. And while I’m on the subject of laughter, no matter how many great ideas I’m constantly coming up with, the next idea that I had was the best one EVER! Boyd testified that he shoved the gun up his sleeve because it was a natural instinct for him to do that every time he picks something up. I said to the jury foreman, “You HAVE to do this! When the judge asks you to read the verdict, pull it out of your sleeve!” The room exploded in laughter.

“No way,” said the foreman, “I can’t do that!”

I pulled all of the cash out of my wallet ($40) and slapped it down on the table in front of him. “Yes you can!” I said.

Even for $40, fearing that he would get into trouble, he refused to do it. Could he really have gotten into trouble? The trial was over!

*  *  *  *  *  *

Ever since the day that Boyd flipped out, I predicted that if we were to find him guilty, he would try to flee from the courtroom. Those suspicions only grew larger on the day that Boyd looked at me and said, “You don’t ever want to go to jail! Trust me! You don’t want to go to jail!” Apparently, Judge Reinbach had made the same prediction, because when we were lead back into the courtroom, Boyd was surrounded by six court officers! And just in case he suddenly developed superhuman strength  and was able to fight off all six officers, two more were waiting at the door.

“Has the jury reached a verdict?” asked the judge.

“Yes we have,” said the foreman.

Boyd didn’t look at us. He just stared down at the defendants table.

“In the charge of second degree murder, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”

“Not guilty.”

Deron Powell’s mother and grandmother were the only two people watching the trial that day. The mother gasped in frustration and shook her head. Guardanino smiled. Scumbag! I didn’t see ADA Walsh’s reaction.

“In the charge of manslaughter, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”

“Guilty.”

Boyd had only the slightest reaction to this, his head quickly moving to the left about half an inch. It was as if he had been slapped, but only by a baby.

“In the charge of weapons possession, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”

“Guilty.”

The judge then made a brief speech in which he thanked us for our patience throughout the trial, and we were dismissed.

I looked at Terrence Boyd one final time. His temper had caused him to take the life of another human being. His temper had caused him to have an outburst during the trial. If that outburst hadn’t occurred, six court officers would not have been currently surrounding him. But the outburst did occur, and so did a murder. And as a result, there would be no more outbursts. Instead, Boyd sat there, still staring down at the table.

Helpless.

 

cc: Jude Law

David Justice

Judge Judy

 

 

October 16, 2006

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