Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tough Decisions

I've been debating on whether I wanted to blog about this, but I really need to vent again, so here goes.  All this week, I have been serving on the jury of a criminal trial in court in downtown Lansing.  There were actually two related crimes involved - criminal sexual conduct 3rd and criminal sexual conduct 4th.  Basically a rape trial.  It really was very stressful to have to sit and listen to all the witnesses, see and hear all of the personal and way too intimate details, and watch the victim break down on the stand, and not be able to react. I am a very emotional being.  But I gotta tell ya -  DNA really does say it all.  If you would have asked me yesterday to find a verdict on this with all the other so called evidence, and didn't even HAVE DNA?   He would have walked.  He would have been free to think he got away with something.  But DNA had him.  In fact, it had him so completely and confidently that we wondered why we were there.  It seems like he would have changed his story (basically a he said/she said from almost FIVE years ago), knowing that it proved so convincingly that he did it.  Ultimately, it all came down to today's expert witness with her chart and her confidence.  It didn't take us long at all once we arrived in our room - most of us had our minds set on the verdicts of each count after the DNA testimony and the KILLER closing by the prosecutor.  He may be new, but he nailed it.  There were only THREE of the 12 that had to be convinced otherwise, and with the help of the copious notes taken by two of the jurors, as well as the presence of a scientist with a PHD in a related field ON our jury, it didn't take us long to come to a unanimous conclusion.  To add to my stress - they appointed ME foreperson.  The one who had to do the leading in the room, and the one that had to read the verdicts out loud in the courtroom.  One of each:  not guilty on the lesser charge, and sadly, but truthfully, guilty of the rape charge.  It was very hard and we talked about it a long time after we decided to be sure we were all REALLY sure.  They are both so young.  They were just barely 18 when they both made stupid decisions, and now he will have to pay for that decision for 15 to 20 years.  Of which he will probably serve about 1/3.  But her life has been forever changed by the unfortunate incident, too, and she deserves some peace, that I hope she will get, from the verdict.    I never experienced the college dorm thing, nor have very many of my family members.  We lived close enough to campus that my brothers commuted. I just did a semester at Lansing Community College.  I'm sure that being able to be out on your own for the first time and make your own decisions is exciting, so I just hope that I can appeal to any college students that may read this, or even their friends or family members, PARENTS - underage drinking and parties in the dorms are NOT a good idea.  It can lead to so many problems, and in this case, a choice that is going to change both of their lives forever.  So sad.  He's just 21.  She's in her early 20's too.  Babies.  He's going to prison.  Not just JAIL.  PRISON.   So sad.  It was hard to read that verdict, and even though we were led immediately back to our jury room afterward, we heard screaming and crying coming from the courtroom.  We could only guess that it was the release of stress and accusations between the two families, culminating after all this time.  The judge on the case came back to talk to us for awhile, and was very sad, too, that the decision (the right decision in his mind, too) had to be made.  A few of the jurors had teenagers themselves that are probably right this minute getting HUGE lectures from their parents about dorms, and drinking and decisions they make. 
So there's my vent.  My rant.  I just had to get this off my chest after, of course, needing to stay silent for the past week.  I hope I don't have to do that again.....EVER. 
Back to the bead table - which will take the stress away.....

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