One Juror

O

One Juror.

In Lubbock, Texas

Should have gone to jail for perjury.

Let’s cover the story, then I will tell you why the juror should have gone to jail for perjury.

In 2005, according to “48 Hours” and local news sources, Levi King, a young Missouri man in his twenties, stole some guns and ammunition from his uncle’s house. He went down the road a short distance away, and killed a man and a woman, and took the man’s truck.

He drove across Oklahoma into the small town of Pampa, Texas, chose a road at random, drove down it to a farmhouse, and broke into the house. He killed three people before he found ten-year old Robin Doan with her head covered up in her bed. He shot once, missed, but didn’t know it, she played dead, and he left and went rummaging around in the rest of the house for whatever he could find.

The three people he killed were Robin’s stepfather, her pregnant mother, and her fourteen-year old brother. King also killed the family dog.

The ammunition he used was of Russian make, and it didn’t take long for the investigators to tie him to the Missouri killings and the Texas massacre.

King was tried first for the Missouri killings and received two life sentences without parole. In 2009, the District Attorney in Lubbock, the county seat where Pampa is located, decided to try King for the Texas murders and seek the death penalty.

Let me digress here to demonstrate what can be the unknown in selecting a jury.

When our son was in the local District Attorney’s office, he had a case of child abuse that he was going to try. Both he as the prosecutor and the defense attorney had jury strikes, maybe like seven each. I don’t exactly remember. Why are people struck from a jury? Bias, prejudice that comes in all shapes and sizes, and about a 100 other reasons. Both sides are allowed to question the prospective jurors or jury pool or venire as lawyers like to call the people. Sometimes you get a really lousy jury pool, and more than seven strikes are needed to even have a chance for a fair trial.

Our son used his strikes for the worst of the worst, but still had one idiot left, man or woman I don’t recall, whom he could not strike.

He knew who the idiot juror was, but in a sense got lucky, because the idiot juror was in the sixth chair which is the last one to the right on the front row. That’s important because a lawyer cannot go into the jury box during the time he is questioning a witness or simply demonstrating to the jury what happened.

This outstanding citizen of the human race who was on trial had burnt the back of his 3 or 4-year old son. There were three round, medium size burn marks.

In looking at the jury, our son knew he already had 11 of the jurors convinced of the man’s guilt when they saw pictures of the burns on the kid’s back, but there was the one idiot who might be a holdout, a rather smartass.

It took our son a while to figure out what caused those burn marks. The man and his wife had been staying at a motel because their house had burned down (this man would later be tried for arson and convicted.) The insurance company was paying for this because the insurance policy on the house was what is called in today’s terms replacement, which also carried a clause that the insurance company would pay for housing while their house was rebuilt.

Turns out what this father used to burn his son was the round bathtub stopper that he heated with a cigarette lighter until it was very hot and pressed it against the kid’s back.

Even though the kid was a year or two older now, he was still not old enough to make total sense to the jury.

After having the bathtub stopper admitted as evidence, our son, without a word, retrieved it from the evidence table, walked slowly to the jury box, while heating the bathtub stopper with a cigarette lighter, went deliberately to the extreme right of the jury box, still heating the bathtub stopper, and when assured that it was hot, almost stuck it on the nose of the idiot juror.

The defense attorney jumped up to object, almost screaming, and the judge admonished our son for doing that. The idiot juror breathed a sigh of relief, but our son knew any sympathy that juror had for the defendant was gone, and the case was decided then and there.

The jury did have to make it a formality, but that didn’t take long, hardly enough time for the them to go in the deliberation room, sit down, and come back with a decision.

The Levi King jury in Lubbock consisted of eleven women and one man, the man being elected foreperson of the jury.

Let me explain something further about the legal system. I don’t know how many people were in the jury pool or venire for the Levi King trial in Lubbock.

The largest jury pool I am personally aware of in a murder trial was 54, which means the prosecution would have had 20 strikes as did the defense. That would have left 12 jurors and 2 alternates.

I have to believe that the Lubbock trial had a similar sized jury pool or maybe even larger. But some of those potential jurors would have been averse to the death potential.

If that is a significant number, the prosecution could use up all their strikes just getting rid of those who will not issue a death penalty.

As a legal relief for the prosecution, the judge can often ask those in the jury pool to raise their hands if they object to the death penalty.

If that happened and the one woman juror in the Levi King trial who would not vote for the death penalty, and did not raise her hand, she would have been guilty of perjury.  She didn’t have to say anything. She would have still been guilty of perjury.

But if that did not happen, any prosecutor of any case I’ve ever written or read about with the death penalty on the table, will always ascertain from the jury pool by asking questions of each and every one of them if they object to the death penalty, provided the prosecutor has convinced the jury to find the defendant guilty.

If there is not one to object to the death penalty, and the jury votes guilty and in the penalty phase that one woman later changes her mind in the deliberation room that is still perjury.

The prosecutor should have later put that woman on trial for perjury. First that woman would have been identified publicly, not for physical harm, but to show that she lied. When convicted, which I think a jury would have done, she could have spent six months or a year in prison.

Why is that important? Because when word of this woman’s prosecution spread across the country, people who try to sit on juries who oppose the death penalty would have identified themselves immediately by sticking their hands In the air so high they might touch the ceiling, and they would be gone from the jury.

Levi King was transported back to Missouri to serve out his two life terms. In legal terms I’m not sure what that is, maybe 240 years. After that he can be transported back to Texas to serve a life term for killing those who were the closest to Robin Doan there ever will be.

Meanwhile, the one woman who stalled the jury in Lubbock, and the other 11 had to vote for life instead of death as they wanted, to keep the judge from declaring a mistrial, this one woman is out walking the streets a free woman. Or maybe she might not be so free because her conscience has gotten to her. I doubt that.

Why does the word idiot keep coming to my mind?

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