Jury Duty, Part 11: The Deliberations

In which the jury deliberates the case

The first day of deliberations. The judge takes an hour to read us the jury instructions, which we also got a copy of in a binder… which is good, because we have to refer to them a LOT during the deliberation.

So… we’re led upstairs to our jury room and locked inside, told that we’d be going out for lunch but until then we have privacy to deliberate.

The first order of business is to pick a foreman, and that took us quite some time. No one WANTS to be foreman, but we have several people who say they would; a grade school principle and 2 people who worked management in their day jobs. We end up putting their names in a hat and pulling them at random, and juror number 1 is selected. (He does a really great job, so I’m glad we picked him.)

After picking a foreman, we lay some ground rules: we’d keep the same basic schedule (9:15 - 4:30 every day, including Fridays if it took that long); 2 breaks during the day; lunch around noon.

Turns out, we all have to stay together for lunch, there is no dispersing like we have been doing for the past 2 months.

The first day of deliberations, 2 of the bailiffs pile us into a police van and take us for a surprise lunch in Alameda. We end up at Pier 29, which is a pretty good lunch, especially since it was on The Man. You could tell the bailiffs are giddy to get to go out, it is like a field trip for them.

After lunch, we have them take a picture of us to send to the 2 jurors who got dismissed.

We return from lunch around 1:45 and we get down to business.

We work through each defendant and each charge, and pretty much unanimously find them guilty of everything; however, we are reasonable enough to know that we should spend more time thinking about it, and decide that we’d sleep on it overnight and come back the next day to discuss it more.

Turns out that is pretty helpful. The next day I am wavering on the kidnapping special circumstance, because there is evidence that the female victim and Defendant 1 were having a civil discussion and that he might not have forced her to leave with him. Because I’m not sure, I ask that we have some testimony read back to us. It takes the reporter a few hours to gather what we need, and when she did we are called back downstairs and seated.

She reads back word for word the transcripts of several of the witnesses, and it becomes clear that while yes, it may have been a civil conversation, it was still kidnapping. He pointed the gun at people and told them if they talked to the cops he’d come back for them.

That does it for me, so I am ready to convict on kidnapping. Plus, had he not taken her out of there, she’d most likely still be alive today.

Others of us have questions, so as things are brought up I (since I am sitting closest to the pile of evidence) dig through the evidence and find the answers. I get to be really good at reading phone call records and deciphering what text messages mean (holy god, the text messages in this case are nearly…incoherent).

Because we use CALCRIM 540B (the felony murder rule), some of us are having trouble with the multiple murder special circumstance. After much back and forth, we are unable to come to a consensus on if Defendant 1 is guilty of multiple murder.

Once we are done discussing, we are ready to fill out the verdict forms.

Prosecutor Asks Jurors To Convict Three Men In Home Invasion Case

A prosecutor asked jurors Monday to convict three men of two counts of murder for the deaths of two people during a home invasion robbery in East Oakland last year.

Prosecutor Georgia Santos said 24-year-old Joseph Tabron, 56-year-old Joseph Castro and 50-year-old Joseph Silva are all legally responsible for the shooting deaths of Noe Garcia, 28, of Oakland, and 34-year-old Trisha Forde of Union City at a house at 10730 Apricot St., near Blenheim Street, at about 4 a.m. on March 2, 2013.

In her rebuttal closing argument in the lengthy case, Santos said the three defendants, plus two other men, went to the house to steal flat-screen televisions and a San Francisco Giants bobblehead and Forde and Garcia were killed because they were witnesses to the home invasion robbery.

Santos said the evidence in the trial indicates that Tabron killed Garcia but it’s unclear who killed Forde.

But she said all three defendants should be convicted of murder under the felony-murder rule, which holds that if a killing occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a felony the persons responsible for the felony can be found guilty of murder.

Silva gave a statement to Oakland police in September 2013 in which he accepted partial responsibility for the crime and implicated Tabron and Castro, who is Tabron’s uncle.

Silva retracted his statement when he testified during the trial for the three defendants.

His attorney, John McDougall, said Monday that he believes that Silva yielded to tough questioning by police officers.

But Santos told jurors that they should believe Silva’s confession to police because it’s supported by evidence in the case.

She said among the things that jurors should believe is Silva’s statement that Tabron shot Garcia.

But defense attorney William DuBois, who represents Tabron, told jurors in his closing argument on Thursday that he thinks the killings remain “unsolved” and his theory is that Garcia killed Forde out of jealousy and someone else responded by killing Garcia.

DuBois said Tabron, Castro and Silva “are guilty of a number of crimes,” including robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and grand theft, but not murder because he believes there was no connection between the home invasion robbery and the deaths of Garcia and Forde.

However, the three men are only charged with murder, not the other crimes, and will be set free if they aren’t convicted of that charge.

Jurors will begin deliberating this morning after they receive legal instructions from Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer, who is presiding over the case.

The Jury Duty Saga