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June 2, 2010

Oregon v. Beagley Verdict Watch!

Posted: 12:55 PM ET

Question of the day: If you were a juror in this case, what would your verdict be and why?

Filed under: Question of the day • Verdict Watch


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December 9, 2009

Jury gets diabetes drug death case

Posted: 05:40 PM ET

Savannah, TN - A jury late Wednesday began deliberating the murder case of Sherron Chason, a registered nurse accused of killing her husband with a fatal dose of a diabetes drug. Earlier Wednesday, defense attorney Daniel Warlick asked the judge to acquit his client, claiming the prosecution had failed to present sufficient evidence that Chason was responsible for her husband's death.  That motion was denied and the trial continued with closing arguments and instructions to the jury.

–In Session Staff

Filed under: Trials • Verdict Watch


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November 24, 2009

VERDICT WATCH: Jury gets double-murder case

Posted: 02:48 PM ET

Fort Myers, Florida – Jurors on Tuesday began deliberating the fate of a Fort Myers man accused of murdering his estranged wife and mother-in-law. Prosecutors say Juan Mendez Jr. stabbed Whitney Mendez and her mother over 20 times each in July 2006. He is charged with two counts of second-degree murder. If convicted, Mendez faces life in prison.

–In Session Staff

Filed under: Trials • Verdict Watch


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August 22, 2008

Fitzpatrick waits while jury deliberates

Posted: 08:54 AM ET

WOBURN, Massachusetts–The fate of Sean Fitzpatrick – charged with the double murders of Michael Zammitti, Jr. and Chester Roberts on March 13, 2006 – is now in the hands of a Massachusetts jury. The unsequestered panel of four men and eight women received the case Thursday afternoon – but after two hours, the jurors left for the day without reaching a decision. They’ll be back at it beginning at 9:00 am this morning.

Prosecutors charge that Fitzpatrick murdered Zammitti because he was in love with Zammitti’s wife, Michele, and wanted to remove a romantic rival. They allege that the defendant then killed Chester Roberts, Michael Zammitti’s employee, because he stumbled onto the scene – a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the defense insists that Fitzpatrick is an innocent man, and argues that the police neglected other, more obvious leads in its rush to judgment.

In Session will be live during verdict watch. Stay tuned.

–In Session staff

Filed under: Trials • Verdict Watch


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April 24, 2008

One man holds Sean Bell case in his hands

Posted: 07:00 PM ET

NEW YORK – The verdict in the Sean Bell case is due Friday morning. How do we know exactly when the verdict is coming down? Well, that’s just one of the many intriguing aspects of this case.

Sean Bell was the 23-year-old man who was shot and killed by police outside a New York nightclub just hours before he was to be married. The defendants - three police detectives - are charged with manslaughter and reckless endangerment as a result of the shooting death.  Read more

We know the precise time the verdict will be returned because the defendants chose to waive a jury trial and place their fate in the hands of a judge. That’s certainly a unique approach to a criminal defense, but in this case the attorneys and their clients apparently felt a judge might be less influenced than jurors by the emotions of the case.

Their defense is that the detectives were following up on suspicions concerning drug deals and weapons when they encountered Bell and his friends. Two of Bell’s friends were wounded in the shooting and none of them was armed, the investigation later disclosed.

At this point, the stories diverge dramatically. The prosecution says the police opened fire with no provocation, while the defense says the victims refused to respond to commands to exit their car and, in fact, attempted to run the police over.

Judge Arthur Cooperman, a veteran trial judge, heard the testimony and has said he will announce his decision Friday. It’s an unenviable position for any jurist, given the combustible reactions the city has witnessed in past alleged police brutality cases.

Certainly, the fact that two of the detectives are men of color, as was Sean Bell, will hopefully tend to mitigate any allegations of racism in the shooting.

In any event, justice in this case will be offered solely through the findings of one man, rather than 12 members of the community. The city hopes that, whatever is determined by that one man, the legacy of the Sean Bell case will not involve more violence.

Jack Ford, In Session anchor

Filed under: Verdict Watch


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April 15, 2008

Verdict Watch: The jury has many questions

Posted: 06:06 PM ET

DETROIT, Michigan – We are on verdict watch. The jury left at 5 p.m. Tuesday after deliberating for three hours and 40 minutes in the “thrill kill” case of Michigan v. Jean Pierre Orlewicz. There have been several notes from the jury, one of which is very interesting.

ALT TEXT

The jurors asked if they could learn the sentencing differences between first-degree premeditated murder and second degree murder.

In a polite but firm tone, the judge reminded them they should not be concerned with the years Orlewicz might serve if convicted. The judge expressed her concern that "some of you are considering the penalty here...this is not appropriate."

Orlewicz is 18 years old and common sense tells me his young age may be on the mind of some of these jurors. Watch his testimony

The jury also asked for the statements of prosecution witness Adam Duwe, the teen Orlewicz said was going to be extorted on November 7, 2007, as well as the statements of Alex Letkemann. Duwe did not give a statement to police and only one statement of Letkemann’s was entered into evidence. The jury has that now. Jurors also asked for and received 10 photos, including two of the body of Dan Sorensen.

The families have been in the courtroom waiting. The Sorensen family seems at ease, talking with close friends. The Orlewicz family seems on edge. Attorneys from both sides are in the well of the courtroom conversing.

The jury resumes deliberations Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Jean Casarez, In Session correspondent

Filed under: Trials • Verdict Watch


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February 26, 2008

Verdict Watch: Ex-cop faces death penalty

Posted: 01:46 PM ET

CANTON, Ohio – The same jurors who found Bobby Cutts Jr. guilty of the murders of his girlfriend and unborn daughter today are deliberating his fate. They have four choices: death, life without parole, 30 years to life or 25 years to life. Their verdict must be unanimous.

”ALT

Cutts took the stand Monday in his own defense for the second time in two weeks. This time, it was a tearful plea to spare his life. Our producer and other court observers counted four jurors - men and women – crying as well. Watch Cutts' tearful plea

Ten defense witnesses testified on Cutts’ behalf. Renee Jones, Cutts’ mother was the first; Cutts, himself, the last. In between mother and son were Cutts’ sister, father, cousin, ex-wife, a Canton police officer/friend, another friend, his elementary school teacher and a psychologist, known as a mitigation expert. Watch a mother's pain

Jurors heard that Cutts, who has two daughters and one son from three women, was an excellent father. But these jurors have already convicted Cutts of the crime of endangering children for leaving his two year old son, Blake, alone for 26 hours after murdering Blake’s mother, Jessie Davis, and soon-to-be-born sister, Chloe, last June.

Jurors heard that, as a police officer, Cutts saved the life of a man who was about to jump off a bridge but these jurors have already convicted Cutts of taking the lives of two people. Jurors also heard that Cutts was a gifted student in elementary school and did well through high school and some years of college; that he is an athlete; and that he has no mental illnesses or major psychological disorders. In fact, the psychologist opined that Cutts is unlikely to be violent in the future.

At the end of the day, Cutts made a statement. He apologized to the Davis family and to his own family, especially his mother, father and ex-wife, Kelly. He thanked Jessie Davis’s mother for taking such good care of Blake since last June.

Choking up, he told jurors that he can never forgive himself for leaving little Blake alone for so many hours because of his own selfishness and he thanked God for watching over Blake during that time. At the end, he apologized to his high school friend, Myisha Ferrell, for bringing her into his nightmare. Ferrell is currently serving two years in prison for her role in accompanying Cutts to dispose of the bodies and then lying to police about it. His final statement to the jury was to spare his life.

Yes, there were tears in that courtroom when Cutts spoke, not only from Cutts but from his family and, most significantly, from several jurors. But there were few tears on the Davis side of the courtroom. They have shed plenty of tears since June 15, 2007, when Jessie was reported missing and will surely shed more. But their tears are not for Cutts and his plea for mercy.

– Beth Karas, In Session correspondent

Filed under: Death penalty • Verdict Watch


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Race and the death penalty

Posted: 01:08 PM ET

NEW YORK – A jury in Ohio, as I write, is faced with the agonizing decision of whether to recommend the death penalty for convicted double murderer Bobby Cutts, Jr.

The single most determining factor, proved by study after study, as to whether an American murderer is sentenced to death or life imprisonment is surely something that will never be breathed aloud during those deliberations: Race. An African-American defendant who kills a white victim is far more likely to be sentenced to death than other murderers.

Racial bias in administration of the death penalty has led to its ban in New Jersey and a moratorium in Maryland. The U.S. General Accounting Office and Amnesty International have expressed grave concerns about the significantly enhanced likelihood of African-American defendants, or killers of white victims, receiving death sentences.

This case presents both to an all-white jury.

Lisa Bloom, In Session anchor

Filed under: Death penalty • Verdict Watch


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February 21, 2008

Verdict Watch: Reading tea leaves

Posted: 10:37 AM ET

ELKHORN, Wisconsin - After a total of 24 hours of deliberation, the jury in Wisconsin v. Jensen sent a note at the relatively early hour of 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, saying they had made much progress but was ready to call it a night.

”ALT

I watched the jurors as they entered the courtroom and they seemed to be in better moods. In fact, I saw a couple of smiles from female jurors toward the prosecutor's table.

Those same jurors looked into the gallery and they appeared to me to be looking for Julie Jensen's brothers, who always sit in the front row closest to the jury. The four brothers were still at the courthouse, but not in the courtroom at the moment.

I didn't see any jurors look toward the defense table where Mark Jensen was sitting next to his attorney Craig Albee. Those are my objective observations and I won’t speculate on what they mean. We will see what happens today.

– Jean Casarez, In Session correspondent

Filed under: Verdict Watch


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February 20, 2008

Verdict Watch: A long night

Posted: 10:49 AM ET

ELKHORN, Wisconsin – At 11:15 p. m. Tuesday, the jury deliberating in Wisconsin v. Jensen sent a note saying they are tired and want to reconvene this morning. The jury deliberated for 14 hours and 20 minutes on its first day with the case. Read more

There weren't too many of us hanging around late last night. Victim Julie Jensen's four brothers sat in the courtroom, in the row in front of mine. They remain so loyal to their sister and kept vigil all evening. I have not seen anyone from defendant Mark Jensen’s family.

At one point, defense attorney Craig Albee asked the judge to send the jurors home for the night, saying he believed there was a possibility they might feel they are being coerced to reach a verdict. Judge Schroeder dismissed that argument, saying the jurors have given no indication they want to leave, so let's leave them alone.

The jurors must be psychic. Their note arrived soon afterward announcing they are tired and want to retire for the night.

The jurors looked look really tired and worn out as they filed into the courtroom. I may also see a bit of frustration. Watch: Are they getting close?

Today is a new day. Deliberations resume at 10:30 a.m.

Jean Casarez, In Session correspondent

Filed under: Verdict Watch


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