One of the many things that have brought us back up to Minnesota and keeping us here is that I have a 2 month stint of jury duty. I have been called for it before but usually get out of it, but not this time. The first summons I received said to call the night before, so I did. The case settled and a jury wasn't needed and that I would get another summons later. A couple of weeks later I got another letter listing a court date and again, call the night before. Hopefully this one will settle too. Nope. The recording said to report the next day bright and early. Dang!
There are no photos because our phones were the first things to be confiscated.
I report to the courthouse and sign in and then wait for orientation. I am looking around and count 34 people. We are in a courtroom so I look at the jury chairs and count 10. Odds are better than 66% of not being picked. I like those odds. After orientation we go to another court room and sit. They start calling names to go sit in the Jury box, however there are about 21 chairs. Dino Olivieri. Dang, they called me. The people that didn't get called are now alternates in case one of us gets booted for one reason or another.
Then the questions start. We were going to hear a criminal case. The judge starts with questions like does anyone know the defendant or any of the witness's being called. Have we been victims of a crime or been accused of a crime. On and on it went. Some peoples answers got them excused from the jury and an alternate would take their place. After the judge came the lawyers. They grilled everyone again. Finally it was time to pick 13 for the jury. Now it is about a 45% chance of not being picked. Dino Olivieri. Dang! That whole process took about 3 hours. So we were sworn in and then let go for lunch and the trial would start when we returned.
The trial was for a man that was accused of stealing a pickup truck from the parking lot of the local grocery store. The judge told us to remember that he is innocent until proven guilty and it was the states attorney's job to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. The first witness was the man who had gotten his truck stolen. He said that he left his keys inside the truck and unlocked. He noticed some people in the car next to him but did not see the defendant. He knew who he was by the way. He goes into the store and about 5 minutes later comes out and his truck is gone. This happened Dec. 16th, 2016.
I wish the jury could ask questions because during the trial the attorney's could have asked better questions. At times I wanted to raise my hand but we couldn't.
6 days later they find the truck in another town. It was parked at an apartment complex that had 2 apartment buildings. It was parked at the building that the defendant didn't live in. The apartment manager called the cops because it needed to be moved for snow removal. So the local cop runs the plates and discovers it stolen. He has it sealed and then towed to Fergus Falls. The detectives photograph everything and they find a water bottle inside of it. They do a DNA swab and send it to Minneapolis to the BCA. Months go by and they finally interview the defendant because the apartment manager says she saw him near the truck. He voluntarily gives the police a DNA sample. So now his DNA matched the DNA on the bottle.
How ever there was more than one DNA on the bottle. According to the DNA specialist that did the sample she said there were 2 or more DNA profiles on it. But his was the only one linked because that was the only one they had.
They showed us the security footage at the grocery store. The truck was parked so far away that all you could see was a person in dark clothing get in and drive away with a mini van hot on its tail.
So with all the evidence presented and the closing arguments given, it took us about 20 minutes to determine that he was not guilty. Leaving us with more questions. Like the man that had it stolen from never recovered a briefcase and his wallet that was left in the truck. However the drivers license was found in another town but the lawyers never asked what town that was. Also, why wasn't the apartment manager called as a witness. She supposedly saw him near the truck. If she saw him near the truck, why didn't she just go to his apartment and ask him to move it? The lawyers should have asked the owner if he remembers the type of vehicle that was next to him. He said a car but the mini van left with the truck.
Another thing. Multiple DNA's on the water bottle? Who else drank out of it and who would have put it in the truck? Shoddy work by the Fergus Falls detectives. They didn't take one fingerprint at all from the truck. They thought the DNA would be enough. If they would have taken a fingerprint and the defendants fingerprint was on the wheel, that would have placed him in the vehicle. But they didn't. The video shows someone getting into the truck but you couldn't tell who it was.
Not Guilty. It was kind of interesting to say the least. Getting to play Perry Mason.
I thought now that we were on a jury we would be released from the list. But no, I still have another month to go and could be called again. This is being published without my editor's approval because she is on vacation.