Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

I’m so disappointed the Conrad Murray trial isn’t on today. I’m addicted to detailed medical testimony. I know what you’re thinking: “Who isn’t?”

The witness scheduled to testify today had a death in his family, so court is adjourned. Online reports also say the defense has to retool its theory that Michael Jackson dosed himself with Propofol, since the autopsy report shows that isn’t possible.

I have been glued to this trial, watching it live or recording it every day. Back in 2001, I served on the jury of a murder trial. It was August, so I had nothing better to do. I may have been the only person in the jury room thinking “Pick me! Pick me!” I knew I had a good chance to be on the jury. I was one of the last people in our jury pool of 80 interviewed in voir dire. The lawyers didn’t ask me any questions. Once I said I was a teacher, both sides wanted me. It feels good to be wanted.

Once the jury and two alternates were seated, I discovered I was serving on a murder trial! The defendant, Charlies, had allowed Richard, the victim, to pick him up at a convenience store (both were gay men), romance him in a local park on Easter Sunday, then take him back to his place to continue their hook-up. Charles was homeless and opportunistic. Richard offered him a place to stay in exchange for some yard work (and sex, apparently). This yard work involved removing a tree stump with an axe. Later, Charles also removed Richard with the axe. Struck him 13 times. I saw photographs of the autopsy and a video of the room where the slaying took place. It was gruesome, for sure.

There was never any doubt as to Charles’ guilt. We jurors were asked to decide degree of guilt. I learned about how carefully worded the law is and struggled to interpret it as it applied to my case. Deliberation is required in first degree murder, but how long does it take to deliberate? A day? An hour? A second? If you can “deliberate” in a second, what is the difference between impulse and careful thought? Can we think carefully in a second? And how can anyone ever prove what anyone thought or intended?

It was this last question that decided Charles’ fate. The prosecution could not prove that he planned or deliberated before he killed. They just couldn’t do that. So we decided on second degree murder, and he was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison.

During the trial, I was reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I wondered if it would have bothered the defense or judge to know I was reading that, but no one ever asked me what I was reading. If it had been a high-profile case like the Dr. Conrad Murray trial, I’m sure they would have wanted to know what I was reading. It bothered me that the lawyers never asked me any questions beyond my name, age and occupation. They grilled other potential jurors. One man in particular they questioned for hours. Another the judge refused to dismiss from the voir dire even though he declared that “The justice system is bullshit” and showed up over an hour late on the second day. One of the attorneys got rid of him. The rest of the panel practically applauded when this foul-mouthed, disrespectful hoodlum stormed out of the court. Something tells me he’s been back since, if you get my drift.

I don’t know if it was because I was a teacher or because I was one of the last available jurors that  they picked me. I wasn’t so much chosen as I was NOT excluded. One potential juror was dismissed because he was gay, another because he said he didn’t like gays. No one asked me how I felt about gays. Or straights. Or axes. I had to say my name, spell it, identify the people I lived with (no one), and tell my profession and where I worked. In one minute, both lawyers either thought “Perfect” or “Myeh. She’ll do.” How did they know I didn’t think the justice system was bullshit? How did they know I’d never killed someone with an axe? Did my relatively flabby upper arms give me away?

I wish I could be on the Conrad Murray trial. I can hardly wait to see what will happen next. My absolute favorite part so far was when Dr. Murray’s baby mama testified. He had called her during the time Jackson was under sedation. He also had all of the Propofol shipped to her apartment in Santa Monica where they were shacking up and he was paying her rent. Looking at her, you suspect it isn’t her mind Dr. Murray was interested in. Once she started talking, though, that suspicion was easily confirmed. Some ladies are so star-struck, even being Michael Jackson’s cardiologist will get you laid.

The assistant D.A. questioning her asked if Dr. Murray was paying the bills, and the girlfriend replied that he could chip in if he wanted, that was his decision. Because SHE was WORKING. When asked what her employment was, she replied that she was an actress “with the Screen Actor’s Guild since 1998.” She then pursed her lips, opened her eyes wide and dared anyone to challenge her. As if she didn’t sound stupid enough by claiming the union as her employer, she went on to say that her “duties” included “maintaining [her] instrument” and working on her “craft.”

I think we all know whose instrument she was maintaining.

We’ll never know why. Prosecutors are not required to provide motive.


About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
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