How did I forget about the jury selection. This could take a few days or longer since it is a death penalty case. The trial is beginning in Saint Petersburg, but of course this part won’t be televised. I am not even sure Trutv will televise the testimony, but I am hoping they will.
But in addition to the death penalty issue in the selection of the jury, gender will probably play a major role as well.
The Naples News reported yesterday that during the deliberations in the first trial, it was four women who were the hold-outs for a not guilty verdict. (BUT there were four women who voted to convict as well, so was it really gender or just a difference of opinion.)
Juror Lynne Johnson reported that early in the deliberations, she and three other women were at odds with the other eight.
Cooper is charged with two counts of capital murder in the killings of Steven and Michelle Andrews, who were found dead in the bedroom of their Gateway home on the morning of December 27, 2005. Prosecutors say Cooper killed the pair in a fit of jealousy after his longtime girlfriend, Kelly Ballew, entered a relationship with Steven Andrews.
Early in the deliberations of Fred Cooper’s first murder trial, juror Lynne Johnson snapped at a male colleague she thought was being disrespectful, she recalled.
The first trial, held in October, ended in a hung jury. The final jury split ended the way it began, with four women voting against conviction.
No smoking gun exists to show Cooper’s involvement in the killings of the Andrewses. Jurors in the first trial said they dismissed DNA evidence that showed Cooper as a possible contributor.
With no direct evidence, Cooper’s believability became an issue in the trial when he told jurors he and Andrews had sex in her driveway the night before she was killed. In the account, first offered by Cooper after he was told investigators had DNA evidence against him, Cooper and Andrews had grown close consoling one about their spouses’ affair.
Some jurors dismissed the account as made up. Others, like Johnson, called it believable.
In an interview, the juror claimed that “none of the women” liked Cooper’s former girlfriend, Kellie Ballew, who had the relationship with Steven Andrews.
“I can’t say I feel sorry for him,” she said. “Do I feel he’s getting railroaded? Yeah, quite possibly.”
I tend to agree with her. I would make one heck of a defense juror. I believe in the death penalty in certain cases, but I would hold the state to their burden and make them prove it to me, especially if the death penalty was on the table.
Jurors can be eliminated for cause if they state they could not under any circumstances render a verdict for the death penalty. Of course, race or gender cannot be used as a reason to eliminate, but each side has a certain number of challenges for which they do not have to give a reason.