Friday, March 15, 2024

Jury Duty Littered with Sex: My Life This Past Week -- Part 1

This past week, I have had most of my daytime hours wrapped up in jury service. I was originally scheduled to serve in January, but my brother-in-law had already scheduled a week-long visit to Arizona then, so I asked that my service be deferred. Strangely enough, a different brother-in-law (and his wife) scheduled a visit for this week, thinking that I likely wouldn't serve on a jury. Ha!

My jury week started on Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m. After waking and showering, I git dressed and headed from just outside the north side of Phoenix to downtown. There is nothing like running into that morning commute traffic. I had never been to the district court house and had trouble finding the parking garage jurors were to use. Instead of being at the jury meeting room promptly at 8:00 a.m., I slithered in seven minutes late. Fortunately, several more came in after me, and there some delays and problems with video equipment meant that we sat around for an extended time. When the judge for our case was ready for us, we lined up and headed to a court room. There were 37 of us, from whom a jury pool of 13 (12 plus one alternate) would be chosen. I figured that I would probably be one of those excused.

Once the judge began asking us questions, it was apparent that there were several kooks in the group. One guy talked about what a sacrifice it was for him to be there, how he should be excused, and anything else he could say in a negative fashion to make sure that he was excused. After making a total ass of himself, I guess he figured that he needed a little icing on the cake, and explained that he didn't trust the government. Dork. We were alerted that there was a significant sexual component to the trial, as it dealt with an adult who was attempting to have sex with a young girl. Several of the jury pool claimed to be so triggered that they could not be impartial. Some even related their own brief personal stories of being molested when young. There seemed to be a lot of pain in the group.

I had one thing going for me and one against, depending on whether it was from the perspective of the prosecutors or the defense. I had to divulge that my oldest brother was a sheriff in the state for 17 years. However, a point for the other side was scored when I related that I had served on a previous jury  where the defendant was found not guilty. We broke for lunch at noon and were told to report back at 1:00 p.m. Thirteen would be selected for the jury and the rest would be excused and considered to have fulfilled their obligation. I was thinking that my chances were about 50/50 since some people had already been excused and some others were pretty obviously not going to be selected. From the group of 37, I had been juror #2. Therefore, after lunch, the wait was short when the jurors were announced. "The following jurors will be staying: #2, ..." I was now officially juror #1 for the trial. The selected jurors were all seated and sworn in, and the case began immediately. The judge was a former marine and ran a taut courtroom, which we all appreciated.

The prosecution laid out the basic story: a 48-year-old man connected with a 13-year-old girl on Instagram and traveled to Phoenix from another state to have sex with her. There was a chat log of about 700 pages and several pictures and videos that man had sent to the girl -- pictures/videos of his erect penis, of him masturbating, of women performing oral sex on other women, and of women pleasuring themselves. We would see much more of the defendant that we would ever want to see. However, there was one fatal flaw in the man's plan: the 13-year-old girl was actually an adult female FBI agent who had used an age regression app for her photos so that she looked much younger -- like maybe about 13 years old. The defendant was apprehended after he arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport with condoms, vibrators, and other sex articles. A court order stated the following: 

"Defendant is charged with three counts, each of which relate to his attempt to engage in sexual acts with an individual who he believed was a 13-year-old girl: (i) attempted coercion and enticement of a minor in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b), which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a
maximum sentence of life; (ii) travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(b) and (f), which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years;
and (iii) attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1470,
which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years."

The defense said in its opening statement that we should keep in mind the following saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. It was clear that they had a strategy to discredit the work of the undercover FBI agent. The prosecution had a few minor witnesses, like someone employed by Meta (Instagram) and a cell phone data extraction expert. But the whole case revolved around the FBI agent who posed as a 13-year-old girl. She was the one who chatted the defendant up and developed almost the entire case. She was on the stand for more than a day.

To be continued ...

Thanks for reading. Part 2 coming soon.


Post a Comment

<< Home