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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Deliberating a complex case

By Kate Pastor

Posted

The Riverdale Press was able to interview two jurors who served in the Kevin Spellman trial.

They painted a vivid picture of the deliberations in the jury room. According to the first, who asked to remain anonymous because he resides within the confines of the 50th Precinct and is concerned for his safety, the verdict easily could have come back not guilty on all counts. 

“I was actually ready to hang the jury because I just couldn’t see letting this man go,” he said. 

His characterization of a jury swaying heavily in the direction of the defense until days before the verdict was backed up by another juror, who said he did not want to be named because he works for New York City and did not believe his superiors would approve of his talking to the press.

The dynamic, they both said, changed when two alternates replaced the foreman and another juror. One was sick and the other was allowed to step down for necessary job training. 

During the trial, the defense called into question whether the blood test Mr. Spellman eventually submitted to under warrant — after refusing two Breathalyzer tests — had been contaminated. The machine used to test the blood had been serviced around the time Mr. Spellman’s blood was tested. 

Jurors said there was reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the reading, but the case for acquittal on all charges hinged on whether Mr. Spellman could have been expected to see Ms. Nikac in the crosswalk. 

The first juror insisted that he was alone in insisting that — although he approached the intersection on a small incline — Mr. Spellman should have known to slow down. 

“I had to remind several jurors that this man had known the area,” he said, noting that the streetlights and the vehicle were both functioning properly. 

The second juror said the panel struggled over  “reasonable doubt” versus “possible doubt” before arriving at their decision, which came afer eight days of deliberation. 

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