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I love jury duty. I love it so much. Not just because it gets me out of work, though that was a huge plus. I recently did another stint with another crazy case, and it was great. Also, they have a new courthouse with a super sweet, huge, comfy jury room. Much to my delight, the same public defender who was on jury duty case #2 (Mr. "My bad!" that lied amusingly) was on this one too, so I knew I got to look out for some crazy good lies. I was not disappointed.
The case involved a 30something woman who was...somehow...knowing a 60something former(?) meth addict who did some time for that.* These days he's just on beer and pot. Anyway, he lives in a motorhome but happens to have an old truck. One day she drops by his motorhome and he discovers once she left that his truck key, which is hanging in the cab area, is missing.** Freaked out over that, and suspecting either her or his brother, who he saw talking together after this, he lets the air out of his tire so nobody can make off with the truck. Sadly, this doesn't work and when he returns the next morning, the truck is gone.
* The defense lawyer claimed they were in a romantic relationship off and on for a year. Likewise, she seems to have hinted as such here and there while getting arrested. I am actually pretty sure the truck owner did not date her. For one, he said they didn't. For two, I am normally hella suspicious of a 60something dude being around a 30something woman, but this dude frankly didn't strike me as having the energy/mojo to care. For three, at one point he said he thought she might be dating his brother. And for four, we found out later who she was dating.
** The defense also said specifically he had a second key made for her use of the truck. Truck owner said, "no, I didn't, replacement keys cost $75."
On day 2, the truck owner reports the theft to the police, and gives the defendant's number to the police. Police officer calls her, and she says she knows nothing about it.
On day 3, in another town, a cop spots the missing truck with her in it--she and presumably someone else appear to be looting through someone's recycling bins (note to looters: not legal to do). He arrests her and we got to see the cameras of this as she ranted in the backseat, mentioning stuff like "my boyfriend did just die" (this does not appear to be the case anywhere), and that the truck owner is mad at her for not going to the casino with him, and she hints something about "relationships, whatever, s--, whatever, and I'm not like that, you know what I mean?" Anyway, she claims she bought the truck off of him two days ago and has the bill of sale in the glove compartment. The officer goes through the pile of bills and finds the paperwork for two cars (of hers, I guess) that got towed, as well as a bunch of checks from someone she claims is her cousin. We never got to hear anything more about the checks, but I'm real curious now.
The officer also finds the "bill of sale," which is literally like the sketchiest sloppily handwritten document you've ever seen. Here's the problem: dude has a name that could be male or female and sounds the same, but has different spelling per the genders. (This isn't the exact name, but let's say his name is Aaron.) Anyway, his name is spelled "Erin" on the form, and the signature definitely does not match the one on his driver's license.* It's not even close and the name has an "I" in it where it normally shouldn't. Also, most of the dates on the bill of sale are dated on the day of the arrest. The dude testified that "I must have been high if I gave her that truck," and while he admits later he'd had a beer and smoked some pot....
* Note: dude said he couldn't identify his own signature in court, but the prosecution smartly had him sign his name on a piece of paper before coming in. Same signature. The prosecution calls the signature comparison to comparing apples to a Volkswagen.
Quotes from the prosecution:
“Almost everything on that bill of sale is wrong.”
“Other than the beginning, middle, and end of the signatures being totally different, they’re exactly the same!”
Anyway, we finally found out who her boyfriend was because he was brought in to testify that he saw "Aaron" signing the document. However, we did not believe him worth a damn because "Aaron" had no idea who he was in court. (And as you'll recall, didn't know who the defendant was dating.) Boyfriend is also married, wearing his wedding ring to court, and claims he's been in the process of a divorce for years but has no idea what's going on with that. The prosecution also gets on record that he calls the defendant his "girl on the side." I'm thinking (a) who wears their wedding ring when you've been in the process of divorce for years and have a girl on the side, and (b) does your wife know you're supposedly getting a divorce? I think not.
I will give the defense lawyer credit for making the following points: (a) technically you can't prove that this girl is the one who the first cop talked to on the phone.
He also tried to float the idea that this was a scheme of "Aaron's" to get $200 for the truck and then get the truck back, and that he put some strange girl on the phone claiming to be the defendant. This is assuming that "Aaron" had that much on the ball, though.
But otherwise, dude didn't have a lot to work with, so he floated more lies such as "known him for a year" translates into "dated for a year" and he kept telling us to watch people's body language. Why, I don't know. He called all of this a "tale as old as time." I...don't think so, and I saw Beauty and the Beast recently.
The whole trial was probably about three hours total. First day was jury selection, second was the trial + a whole lot of waiting around, and the third day was deliberation.
Questions I’ll Probably Never Get The Answer To:
(a) How the hell do these two know each other? Why would they hang out?
(b) Were they ever romantically involved, as per the bullshit claims of the defense?
(c) If "Aaron" let the air out of his tire, how the hell did she get the tire filled enough to steal the car? I doubt she has a compressor or could get it hauled to a gas station easily. (Then someone told me that you could get a can of air or something to fill it up. Maybe this wasn't so hard to do.)
(d) What the heck did she need a car for so bad? Recycling? Really? It sounds like she'd lost two already to towing.
* What was with the checks? Is that some other charge somewhere else?
(e) Why does the boyfriend wear a wedding ring even though he’s supposedly been in the process of divorcing for years?
(g) Does his wife actually know they are supposedly divorcing, or is he really just still with her and boinking girl on the side? Seems highly likely to me.
Anyway, the deliberation was less than an hour and a half. I ended up being foreperson again. For the record, this is how forepeople are decided in juries:
(a) "Has anyone here been on a jury before?" (This is how it happened last time, because it was me and one other lady who was super cranky.)
(b) "Has anyone here been foreman before?" Which they darned well knew I had been. "Once a foreman, always a foreman."
Anyway, we only had one person who tentatively voted not guilty because he thought "Aaron" was dicey, but well, all of them were dicey. I called in the court reporter and she read back some testimony and then he decided he was convinced.
Then we were all surprised: no, you're not done yet! This is a bifurcated trial! No, I'd never heard of that It's apparently one of those "three strikes law" things--she already had a conviction on her record, and she'd signed some paperwork saying that if she misbehaved again, she could do 5 years of jail time. We had to agree that the court documents were true court documents. Which was...weird. But I guess that explained why she did the forgery bit, even though I'm still wondering why she threw it all away on this silly crime.
Oh, and did I mention that the defendant literally disappeared during court during the afternoon break on day 2, never to be seen again? Yup, she did a runner! Well, I wish her luck at that. I guess we'll see.
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