Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jury problems in the Bush trial

Raul and
Brisenia Flores

There was a problem, Tuesday, involving one of the Pima County Superior Court jurors hearing the double murder trial for Jason Eugene Bush before Judge John S. Leonardo.

The admonition

A jury comprised of five males and 11 females began hearing testimony in the case this past Friday. At the conclusion of each session of court, Leonardo reminds the jurors with an admonition not to discuss the case with anyone or to listen to any media accounts of the proceedings.

As the trial was recessed or lunch this morning, Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson was handed a note informing her that one member of the jury may not have taken Leonardo’s reminder seriously at the end of trial this past Friday. “Apparently, the anonymous caller was describing something that happened on Friday,” Johnson read from a note. “This anonymous caller overheard heard talking about a case that she was on the jury for and wasn’t exactly sure of the circumstances. The anonymous caller walked by her and the juror told her she was upset for having seen a photograph of a little girl with a gun to her head. That’s what the note says.”

There was testimony on Friday that included pictures of the victims as they were found in their home after the shootings on May 30, 2009. None of the pictures depicted a gun being held to the head of Brisenia Flores, however they did show the wounds to her face where she had been shot twice at close range. “The anonymous caller was aware that the case was being heard in front of you,” Johnson said. “

Juror dismissed

Johnson returned to court with clarification of details from a detective in her office. “It sounds like the juror had a somewhat extensive conversation at work about the trial,” she said, as she handed a copy of an email to Leonardo. The email was marked as an exhibit, but not read aloud. Both sides stipulated to the juror being dismissed from further participation in the case.

Also prior to resuming testimony after lunch, another juror sent a note to Leonardo disclosing something she should have shared during jury selection. Her daughter is an employee at the Arizona Department of Public Safety and her daughter had brought a crime lab technician to her school for a presentation. No action was taken regarding the juror’s status and she remains on the jury hearing the case.