occhAs we were led into the courtroom to take our seats, I happened to look toward the rear of the courtroom. The rape survivor was sitting back there. She looked straight at me.

I then looked back at the judge as he told us we may sit down. The judge then asked if all parties were present. Everyone answered in the affirmative.

scalesjusticeHe then turned to the jury panel and asked for the jury foreman to stand, which I did. The judge then asked, has the jury reached a verdict. “Yes”, I responded.

The judge then instructed the court clerk to ask me to read the verdict.

The clerk turned to me and asked “As to count one, how does the jury find?”

I answered “We the jury find the defendant GUILTY.”

“As to count two, how does the jury find?”

I answered “We the jury find the defendant GUILTY”

The judge then asked the entire jury if they agreed with the verdict as to count one. We all answered yes in unison.

The judge then asked the entire jury if they agreed with the verdict as to count two. We all answered yes in unison.

The judge then thanked us for our service and declared that we are now released from jury duty.

As we began to leave, two Orange County Deputies approached the defendant and took him into custody.

At the same time the rape survivor got up to leave and once again made contact with me. With tear filled eyes, she gave me the slightest of smiles and left the courtroom. I would never see her again.

As our telephones and ipads were returned to us and we all said our good byes, our mood was quite somber. We had made a decision that would change the life of a complete stranger forever. It was a decision we had to make, but it was a decision that was not easy to make.

At about this time, the judge came in to thank us for our service. I asked the judge about how long the defendant might serve. He explained to us how the point system works in conjunction with the sentencing guidelines set by the state of Florida.

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As it turns out, the defendant was a convicted felon. That meant that it is likely that he will receive the most severe sentencing.

20 years in state prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 12, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Stay tuned

MURT

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