Ninja Turtle Jury Duty: Part 3

You can find parts 1 and 2 by clicking on those numbers!

So, when we left off, the scent dog pointed out both bad guys — Rocksteady a little more than Beebop, but more or less both. Sure. I hadn’t come to a decision BECAUSE WE WEREN’T ALLOWED TO, but the notes in my spiral notebook telling a pretty straightforward tale. The audio tape didn’t send me any way or the other.

The scientist took the stand for the DNA evidence, and this part was so complicated, we had to have the COURT transcript read back to us by the court reporter during deliberation, which was actually kind of fun. Sort of like TiVoing real life! I could have used a court reporter during arguments with my ex.

It was so complicated that I’ll just tell you the basics. The two shirts were used almost solely for the dog scent, as almost no DNA could be extracted from them. They could have worn them for a short time or just not sweat very much, but they weren’t as helpful as Crime TV shows might lead you to believe. The latex gloves, however, were another story, as perfect prints would have been kept on the inside of them. There were also prints on the hood and inside mirror of the car. The prints belonged to Rocksteady, who admitted living in the neighborhood where the car was parked and having a backyard party where he may have leaned against the car, or been asked by his brother-in-law to back it out of the driveway (and the first thing you do in a car you don’t usually drive is adjust the mirror).

The DNA is what made the case 12 years old. Instead of labeling the t-shirts “Beebop” and “Rocksteady,” the police who logged the items wrote “Boobep” and “Lockstoody.” It was also discovered that the “control” samples — willingly given by each of them — were accidentally swapped. Beebop’s was labeled Rocksteady and vice versa.

Testing was done 12 years ago, and it was found that Rocksteady had a 1 in 1 billion chance of being the donor of the t-shirt. Beebop had a 1 in 5 chance, which is terrifyingly vague. That could be anyone.
Only, and thankfully, the police send their findings to an outside scientific source to double-check their findings, and this scientist found that…actually ROCKSTEADY had the 1 in 5 chance and Beebop had the 1 in 1 billion. It was like a roller coaster being in that courtroom. “I guess that guy will end up being totally guilty. Oh. Well, now I guess THAT guy will.”

So that was it. Dog pointed out Rocksteady and only sort of pointed out Beebop. DNA pointed to Beebop and only sort of pointed out Rocksteady. They talked about SOMETHING in a car that (to me) didn’t really point either way.

There were two bits of circumstantial evidence also to be weighed. One was that, during a search of Beebop’s aunt and uncle’s house, $7,000 cash was found. His uncle said it was a bonus from work, but he didn’t have a pay stub. But he could be an illegal worker, in case he wouldn’t have had a pay stub, but it wasn’t necessary suggestive of murder money.

Then Rocksteady’s baby mama took the stand and admitted that she canceled child support sort of around the time of the robbery. But she protested that she was automatically and unknowingly signed UP for child support when she filed for welfare. Later, when she realized her mistake and decided not to make Rocksteady pay (since she had a legit job and he was struggling to get by), she canceled it on her own accord (NOT because she suddenly got a huge payment), and admitted that the timing on that one really sucked.

So weigh that. Weigh it against everything else. Me? I like DNA evidence. You pretty much can’t fight it. It’s you. There. Dog-scent evidence is a little trickier (though not an “art rather than a science” as Raphael tried to protest), which is why I was the last hold-out on Rocksteady’s possible guilt.

Why did I hold out? It was because of everything Splinter said at the beginning. Innocent until proven guilty. If you’re half and half, go with innocence.
Why did I eventually concur that both Beebop AND Rocksteady were guilty? The part he mentioned about “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

I had a little doubt. Maybe almost reasonable. But if you’re LOOKING for an out, you’re going to find one. I remember when Donatello first was weeding the jurors out, he asked us; “If someone breaks into your house and steals something, and you see a trail of wet footprints from your pool to where the object was stolen to outside on your lawn, where a guy is sleeping in wet clothes, you have to go with what’s obvious.” I remember at the time trying to come up with some alternate method why a guy would be found like that and have it NOT be him, and it just got to be too convoluted to be worth it. And he was right. I’m sad he was right, because Rocksteady’s baby mama cried hysterically when the verdict was written. Then he looked over at us with these eyes that were just pleading and hurt. It made me cry, too, and I probably looked like a weirdo in front of everyone. Beebop stayed stone-faced the whole time, which is not an admission of anything, but I felt sorry for the both of them, and I still do. I’m sorry on every level that what happened happened, but I was there to do what I thought was right, and I did.

I don’t pat myself on the back because 11 people agreed with me, either, because 11 people can be idiots. 2 of them were late every. single. day. which irked me to no end. Okay, lateness doesn’t make you a bad decision-maker, but if they have no respect for us law-abiding people waiting on their no-alarm-clock-using asses, what do they care about the criminals?
Then Granny over there admitted to having her mind made up from the beginning. There was also a foreign man who admitted not understanding many words used in court. Two other men came from gang neighborhoods (and shared the race with the defendants), and one of them even recognized someone in the audience who was there with Rocksteady’s family. He told the judge, and the judge said he could either make the decision to stay or go, and he opted to stay, even though his safety back in the rough neighborhood might now be at risk.

It was a weird and emotional chapter of my life, but trials like that happens every day. Maybe more often in California, which is depressing, but we also have like a skillion people here, so reconsider it however you want. I am glad I was a part of it, and I sort of never want to do it again.

A coworker walked behind me as I was writing this, saw the title, and asked if I had tried to get out of Jury Duty by wearing a Ninja Turtle costume. Maybe next time, I will. I’ve done my duty! I’m out.

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