My Memories as a Jurywoman
>The Selection Process
>During the spring, 1996, I was randomly selected for possible jury duty
>in Washtenaw County, Michigan. It is my understanding that selection is
>by driver's license. I was sent a questionnaire that I filled in and
>returned. I was told to report for jury duty the week of July 30
>through August 2, 1996 and assigned number 198.
>On July 30, I dutifully reported to the Washtenaw County jury selection
>room along with approximately 300 fellow citizens. I was handed a red
>badge that read "juror" and told to wear it whenever I was in the
>vicinity of the courtroom while I was serving. I was also given a
>booklet titled "Judicial Circuit Handbook for Jurors", and told to read
>At roughly 10:15 a.m. Judge Paul Dobrowski introduced himself and told
>us a little about what we could expect. He then showed us a video that
>outlined the system a little more for us. We were told to wait and they
>would call us by number to be taken to a courtroom for jury selection.
>We were also told that every day, after being released, we should call
>each evening after 5:00 p.m. to see whether we would be needed for the
>following day. This would be only if we were not selected for a trial.
>If we were selected for a trial, the judge would advise us what time to
>report the following day.
>About 11:00 a.m., the first group of jurors (1 - 50) were called, all
>numbers were accounted for, that is, each number was called and the
>juror replied, "here" and they were taken to a courtroom. The rest of
>us were released for lunch at 11:45 a.m. and told to come back at 1:30
>Most of us were back from lunch at about 1:00 p.m. There was a general
>consensus of the people around me that if this was what jury duty
>entailed, we'd get a lot of reading done. One of the women that I was
>sitting near had been called into a jury selection courtroom with the
>first group (her number was 1). She had returned to the jury selection
>room. She told me that they had selected a jury in a civil case (6
>jurors) and her number was never called. We sat there for about 10
>minutes before they called jurors (51 - 200) to go to a courtroom for
>jury selection. Since my number was 198, I was part of that group.
>We assembled, our numbers were called in groups of 10 and we verified
>that we were there, then we were taken to a courtroom. The court clerk
>kept a box where she put all of the numbers. The box was shaken, and
>fourteen jurors were drawn and took seats in the jury box in the
>courtroom. All jurors were required to swear that they would answer
>truthfully all questions that would be asked about their qualifications
>to serve as trial jurors in the pending case. At this point, the judge
>explained to us that this was a criminal trial.
>The law authorizes the judge and the attorneys to excuse individual
>jurors for various reasons. To have a juror excused, the lawyer must
>"challenge" the juror. Challenges are of two kinds, 1. For cause, and
>Following are examples of some of the "for cause" releases.
>The Prosecution then began questioning jurors, followed by the Defense.
>Prior to settling on a final jury, the Prosecution and Defense
>questioned us in many ways. First, they asked jurors if they had any
>reason to be excused. If a juror had a reason such as hardship due to
>loss of pay, or vacation plans that could not be postponed during the
>time the trial was expected to last (three weeks), the judge took this
>into consideration. Some of the jurors were excused because they didn't
>feel that they could set aside their own feelings and convict if need
>be. Others were excused because they had family situations that needed
>their attention. Whenever a juror was excused, another was randomly
>selected to take his/her place. I was selected after approximately
>three jurors had been excused.
>The Prosecution and the Defense attorneys each had a number of questions
>that they asked the jurors. The questions, such as "There will be drugs
>in this case, drugs everywhere, the witnesses as well as the defendant
>were all involved in drugs. All the witnesses and the defendant were
>involved in using and selling drugs. This is not what the defendant is
>being charged with. Do you feel that you can set aside your feelings
>about drugs in order to give the defendant a fair trial?" and, "You will
>have to look at several pictures that are ghastly, pictures that show
>the victims at the crime scene. Can you look at the pictures without
>passing judgement on the defendant?" At this point, several of the
>pictures were shown to the jurors. They were very unpleasant. The
>attorneys then asked if we could look at these pictures or if we became
>squeamish at the sight. The Defense and the Prosecution also asked
>prospective jurors questions about their professions, whether they had
>any relationships with police officers and whether they knew anyone
>there, such as themselves, the defendant or the judge. After the jurors
>were questioned, the processes of elimination and replacement began.
>A certain number of peremptory releases are given to each party to an
>action. In these cases, no cause need be stated. The attorneys
>exercised peremptory challenges by taking turns indicating that he/she
>would like a certain juror excused. With each release, a new juror was
>randomly selected to take his/her place and asked the same questions
>that the former prospective jurors had been asked.
>After three days of this type of selection and dismissal, a jury had
>been selected. The tension in the room had become pretty "thick". By
>then it was refreshing to have a final fourteen and we all breathed a
>collective sigh of relief. It was about 5:10 p.m. and the judge told us
>to report Monday at 8:30 a.m. and the trial would begin.
>The defendant, James Jones, was charged with first degree murder in the
>death of Kelly Thom. He was further charged with the use of a felony
>firearm in the commission of a murder. James Jones, at the time of the
>homicides, was 22 years old, about 5’10" tall, slight of build, and had
>medium brown, long, unkempt hair. The man we saw each day had short,
>neat hair and wore a camel colored suit.
>The defendant was also charged with first degree murder in the death of
>Jesse Redbe. He was further charged with the use of a felony firearm in
>the commission of a murder.
>It was the Prosecutor’s contention that James Jones and John Doe
>intended to kill Jesse Redbe and Kelly Thom, that it was premeditated
>and deliberate. That the murder was committed, and, before or during,
>the defendant aided and abetted.
>The Defense argued that the defendant, James Jones, could know about the
>plan to kill Jesse Redbe and Kelly Thom and be merely there (mere
>presence). That he did not assist in any way and that he was not a
>party to the murder. The Defense disputed the charge of first-degree
>murder and allowed that though his client was there, he was not
>The Prosecutor and the Defense attorneys then gave us their opening
>statements. The judge had told us that neither their opening nor their
>closing statements were evidence. Only the witnesses’ testimony and the
>facts in the case were evidence.
>The first witness was called. He was a police captain in the township
>where the murders occurred. He was identified as Captain King. The
>prosecutor interviewed Capt. King first because he was a witness for the
>Prosecution. He asked Captain King to describe the event to the best of
>his ability. Capt. King said that a friend of the victims who had
>stopped over at the Spring Terrace apartments on the day after the crime
>occurred reported the murders. Captain King and Lieutenant Pierce
>appointed a task force to attempt to find the perpetrator(s).
>Their investigation began with questioning the residents of the Spring
>Terrace apartments building where the homicide occurred. The first
>individual that he questioned advised that he had heard a loud banging
>about 3:10 to 3:30 a.m. He knew the time because he was due to get up
>for work soon and had looked at the clock. He had a neighbor who was
>always doing home improvements at all hours so he didn’t think loud
>noises in the middle of the night were unusual. Then, when he left his
>apartment for work, he noticed the lights on at the Thom/Redbe
>apartment. He saw a person look out of the doorwall. He worked with a
>police artist and gave the police a composite sketch of the man he
>believed he saw. From past acquaintance, he believed that the person he
>saw was John Doe. (John Doe’s trial had been held the previous month
>and, although we didn’t know it at the time, he was found guilty of the
>murder of both individuals and the felony firearm charge and was
>sentenced to life in prison without parole). Other tenants in the
>apartment building reported loud noises at approximately 3:30 a.m. and a
>car driving off at a high speed.
>The inquiry then led them to Jesse Redbe’s brother, Paul, who was
>serving time for passing bad checks. They questioned Paul Redbe who
>told them that he believed that it was James Jones and John Doe who had
>murdered his brother. Paul had been a party to the purchase of an Uzi
>Mac 11 gun and he felt certain that James and John were involved
>Captain King and another officer then questioned Jesse’s mother who told
>them that she thought that John Doe and James Jones were living
>somewhere in the county. She identified a street that was known to the
>While off duty, Captain King and Lieutenant Pierce decided to take a
>drive past the house on Wright Avenue that they believed might be the
>suspect’s residence. As they drove by, they noticed that a door looked
>as though it had been broken into. They called for backup and
>approached the house. When they arrived at the door and knocked, an
>individual answered the door and said that he was the only one there.
>Because of the suspicious looking door, the police investigated the
>house further and found John Doe asleep in the bedroom and the gun in
>the open drawer of the dresser. The police then took John Doe and the
>other individual, Bob Kessler, into custody.
>Later that day (December 9), James Jones was picked up walking down
>Crooked Lake Road.
>After Captain King’s testimony, we heard from Lieutenant Smith of the
>State Police Crime Squad. He was the supervisor of the bomb squad and a
>ballistics expert. He explained that what he would do is identify a
>particular projectile being fired from a particular weapon. Since 1992,
>he had testified in approximately 20 trials as a firearm expert. He
>explained that the weapon was a 9-millimeter lugar caliber Mac 11.
>There are a number of manufacturers of this particular weapon.
>Seventeen bullets were submitted and twenty-three empty cases. All were
>9 millimeter; all were identified as having been fired by that weapon.
>The next witness was Dr. Kramer Franz, a coroner with the Wayne County
>morgue. Dr Franz advised that he was considered an expert witness due
>to his lengthy experience with the County. Dr. Franz gave us the
>toxicology report. The victim Jesse Redbe had cocaine in his urine and
>morphine or heroin. In his blood was marijuana and cocaine. Jesse was
>shot 4 times in the head and neck. Three bullets were on the left side
>of his head into his neck and brain and one bullet was from the top of
>his head into his spine. He was approximately 22 years old, death was
>instantaneous. The Prosecutor questioned whether it could be discerned
>at what point death occurred, that is, which bullet was the one that
>killed Jesse. Dr. Franz replied that two of the four bullets would have
>killed Jesse instantly. In any event, Jesse would have been
>In Kelly Thom’s blood was cocaine. There were no traces of any other
>narcotic in her blood or urine. Kelly was approximately 20 years old.
>Kelly had been shot up the side of her body, it appeared that she had
>attempted to block the bullets by lifting her arm and had been shot from
>her waist up into her head and face. It also appeared that she was
>trying to get away. Because she was shot 17 times, and several of the
>wounds were defensive type wounds, it was hard to determine the exact
>bullet that caused her death. It was believed that Jesse was shot first
>and then Kelly. Dr. Franz also testified that it appeared that the
>shots came from the same direction, at least two feet away from the
>victims; and, he believed that they were fired from behind the red
>couch. Jesse was found sitting on the red couch and Kelly was found on
>an adjacent couch in a position that denoted flight or attempted flight.
>The Prosecution then called Nancy Baker.
>Nancy met James Jones through her sister and her sister’s boyfriend.
>James came into her work on December 5, 1994. She had lived out of town
>for about six months and had recently returned. She had known him
>approximately 3 years. He invited her to his house for a party after
>work. When she arrived at about 11 p.m., there were approximately 15
>people there. She knew James better than John Doe. Bob Kessler was
>there. She hadn’t met him before. She saw all of them with the gun in
>the living room. She handled the gun too. The gun was not fired while
>she was there. She saw James carry the gun out of the house. She
>stayed for approximately 1 1/2 hours and went home. She returned the
>next night, Wednesday, December 6, 1994.
>The Defense attorney pointed out that at John Doe’s trial that she was
>asked if she recalled who was carrying the gun and she said that she
>The Prosecution then called Paul Redbe.
>Paul told us that James had been like family to him. He has known him
>approximately 15 years and had seen him regularly for the past 5 years.
>John Doe was like family too. He has known him approximately 6 years.
>James, John and Jesse were inseparable. They took drugs together. They
>spent a lot of time at James’ parents’ house and later at Jesse’s
>apartment. While in prison, Paul had written a letter to James about
>the murder. Paul had asked James why he hadn’t stopped Jim from
>shooting his brother, why he couldn’t take a bullet for his friend. He
>also wrote that he didn’t see why James’ parents were spending so much
>money on an attorney for James.
>Paul then testified that he believed that the murder was over money owed
>to John and James for drugs. He further attested that he and Tom
>Perkins had lived together in a studio apartment in the next county.
>Through Tom, Paul had arranged for James and John to purchase the gun
>used in the murders.
>Paul also testified that Jesse had started seeing Kelly in 1988. They
>got together when she was about 5 or 6 months pregnant.
>Lastly, Paul testified that John Doe and his brother Jesse had lived
>together at Jesse’s apartment for a time.
>Defense declined to question Paul Redeye. Defense did let Paul know
>that they were court appointed and had not been hired by James’ parents.
>The Prosecution then called Greg Smith.
>Greg Smith testified that he met James Jones through Bob Argyle in late
>October, 1994. Their connection was drugs. Greg saw James about 3 or 4
>times the month of the murders. Greg knew John Doe’s father. He had
>known him for about 25 years. He attested that James Jones had said
>something to him about Jesse Redbe. John Moon used to live with Bob
>Argyle. They lived together as roommates. John Moon had since moved in
>with Jesse Redbe and Kelly Thom. James told Bob Argyle to tell John
>Moon to move out of the apartment because something bad was going to
>happen. He didn’t say what, only that Jesse was screwing up with drugs.
>Defense attorney then asked Greg when he had given this information to
>the Prosecution. Greg advised that he had been serving time for
>violating his parole. He was a heroin addict and had failed his testing
>and had been placed in jail. He began thinking about the murder and had
>remembered something that he thought might be relevant in the trial and
>had called Jesse’s father. He had since been placed in a rehab. The
>attorney asked whether he was clean and he advised that he had used
>drugs within the last couple of weeks, but was clean then. The Defense
>attorney then asked him when he "remembered" his conversation with James
>and he said that it was about 3 months after the murders, March, 1995.
>The Prosecution called Bob Kessler.
>Bob Kessler testified that he came to Michigan from Alabama in October,
>1994. He worked with James Jones and John Doe and Joseph Bates. He
>usually worked 3 or 4 days a week. He quit working with them after he
>worked a week and didn’t get paid. When they paid him, he resumed his
>relationship with them. He usually went to their house on Wright
>Avenue. It had one bedroom and John Doe slept there most of the time.
>Bob stayed there on the night of the murders. He met a girl named Karen
>Black. He knew about the gun and saw it there that night (December 6).
>He saw James Jones and John Doe with the gun that night. The last he
>remembers seeing them was about 9 p.m. He was drinking, smoking
>marijuana and taking Valium. He was drunk. He passed out on the couch
>with Karen about 11 p.m. on the night of the murder. He got up about
>12:30 a.m. or 1 a.m. and there was no one there so he went back to
>sleep. He did not know Kelly Thom or Jesse Redbe. In the morning, he
>went to Karen’s house and ate, slept and later went back to Wright
>Avenue. He asked Jim and John about the casing he had found in Karen’s
>car. They told him that they had gone to two people’s houses with the
>gun for money that was owed to them. They said that they had walked
>into the couple’s house and started talking to them. John went to the
>bathroom to urinate and wrapped his fingers in toilet paper so that he
>wouldn’t leave fingerprints. John said that Jim got a cigarette from
>Jesse. John had gone out to the car and brought the gun in and Jesse
>wanted to see the gun. John let him see it and after Jesse gave it back
>to him John walked around the couch and shot Jesse from behind. Then
>the lady said, "No, don’t shoot me" and he shot her too. Jim said that
>when John shot Ken the blood looked like Kool-Aid spurting out.
>Wednesday Afternoon December 7, 1994.
>John Doe said when they were leaving that they picked up the casings
>from the floor and then Jim pulled his shirt over his hands and opened
>the door. James asked John if he was ready to go according to John and
>John said "yes" and grabbed the cigarettes and wiped off everything that
>he had touched. James picked up the lighter. Bob Kessler believes that
>he picked it up so that there would be no fingerprints. Jim had used
>the lighter. John said that they both wiped the bullets off before they
>put them in the clip. Jim was standing there laughing or nodding his
>head to the statements that John was making. About 5:30 p.m., the news
>was coming on TV and John and Jim were telling everyone to watch the
>news and they wouldn’t believe what is coming on. On the news, they
>showed the Spring Terrace apartments complex and the news said homicide
>and John and James said it was Kelly and Jesse that got killed.
>He spent the night at James’ and John’s house. He spent the next day
>with James and John and on Thursday, Karen came over to Wright Ave.
>Clyde Carper was there and Bob left with Karen because there was no
>power at Wright Ave (there had been a storm and they lost power). They
>went to Karen’s to spend the night. Bob, Karen and John and Jim spent
>the night there. Friday morning, they went back to Wright Avenue. John
>and Bob were there. Bob slept on the couch and there was no one there
>and the Captain and another officer showed up there. They asked him if
>any one was there and he told them "no" and they looked and found John.
>Defense then asked Bob Kessler if he waits with other witnesses for the
>Prosecution. Bob answers "yes". Was he given documents to help him
>refresh his memory? "Yes". Was he given documents for testimony?
>"Yes". Was he given a transcript from John Doe’s trial to refresh his
>memory? "Yes". Did he lie to police because he was trying to protect
>Karen? "Yes". Then he finally told them everything he knew? "Yes".
>On Friday, December 9, 1994, Bob Kessler gave police a written
>statement. Then he gave a typed statement. Then on December 14, 1996,
>he gave the police another statement. Then on May 21, 1997, he
>testified under oath. Then in John’s trial during August 1996, he
>In his October 9, testimony, he said that John had wiped the shells off
>prior to loading the gun. He did not mention James.
>In his October 14, testimony, he testified that James hadn’t told him
>anything. In his August 19, 1996 testimony he said he had gone over to
>John and James to collect money or something like that. John told him
>that he got a cigarette and lighter, not James. He didn’t remember
>anything other than Jim had said when John shot Jesse in the neck that
>blood sprayed out like Kool-Aid. When Bob Kessler was asked what he
>remembered Jim saying, he said nothing. He didn’t know whether Jim knew
>that John was going to shoot the gun then (and he doesn’t know now).
>In his August 19, testimony at John Doe’s trial, John was saying, "Watch
>the news and see what happens". Bob Kessler told police that he was
>foggy about the events and that he was foggy about the conversation he
>was having with John Doe. On the 14th, Bob Kessler went back to the
>police and told them that John Doe had shot up someone’s car because
>they owed him money.
>The Prosecution then called Clyde Carper.
>According to Carper, he had known James Jones since he was 13 or 14. He
>met him through friends and they hung out together. They also worked
>together in construction. James was trying to start his own business as
>a painter and Clyde and several others worked for James. Saw him two to
>three times a week in 1994. He knew Jesse Redbe through James Jones.
>He met him in 1994. He met with James Jones at his house. He was there
>every day that week. He was there that day (December 6). Just hung out
>and talked with them. He left about 9 p.m. He saw the gun with James
>as well as John, but more with John. Just before the newscast on
>December 7, he arrived at Wright Ave and James told him that Jesse had
>been shot. James couldn’t do anything without telling people about it.
>He’s just a "wanna be" gangster. He liked to talk himself up a bit.
>After that, Clyde Carper thought he might be involved in the murder.
>James said that if anyone ever knew what they did and talked to the cops
>and they (he and John) broke out they would kill them. It was not a
>threat to Clyde Carper but talk by James and John. On Thursday at 6 or
>7, he drove James Jones to a shopping center to use a phone so that
>James could get in touch with a girlfriend (no power at Wright Avenue).
>James asked Clyde if he could hide the gun. He (Clyde) told James no.
>Clyde asked James if he did it and James said, "yes, we did". Clyde
>asked why and James said because John and Jesse had a pact that if
>anyone ever got too heavy into drugs, that he should be killed. If one
>gets too far into drugs, then they would want to be killed. James
>called Clyde from jail on Friday and told him what he was in there for.
>Clyde asked again if James did it and James said, "yes, we did". Clyde
>said James told him that the police were looking for another car, when
>the police didn’t know that they had used Karen’s car. James said that
>they didn’t leave any evidence behind, that they picked up all the
>cigarettes they used (this was not in the original transcript, Clyde
>remembered it in court on August 8, 1996).
>Asked Clyde who was more of a leader and he replied, John Doe. Clyde
>Carper’s girlfriend, Debbie, is the sister of Nancy Baker (already
>testified). He was questioned by two police officers on December 20,
>and he told them that James Jones had said that John Doe went to the car
>and got the gun and shot both Kelly and Jesse. He stated that James had
>a tendency to stretch the truth. Did Clyde consider himself a good
>friend? Yes. Clyde didn’t remember if he saw the gun on Thursday.
>Didn’t tell the police in his testimony that he saw a gun on Thursday.
>The police never asked. First that he heard of the drug pact was on
>Thursday after the shooting. Clyde Carper told the Defense that he felt
>that if John was the one who shot Jesse and James didn’t do anything
>about it, he should go to jail too.
>The Prosecution called Fred Towne as a witness.
>Fred Towne was in jail for parole violation (he hadn’t paid his fine) on
>conviction of criminal sexual conduct. He was transported by car along
>with James Jones by the police. He had never seen James Jones before.
>In county jail he and James Jones were in a holding cell together. They
>were talking about what they were in there for and James Jones said he
>was in there for murder. James Jones told Fred Towne that he and his
>partner had killed the couple and that he wasn’t going down alone.
>James Jones said that they shot them. Said they killed them, fell
>asleep and woke up and tried to clean the place up. Fred Towne then
>told a deputy about what he had heard.
>Defense - This guy’s all wet. James was just jail bragging, kind of
>Ben Swinkler was called by the Defense. He testified that he was a
>resident of Washtenaw County. He is the half-brother of John Doe. He
>has known Jim Jones since he was 15, Jesse Redbe since he was 17, and
>Kelly Thom about 2 years. He met James Jones through his brother. He
>was in a car accident with Jesse and John in 1994. John broke his leg
>and used crutches. Jesse lived at the Spring Terrace apartments
>according to Ben’s knowledge and John lived with him for some of the
>time and Kelly Thom and Ben Swinkler as well. Prior to December, 1994,
>he lived at Wright Avenue and after that he lived with his stepfather
>and mother. Ben received a page at approximately 3:30 a.m. on December
>6, from his brother, John. He gave the police an interview
>approximately five days after. Ben had a conversation with his brother
>John and his brother told him that it was taken care of and Ben asked
>John what he meant and John said, "Jesse" and Ben got mad and asked John
>what the hell he had done. The next day John Doe told Ben that Jesse
>and Kelly deserved it. It wasn’t so much owed money but that Jesse had
>ripped him off. Had to do with money and other things too. Ben said
>that he had not talked to James. Jim, John and Jesse had been best
>buddies for approximately two years or more. James Jones wasn’t
>mentioned by John Doe one way or another. Jesse got most of his drugs
>from James and John. Jesse was using more than he could pay for and was
>buying fronted drugs. John said that Jesse deserved to die.
>No cross-examination by Prosecution.
>Videotape that was approximately 45 minutes long was entered as
>evidence. We were given "read along" pages. It was explained that Tom
>Perkins could not be there and, due to the special circumstances we were
>to view the tape. Tom Perkins was being questioned by police in the
>tape. It was a voluntary statement made sometime in January, 1995. Tom
>was asked by police to tell them what happened. Tom told them that he
>and Paul Redbe had lived together in early 1994. Paul had lived in a
>studio apartment with Tom’s wife, himself and their two children. Tom
>bought a Mac 11 at Gibraltar Trade Center. He paid approximately $350
>for the gun. He then bought a laser spotting scope for the gun which
>cost him about $100. Both the gun and the scope were in his wife’s
>name. He kept the gun and ammunition under his bed. He kept the
>ammunition and other items relating to the gun in a strongbox. Paul was
>fascinated with the gun. He took it out and looked at it all the time.
>Tom and his family used to go up north on weekends and the strongbox
>disappeared on one of those weekends. Tom always felt that Paul had
>taken the strongbox, but he couldn’t prove it. Tom’s wife did not like
>the way that Paul was with the gun. She wanted Tom to get rid of it.
>Tom asked Paul if he knew of anyone that might be interested in
>purchasing the gun and Paul said that he thought so. Paul then arranged
>for his brother Jesse, John and Jim to purchase the gun. Tom brought
>the gun to Paul’s parents’ house; Paul took the gun in the house
>(supposedly to his brother and friends). He returned with the $350.
>Tom did not know for sure who purchased the gun. He thought that it was
>John and Jim. They asked him if he could get any more (guns). He told
>them "no". Tom also said that John and Kelly were having an affair
>behind Jesse’s back. They used Tom’s apartment sometimes. He said that
>Kelly was also having an affair with John Doe.
>There were no further witnesses
>The Defense and Prosecution then presented their summation of the case
>as they wanted us to see it. We were instructed that the summation was
>not evidence, but that we should consider it carefully. The Prosecutor
>stated that James Jones and his partner went to Jesse Redbe and Kelly
>Thom’s apartment in order to commit murder. He felt that the facts
>pointed in one direction and that was first degree-premeditated murder.
>The Defense on the other hand pointed out in the pictures where
>cigarettes were left in the ashtray and packs of cigarettes and lighters
>were on the table (disputing the theory that they cleaned up after
>themselves). The Defense also pointed out a picture that was introduced
>into evidence that shows John Doe with Kelly’s daughter. The Defense
>felt it was significant that John Doe had this picture of himself with
>the child on his wall in his bedroom. It was the only picture he had.
>Next, a random selection was done to eliminate two of the fourteen
>The remaining twelve jurors were then "sworn in". We were sworn to
>abide by the Law.
>Judge’s Instruction on the Law
>The Judge then read to us the Law as it concerned the case in point. We
>were told that certain witnesses, because of their backgrounds should be
>discounted as to their testimony. He also told us that we should
>carefully look at testimony that supports other testimony. The judge
>further told us that,
>1. A person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent. This means
>that you must start with the presumption that the defendant is innocent.
>This presumption continues throughout the trial and entitles the
>defendant to a verdict of not guilty unless you are satisfied beyond a
>reasonable doubt that he is guilty.
>2. Every crime is made up of parts called elements. The prosecutor must
>prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The
>defendant is not required to prove his innocence or do anything in his
>own Defense. If you find that the prosecutor has not proven every
>element beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must find a defendant not
>3. A reasonable doubt is an honest doubt growing out of evidence or lack
>of evidence. It is not merely an imagined or possible doubt but a doubt
>based on reason and common sense. A reasonable doubt is just that, a
>doubt that is reasonable after a careful and considered examination of
>the facts and circumstances in the case.
>After the judge read to us, we were sent into the jury room to
>deliberate. In keeping with jury instructions, we selected foreperson.
>His name was Nick. It was Nick’s duty to see that discussion was
>carried on in a free and orderly manner. It was decided that we would
>take an initial vote to see where we stood. The vote was counted and we
>found that we had seven for first-degree murder and five for acquittal.
>Next we set up the facts on the board. They were,
>Tom Perkins buys a gun.
>Talks to Paul.
>Paul said he talked to James and John.
>James and John buy gun.
>*Someone cleaned bullets/John or James and John
>Party at Wright Avenue night of killing.
>James Jones, John Doe, Bob Kessler, Clyde Carper, Debbie Baker, Nancy
>Baker, Karen Black at party.
>Gun at party.
>Bob Kessler and Karen Black passed out.
>*Nancy Baker saw "someone" leave with gun.
>Bob Kessler woke and found no one at the house at about Midnight.
>James and John went to Jesse and Kelly’s with the gun.
>Gun was left in the car.
>*John told Kessler that he took a leak and wrapped his fingers in toilet
>paper so he wouldn’t leave fingerprints.
>*John told Kessler that he went out to the car and got the gun.
>*John told Kessler that he gave the gun to Jesse.
>Jesse was shot 4 times.
>Kelly was shot 17 times/some defensive.
>People around apartments heard shots.
>A witness sees figure in window and gives police composite drawing.
>*Bob Kessler said John told him that they had cleaned up "evidence" and
>Jim picked up the lighter and Jim had opened door with his sleeves.
>*Bob Kessler said he woke and went to Karen’s, and that he found a shell
>in Karen’s car.
>*Bob Kessler said that the next day James and John were laughing and
>telling everyone to watch the 5:30 p.m. news because they wouldn’t
>believe what was coming on.
>*Clyde Carper gave James Jones a ride to a pay phone on Thursday.
>*James asked Carper to hide the gun and Clyde asked James if he did it
>and James said, "yes, we did".
>*Bob Kessler woke up and no one was there - went to get pizza out of
>oven and heard knock at the door. Police were there and they asked if
>anyone else was in the house and Kessler said "no". When the police
>entered the home, they found John Doe asleep in the bedroom with the
>murder weapon in the dresser drawer.
>*Clyde Carper said that James had called him from jail and James told
>him again that, "yes, we did it".
>*Jesse Redbe’s brother Paul wrote a letter to James asking him why he
>didn’t take a bullet for his bro.
>*James Jones talks to Fred Towne and tells him that, "yes, I did" (do
>it). He points to John Doe in another cell and tells Fred Towne that,
>"that’s my bro", and "I’m not going down alone".
>My Reasons for Believing James is Innocent
>A lot of the testimony that was given was not in my notes; it was not
>possible to get everything that everyone said. James was, of course,
>cleaned up and dressed up. That was not part of it, because that would
>have been expected. My reasoning was more to the testimony of Jim’s
>"friends". Every one of the individuals that testified had something to
>gain by giving witness against the defendant.
>Bob Kessler was found in the house with John Doe, and lied to the
>police. This made him an accessory after the fact in the murders.
>Greg Smith was in jail and just happened to remember some pertinent
>facts about the murders and he was then placed in a rehab.
>Fred Towne was in jail and looking at doing some time although he never
>did. The story from the Prosecution was that he merely paid the fine he
>owed and was released. This was suspicious to me because if the man was
>in jail for not paying, where did the money come from to pay it? Was it
>Clyde Carper’s testimony bothered me. His statement that if John shot
>Jesse and Kelly and James didn’t do anything about it, James should go
>to jail too is a conviction. Clyde Carper obviously wanted to see Jim
>in jail and I feel that his testimony was slanted in such a way as to
>make sure of it. He remembered things as he thought they were needed.
>He was a Prosecutor’s dream, a good friend willing to testify against
>his lifelong buddy.
>Other testimony I felt wasn’t particularly damaging either way. The
>people who could have helped James did not. The only people who were
>willing to testify for Jim were his mother and the half brother of the
>murderer, John. I truly believed that James was caught in a web. It
>may have been a web of his own making, but it was not an outcome that he
>We jurors screamed and hollered at each other. We debated and discussed
>until we were "blue in the face". We had taken vote after vote and the
>best we had come up with was the five that felt he was innocent changed
>their vote to accessory after the fact. This was arrived at because
>James Jones knew about the murders and he did not go to the police. The
>other seven came down to second-degree murder and they would not budge
>either. We had gone into the judge and told him that we were deadlocked
>and he told us to go back and talk some more. So we went back and
>looked at the case again and no matter how we looked, it didn’t become
>any more defined. There were so many questions that were unanswered and
>would remain that way. We put in a lot of hours (approximately three
>days) before Nick finally struck on a verdict that we could all hang our
>Nick suggested that he would give we five our verdict of accessory after
>the fact if we would give him the weapons conviction. We discussed this
>and it seemed like the perfect solution to our dilemma. We all truly
>wanted to do what was right. We finally voted on this and the decision
>was unanimous (which it had to be in order to return a verdict). We
>gave the judge a note advising that we had reached a decision.
>We filed into the courtroom in our usual fashion. Nick gave the judge
>our verdict. The court then asked each of us individually whether we
>agreed with this verdict and we responded, "yes". We were then released
>by the court and we filed out for the last time. We were also told that
>we had the court’s permission to talk with the attorneys after the case
>ended. The Defense attorneys said they would like to speak with us.
>I truly wanted to speak to the Defense attorneys, but they were not
>available after the trial. I telephoned one of them the next day. She
>told me that they had been in the courtroom when we left. They had
>petitioned the court to release James on bail, which was refused. On
>their way out, they had been threatened by Jesse’s brother, Paul. She
>answered some of my questions. She said that James did not know that
>John intended to murder Jesse and Kelly, that he was afraid for his own
>life after the murders. That everything he did after that time was in
>fear for his life. Jim wanted to thank all of us for giving him back
>his life. The Defense attorneys wanted to thank all of us for the hard
>work we put into this case. She told me they could hear us out in the
>hallway between the courtroom and the jury room.
>Jim Jones was sentenced on December 10, 1996, to two years for each of
>the convictions. He had already served two years so he had six years to
>serve. It is possible that he will be paroled before that time.
>I believe that the legal system is designed to protect society as a
>whole. The system has proven time and again that it doesn’t work for
>some. However, for the vast majority, the idea of jail is a deterrent
>to crime. We haven’t found a way to eliminate crime, but until we
>stumble across a better way, the penal system serves a purpose. It may
>be that crime is part of society and it could go deeper. It may be that
>it is part of man. Wrongdoing does not exist solely on the streets.
>Although the penal system is not an answer to behavioral problems in our
>society, it takes the criminal out of society and puts him/her away,
>sometimes for good. Prison becomes a way of life for some offenders who
>are in and out of county jails or prison throughout their lives.
>The solution to the problem, I think, is rehabilitation. The problem
>with that is that in order to be rehabilitated, the individual has to
>want it. First they have to truly believe that there is a better way
>and see themselves in it. Then they have to change everything about
>their lives. Their friends and maybe even their families have to be
>left behind. Whatever is necessary to change their habit of criminal
>activity has to be conformed. A Prosecutor might argue that you cannot
>change a leopard’s spots, but it has been done.
>My experience with the legal system before this time has been somewhat
>sketchy. I heard of things happening to people and how their crimes
>were tried by the court, but I never had any firsthand experience. This
>experience of how our system operates has been a positive one. The
>trial was not like television programs such as Ali McBeal or Perry
>Mason. It was not glamorous, it was real. The people are individuals
>in our community. They were fighting for their lives or they were
>fighting for the lives that had been lost. Each person brings a story.
>The story can only be told as the questions are asked. A lot of the
>information is never told. A lot goes on behind the scenes with the
>attorneys, and agreements are reached as to what we will be told. We
>are given a set of circumstances and are told to set aside our own
>feelings and lives and look at them through the eyes of others. We are
>given a heavy burden. We are asked to judge another. We are told to
>discuss the case with no one until all the "facts" have been told, and
>then only with fellow jurors. We are asked not to read anything about
>the trial or watch it on television. We are left to ourselves.
>I wanted to ask questions during the trial. I’ve heard that in some
>counties jurors can question the witnesses and even the attorneys. This
>was not true for us. We had to keep our questions to ourselves. At one
>point, we asked the judge for clarification on a point of law. We sent
>him a note because it was the proper procedure. We were then ushered
>into the courtroom and the judge read us the law again. He did not give
>us any further elucidation, which is what we were trying to get. We had
>to ask each other and guess at what might be the answers. I believe
>that with questions, we might have done a better job. I think that we
>convicted an innocent man. He was there. He may have had some idea
>that John was planning to do something, but I don’t believe that he
>expected the outcome. Talk is cheap, and I think these guys did a lot
>of talking. This I can only surmise. They tell you not to bring your
>own beliefs or sentiments into the trial, then they leave you to come up
>with your own answers about so many things. There were so many t’s that
>weren’t crossed and i’s that weren’t dotted that we had to bring our own
>belief systems into the composition. We were given a piece of the
>puzzle and told to fit it into place. There were many missing pieces
>but we were asked to try to see the total picture anyway. We were
>looking at bits and pieces of an event and trying to reconstruct it the
>way it actually happened.
>The Prosecutor wanted us to see the homicide as planned. He had no hard
>evidence, but he wanted us to convict based on the evidence he had. It
>was his job.
>The Defense wanted us to remove James from the murder. He wanted us to
>see James as an innocent man who was caught in a terrible misfortune
>beyond his control. It was his job.
>We as jurors had to look at the evidence we had and attempt to make a
>decision based on fact. It was our job.
>There are two people living who know what happened that night. Neither
>of those individuals testified at the trial of James Jones. Those
>people were John Doe and James Jones.
>How would you have cast your vote? Guilty, innocent or somewhere in