My Memories as a Jurywoman


Carolyn Mills


>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

>2. Peremptory.


>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 Charge


>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 Trial


>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.


>Prosecution Witnesses


>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

>didn’t recall.


>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



>Defense Witnesses


>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

>had anticipated.


>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

>hats on.


>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