I DON’T TAKE OATHS. MY YES MEANS YES, MY NO MEANS NO, AND JESUS SAID ANYTHING MORE IS IN EXCESS – a venireman’s response to a question from the prosecutor in the capital murder case by directing the activities of a criminal street gang against Bandido Jake Carrizal
Waco – A ripple of laughter coursed through the massive auxiliary courtroom when Juror #88 answered lead prosecutor Michael Jarrett’s question by saying, “I’m going to give a complicated answer.”
A middle-aged man with an earnest delivery, he said in answer to the three part multiple choice, “I’d like to say rehabilitation is the most important element of punishment, but I don’t think our penal system is set up to rehabilitate, and I don’t think deterrence works, so I’ll say punishment,” (is the most important).
When the next man was asked, he said, “Punishment” with a firm tone, and the mood was broken. The venire returned to it former solemn demeanor.
Jarrett then turned to an instruction that included the use of common sense as the most important tool a juror has in his box.
“If certain things are proven,” probation can be a solution to a jury’s solution. “Whatever decision the jury makes is final. The judge can’t change your decision for you.”
And then he pointed out that the counts for which the defendant, Bandido Jake Carrizal is indicted carry a minimum punishment of not less than 25 years on one count and 30 years on another.
The maximum sentence a jury can assess probation as probation is 10 years, he explained.
It began to sink in just how serious the task will be.
He asked Juror #15 if she can assess a punishment of probation. A former probation officer with 17 years experience, she said she “just can’t see how probation would be appropriate.” That alternative would be like using a screwdriver to get a job done, he said.
Jake Carrizal sat by with a grim expression on his face.
No one indicated they would object to a life sentence if the evidence indicated it was the appropriate tool to use, something Jarrett called the “sledgehammer.”
No one in the venire of about 150 persons said they have been charged or convicted of any offense more serious than a traffic ticket, nor any member of their family.
Then he turned to the affirmative defense of self defense.
A defendant is allowed to use force against an immediate threat of unlawful force.
At that point, defense attorney Casie Gotro bounded to her feet, saying “I object to a misstatement of the law.” The judge overruled her.
Jarrett explained that in a jury instruction, the legally mandated language is that jurors must find a “scintilla” of evidence – that is, a particle the size of a kernel of seed corn – that a defendant experienced an attack of violence, and then the state must prove there was none.
But there are degrees and shades of that stipulation.
Words are not enough to sustain a claim of self defense. You can’t use violence yourself, and then claim self defense; you can’t provoke the force and then claim self defense; you can’t provoke the force and then pull out a gun and shoot him.
And then he played the card specified in the indictment.
“A member of a criminal street gang cannot bring a gun to a discussion and then claim self defense.”
When Casie Gotro objected to that as a misstatement of the law, the judge again overruled her.
One may only surmise that the state intends to show evidence that Carrizal used a gun at some point in the deadly episode the mainstream media insists on calling a “melee.”
A man volunteered that one of his friends was shot, and he can’t be objective in such a case.
About a dozen people held up their numbered juror card and many of them requested a private consultation as to their reasons as to why they cannot be objective in their considerations.
A priest had indicated he could not sit in judgment on another person. Two persons joined him, one of them saying “I don’t take oaths. My yes means yes, my no means no, and Jesus said anything more is in excess.” The judge explained that he could “affirm” his promise and do just fine, legally. A woman of foreign extraction said in broken English that she would “prefer not” to take any oath, and the prosecutor said, “That is no legal reason to not be considered for jury duty.”
Following a break, the defense questioned the veniremen.
We will bring you an account of that later in a video presentation.
- The Legendary