SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) – A member of the jury that sentenced 2 men to Oregon’s death row now believes that she may have “inadvertently” caused the decision of the jury to be biased.
The Oregonian/Oregon Live first reported on Monday that Marion County Circuit Court Judge Courtland Geyer was sent a letter from a juror who potentially casts doubt on the verdict and sentence. Geyer was one of the prosecutors assigned to the 2010 Woodburn bank bombing trial of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge.
The letter was processed by the postal service on August 30 and scanned into the court’s database on September 5.
Prosecutors told the jury that the father and son acted on their anger towards the government by planting a bomb at the West Coast Bank in Woodburn. The bomb blew up in December 2008 and killed two police officers and critically injured a third. During the 3 month long trial, prosecutors told the jury that Bruce and Joshua Turnidge feared President Barack Obama would take away their rights to guns and that they were in need of cash.
“I believe I may have inadvertently caused the outcome of the jury’s decision to be biased,” the woman wrote in her letter to now sitting Judge Geyer. “I wasn’t in a good place in my head. I was prescribed Rx pain meds, but looking back, I cannot honestly say I wasn’t misusing them.”
The woman writes that she is able to recall trying not to fall asleep during the trial. “Thinking clearly now as opposed to before, I can honestly say I don’t believe I would have made the same decisions at all,” the woman writes in her letter.
She has since left the state, and is trying to “do right” and looking to start over after running into some domestic violence issues.
“It’s eating at me that 2 men may have spent the last 10 years in prison because of my actions,” the juror writes. “I’m sure that my actions with and around the other jurors probably caused them to feel obligated to side with me.”
The juror directed staff to read her juror notepad, which she suggested could offer insight into her state of mind during the trial.
“I know there will be repercussions,” the woman writes.
According to court records, when Judge Geyer received the letter, he turned the letter over to Judge Thomas Hart who presided over the Turnidge trial. Judge Hart then turned the letter over to Judge Lindsay Partridge who is handling some of the appeal matters.
The court redacted the contact information for the juror who wrote the letter. It was then sent to the attorneys involved in the case.
It remains unknown what implications the letter could have on the case.
John Henry Hingson III, a criminal defense attorney not involved in the case, said it is very unlikely that the letter will have any lasting effect on the case.
“The law is extremely wary of any attempt to impeach to a jury’s verdict,” Hingson said.
Hingson pointed to Tanner v. United States as an example. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a that a verdict could not be overturned even after it was discovered that some of the jury members had consumed significant amounts of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during the course of the trial and deliberations.
“It’s also not uncommon for people on capitol cases to have ‘juror’s remorse,’” Hingson said.
Hingson said to get a verdict overturned, there must be outside influences. Hingson used an example of mobsters bribing or threatening a juror.