« Faulty ventilation cited in carbon monoxide deaths |
| Conn. principal bans cookies, ice cream from cafeteria »
January 10, 2008
Cape jurors questioned about bias in deliberations
BARNSTABLE, Mass. -- The only black juror on a panel that convicted a black trash collector of killing a white fashion writer told a judge today that several jurors made racially charged remarks during deliberations, including two women who referred to the defendant as a "big black man" and said they were afraid of him.
Roshena Bohanna's testimony came during what the judge acknowledged was an "extraordinarily unusual" hearing in which he called back the entire jury that convicted Christopher McCowan more than a year ago in the fatal stabbing of Christa Worthington to be questioned in open court about whether racial bias came into their deliberations.
McCowan's lawyers have asked Judge Gary Nickerson to look into the question of whether bias tainted the deliberations, and if so, grant McCowan a new trial. Three jurors filed affidavits after the verdict saying three other jurors had made racially insensitive remarks.
McCowen, who was Worthington's trash collector, claimed he had consensual sex with her but that his friend killed her. His defense maintains authorities wrongly focused on him as a suspect because they did not believe Worthington, 46, a writer who had covered fashion in New York and Paris before moving to the small town of Truro, would have a consensual relationship with a black garbage man.
Bohanna, the first of the jurors to be questioned today, said the racial remarks contributed to heated jury discussions.
One white woman, in trying to convince other jurors that McCowan had caused the bruises on Worthington's body, said, "If a big black man hits a woman, then she gets those bruises," Bohanna told the judge.
Bohanna said she became confrontational with the woman after she asked what McCowan's race had to do of the bruises and accused her of racism. The jury foreman had to call for a break.
Bohanna also said she overheard juror Eric Gomes, a dark-skinned man Cape Verdean descent, tell a white female juror that he does not consider himself black. When Bohanna later had the confrontation with the white juror, she said she heard Gomes say, "That's the reason why I don't like black people. Look at the way they act."
Nickerson was questioning each juror individually in open court, out of sight of the other panelists. The hearing was expected to last two days.
Posted by Jack Perry at 1:09 PM | Permalink
Bob | January 10, 2008 1:21 PM link
Post a comment
Please be civil. Vicious comments, personal attacks and profanity won't be published. Name and email are required; email address will not publish.