19-year-old Demrick M. of Cleveland, Ohio, was facing serious criminal charges — kidnapping and felonious assault. A student at his high school said that Demrick led a gang of teens that beat him up and held him at gunpoint as he was walking home from school at around 1:00 p.m. on October 13, 2010. Demrick was arrested and thrown in jail that night, and he was held there for months.
He was innocent.
After nearly a week-long trial, it took a jury less than half an hour to acquit him due to “sheer lack of evidence.” In fact, some of those jurors are so incensed that he was charged in the first place that they plan to give Demrick their juror pay.
Jurors give their pay as a show of support for ‘a decent kid who was falsely accused’
According to the jurors, the prosecution’s case against Demrick hinged entirely on the alleged victim’s identification of Demrick as his attacker, but the victim simply wasn’t credible. In fact, in a vote taken at the beginning of their deliberations, 9 of the 12 jurors said they didn’t even believe the alleged attack occurred.
There was no medical record of any injuries. There were no other witnesses. There was no evidence that police even searched for a gun. The victim was carrying money and valuables, but nothing was taken. The victim said he’d been let out of school early that day, but the police hadn’t even bothered to verify that.
Even more troubling, the victim had previously told the police that one of his attackers was someone who turned out to have an iron-clad alibi. And, although the attack supposedly occurred within view of the victim’s house, he couldn’t show police exactly where it happened.
After acquitting Demrick, jurors Ana de Freitas Boe, an English professor, Jeanne Knotek, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and alternate juror Richard Nagin decided to give Demrick the $100 they received for their jury service and to write letters of protest against the teen’s wrongful arrest and detention.
They know the amount of money is too small to compensate Demrick for the injustices against him, but they wanted to send him a “show of support.” Demrick can have the money if he completes his high-school equivalency degree.
“It won’t be a lot of money,” juror Ana Boe told the Plain Dealer. “It’s just a little carrot that goes to his future.”
“He seemed like a decent kid who was falsely accused,” said Nagin.
Demrick’s mother says that he does plan to get his GED. She was, of course, thrilled that her son had been exonerated and praised his criminal defense. But she was even more touched by the jurors’ show of support.
“That’s awesome that they would consider taking it further than the job they were assigned to do,” she said.
This doesn’t appear to be the first case of wrongful prosecution in Cuyahoga County
Last November, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published an investigation showing that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason has prosecuted hundreds of people in the past ten years, despite there being little or no evidence against them.
Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Jurors so upset about case brought against 19-year-old that they will give the defendant their jury pay,” Patrick O’Donnell, February 09, 2011