The sentencing of convicted murderer John Goodman hit a wall yesterday during courtroom interviews Judge Jeffrey Colbath conducted to look into accusations of juror misconduct.
Jurors were called in one by one and asked if jurors had said they'd made up their minds before the trial was over, if Goodman's wealth had played a part in deliberations, and if any jurors were bullying others. Almost all of them simply said "no."
But one juror, identified by Colbath as "Mr. St. John," said the opposite, saying he didn't stand behind the guilty verdict the jury returned and portraying himself as an absolute doormat who completely bailed on a debate in which a man could be sent to prison for 30 years.
Goodman was found guilty last month of numerous charges in the death of 23-year-old Scott Wilson, whom Goodman drunkenly rammed off the road in early 2010. Wilson's car capsized in a canal and while Goodman ran around not calling police; by the time he called authorities (after calling his girlfriend), Wilson had drowned. (For more on the case, check out our Goodman trial primer
When St. John was asked if he'd seen any indications that jurors had decided Goodman's fate before the proceedings had finished, he said, "Yes, quite a few. Comments like, 'We know he's guilty. Let's just sign the paperwork and go on.'
"I think the whole case in general, I thought that, you know, these people kind of like had their minds made up," St. John said.
When Colbath asked if St. John thought Goodman wasn't guilty, St. John said, "Yes."
Well, then, Mr. St. John, why did you sign a bunch of stuff and say he was guilty? What if nobody had called you back into the courtroom and asked you whether you totally abandoned the only job you had to do?
"I was trying to show them another side, and they got adamant with me," he said of the jurors. "I was making that decision because of the pressure that I got from them... I just felt that my voice didn't mean anything, so I kinda went with the flow."
Keep in mind that St. John says he was completely bowled over in deliberations that only lasted five hours. If he's telling the truth, then there are Peter Jackson movies that lasted longer than St. John's efforts to exonerate Goodman.
St. John then asked if it was too late to get a second look at some of the evidence. The judge told him he was excused.
Colbath told lawyers from both sides they had until Thursday at noon to file memos about relevant case law he should consider in rulings on the case and whether the verdict should stand; he said he would issue a ruling "by Friday or Monday."
Sentencing has been rescheduled for May 11 at 2 p.m., assuming there isn't intervention from a higher court before then.