A juror in former Deerfield Beach High football star Jarvis Hicks' first-degree attempted murder trial was removed Monday after he recalled that he'd read about the case in the area's top weekly newspaper.
"I was sitting there listening to the evidence and it dawned on me that I read the story in your newspaper," said Jim Curci of Hollywood, who was chosen to sit on the jury Monday. "And I'm sitting there thinking, 'This kid is getting railroaded.'"
You can read about Hicks' case here. My story never made any claims about his innocence or guilt, but it did point to some of the weaknesses in the case while telling the tale of Hicks going from University of Connecticut signee (and one of the top prep schools in the country) to a Broward County jail cell.
Curci says that after the first couple of witnesses took the stand, it dawned on him that he had read the article last year. He also realized that he didn't believe the facts of the case supported conviction. So he was faced with a quandary.
"My moral delimma was do I stop here or do I stay on the jury?" he told me. "If they’re going to hang this kid, should I be the only person who holds out or do I excuse myself now?"
He decided to do the right thing. He told the prosecutor (not sure of who it is at the time of this posting) that he had a problem. Away from other jurors, he told the prosecutor, defense attorney David Simmons, and Judge Mily Rodriguez-Powell about his problem.
He was asked if he was biased against the state or the defense.
"The state," he answered.
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When he told them he had read about the case in the New Times, he was told that the press often has its own slant on cases.
"I told them that I read New Times all the time and, I believe my exact words were, 'I put a lot of faith in what they write -- as you all know, I live in Hollywood,'" said Curci, referring to years of hard-hitting coverage of his city by my newspaper. "I think the judge even cracked a smile when I said that."
Curci, of course, did the right thing, as all of his friends have already told him.
"I used my moral compass versus what Mara did in Hollywood," he said with a laugh.