With all the talk about juries lately, it seemed timely to revisit some old odd news. This is the story of one bold jury’s attempt to find the truth despite hindrance by lawyers, the legal system, and evidence in general.
Headline: Retrial Order in “Ouija Case”
Deciding that lawyers weren’t presenting the right sort of evidence in the murder case against Stephen Young, the jury sought out their own witnesses – the murder victims. Sequestered (i.e., bored) at the hotel the jury decided to hold a séance (Many things seem like a good idea at 1 in the morning when the booze is all gone and there’s nothing on cable.)
The idea isn’t as strange as it may first appear. About 1 in 5 Americans believe in communication with the dead, so statistically at least a couple of jury members every murder case believes they can get the straight scoop directly from the victim.
The jury sent out for an Ouija Board. This took a bit of time since Juror #6 had forgotten to pack hers, but Ouija Boards are easily procured from illicit toy dealers and paranormal shops that tend to stay open all night.
Ouija Board procured, a séance ensued. After a brief chat with one of the victims, the jury found Stephen Young guilty.
A tattle-tale bailiff, who’d recently had an argument with his dead aunt, reported the deliberation irregularities to the judge. When interviewed, four of the jurors admitted to organizing the séance, three additional jurors confessed to praying about the verdict. The defense council insisted that jurors were not supposed to talk to anyone – including a higher power – about the deliberations.
After investigation, the court reluctantly admitted that séances were not prohibited – juries could use any method they chose to reach a verdict. Unfortunately for this jury, séances can only be held in the designated room of the courthouse and this one had been held at the hotel. The judge had no option but to set aside the verdict on this technicality and schedule a new trial with more sensible jurors. Bailiffs promised to hide all board games from the next jury.
The judge would not release the exact testimony elicited from the dead witness since it might prejudice the next jury, but witnesses deny that the Ouija Board spelled out: P-R-O-F-E-S-S-O-R-P-L-U-M-I-N-T-H-E-L-I-B-R-A-R-Y-W-I-T-H-T-H-E-R-E-V-O-L-V-E-R
“If you want to know, ask him yourself,” snapped the judge.
Regardless of what you think of the methods, this jury was ultimately right. Stephen Young was re-convicted and is currently serving a life sentence. It is unknown what process the second jury used to reach a verdict. It is speculated that in the absence of board games, the jury used “rock-paper-scissors” to decide.
This is a case where a brave jury went outside of the staid practices and procedures of the court to find the truth. Maybe we underestimate the power of psychics on a jury and should screen jurors to insure at least one is selected. Without cameras, how else are we supposed to know what happened? Best to get an eye witness account.
So the next time you serve on jury duty, don’t forget to bring your Magic 8 Ball.
I’m Jae this message was written without psychic intervention.