MIRACLE BY THE BAY Part IV
By Warren Yates
Jury gets a case at 3:30 PM on February 26, 2013. The judge stated that he only holds court until 4:30 PM and that if the jury doesn’t reach a verdict we will have to return on Friday. The judge and gone back into his chambers and while we were waiting in court we were making small talk and I was praying. At 4:28 PM the judge came out of chambers and told us that if the jury doesn’t come back by 4:30 PM we will have to go back on Friday.
Judge no more than said that when the phone rang and the jury reported they had a verdict. Having been in court many times, I immediately felt that they would find Gerardo guilty. In the vast majority of the time, a quick verdict usually means that the evidence is overwhelming, the defendant would be guilty and they wanted to just get out of there. As the jury was coming back in I was praying that they had seen all of the evidence and knew the Gerardo was innocent.
Knowing that the judge and of course Ms. Frasier wanted to secure a conviction, the judge asked the fore person of the jury for the verdict forms. Now in the instructions to the jury, the judge advised them that there would be one sheet that said either guilty or not guilty. There were three other sheets attached to the guilty or not guilty sheet which were three enhancements for sentencing purposes upon being found guilty.
One enhancement was for committing a crime for the benefit of a street gang, one for premeditation or lying in wait and one for use of a firearm. If found guilty, the jury could find the defendant guilty of one, two or all three of the enhancements. This is where the judge showed how vindictive he was.
Only myself, attorney Gradford and Ms. Frasier understood what the judge was doing. The judge looked at the top sheet which would say either guilty or not guilty. He studied that for a few seconds and then carefully set it aside he then looked at the first enhancement form for a few seconds and then carefully put it aside and then looked at the third enhancement sheet and then carefully put it aside.
At that point myself, attorney Gradford and Ms. Frasier knew, based on what the judge had done, that the verdict was guilty and the judge was checking to see which of the three enhancements or all of them might be applicable. The judge then gathered the the documents up, carefully stacked them and then handed them to the court clerk and said, please read the verdict.
The clerk then read: the people of the state of California versus Gerardo Hernandez in matter number CR-blah blah blah with a charge of attempted murder, find a defendant Gerardo Hernandez NOT GUILTY!!! Gerardo’s family, myself and Mr. Gradford were euphoric. I was about 3 feet off the ground and that’s no small task if you have ever seen me and know how big I am. Ms. Frasier had an astonished look of disbelief on her face. She had lost what she considered to be a slam dunk case.
Outside the courtroom the family was very busy thanking the jurors for seeing the truth. When Ms. Frasier came out of the courtroom she immediately singled out the fore person of the jury and asked her for all to hear “What happened” as if to indicate that the jury did not make the correct decision. When the fore person began to tell her where the holes were in her case, Ms. Fraser said “let’s go down the hallway here to talk” not wanting anybody else to hear where she dropped the ball on fourth down just outside of the end zone as time ran out in the Super Bowl.
Next part V: Parallels I drew