Judge In Sandidge Murder Trial Denies Motion for Mistrial After Jurors Express Concerns Over Safety

Jurors in the case against James Sandidge were instructed to continue deliberating in the case Friday, despite concerns from some jurors about safety and contact with families related to the case.

Judge Lynn Leibovitz said jurors told her they were concerned with their safety as jurors, some claiming to have been followed while outside of the courtroom.

Jurors had deliberated for over a day before they sent notes to the clerk Friday about experiences they had in and outside of the court room that made them feel “uncomfortable.”

Sandidge is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2011 shooting death of 20-year-old Keenan Jerel Lee. The trial began Monday; closing arguments were heard Wednesday and jurors began deliberating at about 3 p.m. that afternoon.

On Friday, jurors were called up to the bench individually to speak with Leibovitz and counsel from both sides.

Leibovitz said that, among the incidents reported, a juror felt “uncomfortable” being near Sandidge’s family at the Metro, a juror reported receiving “dirty looks” from Sandidge during the trial, two jurors walking together near the courthouse observed people they believed to be related to Sandidge or Lee following them, a juror was concerned that Lee’s family had sat near a group of three jurors having lunch.

One juror asked to have the courtroom cleared during trial, closing it off to the public, Leibovitz said.

She denied that request, as well as a motion for a mistrial from Sandidge’s defense attorney, Jonathan Zucker.

[No juror] felt specifically threatened,” she said. “Every single juror said credibly and forcefully they could deliberate fairly and impartially. They all appeared certain.”

Jury deliberations will continue on Monday at 9:30 a.m.

blog comments powered by Disqus