The Jury Foreman in the Bob Bates trial is contradicting comments made last week by a person identified as Juror 24.
The juror wrote a letter to the judge, which was made public in a filing by Bates' attorneys on Friday, May 27, 2016. In it, the juror said the jury never agreed unanimously that Bates would receive prison time.
The juror wrote the instruction on punishment was confusing, and the juror thought the consensus was that the jury would recommend probation.
In explaining what happened, the juror wrote, "I said yes, but I must say it was painful to say, and I regret that I didn't speak up because, in my mind and heart, I truly do not believe Mr. Bates is guilty."
But the foreman said the jury discussed the case for 20 minutes before taking an initial guilty or not guilty vote. In that first round, 11 jurors voted guilty and Juror 24 voted not guilty.
After continued deliberations, the foreman said Juror 24 became "satisfied" with a guilty verdict.
Then, the jury started deliberating the sentence. The first round had 11 votes for prison time, including Juror 24, and one other juror who wanted only jail time.
According to the foreman, that juror expressed sympathy because of Bates' age.
The foreman said, "I, along with other jurors, spoke up about how we were instructed not to take personal feelings or sympathy or anything like that into reaching a decision. Only testimony in court was to be looked at. After deliberating, that gentleman changed his vote to ‘satisfied with prison.’”
The foreman said he called for two more votes to make sure everyone concurred. The jury then deliberated on the length of sentence and came to an agreement on four years.
The jury foreman also said that Bates’ defense team contacted him twice, but he never returned the calls.
Another member of the Bates jury also spoke out against Juror 24’s letter.
She writes, "I was very surprised and frustrated by the letter. Everything was thoroughly discussed, no one coerced anyone into making a guilty verdict. Each one of us agreed to the guilty verdict in the deliberation. I thought the instructions were very clear. So I'm not sure why this juror was confused."
She adds, "After much discussion each one of us verbally agreed to four years in prison."