Jerice Hunter is guilty of being a horrible, terrible mother who killed her little 5-year-old daughter, Jhessye Shockley.
The second jury returned guilty verdicts on both Type 1 child abuse and first-degree felony murder.
What people feared would happen in the State v. Jodi Arias case happened Monday in the Jerice Hunter trial: an original juror was dismissed and deliberations had to start all over, but the new deliberations did not take long at all!
Around 1:20 p.m., the new jury had reached a verdict, approximately two hours after the new round of deliberations started.
The day started when the court informed the public there was a “juror issue” and it would be addressed in the courtroom at 10 a.m. No one knew what the issue was. However, the observant noticed one of the pregnant jurors had not yet arrived.
The attorneys arrived at the courtroom only to be whisked away back to chambers to discuss the mysterious juror issue. After more than an hour, it was announced jury deliberations had to start all over because one of the original jurors was dismissed for medical reasons. Yes, it was one of the pregnant ones.
This is a perfect example as to why every trial has alternates. At the end of the trial and just prior to the jury retiring to the deliberation room, the alternates were chosen by lot (essentially, the names of the alternates were pulled out of a hat.)
The alternates were instructed by Judge Rosa Mroz that the admonition still applied to them and they could not discuss the Hunter case with anyone until a verdict was reached.
They were also informed they could be called into the deliberations in the event one of the 12 jurors were to be dismissed.
The alternates left the courtroom and the 12 jurors started their deliberations. This procedure is followed for all jury trials in Maricopa County and it actually had to be implemented in this case. A juror was dismissed and the alternate had to step into her place.
What did this turn of events mean for Hunter? It meant the same thing for her as it did for the prosecution — absolutely nothing and absolutely everything.
The deliberations went back to square one and began anew, or I should say, they were supposed to.
Deliberations should have to start all over because there is a new body, a new brain that has to be included in the deliberations. This naturally results in new dynamics and at least one new opinion.
I thought the original deliberations would have been short and second round much longer, but hey, you never know what a jury is really thinking!
Hunter now faces up to 35 years in prison for the child abuse (because she has a prior conviction for felony child abuse) and will be sentenced to life or natural life for the felony murder of her daughter.
Many believe this jury got it right.