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Mattapan jurors recount discord

Say holdout didn’t explain her stance

Boston Police Superintendent Bruce Holloway (right) spoke during a community meeting at the Morning Star Baptist Church on March 23 in reaction to the Mattapan massacre trial verdicts. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) Boston Police Superintendent Bruce Holloway (right) spoke during a community meeting at the Morning Star Baptist Church on March 23 in reaction to the Mattapan massacre trial verdicts.
By Brian Ballou and Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / March 24, 2012
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It got so tense that they began throwing their pencils and their notepads across the room. Some of the jurors cursed, glaring at the woman, the lone holdout who refused to convict Dwayne Moore of the murders.

“The yelling was so loud that jurors in another room heard us,’’ said one of the jurors in the case, speaking Friday on condition of anonymity. “I couldn’t believe what was going on.’’

The eight women and four men picked to decide the fates of Moore, the alleged triggerman in the September 2010 killings of four people, including a 2-year-old boy, and Edward Washington, the accused getaway driver, began their deliberations determined to be civil.

By lunchtime on Day 2, they had decided there was not enough evidence to convict Washington. The only question was whether to find Moore guilty. The majority believed he was guilty, but on the third day of deliberations, one juror, a soft-spoken middle-aged woman, refused to budge.

The woman, according to two jurors who did not want their names published, told them she knew from the beginning that she would be the holdout. Only God knew the truth, she said.

Inside the jury room on the eighth floor of the Suffolk Superior Courthouse, things began to unravel. Jurors said their frustrations grew out of the woman’s refusal to explain her position with evidence from the trial.

“Not once did she say why she believed what she did, not once,’’ said one juror. He said he faced her and talked to her at length, desperately trying to get her to explain her position.

“All she kept saying was: ‘That’s my feeling. That’s what I believe,’ ’’ he said.

The two jurors who spoke to the Globe provided a riveting day-by-day account of the seven-day deliberation that ended Thursday in the acquittal of Washington, 32, and a mistrial of Moore, 34. They asked that their names be withheld because of the volatility surrounding the case. The verdict sparked anger and disbelief among not only relatives of the victims, but also elected officials, community leaders, and neighbors in Mattapan, where the crime took place.

The Globe is not identifying the purported holdout because she could not be reached for comment to provide her version of events.

According to the two jurors interviewed, the panel focused its discussions on the key witness, Kimani Washington, 36, a career criminal who confessed he was an accomplice in the crime, an armed home invasion for cash and drugs.

Washington, the most crucial prosecution witness, testified that he left before the shootings took place.

He spent three days on the stand, where he was aggressively questioned by defense lawyers who tried to undercut his testimony by pointing to inconsistencies in his statements and highlighting his past as a pimp, drug dealer, and thief.

Both jurors interviewed said they did not believe that Kimani Washington, Edward Washington’s cousin, was telling the complete truth. But rather than dismiss his testimony outright, jurors said they went through his statements one by one, methodically weighing the veracity of each statement.

“The defense called Kimani a liar, but we weren’t going to just believe that,’’ one of the jurors said. “We tried to put everything together, to figure out if what Kimani said made sense. I don’t know the man, I can’t say how he is, so we just took the evidence and looked at that, trying to corroborate.’’

In the deliberating room, the jury took what they thought were the main points from Kimani Washington’s testimony and wrote them on a chalkboard. They scribbled 33 points.

The first day, they focused on the firearms possession charge against Edward Washington, who was accused of obtaining the three guns used in the crime.

After 90 minutes, they decided there was no evidence that Edward Washington had held any of the guns.

The jury moved on to the armed robbery charge. To find him guilty, the jurors explained, they would have had to place Edward Washington at the scene.

“The testimony we had against Ed Washington was pretty cut and dry,’’ one juror said. “There wasn’t enough evidence to place Edward Washington at the scene, and once you can’t be placed at the scene, nothing else happens. That’s the stopping point, like a house of cards.’’

Throughout those discussions, the soft-spoken woman said very little.

The other jurors were animated, eager to make their points. But the woman, who sat at the elbow of the long rectangular table, opposite from the chalkboard, would only say, “I think’’ or “I believe.’’

The jurors began turning their attention to Moore, starting with what they considered the flimsiest charge, cocaine trafficking.

The discussion lasted less than a half-hour. On the stand, Kimani Washington had said that Moore told him he could keep the cocaine.

“No evidence to show he ever had the bag,’’ one juror said. “That was the easiest to figure out.’’

But the phone records the prosecution had produced, which indicated Moore had called one of the victims, Simba Martin, convinced most of the jury that Moore was at the scene.

Prosecutors had said Moore called Martin to lure him out of the house so he could rob him.

Still, the woman insisted on acquitting.

“We were never given a chance,’’ one of the jurors said. “She hijacked this jury. All she would say is, ‘I think, I feel, I believe.’ That was her mantra.’’

Being the lone holdout is incredibly isolating, said Linda Cox, 72, of Beacon Hill, who served on a Boston jury in 1988 and was the only juror who refused to convict a young immigrant on drug charges.

“It was terrible,’’ Cox said of the experience. “It’s really awful to have to stand up against 11 people, to be totally alone [and] to have to really rely on trusting yourself.’’

She said that in her case she did not believe the officer who testified against the immigrant. But fellow jurors told her she was being emotional or felt sorry for the defendant.

“They thought I was crazy,’’ Cox said. “I know I personally could not have voted guilty and lived with my own conscience.’’

The defendant was retried and convicted by a later jury. The conviction was overturned after Cox persuaded a former prosecutor to take the immigrant’s case.

But 20 years later, Cox said, she remembers clearly how the other jurors vilified her.

“It’s like torture,’’ said Cox, who wrote a memoir, “Lone Holdout,’’ about the experience. “It’s hard to know what’s going through this person’s mind, but I have so much empathy and sympathy for her. It’s really a tough position to be in.’’

Delorise Flonory, the adoptive mother and grandmother of victim Eyanna Flonory, who died cradling her young son, said she was “very disappointed’’ in the holdout juror, whose decision sparked the mistrial.

Flonory said she cannot bear the idea of having to sit through another trial and confront the same gruesome testimony of how her daughter and the child, Amanihotep Smith, were killed.

“I don’t think I can go through it again,’’ Flonory said. “I really don’t. It’s too much to go through the same thing again.’’

As they prepared to file into the courtroom Thursday to deliver the verdict, some of the jurors turned to the lone dissenter.

“This is what you wanted,’’ one of the jurors recalled hearing. “And you got it.’’

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com, and Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com.

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