Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The True Story of Thomas Jabin Berry

Justice Served

Thomas Jabin Berry was indicted on March 30, 1998, for first-degree murder and first-degree rape in the death of Janet Siclari. Six hundred people were summoned for jury duty, and the final list of potential jurors included two hundred and forty-three Dare County residents.

In January 1999, after a thirteen-day trial, and without ever testifying on his own behalf, Thomas Jabin Berry was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the brutal rape and murder of Janet Siclari.

The jury deliberated for four and a half hours before reaching a decision as to Berry's guilt. When it came to the sentencing phase, however, the jury was deadlocked, unable to reconcile the single vote against a death sentence. Because the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision in a reasonable amount of time, North Carolina law required that the death penalty be removed from the table. Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett could therefore impose nothing more than a life sentence.

Appeals Court Judge John Tyson

Berry appealed his sentence, arguing that there was not enough evidence to warrant a conviction. Appeals Court Judge John Tyson responded on behalf of the court: "Given the manner of the killing, the medical examiner's testimony, and DNA evidence, we find that sufficient evidence existed...to find the defendant guilty of the first-degree rape and first-degree murder of Janet Siclari."

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