Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mark Becker

Deliberations take a twist

Testimony and arguments were completed just before lunch on Wednesday, February 24. To no one's surprise, the jurors did not reach a verdict by 5 p.m. On Thursday, the jury asked to see a snippet of Becker's police interview in which he mentioned "a deep-seated animosity." Shortly before 4 p.m., they sent a note reading: "We are at a stale mate [sic] at present with much discussion. Can we go home and sleep on our decision? Start fresh tomorrow a.m.?" Judge Carroll assented.

Around noon on Friday, the jurors sent a surprising note to the judge asking, "What would happen to Mark Becker if we find him insane?" Judge Carroll sent back an answer in writing: "You need not concern yourself with the potential consequences of a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity... In the event of a guilty verdict or a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, you have nothing to do with the consequences. Those are issues for the court, not for the jury."

At the end of the day, the jury sent yet another note emphasizing their division: "We have voted 4 times today and are still dead-locked (Same vote ratio)... How should we proceed? Thank you." The judge dismissed them for the weekend, and on Monday sent back a response pointing them to the instruction on jury room procedures (they had been given a copy of the jury instructions to take back to the jury room), adding simply: "Please continue your deliberations."

With the jury's struggles and fruitless votes, many court-watchers assumed a hung jury was the most likely outcome. They were wrong.

 

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