Drugs, Demons, Doubt: A Tale of Two Hookers Pt 3

Trying to wrap up the trial of the century. Finally.
For the beginning, background, setup, refresher see Part 2, "Heroin-Induced Homocide" and/or Part 1 of this story.

This is part 3 “Drugs, Demons and Reasonable Doubt" in A Tale of 2 Prostitutes.

I could really write at least 3 more posts on this, if I had the time. It’s taking me so long to edit it down, I just need to finish it and move on.

Quick reminder:
Jody is the defendant in this case, friend of Trina, the deceased victim.
Lee was Trina’s girlfriend. We also learned Lee was a drug dealer and acted as a pimp to both girls.


Of all of the people who testified in this case, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on the deceased victim was the key witness for me.

He testified after 2 other expert witnesses: One was the lab tech who tested the bloody sock found at the scene for DNA, and one was a lab tech who tested the drug-related items found at the scene.

All 3 testified as to their detailed, lengthy education and training process, and the ongoing education and certifications that they are required to obtain. This took quite some time and involved several Agencies we had and had not heard of, Boards of This and That, and a lot of acronyms we had no freaking idea about. 
We, the slack-jawed Jury, were convinced that they were experts. 
What do we know about the education and training of doctors, medical and/or lab experts? It sounded like a LOT of training, and strings of letters.

The DNA expert testified, in a very matter of fact, reading-out-loud-more-than-talking manner, that the dirty sock found at the scene that had blood on it, was later found to be the blood of the defendant, Jody. She explained at great confusing length the process of DNA testing, and she had obviously explained this many times before. She sounded like a kid reading a report before the class, but she didn’t need to look at her notes.

Both expert witnesses had all-black, professional looking business suits and gave their perfunctory explanations of their processes in the manner of priests saying that same old Bible scripture for the billionth time.

Long story short for the DNA: 16 alleles matched and there was only a microscopic chance in billions that it could be anyone else’s blood. I will spare you the details, but it took over two hours to go over her qualifications, her processes, charts and graphs, and all of the details to explain to us that this was definitely Jody’s blood. She had NO doubt.

The defendant had used the sock to wipe blood from her arm after injecting heroin. Then when she handed over the drugs and drug paraphernalia to her friend, she put them inside this sock for delivery. 

Gross, I know, but they did share needles so what's a dirty, bloody sock between junkie friends?
I wasn’t sure at the time why the sock needed DNA testing since Jody confessed to delivering the drugs in this sock. We would understand later about reasonable doubt, and the ‘reasonable’ factor of the jury of my peers.

When building their case the state had no idea if she would change her testimony. They had no way to know what the defense would say about that. They needed to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the sock was hers.

The state proved to us that Jodie’s  blood was definitely on that sock, beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore the defendant had possession of that sock. This was key because inside the sock was that last, lethal dose of heroin and crack cocaine that caused Trina’s death.

Speaking of the crack and heroin, the expert who tested the items found at the scene for narcotics testified that she now works for the DEA.
The D-E-freakin-A, I thought. 
As in Drug Enforcement (is that right, ENFORCEment? Are they forcing people to take drugs?) and something that starts w/an A. The jury was impressed. Even though I couldn't remember what that stood for. 
Point is, these experts were smart: S-M-R-T.

2 years ago she worked in the lab that tested the drugs. She tested the contents of the sock, and confirmed that the 1x1" clear ziptop bag contained a small amount of crack cocaine. I can’t remember the exact amounts now, but when she tested the tin foil bindles she testified that both bindles only contained 'trace amounts' of heroin.
THIS is a tin foil "bindle"

She had to scrape the sides to get any to even test, this is consistent with someone who had ingested the heroin from the foil. 

The amount remaining would be the amount stuck to the sides. She didn’t even bother to test the 2nd foil bindle, as they looked identical and there wasn’t enough in the 2nd foil to change a charge.

The first officer to arrive at the scene that night testified. He looked like a typical suburban police officer, tall and big enough to use his size if he needed to. But his shape suggested he didn’t need to use...force, much in the area where he worked. 
Or get out of his car very often probably. It's relatively quiet in most areas.

He corroborated the basic timeline that the sister had established for the evening of June 27th, into the early morning of June 28th. The door missing the doorknob, the victim laying against the door so he had to shoulder the door to open it. He and another officer, the second responder, took Trina out and tried to revive her, eventually taking her to the hospital. He said he kept everyone in the bedrooms, away from the scene. He took photos of the scene and the evidence collected.

The next witness was the detective assigned to the case. 
For several jurors this was where the “reasonable doubt” grew from a tadpole of skepticism, to a big ole bullfrog of WTF.

His investigation took place over the course of 2 years, which seemed like a crazy long amount of time. However, this was an important case, and Jody was the only person that ever came to him to give information.

In order to get in touch with Lee, who I previously explained was a drug dealer and also Trina’s girlfriend/pimp, he had to look up when she had court and he waited outside a Cook County courtroom. 
The defense attorney tried to get him to say that, but he was only allowed to say that said he spoke to her outside the courtroom. When Lee testified, the defense attorney tried to ask her if she were in court that day about a gun charge. The state objected, and she was not allowed to answer.

During the 2 years of the detective’s investigation, there were a lot of changes, including:
People’s answers to questions;
Equipment used at his station;
His actual job. 

He said in the process of moving his desk, his field notes on this case were “lost.” No other explanation given.

The defense attorney made sure we knew that police policy states any and all field notes are to be saved and entered into evidence. In this case, they were the notes his partner took during his interview with the person who sold that last lethal dose of heroin Jody, his streetname: Houdini.
I know, right? I did not make that up. The defense attorney had a bit of a field day with that.

1 from buddy tv dotcom.JPG
from tvbuddy.com
The detective, who reminded me of an older Joey Lawrence (Melissa and Joey, not Blossom) testified he had no idea where the notes went.

He looked almost exactly like this. Except he didn’t draw or spray on any hairline. 

I kept waiting for him to say “Whoa!” Especially with the amount of things he appeared to lose or mess up.

We never knew why Houdini was not arrested for selling drugs. The defense attorney brought this up at least twice. The final time was the very LAST thing he chose to talk about in summation. He said Houdini didn’t need to use magic to disappear, and shouldn’t we focus on catching him instead of addicts like Jody? That was a wise place to end off. This really got to some of the jurors.

We only knew that detective Joey Lawrence went to the police department in that town, and the police there seemed to know where Houdini was. They took him to the drug dealer for questioning. The detective testified that he questioned Houdini, his partner took field notes. The notes would say that Houdini denied selling drugs to the defendant, and since they didn’t have any evidence, they had to let him go.

This could be very much true, and that’s all there is to it, but it made several jurors very suspicious.

It could be that someone somewhere is building a bigger case against him, so without any evidence they let him go on this. It could also be that Houdini is working with the police to catch his dealer, or the dealer(s) the next level up. That’s why we can’t read the notes. Yes, it’s a little optimistic and the boozey-smelling juror next to me even said “Nice theory, Law and Order,” but I kind of have to hope this is the case. We won’t know until an arrest has been made. You can bet your bippy I have a Google alert set up for ‘Houdini.’

We spent way too much time on this during deliberation:
So, the police KNEW of this drug dealer, knew where he would be to take the detective TO him, but no charges were filed for selling drugs?? Huh?!

Was/Is Houdini a CI? (Confidential Informant)
Are the police really that incompetent?

Does it even matter in this case? To me: No.
By the letter of the law: No.
Bottom line: The drug dealer wasn’t on trial. 

I had to keep reminding everyone that neither Houdini, nor Lee, were not on trial here. Other jurors had a hard time getting past this. It's weird, yes. It has little to do with our duty here.

Detective Joey actually testified twice. The first time he talked about his interview with Jody, her “confession.” He tapes the interview, HOWEVER, and this is interesting, the police department happened to be in the middle of switching their AV equipment.

The new equipment was not functioning yet, for whatever reason. Their ‘old’ former system was the tripod cameras as you’ve probably seen on television. However, they ran out of the little tapes you use to record things on. He said that as a ‘back up to his back up’ he used a camera he had used in vice to secretly record drug deals. A camera hidden in a key fob.

The audio was absolutely horrendous. There were times when the audio did not match up with the video, and there were many times you could not understand a single word she said. He said he spent DAYS transcribing the interview, with his ‘Dr. Dre beats headphones’ 
(which Boozey McWhiskey Pants had a good laugh about.) 

He said at times he kept rewinding every word, sometimes spending an hour on one sentence, to try to get this interview written down word for word to provide a transcript.

When we viewed the video in court, they wheeled a big TV in front of the jury, and we were allowed to watch 22 minutes (out of a total of I think 55 minutes,) where Jody talked about herself a little, and the drugs. At times it was difficult to understand any of what she is saying, the audio was so bad.

We were given a written transcript of this clip, to help us follow along. We were told that the VIDEO is to be considered the evidence, not the transcript. In the event that the transcript does not match the video, we were to watch the video and take THAT as the evidence. 

However, there were many times when you just couldn’t possibly have any idea what she was saying. In those times everyone looked at their transcript and not the video, you couldn’t look at both at the same time. It went by so quickly, you had to look at the transcript just to follow along.
Boozey and another juror kept bringing that up.

There were times when Jody was speaking and the detective had written “unintelligible” in the transcript. We had no idea what was being said, there were even a few times where the detective was speaking and he wrote “unintelligible.”

A couple jurors thought that with the quality of the recording, the detective not being a professional transcriptionist, the whole recording should have been thrown out. Most of us did NOT agree. There are many things you can clearly understand. You can clearly understand the parts that proved she delivered the drugs.

I don't remember much now about the interview, but I do remember the interview started with him asking her about herself, her children, she was a single mother. Detective Joey took a lot of flack from the jurors for being 'dopey' and whatnot, but during the interview I saw how he made detective. 

He knew how to talk to her, he was at her level and got her to open up and speak freely about a lot of things. Not just because he was pretty hot, because he sounded like an every day person. He didn't speak in $5 words as the lab techs and doctor witness did, he didn't try to sound smarter than anyone else. He sounded like Joey from the block. He looked at Jody when she spoke, really listened and asked the right questions, never pushing her.

She said she had 4 children and 2 were “adopted out.” He said he respects for doing that, and something about his mom being a single mom, it was not easy and she took care of him 'like a rockstar.' Jody was receptive to that, she said something about one child playing sports somewhere, then something UNINTELLIGIBLE and one child was with his father. She explained his father used to be an addict so he was patient with her, with her problem. She had been struggling with heroin addiction for over 10 years.

This is where I should feel sorry for her because she has 4 children, and she’s facing major jail time away from them. And yes, there is that. However, thankfully at least 3 of them are not with her, not sure about the other. Combine that with her 'struggling' with heroin for over ten years, and the fact that she and Lee had been “up straight for 3 days doing heroin and crack,” and I thought it was safe to assume this is not the Mother of the Year. 

I have sympathy for her of course. I don't know shit about addiction, not like this. She needs help, and badly. I feel very sorry for her kids, and I hope they are safe, but in terms of her being in jail? Well…..

She was already in jail at the time of the trial (turns out for something unrelated.) They never told us she was incarcerated at the time of the trial, but they didn’t have to. It was obvious to me because she wore the exact same all black clothes every single day, no make-up, her hair obviously dryed naturally, no product in her very curly hair, and she had prison shoes.

from polyvore.com
By that I mean they were very white (brand new, barely if ever worn outside) and had velcro closures. No strings, no buckles. 

The same EXACT shoes all of the bailiffs wear with their uniforms, but the bailiff shoes are black. I care none for fashion, but no young woman would wear those fugly shoes voluntarily. If you search “Prison shoes white” they are one of the first images you’ll see.

She was very pale, with healing acne, and also appeared to be missing her top row of teeth. She wasn’t wearing any dentures, partials, etc., as I imagine would be the case in prison. Her entire mouth looked sunken in on the top, as happens when someone is missing teeth. She never did say any words in court, and her interview tape was horrible quality.

This is not the scared projection of some suburban soccer mom, I know about substance abuse from my brother. It's definitely not racist because she and I are the same race. I tried to ignore any drug addict stereotypes here about her appearance, but those things were immediately obvious to me from the time I saw her at jury selection. 

Yes, the defendant is present during jury selection, and can add comments/questions to her attorney while the jury is being interviewed. I’m not sure if I noticed these things thanks to years of reading and watching crime fiction, or if that’s just part of the distracting fuckwittery of being a woman. Most of the men didn’t notice that stuff, and were surprised to hear it.

The interview goes on to talk about Trina’s release from prison, the day before she died. That day Lee brought her to their place (Jody and Lee lived together,) and they did heroin and crack that day.

Lee claimed she didn’t give Trina drugs, Trina went ‘next door’ to the drug house and got them herself. It’s never explained how Trina would have had money for drugs in that scenario. Also, why was this alleged drug house not looked into? Or was it and we couldn’t know about it? The more likely story in my mind is that Lee gave her drugs, but apparently no one had any proof of that. Jody was the only other person there, and she never testified.

On Jody’s tape, she spoke openly about her drug use. She and Trina had worked their way up the heroin corporate ladder to a corner office, apparently. They would share a needle to shoot heroin, and when the heroin ran out, they smoked crack to help them with the heroin withdrawal. [Needles are cheap enough, but drug addicts sometimes share needles to piggyback the heroin. Not sure if that’s the right term, but this is where the drug user pushes in the needle with the heroin, and draws it back to pull out some of their blood, for the next year, stretching out a small amount of heroin.]

The detective said that he knew from vice that a lot of people did that. He said they would do the heroin and when they started to come down, they would smoke crack to bring them back up, and help with the 'sickness.'

They sat there talking about his on tape in a police department, just like they were discussing fishing techniques or something. 

The jurors all found it interesting that she could confess this, and be free to leave. She said she had to prostitute herself to pay for her heroin habit. She even said she had smoked crack earlier that day. 

The defense attorney tried to say her interview was worthless, since she was 'high on crack' at the time. 
She did not look the least bit high, her exact words were 'way earlier' in the day. Her written confession was clear. The jury all agreed on that point.

Still, after saying all of this, she was free to leave the police station and go about her Heroin, Crack and Prostitution business. 

To me this meant they were building a bigger case, and if they arrested people for information they offered during interviews, no one would ever talk to them about anything. I’m assuming he told her he would be contacting her again, not to leave the country, and all that jazz on TV.

He asked her about that night. Summing up in my own words, she said she was driving out to pick up Lee from Trina’s. Someone named Lou was driving, and we also found it interesting that no one ever interviewed Lou. They said they never had his whole name, they couldn’t find him.

She said that Trina called her “all day” and kept asking Jody to bring her rock, blow, a needle and a pipe.

The detective asked her if she felt bad about giving heroin to an addict that just got out of prison. She said she wasn’t happy about it, but since she saw Trina doing it the day before, she wasn’t giving it to someone who was clean. 

She also said if she could go back in time, she wouldn’t do it again. She explained that she got the heroin and crack from a dealer named Houdini, she looked at the dope and it looked normal. She had gotten 4 bags of heroin and 4 bags of crack and she was giving Trina 2 blows (bindles of heroin) and a rock (crack cocaine.)

Jody also swore that she didn’t doctor the drugs in any way. In the car, she did a little of the rock (crack) out of the 1x1" baggie, but she didn’t touch the heroin.

He asked her what she meant. She explained that “someone” told her the family thought she poisoned Trina, intentionally. This is the only time we saw her show any real emotion. She swore that she did not poison her, she did not give her bad dope, and went on through tears to talk about Trina being her friend, being a mother, why would she do that? 

She cried at this time on the tape, and also while we were all watching it, she cried in the courtroom. Again, the only time we saw real emotion from her.

At this point, definitely for me, and for at least a couple other jurors, it was hard to think of her as just a drug addict, or a homicidal anything. We didn't see a prostitute, or anything other than a crying young girl. She was scared. Whether for herself or her friend, it ddn’t matter. She was upset. She wasn’t a cold, meditated or even careless drug dealer, or poisoner or murderer. She was a young woman, an addict, a person, who brought drugs to her friend and an accidental tragedy happened. It was harder to stick to the facts after that.  

She went on to say something about $20 that she owed to Lee, but we could not understand it. 
She faced Detective Joey and the recording showed the SIDE of their faces, so you couldn't even read their lips. That seemed like a bad way to record a conversation, but maybe that was intentional? She seemed to forget she was being recorded.

It turned out Jody owed Lee $20 for something, and Trina told Jody on the phone to use that $20 to pay for the heroin she wanted her to bring her that night. There was speculation on whether Lee was mad about that, about the money or about her girlfriend doing drugs, but there were lawyer objections and we didn’t understand most of this. They worked out a lot of these objections in sidebar so we couldn’t hear exactly what the objection was.

A couple of the jurors felt this led to Lee’s being-in-charge angle. The defense attorney was asking about the pimp-prostitute relationship, and wouldn’t it be fair to say that the pimp would be “in charge.” It left us curious, but it really didn’t matter. It may have mattered if we needed to prove intent.

At the end of the day, it didn’t really matter what the relationship dynamic(s) were. They didn’t change the facts. Where drug-induced homicide is concerned, intent is irrelevant.  
Besides, no one was offering up any information on this. If Lee was protecting herself, she wasn’t about to stop 2 years after Trina’s death.

Lee told us she was mad at Jody, because she didn’t want Jody to bring Trina drugs, and definitely not a needle. This confused us because we knew that the 3 of them did heroin and crack the day before.

Why would a needle make such a difference? You can get them at any drugstore, and the town where she lives, where I live, there are tons of corner drugstores. Literally every couple of miles. There are more drugstores than Starbucks, if that tells you anything.

She went on to say that when she got to Trina’s that night, Lee and Trina came outside to the car. Jody hugged Trina, handing her the sock with the drugs and all, and she and Lee drove away. Trina went back upstairs. Sometime on the drive home, it came out that she gave Trina the drugs, the needle, etc., and Lee started to call Trina. She didn’t answer.

Lee called the house, Trina’s son answered and said she was in the shower. Lee tried to get her son (Joe) to get Trina out of the bathroom and put her on the phone. Joe hung up on her, and Lee kept trying to call back.

She said something about the money, something about the needle, most of it was not understandable. What was significant is that she delivered the drugs to Trina. Lee was not happy about something.

The detective testified that before he started recording the interview, he reminded Jody that she was free to leave at any time, she was not under arrest. 

He read her miranda rights: 
She had the right to remain silent and anything she said can and would be used against her in a court of  law, she had the right to have an attorney present….you know the deal if you've ever watched any television.
from howstuffworks.com
Several jurors said at different times, that if she had exercised her rights to have an attorney present, that interview would have been very different. 

It may not have happened at all. Some also agreed that the only reason Jody was in the defendant seat, and not Lee, was because her blood was on the sock. I maintain that she and she alone brought the drugs and paraphernalia to Trina, not Lee. Not that night.

After the taped interview, the detective told her she could also write in her own words what happened. She wrote that she gotten a rock and a blow (crack and heroin) from Houdini, something about the woot bag he gave her the day before, and gave it to Trina in a dirty sock with a spoon and a glass pipe. She said she did not mean to give her bad dope, she did not doctor the drugs at all, and she was sorry for what happened. If she could go back, she would change what happened, and she apologizes to Trina’s family. 

This was written in the neat, slow, puffy but legible hand writing of what looked like a young girl. Though she was in her mid-30's. It said much more than just the words spelled out. The most important thing, the writing looked like she was sober at the time she wrote it.

The detective also testified that he called the deceased victim’s sister and asked her for the timeline. There were some inconsistencies in her answers from the day he asked her, and the day she testified in court.

He testified that he called a contact number he had for Jody, the phone was answered by Lee who immediately handed the phone to Jody. He asked if both women would come in for questioning. They said they would. When she finally went in to the police station, Jody was alone. He asked about Lee, and Jody told him that she was too ‘upset over the loss of Trina’ to come in.

Later it was made known that Lee had beat Jody up, for ‘hours’ the day after Trina died. Lee confirmed this on the stand, but when asked why she did this, (as in, did she do this just to force Jody to confess delivery to the police) there were lawyer objections. At the police station during her taped confession, Jody has no visible marks or bruises. On the tape she does not seem stressed out, or high, or under duress. She only cried that one time, when she thought she would be accused of poisoning Trina.

Lee testified that she beat her up because was just upset that Jody had given Trina a needle. When asked why, she said needle users [of heroin] use needles because it’s a quicker, better high. Lee didn’t use needles, she snorted. The defense attorney asked her if she EVER used needles, she said no. Then for some reason he asked her if she ever prostituted herself, she said no.

This was part of the defense's attempt to determine the relationship between the 3 girls, they wanted to prove 'Lee was the Drug Dealer, Lee was the Pimp, never prostituting herself, she was “in charge” of the relationships with Trina and Jody. She provided the heroin and crack, the other two were just poor addicts.' 

He tried to make us believe Lee called all the shots. His questions were often objected by the state’s attorneys, so this line of questioning did not go very far.
What it did do? Was put doubt and sympathy into the jurors’ minds. 

What if that were true?
What if Lee were the pusher/dealer/pimp?
What if Lee gave Trina heroin right out of jail, when she was clean? 

Dealers don’t make money when their clients are clean. When she picked up Trina from the bus station after getting released from jail, she did not have to take her to to her house, to right where the heroin was. She could have taken her to her mother’s house, to see her children. She could have taken her a million places where heroin is NOT.  

What if Lee beat Jody up to get her to confess?
What if the whole thing with Jody is just covering for Lee?

In my mind that did not really matter. Not with what we were here to do, it didn’t change the delivery of the drugs, they were proven to be delivered by Jody, they caused Trina’s death. By that definition she is still guilty.

That is the law on drug-induced homicide right now in our county.

A person is guilty of drug-induced homicide if they deliver a controlled substance, even to a friend, and that contributes to their death. It does not need to be the sole or immediate cause of death.

I had to keep reminding the jury what the judge said at the beginning: It is not the jury’s job to agree or disagree with the law, only to decide if the state proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt. We could protest the law later on our own time. We didn’t have to feel good about a guilty verdict, but we swore under oath we could do it if the state met their burden of proof.

Jody’s confession, whether coerced or not, with her DNA on the sock containing the drugs, proves delivery of a controlled substance. The drug lab tests and forensic pathologists reports proved she had a lethal dose of morphine, from recent heroin ingestion in her system. 

Case closed.

The presence of a substance called 6mam in her body proved that she died of recent heroin ingestion. When the body breaks down heroin this substance is gone within hours. She died of her last injection, not any cumulative heroin from an earlier ingestion.  

This data was key. 

Trina's girlfriend (and pimp according to her defense attorney) testified that Trina had done heroin and crack the day before she died, and may have done some earlier that same day. The defense wanted to put reasonable doubt into our minds that perhaps that heroin, from earlier in the day or the day before, as opposed to the heroin delivered by the defendant, was the cause of her death.

People kept bringing that up in deliberation, but by the letter of the law, that did not matter. The heroin delivered by the defendant, that "fatal dose" as it was referred to, needed not be the sole or immediate cause of her death. It only needed to contribute to her death. It clearly did.

We also needed to address that "fatal dose" as it was the cause of some debate. It came from a drug dealer with a street name of Houdini, and the defense tried to muddy the waters by talking about the detectives interview with him. 
Why wasn't Houdini arrested? HE is the drug dealer. 
Why go after the addicts and not the 'scum of the earth dealer?' 

Good questions, but he was not on trial here. Some of the jurors had a hard time putting that aside.

For one thing, in her taped confession the defendant goes into detail about that bag of heroin she got from Houdini. She stated that the day before he "wooted her" by giving her blow that was "all dorm." 
This is a Chicago term for heroin cut with allergy medicine. I had a chat with a search engine, that's not something we knew.

She was thinking that this particular bag may have been more pure after she complained to him about the woot bag from before. 
Maybe a pure bag is the reason it killed her. She was relatively clean, so the stronger heroin could have caused a heart attack. I've read that somewhere, addicts recently released from rehab (in this case prison) think they need to pick up right where they left off in terms of amount, but going in clean their systems can't always take that amount.)

One juror, who I nicknamed Edith Bunker, went so far as to say maybe Houdini wanted Jody dead, there was some talk on the tape of her giving information to the police. The recording was horrible quality, and a lot of that part was difficult to understand. Edith thought Houdini doctored that fatal dose of heroin intended for Jody, not knowing she would wind up giving it to Trina, who died instead.
from pixgood.com
All of that would make a great Lifetime Television movie, but it's not very likely. It also doesn't matter one bit to this case. It doesn't change delivery, it doesn't change the fact that the heroin Jody delivered to Trina contributed in her death. Does it make it more unfair to Jody? If it's true certainly, but she still delivered heroin and crack, to a junkie recently out of prison.

The forensic pathologist testified she died of a lethal combination of crack and cocaine. He was mild-mannered, very well-spoken and polite. He reminded me a lot of Henry Northrup from the Creepshow skit with Billy and the monster in the box.
"Call me Billie, everybody does!" from digitaljournal.com
He also told us in detail about the chemical compounds of heroin, and how they are metabolized by the body. Heroin is broken down to it's compounds of Morphine, Codeine and 6-mamm. It was the presence of this 6-mamm that told us she died because of the last dose of heroin she injected, rather than any previous heroin. The 6-mamm is not present in the body for long. Given the timeframe, it was from the heroin given to her by the defendant. Also the cocaine given to her by the defendant. There is no "safe amount" of cocaine or heroin for the body.

There were no other possible causes for her death: No disease, no trauma, no injuries that could have ended her life. He spoke about that, partly to establish that he thought about other causes, and partly because the Defense attorney tried to see if the anti-depressants found in her body could have caused her death.

Doctor Northrup explained his process of finding the latest medical journals to support the facts. Medicine is ever-changing, so he does keep notes to quickly refer to certain kinds of drugs and chemicals and medicines. He can look up the information in files on his computer, and copy and paste the information along with the bibliography information on his sources, into his report.

The Defense attorney badgered him about his information and his sources, specifically regarding antidepressants, until the judge finally said, 
"As you sit here today, can you answer..." 
and he said No, he could not. That's why he makes the files. He could get the answer, but he couldn't answer off the top of his head.

There was quite a bit of back and forth, and at one point it was obvious he was trying to trick the doctor. A crazy idea, in my opinion, because the doctor was too smart to fall for it, and even said “I cannot possibly answer your question the way you asked it.” 

This made the defense attorney look foolish to me, but later during jury deliberation, what this tactic did accomplish? Was to confuse a couple of the jurors. They couldn’t get past the anti-depressants in her system, and the the fact that he did not know about exact amounts of 6mam. I had to keep reminding them that it DID NOT MATTER.

The doctor clearly said that he had not included the information and journals about anti-depressants, because they were not in amounts that could have caused her death. The fact that there was no information about them in his report proves that they did not cause her death. The defense attorney pushed and pushed, and the judge finally told him he had to sit down and LISTEN to the doctor's answer.

This was one of those times that were like television: 
A clear good guy, and a bad guy, trying to put on a show for the jury.

The way the attorney said things like: 
"I'm not a doctor, I went to law school because I don't understand Chemistry but...." 
and proceeded to read some information from a yellow legal pad, that he had somehow obtained [perhaps on Wikipedia] about a specific type of anti-depressants. Again, the names of the substances escapes me, but they weren't significant in her death. If they were, they would have been included in the final report.

Even if that had happened, which it did not, it still would not matter. The amount of morphine and 6mam, from that last time she did heroin, recently before her death, was a lethal amount. By the letter of the law it [and the cocaine] contributed to her death.


In the closing statements, the state reminded us of the law we were to follow and if we felt they proved she did this beyond a reasonable doubt, it was our duty to sign a Guilty verdict.

The defense attorney said he wanted to ‘remind us what this is really about: Drugs, Demons and Reasonable Doubt.’ 

He brought up some points that to me were irrelevant:
That they never arrested Houdini, and yet they talked to him. Why?
No idea, but Houdini was not on trial here.
That they never talked to this Lou, who was driving the car. Why?
They wouldn’t give up his full name, I’m guessing.
That they never tested the hypodermic needle for DNA. Why?
There was no need, IMHO. The judge told us the same afterward.

Later when we were dismissed to deliberate, this was about 5:00 in the evening, the cigarette smokers were all but dying. Somehow the bailiff got permission for us all to go down and right outside the doors so they could smoke. We all had to stay together. Once Deliberation starts, all the jurors have to stay together at all times until they deliver our verdict. 

I had given most of the jurors nicknames, of the celebrity or fictional character they reminded me of the most, but it's not germane to the story so in the interest of saving you time I cut that whole part out.

We finally went back up to the jury room, they were going to order pizza for us and we were to stay in this tiny room until we reached a unanimous verdict and all signed our names to the appropriate paperwork.

Some were concerned that they needed to contact their families, no one was allowed to make any phone calls. The one lady was scheduled to work that night, but luckily (sarcasm font) she just happened to be the one who kept sneaking her phone up to the jury room after we were reminded that we were not supposed to have phones in the jury room.

The bailiff reminded us several times we could see the pictures and other evidence brought to us, including her hand-written confession. We could request other evidence, but only if it was really urgent. Whatever that meant. 
I mean, someone’s freedom is on the line, is that not considered urgent?

I chalked it up to my gut feeling: That this should be a really easy decision. 

We were to elect a foreman. Someone nominated Bill Pullman, the man whose son died of a heroin overdose. He declined and immediately nominated the young man to his right. We all agreed and “here here”ed and he finally agreed. 

He must have felt the same way I did about the verdict, as he suggested we have a quick vote to see if we were all on the same page. He didn’t even make us write down our votes, we went around the room and said what we thought.

The first count: Delivery of a controlled substance.
12 Guilty votes. 0 Not Guilty.

The second count: Drug-induced homocide.
7 Guilty votes, 5 Not Guilty
WHAT? FIVE people voted Not Guilty?

We talked it over. Some jurors were hung up on the botched recording, and/or other evidence, but that didn’t matter because we had her WRITTEN confession, signed by her. We all looked at it in turn, and at some point I also read her confession out loud word for word.

Edith Bunker brought up what the defense attorney said about her being high on crack at the time of the interview. There was no evidence of that, she said on the tape she had smoked crack “earlier that day, way earlier” and she spoke clearly. We remarked how her handwriting was clear and legible, and didn’t seem like she was at all under any influence. A couple people were convinced at this point.

Edith Bunker and Doc from the Love Boat brought up that night, specifically Houdini’s role. What if he doctored the drugs (I could almost hear the olde thyme radio music building suspense) and he meant to poison Jody?

Why, I asked? Murder needs motive, what would his motive be?
Because she had talked to the police or something.
Oh, that’s reasonable all right. Not.

Then she had some epiphany, or the opposite of an epiphany I guess, and went off on a whole tangent about the delivery of the dirty sock. What if when Trina leaned in the car to give Jody a hug, Jody or Lou injected her with something? Maybe that’s why she had TWO track marks, in addition to her track scar.
Okay, first of all they explained she couldn't shoot through her track scar anymore, it was too hardened. She had two track marks from shooting up at least twice. 

The bottom line is that it would not matter if Houdini had poisoned the heroin, no poison was found in her system other than the lethal amount of heroin and cocaine. The heroin still contributed to her death. 
That convinced Doc. Edith wasn’t having it.

She proceeded to spew one theory after another:
Maybe she didn’t do that last heroin at all. Maybe she died from the heroin she did earlier in the day.
Where did the heroin from the packets go?
She dropped it.
They never found any in the bathroom.
She flushed it.
WHY would a junkie do that? She called Jody all day asking for it.
Someone else did it.
Only her children, sister and mother remained. They all had the same consistent testimony. Maybe she also was bitten by a kimodo dragon, being carried by a pteradactyl that swooped out of the sky. Kimodo dragon saliva is poisonous.....but that’s not reasonable either.

The more we tried to make her see logic, the more she muddied the waters with conspiracy theories. We made her go through them one at a time. She was making less and less sense.

At some point, I just got frustrated and did a “Lookit” moment. We were never going to be unanimous at this rate.
“Lookit, we all hate this. I realize you’re trying to find her a loophole. This is a tough law, but it’s not our place to determine whether this law is fair."

It was at this point we realized she was beyond “reasonable.” She may have been tired, she may have been a lot of things, but probably she just really didn’t want to feel the guilt that would come for our Guilty verdict. We weren't going to feel like good guys, beating bad guys here. We didn’t get to feel good about doing our Civic Duty. We never would.  

We reminded her that none of us felt good about this law, this verdict. We reminded her we weren’t there to debate the law. She could do that later, write her congressman, and all that.

Tonight, though, we needed to do our duty. 
We needed to follow the letter of the law. 
She threw her hands up dramatically and yelled:
“FINE! You all just want me to change my vote so you can go home! I’ll just change it then!”

That’s when we had to back down and just talk to her like she was our crazy Aunt Sally. She has a right to her vote, we didn’t want to make her change her vote. Just for her to really think about it.

I reminded her that she has to live with herself every day after this trial. Stinky McBooze said we all wanted to go home, but more important than that was this defendant’s fair trial. If we, or any of our families were on trial, we would expect everyone to give it all the thought they needed.

For some reason when I reminded her that she swore, under oath, that if the state proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, she swore she would be able to sign a guilty verdict. 

I told her I didn’t feel good about it, but it's what we swore to do. And to this day I still don’t feel good about it. I wouldn’t change my mind, but I’ll never feel good about it.

Once we all signed the verdict, we had to back into court for the judge to read our vote. When he said “We the jury find the defendant guilty of drug-induced homicide” I swear to blog I will never forget the sound that came out of her. I can still hear it. It comes back to me at the weirdest times.

It was like someone getting the wind knocked out of them. Physically. As if a large animal were dropped onto her lungs and all the air came whooshing out at once. It caught me off guard and I looked right at her. I had to look to make sure a large animal did not in fact come swooping in and drop something very heavy onto her. I did not see anything dropped on her, and now she started desperately sobbing. It was really difficult not to cry myself. I saw that other jurors were having a similar issue.

Weeks later I got an email update about the case. Her lawyer requested a "new trial" and was denied. Her booking picture came up on my phone, I could see her face staring at me, and I heard that noise again. Loud and clear in my bedroom, while everyone in my family was asleep.

After the judge read our verdict, the defense attorney wanted the jury polled. This is a delightful process in which we all have to stand up individually when our number is called and be asked:
“Do you find this defendant guilty?”
and with everyone looking at us, we have to audibly say:
My voice actually cracked when I said it, and the defense attorney whipped his head to stare at me while I got to say it a second time. Just lucky I guess.

After that we were sent back to the jury room to again sit, and talk about how awful we all felt. The judge eventually came in to thank us, tell us we did a great job. We obviously thought about it, discussed it and gave it due attention. He said we could ask him any questions. Oh, we did.

Specifically why Houdini was never arrested. He said he wasn’t sure, but obviously lack of evidence.
Why did they never test the needle for fingerprints or DNA? They didn’t need to. DNA testing is expensive.

He gave us certificates with our name on them from the state of Illinois, and I shit you not, Edith Bunker ripped that thing right IN HIS FACE. I hope she felt better after doing that. Even though judges don’t write laws. Hopefully she got some weird closure out of it, and was able to stifle herself. 

We all felt sorry for her husband for the next week or two. She does all of his office- and paperwork, so he won’t be able to avoid her.

We were free to go, and we all agreed how much this sucked on our four flight trip down the stairs. I said we can only hope that Jody gets clean, gets the help she needs, and kicks this habit for good.

We also hope this law helps to send a message about controlled substances. I don’t know how many drug dealers read the paper, but whoever was selling to Jody and Trina just had a giant drop in sales for the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2014, until….well until 2020 at least for Jody. She's going to be behind bars for an additional 6-30 years. 

She gets sentenced next month in a separate hearing, by the same judge. He was a fair no-nonsense judge. He said when they have a sentencing hearing, they consider ALL the facts: From the trial, her background, her education, her family, everything.

I don’t know about justice being served in the spiritual sense, but we did our civic duty to the letter of the law.

We can only hope this helps the overall community at large, and the horrific issue facing our county at this time.  

I also hope the defendant gets the help she needs, and finally kicks her habit. The hardest part will be upon her eventual release. Her roommate had testified they lived next door to the heroin house. That is another of the facts of this case that keeps coming back to me.

I am glad for this experience, and that I had the opportunity to do my civic duty and get through to the juror battling her own guilt. I hope more intelligent people across our nation opt IN to jury duty. 

Voices of reason are an integral part of our justice system. Should a loved one of yours need trial by jury, you'll hope for at least one on their jury.


  1. Wow, what a read. Your deliberation sounds a lot like the deliberation that occurred during the trial I had to serve on - what we ended up having, instead of people debating guilt, was people debating the law. So in the end, we too had a lady who felt attacked and like we were just trying to "get it over with" so we could go home, but really all we were doing was following the law. I don't like convicting someone of a crime any more than the next person, but all we were doing, as you said, was our duty. We couldn't do anything more than that. And if anything, it's all a firm reminder that just because it's the law, that doesn't always mean it's the right course of action.

    1. So true. That's EXACTLY what happened here. We went from feeling bad, to trying to find her a reasonable doubt, to just straight-up talking through a few people that just didn't want to follow the law, because of their own guilt. I get the guilt, I do, but seriously, WE didn't make her bring heroin to her friend. Or anything else. So many people I talk to are surprised by the amount of criminals that go free, but it's harder than you think to actually CONVICT someone because the juries are made of people.

  2. Doing our duty ain't always easy.

    This was one heck of a trial and my Lord...it's like you're living a made for TV movie!

    My husband is in law enforcement and like you say in your comment to A Beer for a Shower....it IS harder than you think to convict someone. It's amazing how different people see things from each other when it seems so black and white to me. People are odd creatures...the good ones and the bad ones.

    This was seriously some interesting stuff.

    1. It's great that we live in a country where we're not likely to end up in jail for something we didn't do, but this trial by jury does have flaws. Namely that the jury is made up of HUMANS. Still, I can't think of a better system. Even though sometimes the guilty go free, for various reasons from the way evidence is obtained, etc.
      Thanks for reading Carrie!

  3. OMG. Just reading all this made me feel panicky! And the moral of this story is, DON'T DO DRUGS! Because nothing good can possibly come of it! Instead of all this DARE nonsense they do in schools, they should just make kids go sit in the audience of a trial like this. Do trials even have audiences? Well, they should!

    1. You're right, this might scare some kids straight. I made sure to give the details to my teenager and told him to pass it along to his friends. Yes, people can sit in the back of most trials to observe. There are some that are closed to the public and the media, but there were definitely people in the back of the courtroom throughout this case. Some were obviously friends with the defendant, they were upset at the end of the trial. There were some people sobbing in the parking lot of the courtroom after the trial was over. The jurors and I were curious about that. They kept us together, AWAY from the public during the day, but when we were released at lunch and the end of the day, we weren't even escorted out of the building! It was kind of strange.

  4. Wow. You did a great job of recanting your experience. I read your entire chronicle and just wow. What a sad situation those people live, and die, in.

    1. Thanks, Pattie. I do need to edit this down, but life is not allowing that right now. I actually DID leave some things out, believe it or not, it's a fascinating and yes, tragically sad, story. It stays with me. I drive by the building where this young woman died, at LEAST 1-2 times a week. And I just cannot stop thinking about the young woman facing major jail time. For 'helping' a friend. So sad.

  5. Wow. That is one crazy story. Only you could make me laugh in fits of hysterics over a homicide case. I know you are not taking your charge lightly, but just trying to describe the situation as is - but life is hilarious or crazy - and it's just the way it is. Fantastic job. This piece was funny & poignant & smart & serious - everything. It is sad- our justice system. IT isn't just. I was on a jury once. Mot for homicide thank God, but it is very tricky & it is as you describe. Very disjointed. Not like a clear case on T.V. You have to put the pieces together for yourself. THey leave very crucial information out & you're like, "What about Houdini?" But he was never convicted or arrested so they can't present that evidence. It's crazy. I'm due to for jury duty in a few weeks & while everyone tries to get out of it, you're exactly right. It's our civic duty & I try to do it b/c our country wou;dnt function w/o it. I love your description of trying to abide by the law - one that you would never feel good about - but that's what you were asked to do.

    1. Thank you for reading, and for your feedback. This was a difficult piece for me to write. As you know, I usually stick to the ridiculous, so it was a lot more difficult to be serious. To even think about the horrendous facts of the case, and the heavy feelings that came with it. I still don't feel good about it. The Mom part of me wants to write this woman letters in prison, though I doubt that would be a good idea.
      You said it, that's the whole thing. If everything were clear cut with evidence, there wouldn't even NEED to be a trial. You have to approach it with some low-level intelligence. Therein lies the problem with a jury of 12 American people these days. Thanks again for reading.

  6. Also, are you writing a tell-all book?

    1. Ha. No way. If I thought it would sell, I might. It's a great story, but I SUCK at promoting my writing and based on how badly this is written, you can see how much time I have in my life right now for writing: VERY little. I could barely finish this, weeks later. I can also hardly get anyone to actually READ it. How could I get anyone to buy a book? I'm just about done with blogging, and maybe writing all together. Figuring out how to make something interesting enough to get people to read it is not in my blood apparently. I will go back to silliness, which is much easier for me, but I still have no idea how to get regular reader followers. I'm better w/creative content than promoting.

  7. HolyCRAP, Joy. What an incredible experience. You're the only person I know who could write about this with humor and heart while sharing heartbreaking facts. I'm sending this to my step daughter to read - she NEEDS this.

    1. Thanks Kristi, you're too kind. I would like to be able to write up the whole story in a more editted way, specifically for young people to realize how the law has changed. The serious nature of messing with these kinds of drugs. I just don't have the time and talent right now. I appreciate your reading, and hopefully it will be informative and helpful to your step daughter. We all need to know this. This law is crazy, but it's apparently necessary with the heroin epidemic in the suburbs right now.

  8. You did a great job telling this story, and I'm impressed by your ability to follow through on your promise to follow the law, however heartbreaking it is. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I loved this series!

    1. Thanks, Amy. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope it wasn't too painful as a reader! I know there are tons of typo's and errors, I just needed to move past this. It's a great story, and deserves a better writer, but I'm glad I was able to tell it. It's one of those things that will stay with me for a very long time. Thanks again for reading.