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Byon Case Sample Chapter Epperson Deliberation

Byon Case Sample Chapter Epperson Deliberation

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Published by skepticaljuror
This is a sample from The Skeptical Juror: Missouri v. Case. It is the first book in a new true crime series.

To learn more about the book, the series, and the concept of The Skeptical Juror, visit me at www.skepticaljuror.com

-tsj
This is a sample from The Skeptical Juror: Missouri v. Case. It is the first book in a new true crime series.

To learn more about the book, the series, and the concept of The Skeptical Juror, visit me at www.skepticaljuror.com

-tsj

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Published by: skepticaljuror on Feb 19, 2010
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02/18/2010

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DELIBERATION
:
DEPUTY
 
DAVID
 
EPPERSON
“Here’s how I’d like to proceed. Everyone, if you will, pleasescour your notes and your memories for any significant evidencetestified to by David Epperson. Let’s try not to consider quite yetwhat it might mean. Let’s simply organize the facts as Eppersonclaimed them to be. I’ll write on the board what we agree to bethe significant facts, right here, just to the right of the elementsfor murder one. Once we have the summary up, then we’lldiscuss what it might mean.“I’ll begin. First off, Epperson testified he was a deputy with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and that he discovered the bodyin Lincoln Cemetery.”
I add those two pieces of evidence to the board.
“Now let’s work around the room. We’ll go clockwise. Sondra, justone piece of evidence.”
Sondra looks at her notes and adds that Epperson found thebody at 3:44 AM on October 23, 1997. Christina adds he was two-tenths of a mile from the entrance when he saw her lying there.Tony remembers that no one else was around. Chad says shewas lying on her back, and her arms were above her head. Terry notes that her eyes were open. A number of people, includingmyself, found that creepy.So around and around we go. When the unique evidence startsrunning low, people take a pass. Then I open it to anyone withanything left. When we’re done, the list looks like this:
Deputy for Jackson County Sheriff’s OfficeDiscovered body in Lincoln Cemetery, 0.2 miles from entry;routine patrolOctober 23, 1997, 3:44 AM; very dark, no lights, leaves ontrees, pitch blackNo traffic, no one else aroundLying on her back; arms above head; eyes openGunshot wound to face, from bottom of nose into mouthNot breathing; no pulse; skin cold to touch; skin bluish grayPuddle of blood behind headCalled for assistance; guarded gate after investigatorsarrivedNo ID; only item found was a key chain (so he was told)Body was that of Anastasia WitbolsFeugen (so he was told)
 
“Okay, there’s his testimony, nice and concise. None of us alonecould have remembered everything here, and none of us has allthis in our notes. Okay, Jade came close. She seems to have agood set of notes. But for most of us, there’s just too much toremember, too many witnesses.”“Okay, this next step is not pleasant. We’re going to look at thepicture of Anastasia’s body.”
I go to the evidence box which is sitting on the floor behind me. I pull out a manila folder. I open it and look inside. It’s gruesome,but I try to control my reaction. As I study the photo, the room isabsolutely silent. I give them my assessment.
“This photo is horrible. When you look at it, you feel like you justwalked into someone’s most private place at just the wrong time.But this photo is an important piece of evidence, and we’resupposed to review the evidence before we decide our vote. SoI’m going to pass it around. No one has to look at it. Anyone whodoes look, please be respectful.”
The image is truly awful. She has that terrible gunshot wound inthe middle of her face. I think Epperson is wrong in hisdescription. It looks to me like the wound extends from her upper lip to the bridge of her nose, not the bottom of her nose.She’s lying on her back. Her arms are above her head and her eyes are partially open, just like Epperson said. One eye is moreopen than the other. One iris appears darker than the other.Her shoulder length hair is fanned out above her head. From the photo, it looks to be light brown in color.Her body is perpendicular to the roadway. Her heels are just touching the road. Her head and most of her body are on thegrass.The pool of blood beneath her head is not as large as I thought it might be. There’s some blood running down her face from thewound. Not much though. It looks like most of the blood beneathher came from the back of her head.Shes wearing a tan coat with a beige or gray sweateunderneath. The jeans are dark, maybe black. The shoes areblack, low-cut, with thick soles. The clothing is intact, not torn.She looks petite, sad, and lonely. I am suddenly jarred by the fact that my own daughter is very close to her in age. After all thetestimony, objections, and admonitions, I realize I had becomedesensitized to the horrific violence suffered by this youngwoman. At this moment, looking at this photo, she is more
 
human to me than she was during the trial. She is a beautiful young person, and the tragedy of her death chokes in my throat.I stand up, walk to the window and stare into the distance.Behind me, the photo makes it way around the room. I hear twoof the ladies gasp. I hear Vivian decline to look at all. When the photo has made its way around, I leave the comfort of the distant view, retrieve the photo, and return it to the evidence box. Thereis a duty to complete and an oath to fulfill.
“Did anyone see anything that looked strange?”
Chad makes a weak attempt at a joke, but it falls flat. Very flat.
“What about her hair?”
Liza lights up for the first time. She realizes what I’m askingabout.
“It’s all fanned out.”
The guys give her the so-what look. Sondra and Christina nod,and Vivian looks up suddenly to give her a smile.
“Epperson didn’t mention that, did he?”
He certainly did not. Liza explains what it might mean. When awoman wants her hair to lie nice and smooth and even, shestarts by tilting her head forward and brushing her hair over her head, from back to front. Then she throws her head back. That causes her hair to fan out and fall evenly onto her back. Liza isn’t sure Anastasia’s hair would be fanned out like that just becauseshe fell backwards. Jade makes the point I was wondering about. Her hair might havebeen arranged for her after she was shot, by whoever shot her.Chad chimes in with the thought that she might have beendragged. It would explain why her hair is fanned out like that and why her arms are above her head.He gets up, walks to the evidence box, pulls out the folder and takes another look at the photo. He says he doesn’t see anythingthat looks like drag marks. He hands the folder to me. I can’t seeany drag marks either. I pass the photo around again. This timeeveryone looks with more skeptical eyes.It’s Sondra’s turn to notice something.
“There’s no blood splatter on the ground.”
 As far as we know, there’s no blood splatter anywhere. Shethinks there should be some somewhere, but no one talked about it. We went through an entire murder trial, a gunshowound straight through the head, and we heard nothing about blood splatter. Not on the ground. Not on Justin’s clothes. Not on

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