Anatomy of a Hung Jury - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/6/03

Anatomy of a Hung Jury

"He's the perfect pedophile," said Kelley Henderson. She's the mother of a 5-year-old boy who was allegedly sexually abused by Luther Parker Hinesly. "We have the best justice system in the world, and it works 90% of the time, but this time it let us down," said the parent of another alleged victim.

In November Luther Parker Hinesly's case ended with a hung jury. To avoid another, trial both the prosecution and defense agreed to a plea bargain. Five years probation, a $1,000 fine, and no contact with children under 17 years of age. For the parents, the sentence was a slap on the wrist.

"I know Rod didn't do everything he could," said parent Robin Thorton. She was referring to Rod Hobson, the specially appointed prosecutor in the case. He was blasted by the children's families for not trying hard enough. Questioned in the hallway, Hobson declined to answer the complaints of the families.

So what exactly happened in the jury's deliberation room that day in November? And why was it so hard to come to a consensus? NewsChannel 11 spoke with six of the twelve jurors. All declined to appear on camera due to the nature of the case, but they were more than willing to lay out a timeline and discuss what they were going through.

At 11:30 am the first vote was taken, 7 to 5, not guilty. After lunch and another hour of discussion, the second vote turned out the same as the first. One juror remarked that it was, "Obvious the child was coached."

But over the next three hours, the debate intensified. One juror calling it, "The worst experience of my life." Another boiling it down to a single question, "Do we believe the boy's testimony or not?"

By 4:15, the tide had turned. The vote was 5 not guilty, to 7 guilty. But just 45 minutes later, the jurors flip flopped. One man saying, "The boy was coached to deceive." Yet again 7 to 5 not guilty.

But by 6:30 Hinesly had lost favor with the jury. The vote became 8 guilty to 4 not guilty. One woman was frustrated at Hinesly's silence, saying that she, "Wanted to see Hinesly questioned."

The final vote was at 7:32. It was 8 guilty, to 4 not guilty. After 8 hours of deliberation there would be no more progress. The majority's opinion, "We felt he was guilty, but the evidence wasn't there."

"On physical evidence, unless the child had anal bleeding from the toys, there is no, there was oral sex with 3 year-old children, there is no physical evidence except for the acting out," said Robin Thorton.

Disturbing behavior which Kelley Henderson has become all too familiar with. "It's hard to explain to neighbors, 'My son might hurt your child,'" she said.

So far, her 5-year-old has sexually abused and threatened two other children. "It's of a sexual nature and (he's) basically saying, 'I'm going to kill you if you tell anybody,'" she said.

Terrifying words from an adult, horrific from a 5-year-old boy.

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