I was on the jury that convicted James Arthur Johnson of two counts of felony homicide and one count of aggravated robbery. We found him not guilty of two counts of pre-meditated first degree murder. I want to explain why we made each decision on all five counts.
Throughout the trial, no evidence was given that Johnson was the shooter; rather, all parties involved were inclined to name him as the "lookout": he was going to watch for police while the planned robbery took place. To our knowledge he was not the shooter... we never considered him as such in our deliberations. The press (Channel 5 news and "The Tennessean" among them) today wrote stories calling Johnson the murderer; we never considered him as such... he was never presented that way in the trial, not even by the prosecution.
The key test we were given to decide his guilt was whether or not he was "criminally responsible". We had to decide that for all five counts: 2 first degree pre-meditated homicide; 2 felony homicide; and one aggravated robbery.
We had heard from Johnson's mouth that he knew there would be a robbery attempt and that he expected to make money off that robbery. He was in the automobile, he knew there was a rifle, and there was no evidence that he was forced to be there, feared for his life (and went along because of that), etc. We found him therefore criminally responsible for the robbery and guilty of aggravated robbery.
We did not think that he knew that a murder would take place or that he intended for murder to take place -- there was no evidence, and while he knew there was a gun, we could not assume that he thought a murder would take place. It has to be beyond a reasonable doubt, and there simply wasn't evidence for us to find him criminally responsible for the murders.
The rules for felony murder were different: while he didn't know about or intend for the murders to happen, he did know about and intend for the robbery to happen... and the robbery scheme led to the murders. By association of crimes, we found him guilty of the two counts of felony homicide.
It was hard. We all wanted to do the right thing -- for the families of McCorkle and Edmondson and for the defendant. No decisions were made lightly. We argued and argued until we were unanymous.
I was troubled to read news reports calling Johnson the shooter -- again, all we heard in the trial was that he was the lookout. So it will be interesting to see how the rest of the culprits' trials turn out.
My heart goes out to the McCorkle and Edmondson families. God bless you. I also feel for Johnson's family.
This was a very hard task, but we did the best we could.
J.A. Johnson trial juror, Nashville TN, Feb 9-10 2009
I know what a hard job being a juror on a murder trial is I sat on a jury for a murder some years back. The hardest thing for me was everything we weren't allowed to hear at trial but were told afterword. I would have voted for second degree murder if I had known then what I know now. But as you say a juror can not speculate on what happened all you can do is decide from the evidence that is presented.
Thanks for your response,
THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY BROKEN HEART FOR YOUR TIME AND EFFORT. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I HAVE SENT YOU AN E-MAIL.HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU SOON.GOD BLESS YOU AND THE OTHER JURORS.SENDING YOU MANY MANY HUGS AND PRAYERS.
Both the prosecution and the defense instructed us to not be emotional in our deliberations, and we weren't. We made our judgments based on the evidence given to us in the trial. That said, I'm a human being and I feel for you and yours, and for Johnson's family. I didn't know Edmondson, Johnson or your son but I know that Edmondson and Ricky are sorely missed, and that Johnson's poor decisions have affected his family too. It's a strong feeling I have that I'm responsible when the fact is that I --we--only did our job, what we were asked to do.
I don't know what it's like to lose a son or daughter... I haven't been blessed with one yet... but I know how much I love my mom, dad and sister, and how I might be affected if they were gone -- mom and sis especially. And really it's my sister, even though she's married now and has someone to look out for her, I would fight for the hardest. She's my sister, my soulmate, the one I'd tell things I couldn't tell my parents (well... was too ashamed to tell them). Sometimes kids "fight" and she and I had our scrapes, but above that is the fact that we'll be (more or less) best friends as long as we're flesh and blood.
I'm sounding corny probably but anyhow, I love my (little --she's twoyears younger than i am) sister and would probably do almost anything to protect her if the situation called for it.
So how much more would I love my son or my daughter? I imagine the tug would be an incredibly powerful one.
I'm a lightweight in here -- the closest family member of mine who passed was my grandmother -- my mom's mom. I was in northern Wisconsin when mom called me to say that her time was short. I sped 200 miles on (mostly) ice to see her in Madison before she passed. I'm not a nutjob, but I know she's watching over her family. She drove through a mild flood to see me when I was born --she was in her 50s at the time, in 1976 -- and she and I always had a special bond. I still miss her and she's been gone for 9 years, 10 this coming Christmas season. She missed the 21st century by three days.
I feel way out of my league here in terms of loved ones lost, and I know I don't understand the depths of grief felt by many here. It may be little consolation, but some comfort can maybe be found in these things. I was raised a Christian in a Bible-based church and while I don't go to church as often as I should as an adult, some things stick:
- Ricky is with Jesus today, and that's the best place to be, bar none. He has no cares... surely he looks down from time to time but I think that those who are with God probably spend most of their time rejoicing, relaxing, "eating" what they want, etc. We were taught that heaven is the ideal place. We struggle in life; there is no struggle in heaven. It's San Diego weather all the time, nice light breezes, full dinner buffets, etc. -- a guy's dream. All men are handed a remote control upon admission to the pearly gates, a remote that only that dude can hold.
- He made his mark in life -- obviously he was loved and liked, so he is still here in heart's and memories. Just remember, seriously, he's probably having the time of his life right now. He can't wait to see you again but he's also busy doing his thing. I think that the soul is immortal, and that he's happy. So at the risk of sounding incredibly shallow, I think that's maybe something in which you can take comfort.
- You have family here too. Remember the cool/loving/funny things he did while he was here, and believe that even better times are ahead, and that he wants you to continue living your life and to be happy... for you and your family to have good times together.
BUT your place is here, in the flesh, until you are called home. That goes for everyone -- we all have our time to leave the body, and --my opinion -- we should live until we die.
Again, I feel like a three-year-old in here, sort of, but hopefully those are some things that can help. And I'll check my hotmail account at work on Tuesday -- i'm on the iPhone now and it doesn't agree with that site. At that time you can learn my true identity. hehe
Again -- I swear that I was as unbiased as I could be in the trial, but that doesn't mean that you and I can't chat now and then, if you want to, now that jury duty is over. :-)
Dear T Thank you for all your heart felt messages.I don't think you realize just how much all of us moms on here appreciate the fact that you looked at the victims involved and gave a hoot.Those of us who are just going through preliminary status can only hope to have a juror with such compassion.I'm sure Pat is more than grateful you got to sit on the jury.I personally want to thank you for your caring and concern.Even though you have not lost a child your honesty about how you don't know hit home.It is always with much sadness when we see another child join the memory page God Bless Barb
I agree with Barb. So often the victim is vilified in the courtroom and blamed for their death and there is so much that cannot be said against the defendent. It is nice to know that you as jurors took your job seriously and looked at the facts. We hear horror stories and to know that a group of people looked at the facts and made the decision based on them. It gives me hope that maybe our case will go well. Thank you for coming to share this and to give Pat some comfort in knowing that a Juror cared and gave justice to her baby.
Just an observation on this post:
This is the moms board and while others do occasionally post they don't continue to stay in here and talk like they are going to be here for more than one post which I don't get in this situation. I also don't understand why this "juror" is putting sensitive information about the trial on her that should have been the decision of the mom involved to do. Not that what was said was inaccurate but it wasn't his/her decision to put it on..if it were me I would feel invaded and now that he/she is returning and appearing on other posts that too would concern me. I guess what concerns me most is that this "juror" remains anonomymous while they know who we all are and even make a joke about their identity. Is there something funny about someone posting on our board without us really knowing who they are? About as funny as remotes in heaven or some of the other off-handed humor that was posted. I am sorry if I am sounding paranoid but without even knowing who this person is it is hard to be anything but suspicious of the nature of these postings. I would just be very careful where I went from here until I was sure who I was really talking to and their true intentions. I didn't put my name because I don't want to offend others who might be viewing this from a different standpoint and don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But remember we must always have a guard up despite our emotional state and not let others take advantage of that until we are sure their reasonings for posting...especially when they are not a mom and are anonymous. A concerned Mom
I understand. The reason I didn't show my identity was that I was wary of vengeance on behalf of the defendant -- I don't want them to know who I am. This forum is public, and anyone interested in the case can search for and find this site. If I gave my name in here, anyone could find me, and since I said I was a juror (I was) that might not be a smart thing to do. I've been as respectful and empathic as I know how to be and at no point have I meant to be disrespectful. If I'm allowed to post here -- which would continue through the trials of the McCorkle/Edmondson murder assailants -- I'll continue to be honest, sympathetic, etc. When I mentioned the "man with remote control in heaven" thing, I was trying to inject some positive humor into the post -- us guys and our nature to want to control the remote control. As always, if I misstepped, I sincerely apologize.
In a couple days, I'll read my hotmail email and will answer Pat. I'll tell her who I am. But for reasons previously stated, I want to be careful. I had a part in putting a man in prison for what will probably be a long time, he has friends, and those friends live close to me -- I'm in their phone book. In fact, if I may, it might be a good idea to request that my email address be blocked from viewing... if that can be done. You have seen the email address and you're all welcome to email me if you want to, but I don't want potential villains -- or just angry people with a vested interest in the case -- to know who I am and where to find me.
I'll soon chat with Pat and see what she thinks about my posting in here. I am out of my league, I know, and will humbly leave if people ask me to. Whatever the decision, know that my heart does go out to you.
As the name suggests, this is a site for mothers of murdered sons and daughters. It is our safe haven, likely the only place where we can bare our souls and not worry about being judged for doing so.
We share our stories and our inner most feelings to other mothers because we all know what each one of us is feeling, going through and struggling with. To have someone other than another mother use this forum to voice their views, no matter what they are ,is like having a peeping tom peering in our window. I know you would not want to cause anyone any harm and so I would like to suggest you not post here. Some of us are still very fragile and are feeling rather violated at the moment. This is one of the only venues we have to be with and comfort each other. I would hate to think that even one mom would stop coming to this site because they felt uncomfortable.
I can understand your need for your identity to be withheld due to the fact that the jurors names are public and matched up with your email and your online name for certain blogs it wouldn't take much to narrow it down to who you are. But you see what you feel you need to do to protect yourself is what invades our privacy so much...you have the ability to know all about us and we know very little about you & your intentions. We are all in different stages of the "Injustice System" and discretion is a premium here. It is up to the mother when she feels she is ready to share details of pending or outcomes of trials....AND NO ONE ELSE. Like the other mother said this is a safe haven for us moms who have lost everything when our children were murdered and one of the only places we can come to try and put our lives back together. Others visit and leave comments from time to time just passing through and we have had jurors leave notes expressing their condolences to the family. So you of course understand why we feel this way especially since you are not only speaking details of the previous trial but the up and coming one...Not Good from a moms perspective...not on the board anyway.
I don't know how I feel about you posting on our message board, therefore I have no comment.
What I would like to say is that I found your post to
be comforting. I pray that the MOMS that have not gone through this part of the process (yet) are blessed to have, Jurors, as level headed as you seem to be.
I think it is a good thing if you bring comfort to our sister MOM Pat and her family.
That is all I wanted to say.
To the last reply it is stated you don't know how you feel about that person "T" who has yet to be identified as the juror or anyone else for that matter yet your comments appear to be supportive of his/her posting. But while some may find the post comforting others may see it as invasive. If it were me I would find it to be VERY INVASIVE and make me wonder if perhaps was started as a means of a "Blog" just to get reaction out of us or information which I would totally be offended by. There are so many sick computer bloggers that all they do is get off on leaving comments to stir things up....one thing I really have a hard time with is on Kim's post this person actually asks if other moms knew if deals were made or what happened to other individuals in the case??? I am not sure if we ever knew that or the mom involved wanted to share that...AND IT WAS NOT HISHER RIGHT TO PUT IT ON HERE!!!!I must ask you if this mother is now at risk...are the other two individuals worried they might be being dragged back in somehow?? Just one of many aspects to consider when someone just starts throwing things on pages without any consideration to the family involved to satisfy THEIR curiosity? While their identity is private to protect themself they are putting things on this page about the family with no regard to their privacy....TOTALLY INVASIVE...SORRY.
WE CAN NEVER BE TOO CAREFUL..WE HAVE LOST TOO MUCH ALREADY.
A Concerned Mom
It's cool -- I probably shouldn't be in here any longer. The initial aim was just to explain why we judged the defendant in this case the way we did. Obviously, I'm not a mother and am content to leave the forum. I got caught up in answering the replies, which explains the number of posts i've added.
As an aside: I haven't used the forum to get info on anyone, or share that info, or do anything fraudulent or which might appear to be fraudulent. I was just chatting.
Best wishes to all of you.