NY Juror Felt Pressured in Shooting Case
The Associated Press
Monday, December 24, 2007; 2:47 PM
RIVERHEAD, N.Y. -- A juror who helped convict a black man of fatally shooting a white teenager said he felt pressured by other jurors and the judge to change his vote to guilty during a marathon deliberating session.
The jury convicted John White of second-degree manslaughter Saturday in the August 2006 shooting of 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro Jr. White, 54, remains free on bail and plans to appeal. He faces a prison term of five to 15 years.
The case drew national attention after defense attorneys argued that he feared a "lynch mob" had come to attack his family when a group of angry white teenagers gathered outside his home. The teens wanted to confront White's son.
Juror Francois Larche, who is white, said he and another juror changed their votes after enduring "a lot of psychological tactics" from fellow jurors during an unusual weekend session ordered by the judge over jurors' protests.
"It was a huge burden to bear," Larche, 46, told the New York Post in Monday's editions. He added, "I took a lot of heat."
Jury forewoman Maureen Steigerwald denied the judge, a 12-hour deliberating session on Saturday _ the fourth day of deliberations _ or the holidays played a role in the jury's decision.
"The jury did a very careful, conscientious deliberate job," she told Newsday in Monday's editions.
Judge Barbara Kahn said the jury would have to return on Sunday if they didn't reach a decision. Larche told the Post the judge told them a mistrial would burden the families and the next jury.
"I thought about my family and the families of the other jurors," Larche said. "It was not worth it in the end."