Attorneys Say They’ll Appeal Because Jurors Were Too Sleepy
CHICAGO (AP) _ Attorneys for two men sentenced to life in prison for murder said Friday they’ll appeal the convictions on grounds the jurors were too sleepy to render a fair verdict.
″At a certain point you’re motivated more by the thought of getting home and having a hot shower than by a defendant that you don’t know from a bag of hammers,″ said attorney Michael Johnson, who represented Joseph Hemphill, 48, of suburban Chicago.
Hemphill and Winston McIntyre, 24, of St. Louis, were sentenced to life imprisonment by Cook County Judge William Cousins for the March 6 murders of a man and a woman.
They also were convicted on conspiracy, armed robbery and drug charges. Evidence indicated the victims were robbed of $10,000 and that the slayings may have been drug-related.
Hemphill and McIntyre were tried simultaneously by the same judge, but with separate juries.
Jurors got the cases Oct. 7, late in the afternoon, and deliberated for more than seven hours, said attorney Michael Johnson, who represents Hemphill.
At about 2 a.m., they were sent to a hotel for the night. They were awakened about 7:30 a.m. and driven back to the courthouse.
One jury reached a verdict about 1 p.m. and the other about two hours later.
But within hours, Johnson said he got a call from a juror whom he would not identify.
She was in a ″hysterical state″ and said she did not believe Hemphill was guilty and had agreed to the verdict because she wanted to go home, he said.
″I told her to think about it over the weekend and call me back if she still felt the same way,″ Johnson said Friday. ″She did, and another juror also came into my office with similar feelings. They both signed sworn statements.
″They said they had been exhausted, and that all they wanted to do was go home. The believed the verdict should have been guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery but not guilty on the other charges.
″It makes a lot of difference when you’re considering whether someone should get parole or life in in prison.″
The judge refused comment Friday, as did prosecutors.
McIntrye’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Philip Mullane, said he filed a motion similar to Johnson’s.
The two attorneys also are contesting other points in the trial, saying the jurors did not understand whether they could find the men guilty of one charge without the others.
Cousins denied the defense motion for a new trial, and the defense attorneys say they will take their arguments to state appellate court.