Jurors from 1982 Trial Say They Still Believe Defendant Guilty
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Jurors who found Claus von Bulow guilty three years ago say their opinions have not wavered, despite the differences between his first and second trials on charges of trying to kill his wife.
Their 1982 verdict was overturned last year by the Rhode Island Supreme Court on state constitutional grounds. Jurors at his retrial began deliberations Friday.
″I think it’s a real travesty of justice if they find him not guilty,″ said Donald W. Zuercher, a hotel worker, who, like most of the original jurors, followed the retrial through newspaper and television accounts.
″I’m more convinced now than I was before,″ said Walter B. Jablonski, a retired foreman.
Winifred M. Shaw, an executive secretary, agreed, but added that if von Bulow were found innocent, ″there are three people who are witnesses to his guilt: von Bulow, his wife and the man upstairs. Von Bulow will have to face another trial some day.″
They were among 12 jurors who deliberated for 37 hours over six days and on March 16, 1982, pronounced von Bulow guilty of two counts of attempted murder for allegedly injecting his wife, Martha ″Sunny″ von Bulow, with insulin.
Mrs. von Bulow, 53, recovered from a 1979 coma but lapsed into a second one a year later that doctors say is irreversible. Prosecutors say von Bulow, 58, wanted his wife dead so he could inherit $14 million of her fortune and marry his mistress, Alexandra Isles. The defense says the comas were due to Mrs. von Bulow’s abuse of alcohol and drugs.
If convicted, von Bulow faces up to 40 years at the overcrowded Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston, where officials say he probably would share a 20-by-20 foot cell with three other inmates.
″If this jury is as attentive as we were, they’re going to have to convict him,″ said Constance F. Jenrette, a laundry worker now living in Middleburg, Fla. ″I just can’t see where this jury - I don’t care how much medical evidence they see - can do anything else.
″You can get 50 doctors in there to tell their different views, but 50 doctors can’t contradict what Alexandra Isles had to say,″ she added, referring to Mrs. Isles’ testimony that von Bulow told her he waited until his wife was on the brink of death before calling a doctor the day of the 1979 coma.
Some original jurors said the panel at the retrial might be swayed by defense’s medical witnesses who insisted that insulin injections could not have caused the coma.
Several original jurors said it could be significant that G. Morris Gurley, Mrs. von Bulow’s financial adviser, was not allowed to repeat testimony from the first trial on what von Bulow stood to gain upon his wife’s death.
″I think the money motive was pretty significant,″ said David A. Taffs, a computer analyst.
″It showed he had a chance at quite a bit of money,″ added retired engineer Arthur I. Hull.
The other first-trial jurors who reaffirmed their 3-year-old decisions were jury foreman Barbara Connett, a secretary, Barbara A. Silvia, a housewife, Aldina Paiva, a nursing home aide, and Pierce G. Gafgen, a photographer.
One of the original jurors refused to comment and the 12th did not return telephone messages.