Part VIII: The Lone Excused Juror
At 10:07 a.m. on Saturday morning, Juror #15, also the foreperson and the only black juror, was excused after Judge Scarlett determined the juror was unable to perform her duties. An alternate juror was sent in to deliberate.
Juror #15 told the media that she was bullied in a hostile environment that impacted her so greatly, she was forced to go to the hospital on Friday night. She also told reporters that the stress of the bullying made her sick. “The jurors that were in with me, they were all trying to convince me to sway their way. We had retired police officers. We had military, you know, employees,” she said in an interview with News4Jax. “Mostly, they all wanted to get back to work, so they were mad, saying that I was holding up everything.”
In his interview, Tim said that simply was not the case. For starters, the deliberations were going on through the weekend, so jurors were not yet itching to get out the door and back to work. Second, Tim said all of the jurors understood the seriousness of the charges and how they needed to take their time in the decision making process.
But there was a dispute among jurors that spilled over into the personal emotions of one juror. At some point during discussions Thursday evening, Tim said he told his fellow jurors that they were not there “to get justice for Tony Green,” they were there to determine whether or not Presley was guilty or not guilty of the charges he was facing. When they adjourned Thursday evening, Tim went home and told his wife about a local business one of the jurors – Juror #15 – owned so the pair looked it up on Facebook.
Tim said one of the first names on the most recent post was that of a person related to Tony Green.
On Friday morning, Tim wrote a letter to Judge Scarlett, citing transparency, informing him that he had stumbled upon ‘something concerning’ with his wife the night prior. Tim says it was not long after he passed his letter along that Juror #15 also arrived at the courthouse – this time irate – and began yelling at him because she was upset about what Tim had said Thursday evening about determining guilt or innocence instead of justice. Juror #15 was so upset that other jurors had to step in and diffuse the situation. The Tribune-Georgian reported that Judge Scarlett soon called Juror #15 into the courtroom by herself and asked if she knew family members on either side of the case. Juror #15 reported said ‘no’ before Scarlett asked if she knew about someone with the last name ‘Green.’ Juror #15 stated that she knew the person but had not seen the person in approximately three years.
Judge Scarlett reportedly told Juror #15 that it was imperative the case be tried fairly and asked whether or not she could be fair and impartial. Juror #15 answered ‘yes’ and she was excused to return to deliberations.
Tim said he was caught so off guard by Juror #15 berating him that he missed some of what she said, but other jurors standing by did not. Two others reportedly heard the entire outburst by Juror #15 which included a statement to the effect that she knew Tony Green. Both jurors penned letters to Judge Scarlett at some point on Saturday explaining what they had observed.
Tim says Juror #15 was one of the jurors holding firm on the ‘guilty’ finding of Presley on the involuntary manslaughter charge. She reportedly told her fellow jurors ‘there is no way I’m changing my mind.’
When Saturday morning rolled around, deliberations did not begin at 9:00 a.m. as planned. Tim said everyone was present but Juror #15, who was seated with the bailiffs, which was when he learned of the letters sent to Judge Scarlett by his fellow jurors with regard to #15’s statement about knowing Tony Green. The judge reported that she was excused because she became ill and could not fulfill her duties.
The story of the jurors dismissal spread like wildfire in the media, with headlines focused on the sole black juror being excused on the same day a verdict was reached. After the verdict, Attorney Malik Shabazz said in a news release that “questions about the removal of the single African American juror may constitute reversible error, affording a retrial on the manslaughter charges.” But that may be a difficult case to make.
The following week, when the emergency town hall was held at the Green’s former church, Tim said Juror #15 was seen in video news footage. Additionally, one of Tony Green’s family members who spoke at the sentencing hearing has another family member who is married to Juror #15.