WASHINGTON (CNN) – A woman who had been a juror in the criminal trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens told a judge Monday she made up a story about her father dying, so she could go to California for a horse race.
The judge last week initially accepted her story about a family emergency, but was later unable to reach her to learn when she would return.
He then was forced to recall an alternate juror so the panel could resume deliberations on October 27 and possibly render a verdict. Six hours later, the verdict against Stevens was unanimously guilty on all seven counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents.
The fate of the missing juror was in doubt through the middle of last week, when U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued an order calling her to a hearing Monday morning.
At the hearing, she was publicly identified as Marian Hinnant, known during the trial as Juror No. 4. Hinnant's attorney, public defender A.J. Kramer, told CNN the story about her father's death was a lie.
Kramer said he told the judge that "she was okay, that her father had not died, and that she was in a state of mind where she had to go out of town on that Friday and couldn't deliberate."
Kramer said Sullivan asked his client to elaborate and that Hinnant said she had to go to horse racing's Breeders' Cup. She then began to go "off-topic," as Kramer described it, and the judge cut her off when it became clear the woman was distracted.
"Well, you wouldn't have been able to deliberate," Sullivan concluded at the hearing, according to a court official who attended and later described his remarks to CNN.
The judge then asked whether there were any questions from Stevens' lawyers or the prosecutors. Neither side wanted to pursue the matter at the hearing, but the judge invited both sides to file any papers expressing concerns related to the case.
The judge again said to Hinnant, "I'm thoroughly convinced you would not have been able to deliberate," indicating his decision to appoint an alternate juror had been wise.
"I feel bad about missing the last day or two of the trial," Hinnant said following Monday's hearing. "I do not feel bad about going to California."
Hinnant said she would have voted guilty.
"At that time we were going through the case, and we were deciding whether or not he was guilty on each count," she said. "And we all came up with, well most of us came up with, the same verdict. But to me he wasn't any more guilty than any other congressmen or senators in Washington, D.C., or in
Hinnant said she bought her ticket to the Breeder's Cup last spring and "didn't think the trial was going to last as long as it did."
"I couldn't think of a, well, on Thursday afternoon, they'd not finished deliberating, so I thought by then we would be through, and I came home and I thought, 'Well, I'm going,'" she said. "My plane leaves at 6 o'clock in the morning, so I called him (the judge) up and told him my father died, in
Sullivan closed the matter without any punishment against the woman for her absence.
Stevens has asked for a hearing in February where the judge would review any motions to appeal or otherwise challenge the verdict. He has remained free since the convictions, and is in a tight re-election campaign in Alaska ahead of Tuesday's vote.
People put their lives on hold every day in this country, some at significant cost, to ensure our rights to trial by jury. This woman has made a mockery of all of those people. She should be prosecuted to the extent the law allows.
I hope this juror goes to jail. You can't do that. You can't lie to get out of jury duty and go play the races. How would she like it if some juror did that to her?
The judge should ban her from races for a long time. That would be appropriate. And she should have to serve jury duty all over again, and placed on a very long trial.
That is horrible.
I'm starting to think we should sell Alaska back to Russia. Do only morons and cheats live up there?
She was just taking a day off to vote for her favorite horse.