Evidence on phone use convincing, juror says
BY CURTIS KILLMAN World Staff Writer
Thursday, August 25, 2011
8/25/11 at 1:19 PM
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Jurors deliberating the fate of two Tulsa police officers had long, sometimes fiery, discussions about the government's case before arriving at verdicts, said one juror, who also said she left the courthouse Wednesday in tears.
"We had some very heated discussions; it got very tense at times," said one female juror, who agreed to talk to the World only on condition of anonymity.
Jurors deliberated for 23 hours over four days before arriving at verdicts on all counts in the trial of Tulsa police officers Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.
The jury found Henderson guilty on eight counts associated with the case and acquitted Yelton on all counts.
"I'm glad we were able to acquit Mr. Yelton," the juror said. "I wish we could have acquitted Mr. Henderson, but some of the things we found him guilty on, I think the government did their job in proving his guilt."
The juror said she was skeptical of many of the government's witnesses, especially those who were admitted drug dealers.
"We had long discussions about all these people, including Brandon McFadden," the juror said. "But you've got to try to determine when are they telling the truth and when are they lying.
"For me personally, I think McFadden, Rochelle (Martin) and (Ryan) Logsdon are going to lie when it's going to benefit them, and they are going to tell the truth when it's going to benefit them."
In the end, it was physical evidence that helped sway the juror toward convicting Henderson on seven of the eight counts.
The juror said evidence showing cell phone usage helped change her opinion. Prosecutors presented cellphone data that indicated Henderson was not in the location he claimed to be on a day that he supposedly was conducting surveillance.
"When they brought out that little thing with the cellphone towers, that's what flipped me in the other direction," the juror said. "I think there was definitely some inaccurate information in the affidavit for the search warrant."
Arriving at guilty verdicts on Henderson was emotionally draining, the juror said.
"I'm upset; I cried afterwards," the juror said. "I've cried off and on since I left the courthouse."
"I wish we could have acquitted him of everything," the juror said. "I feel that way because he has small children. I wouldn't want my children to be without their father, especially at such a young age. I understand a lie is a lie and you can't commit perjury and you can't violate people's civil rights."
Jurors during deliberations skipped around the long list of charges rather than mowing down one after another as the debate devolved, she said. Some jurors tried to talk over others at times when discussing some aspects of the case, the juror said.
"We had to leave several cases and come back to them later so everybody would have a chance to calm down and breathe," the juror said.
"It was very hard. I can't say I would want to sit on another case like this," the juror said.
The Tulsa World attempted to talk to all 12 members of the jury. Some jurors declined to talk to the World about the case while others could not be reached.
Original Print Headline: Evidence on phone use vital, juror says
Curtis Killman 918-581-8471
A witness testifies during the police trial. Watercolor by EVELYN PETROSKI