Bosma ju­ror de­scribes dif­fi­cult road back to ev­ery­day life

Jury sat through months of graphic tes­ti­mony with only one another for emo­tional sup­port

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - ‘Gap’ in care

THE TIM BOSMA MUR­DER trial has been over for about a month now, but for at least one ju­ror, it has been a chal­leng­ing tran­si­tion back to nor­mal life.

Ju­ror No. 4 — who was ex­cused for a fam­ily obli­ga­tion just be­fore de­lib­er­a­tions be­gan — spoke to the Spec­ta­tor about her ex­pe­ri­ences in the lengthy, first-de­gree mur­der trial of Dellen Mil­lard and Mark Smich.

She has asked to re­main name­less. She sim­i­larly asks that her job — and even the obli­ga­tion she was ex­cused for — not be dis­closed.

Her anx­i­ety around the case is pal­pa­ble. And it is un­der­stand­able, after spend­ing four months in a court­room lis­ten­ing to graphic tes­ti­mony about a hor­rific mur­der — es­pe­cially given the lack of emo­tional or psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­ports avail­able to ju­rors after such lengthy tri­als.

“They just thank you and you’re on your way,” she says with a shrug, sit­ting at her kitchen ta­ble.

But it has stuck with her. Even to­day she will see a black pickup truck or a trailer on the road and

be in­stantly re­minded of the trial.

And the bones. She can still pic­ture Bosma’s mother Mary run­ning out in tears after photos of frag­ments of her son’s bones were dis­played on screens around the court­room. As a mother, she says, she can’t imag­ine hav­ing to go through that. “It does con­sume you,” she says. The 55-year-old woman says she knew it would be a long haul when she was picked from the jury pool back in Jan­uary. She re­mem­bers leav­ing the court­house and think­ing, “I can’t be­lieve this is hap­pen­ing.”

Six­teen ju­rors were selected: 14 who would sit for the du­ra­tion of the trial, and two al­ter­nates who were re­leased as soon as it of­fi­cially be­gan.

For months, the jury took in ev­i­dence and tes­ti­mony from close to 100 wit­nesses on the mur­der of Bosma, the 32-year-old An­caster dad who was killed in May 2013 after tak­ing two men for a test drive of the pickup truck he was sell­ing on­line.

Mil­lard, 30, and Smich, 28 — who were each even­tu­ally con­victed of first-de­gree mur­der — also sat in the court­room each day of the trial.

The com­bi­na­tion of the griev­ing Bosma fam­ily, the graphic ev­i­dence, and the re­spon­si­bil­ity of de­ter­min­ing the two ac­cused men’s fates weighed heav­ily on her through­out the trial, the ju­ror says.

“Their fu­ture is in your hands. You have to de­cide what’s go­ing to hap­pen to these two men at the end.”

But when ju­rors went home each day, they couldn’t talk to any­one about the pro­ceed­ings — not even their fam­i­lies.

“You’re re­ally on your own … ex­cept for the other peo­ple on the jury,” she says.

While she was grate­ful for the sup­port they gave one another, this ju­ror says she wishes they had been of­fered some kind of coun­selling, par­tic­u­larly after in­tense days of tes­ti­mony.

“If you’re maybe not sleep­ing well or you’re hav­ing headaches be­cause of what’s go­ing on, it’s like ‘Well, I just have to deal with it and move on.’”

Bren­dan Craw­ley, spokesper­son for On­tario’s Min­istry of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral, ac­knowl­edged the lengthy trial was “in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult” for ev­ery­one in­volved.

But coun­selling is made avail­able to ju­rors only when or­dered by a judge. Oth­er­wise, Craw­ley says, “ju­rors may contact coun­selling ser­vice providers from their com­mu­nity.”

While ju­ries fall un­der pro­vin­cial ju­ris­dic­tion, fed­eral NDP jus­tice critic Mur­ray Rankin ar­gues “that shouldn’t stop the fed­eral gov­ern­ment from tak­ing some lead­er­ship.”

In the fall, he is go­ing to ask the Com­mit­tee of the House of Com­mons, of which he is a mem­ber, to study the is­sue.

No par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee has stud­ied the is­sue, nor have any bills been in­tro­duced to rem­edy the lack of care for ju­rors after a dif­fi­cult crim­i­nal trial. In 2009, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice rec­og­nized a need, but failed to act on it, cit­ing the need for stud­ies.

Rankin says he be­came aware of the “gap” in care after be­ing con­tacted by a Toronto man who was be­ing treated for post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der after serv­ing on a first-de­gree mur­der trial jury.

“He said his life was de­stroyed,” says Rankin, who also closely fol­lowed the Bosma trial and says he couldn’t “imag­ine what it would be like to sit on that jury.”

Con­scripted sol­diers and ju­rors are the only two groups of cit­i­zens “com­pelled by the state to put them­selves in harm’s way,” he says. And while a cri­sis in care has been iden­ti­fied for sol­diers, lit­tle has been done for ju­rors. Vic­tims of crime, wit­nesses, lawyers and judges all have ac­cess to sup­port dur­ing and after a dif­fi­cult trial.

“This is a men­tal health is­sue,” says Rankin. “And it’s another il­lus­tra­tion of the stigma.”

The Bosma ju­ror be­lieves it would be help­ful to have on-site coun­sel­lors avail­able to ju­rors dur­ing a lengthy trial — “even one day a week or some­thing, so if you have to speak to some­one you know they’re avail­able for you.”

Two of the 14 ju­rors in the Bosma case were ex­cused be­fore de­lib­er­a­tions be­gan, leav­ing the re­quired 12 peo­ple to de­cide the fates of Mil­lard and Smich.

Ju­ror No. 4 — who had given a let­ter to the judge, out­lin­ing an up­com­ing obli­ga­tion — was one of them. She was re­lieved of her duty, but dis­ap­pointed to be yanked out of a trial she had in­vested so much time in.

“It’s like watch­ing a movie and not see­ing the end of it,” she says. “I wanted to de­lib­er­ate. I was there for four and a half months. I wanted to have an im­pact on the fi­nal ver­dict.”

Freed from her duty, she was sud­denly able to read me­dia cov­er­age of the case — some­thing she’d been barred from un­til that point.

Now know­ing what the jury did not — for ex­am­ple, that Mil­lard and Smich were fac­ing other first­de­gree mur­der charges — she had a con­stant headache dur­ing the five days of de­lib­er­a­tions, as she anx­iously awaited the call from court staff that a ver­dict had been reached.

When the jury re­turned with their ver­dicts on June 17, she sat ner­vously, with the gen­eral pub­lic, in the packed court­room gallery. As the two first-de­gree mur­der con­vic­tions were de­liv­ered — send­ing both men away to prison for at least 25 years — she smiled. “Jus­tice was served,” she says. After the ver­dicts came in, as the Bosma fam­ily cel­e­brated in the hall­way and the me­dia scram­bled to file news sto­ries, she thought about hang­ing around to see the ju­rors. But in the end she de­cided just to go home.

“It will stay with me for­ever … it’ll be some­thing I never for­get.”



Jus­tice An­drew Good­man gave his charge to the jury on June 10, 2016. De­lib­er­a­tions lasted five days.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.