JURY RACE SHOCK

Ju­ror No. 3: ‘I don’t want to put a black man in jail’

New York Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRISTINA CARREGA and RICH SCHAPIRO

A BROOK­LYN ju­ror de­cid­ing the case of a mo­torist ac­cused of man­slaugh­ter forced a mis­trial Thurs­day af­ter declar­ing that she didn’t want to con­vict a black man.

“I don’t want to put a black man in jail. That’s crazy,” the mid­dle-aged African-Amer­i­can wo­man, iden­ti­fied as Ju­ror No. 3, told other panel mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to a note to Brook­lyn Supreme Court Jus­tice Vin­cent Del Gi­u­dice.

The note capped a chaotic three days of de­lib­er­a­tions that saw Ju­ror No. 3 refuse to budge, two jurors com­plain about her to the judge — and one of them pass out from the be­hind-thescenes ten­sions.

Some jurors said the wo­man even an­nounced her re­luc­tance to con­vict on the first day of the trial of Mar­lon Sewell, who was ac­cused of pass­ing out from an ex­haust leak be­fore fa­tally strik­ing a 30-year-old pedes­trian in De­cem­ber 2015.

“From day one of the trial she made com­ments like that, but we thought she’d change her mind once we re­ceived all the ev­i­dence,” said a male ju­ror who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied out­side Brook­lyn Supreme Court.

“But no, she re­fused to lis­ten to any­thing and made com­ments like she wasn’t pay­ing at­ten­tion to the whole trial.”

Sewell’s at­tor­ney Damien Brown re­quested a mis­trial based on the chaos in the de­lib­er­a­tion room. The judge agreed. “I feel that based on the ju­ror mis­con­duct dur­ing the en­tire pro­ceed­ings, we can­not go for­ward with de­lib­er­a­tions, and I’m go­ing to grant the de­fense’s ap­pli­ca­tion of a mis­trial,” Del Gi­u­dice said. Ju­ror No. 3 rushed out of the court­room ahead of the other 11 jurors. “Get away from me. Leave me alone,” she snapped when ap­proached by re­porters. Other panel mem­bers said the wo­man sin­gle­hand­edly caused emo­tions to boil over in the de­lib­er­a­tion room. “In the jury room, this per­son was caus­ing so much con­flict,” said a wo­man iden­ti­fied as Ju­ror No. 8 (be­low inset). “All the emo­tions were bub­bling up, and I fainted.” Sewell, 40, was driv­ing with a sus­pended li­cense when his SUV jumped a curb and plowed into sev­eral pedes­tri­ans in Fort Greene. Pros­e­cu­tors said Sewell had passed out from an ex­haust leak that he had long ig­nored — even af­ter it caused him to go un­con­scious once be­fore.

The crash claimed the life of art cu­ra­tor Vic­to­ria Ni­code­mus and se­ri­ously in­jured her boyfriend Ger­ald Toth, 37, and an­other pedes­trian, Ida Turner, 75.

Jurors said sev­eral of them were lean­ing to­ward con­vict­ing Sewell of a lesser charge of crim­i­nally neg­li­gent homi­cide be­cause they weren’t con­vinced he was aware of the gas leak or could af­ford the $3,200 needed to fix it.

Sewell, who was out on bail, left the court­room with­out com­ment­ing.

Ni­code­mus’ brother Hank Miller said the fam­ily was dev­as­tated by the trial’s un­likely end.

“The jurors swore an oath be­fore the trial started, and they were re­minded ev­ery­day to be fair and im­par­tial,” Miller said. “My fam­ily felt a lot of agony . . . . We look for­ward to the re­trial.”

Sewell’s next court date is Nov. 29.

Mar­lon Sewell (above) was on trial for man­slaugh­ter af­ter al­legedly pass­ing out at wheel and killing Vic­to­ria Ni­code­mus (be­low) in Brook­lyn.

Mar­lon Sewell (above right) drove SUV (right) onto Brook­lyn side­walk, killing Vic­to­ria Ni­code­mus (left) in 2015. He was charged with man­slaugh­ter, ac­cused of not fix­ing a leaky gas pipe that caused him to pass out, but one ju­ror re­fused to con­vict be­cause he’s black, forc­ing a mis­trial.

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