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