The Killer and Mrs. Johnson

A gruesome crime. A bizarre defense. Can a crusading author reopen her best friend's case?

Apparently, the jury felt the same way. Why, then, did it take that jury five days to reach a verdict?

Kaufman sees the lengthy deliberations as a victory of sorts. "They were out for five days on a double homicide in which two people were ambushed and then executed," he notes. "Somebody must have done something right to get the jury thinking about self-defense for five days.

"I must say, in my own defense, that there was something there. That ought to be said in Jacob's defense, too."

Patty Scott is watching television--We the Jury, a Lauren Hutton movie--when the phone rings. She waits for the verdict before answering a question about how she reached her own verdict nearly four years ago as a member of the jury that found Jacob Ind guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.

"Second degree was an option, but if you read the rules, it didn't apply," she says. "Of course, we didn't know much. People on juries are dummied up--not dumb, but they don't know what they should to make that kind of decision."

Scott is one of three jurors who've told Johnson and other Ind supporters that, if they'd known more about the situation in the Jordan home, their verdict might have been quite different. She says she tried to read The Murder of Jacob to find out what the jury didn't know, but didn't make it past the first few chapters.

"It's one of those things I tried to put behind me and haven't been able to," she says. "It's bothered me ever since it happened. It didn't happen the way it should have. I don't think we were given the right tools."

The information the jury did have to work with, Scott says, was ambiguous at best. Three expert witnesses testified that abused children often have an exaggerated sense of helplessness and despair and that they don't report the abuse or flee their homes because they feel there is no escape. But Scott doesn't "put a lot of stock in psychiatrists."

Classmates testified that Jacob did talk about being beaten, but few saw any bruises on him. He even talked about wanting to kill his parents and approached several friends about helping him, but they all said they thought he was kidding. Lots of kids talked that way.

The jury heard Charles describe Kermode Jordan's bathroom assaults, but something about the story "didn't ring true," Scott says. Charles also testified that he and his brother had told counselor David Greathouse about Kermode's violent behavior a week before the slayings, but Greathouse insisted that the brothers had talked only about verbal and emotional abuse--nothing physical.

There were other topics the jury knew very little about--Pamela Jordan, for example. Jacob's godmother told them about how Pam used to beat the boy, but Judge Jane Looney didn't allow them to hear the testimony of the teen who claimed Pam had molested him, and the defense introduced no evidence of the mother's alleged sexual abuse of Jacob himself. The jury heard a tearful plea from Pam's mother to save her grandson, but they didn't hear from other relatives who were prepared to testify that the Ind brothers displayed an unusual knowledge of sex at an early age.

Nor did they hear much that was revealing from all the teachers and counselors who'd come into contact with the Ind children over the years. Johnson says she has evidence that some teachers knew more than they admitted at trial and that the Department of Social Services had more contact with the family than the one brief encounter--Charles's visit with a caseworker to discuss moving out of the house--that was presented in the case.

And, of course, they didn't hear from Jacob Ind. Kaufman says Ind would have made a lousy witness. "His demeanor at trial, due to the fact that he was an abuse victim, was flat," he says. "He wouldn't have been a fabulous advocate. He wouldn't have cried for his parents. He wouldn't have shown any remorse...Much like a doctor won't operate without a sterile operating room, a good criminal defense lawyer won't put his client on the stand because of the danger of infection."

Yet Scott believes more testimony about what the parents did or didn't do and what the kids did or didn't do to try to get help could have steered the deliberations in a different direction. "I do think it would have made a difference," Scott says. "From what we heard, he didn't seek help, he didn't talk to anybody about this. That's the way it appeared to us. It's such a shame that Jacob couldn't take the stand."

When she joined in a verdict of first-degree murder, Scott didn't know that under Colorado law, first-degree means a life sentence without possibility of parole; juries aren't supposed to consider sentencing when they decide on a case. Not terribly happy with the mandatory life term herself, Judge Looney assured the jury that she would try to seek placement for Ind in some sort of "therapeutic community" within the Department of Corrections.

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