The second jury found the defendant guilty on all counts. As I said earlier this year, I’m at ease with my decision. Now that the case is over, I am comfortable saying that I think the defendant probably did it — I just didn’t think the evidence at hand proved it beyond a reasonable doubt.
There were no eyewitnesses who could identify the defendant as the shooter, although the shooter was inside a car which was clearly the defendant’s. He and his girlfriend certainly acted like people who wanted to hide their car after the murder. If I knew my car has been used to commit a crime, and I was living the life this guy was leading, I don’t think I’d be too optimistic about telling the police that it was my car but it wasn’t me.
The police didn’t bother tracking down some crucial evidence, particularly around the timing of a visit to a car wash. The defendant’s cousin said the visit was before the murder; the police said it was after. The timing matters for a few reasons, so why not just get the security footage to eliminate the uncertainty? It felt a lot like they were confident that they could just say what they believed to be true and win the case. I didn’t see any signs of lying or ill intent — just a casual approach. Or even an overworked approach.
The jury heard that one eyewitness identified the defendant in a lineup with a 75% certainty. We did not hear that the other eyewitness at the lineup said that the defendant was “absolutely not” the shooter. That second eyewitness is living without a home, and couldn’t be located, and you can’t reference second-hand testimony. None of that was part of my decision, because we didn’t know that during the trial. Still.
The tragedy here is that Zula Werede is dead, not that the defendant is going to spend a lot of time in jail. His death alone is tragic, but whatever happened was terribly random. Why was Herr, or whoever, driving through that parking lot at just the right time? (No indication that Werede was followed.) We’ll never know.
The defendant probably did it. There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing that way. I’m not sad he was found guilty, but one of the things the trial really brought home for me was how little jail time is going to mean. Many of the witnesses were living subsistence level, desperate, addicted lives. We don’t address the causes.