Little wonder then, in view of the aggressive, indiscriminate prosecution, the poor quality of investigation and defense representation, that the jury deliberated only two and a half hours before delivering a guilty verdict; but the jury’s verdict may have been colored by other factors.
The jury, in any court case, is expected to reach its decision based upon a critical analysis of the evidence brought up at trial, and only that evidence. This principle appears to have been subverted in the case of Henry Watkins Skinner. Hank states that he has cause to believe that the jury may have fallen prey to a false rumor. This rumor suggested that critical evidence indicative of guilt, including a taped confession, had been suppressed at trial [“All lies, but effective ones!” – HS]
The possible tainting of the jury’s decision is best explained by Hank himself:
“There were a few items suppressed by the judge, true enough. But it was a cursory thing to assuage the defense motion for illegal search suppression of evidence. Not one item suppressed had any evidentiary value for the prosecution whatsoever – lemons taken from the kitchen table; a roll of toilet paper taken from the dining room, etc. – junk, that’s all. The District Attorney made good use of it though. Mr. Comer wrote him a letter before trial, instructing him to ‘have the evidence custodians bring ALL evidence to Fort Worth.’ So the District Attorney brought it into the courtroom during the trial, where the jury was allowed to see the boxes, but not their contents. Then Comer jumped up in the jury’s presence and told the judge in a harried voice ‘This evidence was suppressed! It’s not even supposed to be here! I want a mistrial!’ Well, if the jury had been told what I stated above [the alleged suppression of damning evidence] …just think what effect that had on them.”
“There’s evidence that it did exactly that. When they went to deliberate, the first thing they did was send a note out and tell the judge they wanted a list of ALL the evidence and a tape recorder… The judge sent them a note which said all the evidence they were to consider was already in the jury room. In other words, ‘sure, there’s other evidence, but you can’t have it.'”
Read more in Hank’s Case Today: The DNA Issue section