After 3 days of deliberations in Bushaw murder trial: ‘News tomorrow morning’

We’re at the King County Courthouse, staked out awaiting word of a decision in the Steve Bushaw murder trial, but there won’t be one today – the jury has just gone home for the day. However, Judge Joan DuBuque‘s bailiff has just informed WSB that, “The jury will have some news for us tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock.”

Jurors have now deliberated for three full days, after getting the case toward the end of the day last Wednesday. They are deciding the fate of two men who are charged with first-degree murder though Bushaw was shot on February 1st, 2009, by two other men, both of whom pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. WSB is the only news organization that has been covering the trial; our coverage is archived here, newest to oldest.

3 Replies to "After 3 days of deliberations in Bushaw murder trial: 'News tomorrow morning'"

  • curious george August 29, 2011 (5:19 pm)

    wsb: Thank you very much for your update: “The jury will have some news for us tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock.”

    Is this the wording normally used when a jury has reached a verdict? Or a verdict on one, but not the other?

    Would this possibly mean that they are just going to ask for some more explanations or documentation?

    I was wondering if they would or even could ask to go and see O’Neal’s apt. for themselves to see who was telling the truth about there being a wall with a big screen t.v. like Chaney testified or all open concept with just a countertop in between the kitchen and living room, as Sylve testified.

    Thanks again!

  • waterworld August 29, 2011 (11:56 pm)

    Curious George: If the jury merely had a question, I do not think the judge would be telling everyone, including the media, that the jury was going to have “news” at 9 AM. It sounds much more like the jury either has a verdict or is stuck.

    As for the scene view, there are two issues there — one is whether the judge would allow a scene view at all, the other is whether a scene view would be allowed after deliberations have begun. In some cases, one side or the other asks for a scene view during the trial. It’s really not all that common, though. The scene may not be the same as it was at the time of the incident, or maybe seeing the scene won’t make it easier to understand the testimony of the witnesses. Also, the defendant(s) are entitled to go along, which is a nightmare for the security personnel.

    Even if one side could have gotten the judge to order a scene view during the trial, there’s a different problem now. Once each side has rested its case and the court has sent the jury to their room to deliberate, it is extremely unlikely that the jury would be able to get some new evidence. If the judge were to re-open the trial for the new evidence, but the defendant objected to that, very likely any conviction would be reversed.

    That’s not to say jurors cannot ask questions and get answers. They can and do ask questions after they start deliberating. Very often they want one of the jury instructions explained in more detail or they want some part of the testimony read back to them because they are not all in agreement about what a witness said. You would think this would be easy to fix, but in fact a question from the jury usually requires the judge to bring all the lawyers and the defendant back into court, hear from all sides, and then decide how to handle the issue the jury has raised. It is quite uncommon for the court to read back any testimony. Mostly the jurors have to work with whatever they heard and saw in the trial, with no “rewinding” to help them remember.

  • curious george August 30, 2011 (8:31 am)

    Waterworld: Thank you. That was very enlightening.

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