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Unreasonable Doubts

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Four days after the shooting, Brooks' mother had called Dallas police and told them her daughter had some information about a shooting. Brooks told Dallas homicide detective Linda Crum that Ramirez had accused her of seeing someone else, and he hit her in the head with an iron during the argument. She said she wanted to press a charge of aggravated assault--and also told a detective about Ramirez's role in the shooting.

According to Crum, Brooks told her that Ramirez was supposed to see her the night of shooting, but he didn't show up. He told her the next day that he "had gotten involved in a situation where he had to shoot a guy out on Stemmons Freeway.

"He had gotten into an altercation at a Racetrac gas station at Harry Hines and Webb Chapel with some guys in a blue Taurus," Crum told the court. "They ended up getting run off from the gas station by the police, and they got onto the freeway going southbound...and some traffic altercation began, and David told her that they pulled beside the Taurus and the back window of the car rolled down, and he thought something was going to happen, so before that he pulled a gun and shot at the car."

While Crum gave the jury that account, Brooks balked on the witness stand when Moffitt asked if she gave Crum a sworn affidavit including those facts.

Brooks told the court she hadn't read the statement before she signed it. In fact, she told the jury, Ramirez had been with her the whole night.

Through his questions, Moffitt indicated to the jury that Brooks had reread her statement the day before in his office and had no problem with it. Jurors were left to decide whom to believe--Brooks, or Crum and Moffitt--when the case became theirs at the beginning of the trial's second day.

The jury, consisting of eight women and four men, was a mix of suburban and urban Dallas. There was a 34-year-old accountant from Garland, a 28-year-old receptionist from Dallas, a 44-year-old German-born nurse from Richardson, and a 31-year-old truck driver who's been a lifelong Dallas resident.

The group selected Sandra Snyder, a 52-year-old Richardson teacher, as their foreman, talked for a bit, then took their first poll. It was 7-5 for acquittal.

"Some jurors, myself included, thought they needed to put the gun in his hand," recalls Tonya Day, a 44-year-old administrative assistant. "They hadn't done that with the physical evidence."

Indeed, police never recovered the murder weapon. They collected some shell casings from the highway, and slugs found in the door of Chin's car and the victim himself were consistent with an attack on the freeway. But they had not been connected to Ramirez or anyone else.

Another juror, the North Dallas businessman who asked not to be named, says he had no trouble reaching a guilty verdict on the first pass. "The evidence fit together very well," he remembers. "We were instructed to disregard the girlfriend's statement, but you still had the detective's account and the eyewitnesses."

The juror says that the panel began going over every piece of evidence--asking the judge several times to supply them with exhibits and testimony. But from the very start, Ana Lozano, the 36-year-old secretary who held out for an acquittal, refused to concede even the most straightforward points.

For instance, prosecutors had asked one of Ramirez's neighbors to identify the black pickup truck involved in the shooting. The neighbor, visibly nervous on the witness stand, said she had seen the truck often at Ramirez's house, which is located in an enclave of burglar-barred brick cottages a few blocks from C.F. Hawn Freeway.

The pickup had distinctive chrome wheels, including five spokes in the shape of a star, the neighbor testified. Right after the shooting in mid-December, someone painted the bottom part of the truck to make it two-tone, black and off-white, she said.

"The woman who held out said, 'How do we know it was the same truck?'" the North Dallas juror recalls. "It got to be exasperating."

Lozano declined to respond to several phone calls requesting an interview.
A third juror, a middle-aged Anglo woman who asked not to be identified, says a poll of the jury, conducted near the end of the first day of deliberations, shifted the vote to a 6-6 tie, and the group went home for the night.

"The witnesses were not absolutely credible, but the more we talked about the evidence, the clearer it got," the juror says. She concluded Ramirez's girlfriend was lying about her boyfriend's alibi and the writing of her statement.

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Thomas Korosec
Contact: Thomas Korosec

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