Unreasonable Doubts

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The next day, after more discussion, the vote shifted to 9-3, and then in the early afternoon to 11-1. Lozano, whom other jurors described as defensive for much of the deliberations, became more so when it became clear she was the sole hold-out.

"She told us that her brother got falsely accused of something, that it was easy to have a case of mistaken identity," Day relates. Other jurors recall that statement as well. Lozano told the panel they couldn't see things her way because they hadn't grown up in her Oak Cliff neighborhood.

The prosecutors, Moffitt and Dodd, say they had asked the panel questions that should have brought those views to the surface during jury selection. "I asked if anyone might have a problem with finding someone guilty based on a single eyewitness," recalls Dodd. "She didn't raise her hand."

According to juror Day, things started getting a little tense and moody as the second day wore on and the deadlock set in at 11-1.

"One girl got mad--she was a stewardess, in her 30s--and she got angry. She told the one juror, 'Can't you see anything? You're just doing this because he's Hispanic.' After that, things turned hectic."

Day says Lozano denied the accusation, but some on the panel weren't convinced. "I was talking with a few of the girls after it was over, and we all thought the Hispanic thing had a lot to do with it. I was sure that was it."

Lozano made it clear to the group that she was firm in her beliefs. The foreman wrote Creuzot a note saying, "We are in conflict! We are in conflict as to whether we can come to a unanimous verdict." The judge, deciding not to prolong the stalemate, declared a mistrial.

Afterward, as they got ready to go home, few of the jurors were in a mood to discuss their thoughts with the lawyers, who hoped to gain some insights for the retrial. Lozano simply bolted. The 11 pro-guilty jurors shunned defense attorney Perez, who remembers, "It wasn't just 'No,' it was 'Hell no, we won't talk to you.'"

It took them time to get over it.
Lozano's husband, commenting briefly, says she was upset for weeks.
"It was one thing to have four days of our time wasted," says one juror who declined to be named. "It was another thing to have David Paz Ramirez out there on the street. The whole thing was horribly frustrating. I get irritated just talking about it."

Ramirez remained in custody until his retrial in late October, a proceeding that must have set some type of record for brevity.

In one day, the lawyers opened their cases, questioned 12 witnesses, closed their cases, and delivered final arguments to the near-empty courtroom.

"The evidence hasn't changed," Judge Creuzot told the lawyers at one point, offering his comparison of the first and second trials.

Moffitt, attempting to inject some new testimony about motives, subpoenaed the boss of one of Ramirez's friends who was in the truck that night. Out of the jury's presence, the man testified that the friend told him the shooting was the result of a disputed drug deal. But Creuzot upheld defense objections that the account was hearsay, so the jury never heard it.

"We have people lying to get a conviction," Perez told the jurors in his summation. "They want a conviction so somebody will say they saw it."

Moffitt, speaking last, said, "His own girlfriend told the detective, 'I shot the guy in the blue Taurus'...We've brought you evidence that is overwhelming."

The jury filed out, and just over an hour later, filed back grim-faced with their verdict: guilty of murder.

Ramirez had elected to have Creuzot set his punishment within the required range, which was 25 years to life because this was his third felony conviction.

When the court reconvened the following morning, prosecutors brought records showing that in 1992, Dallas police caught the then 17-year-old Ramirez in possession of the tires and wheels from a Chevy Suburban that had been stolen from a driveway in southeast Dallas, then stripped and vandalized. He was put on a four-year probation, but after less than a month was rearrested on a cocaine possession charge and sentenced to two years in Texas prison.

In 1994, Dallas cops arrested Ramirez again for stealing a car--this time a 1985 Cutlass that had been parked in front of his house--and he pleaded guilty in return for a four-year sentence.

Perez thought his client had nothing to lose and should testify on his own behalf during the punishment hearing. But he refused, opting instead to offer only his scowling, silent presence.

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Thomas Korosec
Contact: Thomas Korosec

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