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I served as a juror on the trial of Alvoid Hamilton, which was the centerpiece of Amanda Ripley’s May 1 offering, “Street Legal.” (Juror No. 594005, at your unsolicited service.) The author’s article presents the profile of a deft, top-notch defense lawyer, the Clarence Darrow of the ’90s, and just the sort of Joe Legal Eagle that one of the many Power Lushes who patronize D.C.’s many Power Bars (J.R.’s, for instance) would scream for help from in order to get sprung from a DWI charge.
In the case of the U.S. Government vs. Alvoid Hamilton, We the Jury had to let the defendant go because, quite simply, there wasn’t sufficient evidence for a conviction. The way that witnesses contradicted each other on the stand was head-spinning. No weapon had been retrieved and presented as evidence, only a shell casing from a .32 or .38 semiautomaticright now I can’t recall precisely whichthat had in fact been stipulated earlier as being the weapon used. However, none of the witnesses were absolutely certain of actually seeing Alvoid Hamilton fire the shot that killed David Hancasky.
During deliberations, time elements related by witnesses provided sources of speculation and conjecture for many of my fellow jurors, both of which are, of course, major no-no’s in the jury room, and Judge Abrecht had laid that fact out before us in black and white in her instructions to us before we even commenced our deliberations. Most of us, to begin with, started out thinking Hamilton not guilty; a couple of days of round-and-round “ifs,” “buts,” “wait-a-minutes,” and bad lunches in the Courthouse Cafe at taxpayers’ expense helped to turn the dissenters around To See the Light. So the morning of Thursday, Feb. 26, at just about 10 a.m., a Jury of His Peers proclaimed Alvoid Hamilton not guilty of first-degree murder and all subsequent charges.
Mr. Rochon’s courtroom theatrics were indeed entertaining, to give credit where credit is due. I especially got a tickle out of the way, near the very end of his spellbinding closing statements, he resignedly tossed a piece of evidence (it was either an aerial map of the murder site or mug shots of Hamilton and several other guys collected for the lineup Byars and Corley had been called in to see) to the floor, a bit of melodrama worthy of Beverly Garland in some ’50s Roger Corman flick. This juror, though, took into account only that which had been indeed presented as evidence from the mouths of witnesses under oath, along with the few physical items (a set of keys, assorted photos, a Miranda rights card signed by the defendant) that were given, as well. Mr. Rochon did not make me “believe the unbelievable.”
I’d say that prosecutor Patrick Rowan, rather, did a lousy-ass job.