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At the Courthouse

A Second Trial for Jones

Eric Jones went on trial again this week for the March 8 homicide of Corey Hargrow. The first trial ended in a hung jury in August when one juror refused to agree with the other 11 jurors that the commonwealth had proven its case.

In the August trial, the commonwealth did not produce a murder weapon, fingerprints, DNA or any forensic evidence implicating Jones. Police officers testified that they did not conduct a gunshot residue test on Jones the night of the murder. No motive was suggested for the crime, but two eyewitnesses testified for the commonwealth that they saw Jones shoot Hargrow.

Monday's opening arguments indicated that the evidence presented in the second trial would be much the same. The defense brought a new witness to rebut one of the commonwealth 's eyewitnesses and the commonwealth brought a new witness who testified that he heard Jones admit to killing Hargrow.

"It would be nice if we could pull a CSI rabbit out of our hat," said assistant commonwealth attorney Krista Boucher. "But we don't need a CSI miracle because we have essentially a camera filming what happened."

Defense attorney George Wooditch implored jurors to be critical of the commonwealth's case.

"Don't let them off that easy," Wooditch said. "They can do tests. But they don't have a gun, and they don't have fingerprints."

At press time, the jury had not yet returned with a verdict.

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Roe Denied $1.9 Million in Damages

An Alexandria jury decided not to award $1.9 million in damages to a woman inmate who was sexually molested by a sheriff's deputy in 2002.

Jane Doe, as she is called in court papers, brought the case after Judge Donald Haddock found Eric Mayo guilty of two counts of "carnal knowledge of an inmate by a jail employee." Judge Haddock sentenced Mayo to six years in the penitentiary, where he has already served about half of his sentence.

In "Roe v. Mayo," the woman was seeking damages from Mayo, the Sheriff's Office and the City of Alexandria.

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Lightening the Mood

Jury selection can be one of the most tedious parts of life at the courthouse. Lawyers and judges have to sit through endless questions and answers, evaluating the reasoning ability of prospective jurors and estimating their eventual vote. It can be tiring, but sometimes judges and lawyers cut the tension with some humor.

At a recent jury selection, members of the jury pool were asked where they worked. Time after time, potential jurors said that they worked for a defense contractor. After a while, it became too much to bear for assistant commonwealth attorney Bryan Porter.

"The federal government must have ground to a halt today," he said, provoking laughter in the courtroom.

Later, when the lawyers were consulting with each other, Judge Richard Jamborski shared his observations:

"Guess what happened to me last week?" asked Jamborski, who has been a judge since 1969. "I got called for jury duty!"