COMMENTARY: "Hamill: Holdout juror in Etan Patz trial deserves respect for seeing doubt," by Denis Hamil, published by The New York Daily News on May 11, 2015.
GIST: "You gotta admire a man who sticks to his convictions, even when he’s for acquittal. After spending 17 days on a hard wooden bench awaiting the verdict in the Etan Patz case, sitting through lengthy read-backs of testimony and summations, I am proud of Adam Sirois, 42, the lone holdout juror, for sticking to his principles. Not because I think suspect Pedro Hernandez is innocent. But because I’m not sure he’s guilty. And that’s the point: There was doubt, reasonable doubt in this tragic cold case. As good as Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon was in prosecuting the mentally challenged Hernandez for murder in Etan’s disappearance, there were light leaks in the case. As skilled defense attorney Harvey Fishbein pointed out to the jury, there is no proof that there was even a crime committed against 6-year-old Etan. He simply vanished as he walked alone to his school bus stop May 25, 1979. There is no body. No blood. No fingerprints. No DNA. No eyewitness. No security camera footage. No coroner’s report. No cause of death. No CSI clothing fiber. Nothing connecting Hernandez to Etan. Except for Hernandez’s confessions, some of which play like outtakes from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”......... By the 18th day, 11 jurors believed Hernandez had killed Etan. But one juror remained skeptical. This is the American judicial system at its very best. Every juror worked his or her heart out on this case. But the importance of a lone dissenting juror does not exist just in Henry Fonda movies. Gutsy jurors like Sirois can still stick to their principles in a celebrated trial. Sirois says he had trouble believing Hernandez’s “bizarre” confessions. I watched those tapes, too. Do they make me think he might be guilty? Yes. Did they convince me 100%, beyond a reasonable doubt he murdered Etan Patz? No. I needed motive. The prosecution wanted the jury to believe that once — only one time in his 54 years — Hernandez decided one morning in 1979 to snatch a young boy, drag him to the basement, rape and strangle him, pack him in a banana box, carry the box up the stairs into the streets of SoHo — remembering the weather wrong — and dump the body in an alley on Thompson St. where sanitation men hauled it away. Doubt. A pedophile with no previous or subsequent arrests? C’mon. Pedophiles are recidivist predators. The average pedophile assaults 13 kids by the time he’s first caught, studies show. They keep doing it for life. Hernandez, who has an IQ of 69, is simply not smart enough to get away with multiple crimes across the decades. Yet he confesses to no other crimes, except murdering Etan Patz. Hernandez even denies sexually assaulting Patz. So we are to believe his confession of murder? But not his denial of sexual assault? Doubt. Reasonable doubt. Yes, only one juror had these same doubts. But that’s all it takes in the American judicial system. One man willing to stick by his conviction not to convict. Adam Sirois deserves our respect and thanks for being a model citizen, not our scorn. Without a doubt."
The entire commentary can be found at:
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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: