Wow, I obviously haven't taken on to blogging to terribly much but I thought I would share about my recent experience on jury duty. Parts of this blog are graphic, please be advised before reading -- murder is not a nice subject.
I was called to jury duty on 10/26, no big deal I thought 2 days sitting in a room with hundreds of other potential jurors in the King County Superior Courthouse, then back to my regular work schedule. I had had to do this one other time and that was the outcome, I thought my chances of serving on a real jury were slim. Well after a few batches of jurors were called to go be questioned for a trial, my name came up and I was lucky (?) 3 out of 100 jurors. Walking into the courtroom was interesting and before me in the defendants seat sat an older gentleman (64), a Boeing engineer, who the judge declared was going to be tried for 1st degree murder. Wow, this could be interesting I thought. We learned the defendants name was Tracy Floren & he was being charged with 1st degree murder, the victim was his wife of 24 years, Nancy Floren. When I heard the charges I had an uneasy butterfly feeling in my stomach knowing that the rest of this mans life could be held in the hands of myself & 11 other jurors. But still, what were the chances?
Well, as the week progressed they went through about 160 jurors questioning us on how the trial length (4-6 weeks) would cause a burden on our lives. Most jurors were able to get out of it for this reason, because many people were not lucky enough to have an employer like myself who pays my full wage during jury duty. They also asked us about how we felt about alcoholism, lying, previous experiences of our own with the law that could impact our beliefs of guilt or innocence. We were questioned about our lives and read a list of at least 100 names or so asking if we knew any of them (witnesses).
Finally, after the first week in the courtroom it was decided. There were 16 jurors chosen, 12 which would lay judgment during deliberation and 4 to alternate into deliberation if we were needed. Those 4 alternate jurors were chosen by random numbers being drawn, my lucky #3 was one of them. I would still sit & listen to the trial and follow all the rules of the court, knowing I might be called in if needed for deliberation.
The first week of the trial was intense, I came home exhausted from trying to focus so hard. The prosecution opened up showing us a picture of a very nice, professional looking upper class woman and stated she had been assassinated in cold blood by her husband of 24 years. They were a very neat and orderly, upper class couple. They had no children, but a dog and cat that Nancy adored. They had a beautiful home with extremely well manicured gardens and were almost ready to retire from very good jobs. Why would this happen, why would a gentle & well composed gentleman commit such an act after being married to someone (quite happily it seemed) for so long? The prosecutors said it was because he had been struggling for years with an alcohol problem, and although he had kept it under control for many,many years...he relapsed. He relapsed and knew his wife was on her last straw with his drinking, he had been given his last chance and it failed. This thought led him to picture his life without Nancy and it would be an easier life without Nancy.
Over the course of the next 6 weeks this is what we learned.
Summer, 2007. The couple spent 2 weeks in Sequim, vacationing and breaking ground on their dream home which they were custom building in an area they had been in love with for many years, they were going to retire there. By all accounts it seemed like a nice trip, the did return home to Kent for one night about a week into their vacation to get the plants taken care of and manicure the lawn. After that night they returned to Sequim for the following week. Had many dinners with friends and working hard to get things in order for their new home, including trips to pick out the granite they chose for their counter tops. It sounded like a lovely vacation.
They returned from vacation on September 1, 2007. They picked strawberries from their garden, made dinner & strawberry shortcake and Nancy caught up on some of her favorite shows. She drank wine and they looked over the plans for their new home, he drank vodka in secret and hid the airplane sized bottles in trash. They went to bed.
September 2. He got up early to attend an AA meeting called the Kent Earlybirds which met at 6:30a, he did this regularly. This morning was quite different though. He woke up about 4:30 (he was always an early riser), went and unarmed the alarm to let the dog out. He is thought to have hid in the laundry room and gotten his wife to come downstairs. He hid in the laundry room (between the garage and a main downstairs hallway) and when his wife came down the hall he reached out and shot her from a very close distance into her right temple with a .22 caliber gun. She fell to the ground, with a gunshot into her brain...but she didn't die. It is unknown what he did next but it appeared that after about 12-20 minutes he must have realized she was still alive. At that point he lifted her head up and shot her directly up the left nostril at very close range, this finished off the job.
Tracy needed an alibi. So, he left his house and went to Starbucks which was closed. He crossed the parking lot to Circle K and got a cup of coffee and a danish (this was viewed on surveillance video at 5:18 or so). He then returned home. He would have left his car somewhere close to a retention field that his housed backed up to and walked to the house. He verified his wife was truly dead and at that point, he put in an emergency code into their home alarm system, triggering a silent alert to the alarm company. This alarm signal went off at 5:52am. After triggering the alarm he left out of a side garage door, through the yard, and climbed his back fence placing him into the retention field. Here there was some of the only hard evidence in the case, some earplugs that Tracy kept all over his house and used whenever he went shooting.
6:20am: Tracy was first seen at the AA meeting that started at 6:30a. He claimed to have gotten there at 5:45a, but all evidence pointed to 6:20a. He stayed for the meeting and then left to return home, returning home about 7:50. It was when he arrived at home that his life changed forever, that's when the police entered the picture.
This will be a long post, and I will finish it later. I can say this was a big experience for my and I am glad that I got to take part in it. One thing I learned is that murder cases do not happen like on Law & Order.