Former Baca juror on judge: "He already had his mind made up"

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Juror who voted to acquit former Sheriff Lee Baca tells Eyewitness News about the backlash she experienced after December mistrial. (KABC)

Among the spectators inside Judge Percy Anderson's courtroom Monday was one of the jurors who voted to acquit Baca in first trial. The 23-year old, who asked for her name to be withheld, told Eyewitness News exclusively about the backlash she's experienced after December's mistrial - and called out the judge for what she perceives as his bias against Baca.

"He already had his mind made up," the juror said of Judge Anderson.

"Guilty or not guilty, I truly don't believe he's getting a fair trial right now...and it really is scary to see the prosecution starts their opening statements with abuse of power and I think that is exactly what is going on in there."

Juror #12 says she was approached by prosecutors after the mistrial. They wanted to know why the jury had voted 11-1 for acquittal - with a lone juror holding out for conviction.

One element - the focus on inmate abuse inside the jails. Not relevant -- she says, because Baca was not accused of the beatings.

In the current trial, prosecutors decided not to call multiple witnesses who previously testified about deputy-on-inmate brutality - focusing instead on Baca's alleged illegal acts to stonewall the FBI.

The shift away from inmate abuse may be a risky tactic according to former federal prosecutor Miriam Krinsky.

"You need, in this case, to get the jury to care and to see this as more than just a food fight between two agencies," says Krinsky, adding that jail violence was the motivation and "moral imperative" behind the FBI's investigation into civil rights abuses of inmates.

Krinsky says the last jury could have been a fluke. At the same time, Krinsky says the prosecutors' challenge now is to show hard evidence of Baca's direct involvement in obstructive acts.

"The higher up you go in an organization, the fewer fingerprints you see of leadership on the direct acts," says Krinsky.

"There just wasn't a whole lot of Baca himself involved in the last trial," juror #12 tells Eyewitness News.

"It was a lot of the people below him. His name really wasn't mentioned too often, and based upon the jury instructions we were given, we couldn't find him guilty."

The juror points to comments she says were made by Judge Anderson questioning the jury's understanding of the case, and his consistent rulings against Baca.

Krinsky says Judge Anderson - who has presided over five related trials -- may see the bigger picture and be making rulings intended to focus the jury on the allegedly obstructive acts.

"He is no stranger to the underlying facts in this case. He is no stranger to the misconduct, criminal convictions and lengthy sentences that others received," says Krinsky.

Juror #12 says she's been following the current trial and came to court Monday to see what happens when the jury is out of the room.

She recalls listening to the media coverage just after the December mistrial.

"I turned on the radio and you hear certain radio hosts making fun of us for our decision," says the juror, adding that even family members questioned the jury's 11-1 vote to acquit the former sheriff.

The prosecution is expected to rest its case on Tuesday after calling former U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte to the witness stand.

Got a tip? Email ABC7 Investigative Producer Lisa.Bartley@abc.com

Related Topics:
los angeles county sheriff's departmenttrialslee bacaLos Angeles County
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