By Novpreet Shoker
On Friday afternoon, August 4, Judge David Reed had no choice but to dismiss yet another juror as more complications arose.
The long-running trial for Joseph Hernandez, Rakhem Bradford and Joshua Givens hit another obstacle, as the co-defendants face several charges along the lines of burglary, and possession of stolen property as well as marijuana.
Judge Reed was notified by the court clerk that the juror in question had obtained an injury that very morning, in which she scratched the cornea of her eye.
When asked by the court if she could sit through the hearing for the rest of the afternoon, the juror answered that unfortunately she could not because she could not see very well. On top of that, the juror had made an immediate appointment with an eye doctor for that afternoon.
Because of the difficulties within the jury from this past week, Judge Reed was fairly hesitant to dismiss the juror. Counsel also shared the same perspective, seeing as the juror was attentive in the trial’s proceedings.
All counsel believed the juror asked appropriate and worthy questions throughout the case, and watched intently while evidence was being presented by all three defense attorneys as well as the prosecutor.
When Judge Reed decided to slow down the trial by cutting evidence short for that day and accommodating the juror, another issue came into play. The juror next notified the court that she had to fly to Arizona, rather immediately, due to a medical emergency within her family.
Because of this, Judge Reed was unfortunately forced to dismiss the juror, who was at the moment an alternate juror in the case.
Department 8 had just dismissed another juror prior to this, and, although the trial is nearing the end, the available alternates to the jury have dwindled.
Another change in the trial is the delay of the proceedings. Originally, Judge Reed and counsel had anticipated the closing statements would be heard by the second week of August. However, with scheduling errors and other problems, the trial might run well into the month of September.
After the juror was dismissed, the hearing resumed with Michael Munoz, the main detective on the case, testifying about the specific details of the investigation.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin questioned the officer about the apartments that the team raided when arresting the co-defendants.
Officer Munoz described the stolen property that was found in two different apartments.
The first residence, off Drexel Drive, was raided on December 19 in 2013. The officer noted a gold Nixon watch, among the objects found, which was in Bradford’s possession.
The second residence, at Drew Circle, was raided on January 3 of 2014, where officers found a Westinghouse television in Hernandez’s possession.
The prosecutor continued questioning Detective Munoz about the things found, as well as the process taken to book the items into evidence.
Along with the stolen property found, Det. Munoz also explained that he found a large green tub which contained a significant amount of weed. At this point, Deputy DA Serafin presented these pieces of evidence to the courtroom.
When asked what type of conclusion the officer must have arrived at after seeing the amount of marijuana, Det. Munoz answered that the marijuana possessed was most likely in bulk because the co-defendants were selling and distributing it.
Once the jury was dismissed, Judge Reed and counsel discussed scheduling technicalities and other stipulations.