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Jurors so upset about case brought against 19-year-old that they will give the defendant their jury pay

Published: Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 5:30 AM Updated: Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 12:20 PM
By Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Jurors are so convinced that a Cleveland teen should not have been charged with assaulting another teen that they’ve gone beyond acquitting him. A few are writing angry letters to police and intend to donate their jury pay to him.

At least three jurors plan to give the $100 they received to sit on the jury to defendant Demrick McCloud, 19, if McCloud earns a high school equivalency degree. They took only 30 minutes to find him not guilty in their deliberations Friday. The trial started Jan. 31.

“It won’t be a lot of money,” said juror Ana Boe. “It’s just a little carrot that goes to his future.”

McCloud was charged with leading a gang of teens that beat a Martin Luther King Jr. High School student and threatened him with a gun Oct. 13 a little after 1 p.m. as the student walked home from the Shaker Square rapid station. McCloud had been in jail since that night awaiting trial.

Jurors said the case against McCloud on charges of kidnapping and felonious assault quickly evaporated in the courtroom of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab.

Most of the jury could not be reached for comment, but three members complained of a “sheer lack of evidence.”

They said the prosecution’s case hinged on the victim identifying McCloud as an attacker. But the victim also had told police he was certain another boy — later found to be in school at the time — was one of the assailants.

As they were leaving the courthouse, jurors Ana de Freitas Boe, an English professor at Baldwin-Wallace College; Jeanne Knotek, an obstetrician and gynecologist; and alternate juror Richard Nagin discussed ways to help McCloud.

The three have committed to donating their jury stipend to a fund for McCloud. Boe said the amount is too small to compensate McCloud for his jail time, but the jurors intend it as a “show of support.”

“He seemed like a decent kid who was falsely accused,” Nagin said.

Boe said she will mail letters today to Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath and Fourth District Commander Deon McCaulley about the lack of a thorough investigation. Other jurors said they also will write to the police.

McCloud’s mother, Sonia, was startled to hear of the jurors’ plan.

“That’s awesome that they would consider taking it further than the job they were assigned to do” she said, adding that her son intends to resume his education.

Like the jurors, she accused police of not investigating the case fully. She praised her son’s lawyer, Kevin Spellacy.

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