The jury has completed its first full day of deliberations in the trial of Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick, who is accused of wrongfully killing Jonathan Ferrell in a late-night confrontation in 2013.
Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter, which carries a penalty of three to 11 years.
Jury selection and testimony moved more quickly than expected. Eleven days of testimony concluded on Monday, with closing arguments Tuesday morning. The jury began considering the case Tuesday afternoon.
3 p.m.: Judge gives jurors evidence, instructs them on self-defense
Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin sent paper and electronic documents back to the jury deliberation chambers and read jurors a lengthy definition of self-defense as it relates to the case.
Jurors asked for some paper exhibits, including the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s directives on using force and a diagram of a continuum that guides officers on how much force to use in given situations.
They also asked to view videos of the interviews homicide detectives had with Kerrick and Officers Thornell Little and Adam Neal, who were also present at Jonathan Ferrell’s shooting. Jurors were able to view some of the interviews immediately, but the court was working to redact segments of video to prevent jurors from seeing information that the court ruled inadmissible as evidence.
The jury asked Ervin to read them the definition of self-defense as it relates to the case. Kerrick is not contesting whether he fired the shots that killed Ferrell. But jurors must determine if Kerrick used more force than was necessary to defend himself. Read the full jury instructions here (.pdf).
12:50 p.m.: Judge tries to fulfill jury’s request to see evidence
Over lunch, Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin was trying to determine how to get a computer into the jury deliberation room that could display the evidence the jury requested – but without showing other evidence from either defense attorneys or prosecutors.
Included in the request was video from interviews with Kerrick and Officers Adam Neal and Thornell Little.
“We’re looking to see the video first and foremost, and if it’s not possible, the transcripts,” the jury foreman told Ervin.
“Would it be possible to get the transcripts while we’re working on the video?” Ervin asked in reply.
Jurors also asked Ervin for a legal definition of self-defense.
Ervin indicated the court would work to satisfy the jurors request, but it was unclear how long it would take.
12:20 p.m. Jury watches dashboard camera footage again
The jury has asked Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin to send eight pieces of evidence to the jury deliberation room.
Attorneys for both sides weighed in on each piece of evidence, and the court was deciding how best to display the photos and videos. It’s unclear if there is a computer in the jury deliberation room that can play the videos or display photos. Some of the evidence is on media that contains other data the jury has not asked to see. Also, it’s unclear who would operate the computer or video player.
Ervin called the jury in to discuss their request.
The jury foreman asked Ervin to play video from Officer Adam Neal’s dashboard camera video from the moment he pulled up to the house of a woman who called 911 about a burglary call until after Ferrell was shot.
Citing the technical difficulty of getting the video to play in the jury deliberation room, Ervin asked if it was sufficient to play the video in open court and the jury assented.
Attorneys then played regular speed and slow motion versions of the video several times.
Jurors watched intently, taking notes and whispering to each other. Ervin also passed out a diagram of the use of force continuum.
Jury asks for video, picture evidence
The jury has asked for eight pieces of evidence to be brought to the deliberation room:
▪ The video from Officer Adam Neal’s dashboard camera that shows the moments leading up to the shooting, plus the audio of “Get on the ground” commands and gunshots.
▪ Still shots from that dashcam video.
▪ The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s use of deadly force directives.
▪ CMPD’s depiction of the use of force continuum, a guideline for when officers can use physical or lethal force against suspects.
▪ CMPD’s policies and procedures that were presented during the trial.
▪ North Carolina’s Basic Law Enforcement Training manual for officers on deadly force.
▪ A diagram of how three police cars were positioned at the time Ferrell was shot.
▪ Interviews homicide detectives conducted with Kerrick, Neal and Officer Thornell Little, the three officers on the scene. It was unclear whether the court would provide video, transcripts or both.
The jury asked the judge to let them view the evidence in private, but the court will have to sort through some technical issues. It’s unclear if there’s a computer capable of displaying the electronic exhibits in the jury deliberation room.
And since jurors want to see the evidence in private, it was unclear who would operate the computer.