Wednesday 20 November 2019

Gory images prove too much for one female juror

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Ralph Riegel in Lexington

The distressing sound echoed across the hushed confines of Davidson County Superior Court.

The female juror had battled in vain, but the sounds of her repeatedly retching caused some in Courtroom C to physically recoil.

The woman, clearly in distress from the graphic post-mortem photos she had just viewed, eventually had to get up and, with the help of a kindly bailiff, run for the privacy of the jury room.

It was a feeling understood by all as it was impossible to avoid wincing when gazing at the dozen or so large-scale photographs of the head injuries that caused the death of Limerick father-of-two Jason Corbett (39) in North Carolina two years ago.

As the female juror left the courtroom, there was total silence. When she returned a few minutes later having recovered, she explained it was the consequence of not having a proper breakfast.

Perched on an easel just two metres from the jurors and in clear view of many in the courtroom, the photos were every bit as graphic and gruesome as Judge David Lee, assistant District Attorney Alan Martin and defence lawyers David Freedman and Walter Holton had warned the 143-strong jury panel they would be.

Each photograph was roughly 60cm by 90cm and, as they were being placed on the easel so the jury could view them, glimpses were caught by those in the main body of Courtroom C.

Standing beside the photos was assistant pathologist Dr Craig Nelson with the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in North Carolina.

He described in clipped, professional tones the exact injuries sustained by Jason Corbett and what could and could not be determined from the nature of those injuries.

But, despite the modern medical science on offer, there was no escaping the awful images glimpsed of a young father-of-two lying dead on a mortuary table.

If the audio recording of the 911 call made by Thomas Martens to Davidson County emergency services at 3am on August 2, 2015, was difficult to listen to, these photos were distressing to an altogether different degree. Each photo was taken to best illustrate the precise injuries the Janesboro man had suffered.

They were primarily of his face as well as the back, top and frontal parts of his skull.

The injuries he suffered were graphically visible.

In the body of the courtroom, some people consciously looked away while the photographs were being changed on the easel.

But human nature occasionally got the better of some who glanced up, only to quickly look away again.

Irish Independent

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