Monday, June 27, 2011

Trial of Ernie Willis: Day of Verdict

I will never forget the tension building up the last day I was in NH for the trial of Ernie Willis (Friday, May 27, 2011). It was a long day just sitting there waiting.

Around 3:45 p.m. we went up to the courtroom. The DA had informed us that the judge would be revoking Ernie's bail and sending him to jail for the one count to which he had already pled guilty before the trial started (since there was a baby and he had already accepted paternity for the adoption there was no question that statutory rape had at least occurred).

At 3:51 p.m. the judge went through the process of declaring bail revoked.

About 3:53 p.m., the judge allowed Tina to read the victim impact statement she had prepared. Because there was a strong possibility at this time that the jury had not reached a verdict, the judge was allowing Tina to read her statement while Ernie was still in the courtroom and before she had to fly back to her home. There were many tears as the supporters there in the courtroom for Tina listened to her read her statement.

At 4:02 p.m., Ernie was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

At this point, the judge left the courtroom to ask the jury if it was close to a verdict. While we were sitting in the courtroom waiting, all of a sudden, we heard a message come over the shoulder radio of one of the bailiffs, "the jury has a verdict."

There was an audible gasp all across the courtroom. The DA cautioned us to wait, because it could be a mistake, but no--the jury HAD reached a verdict on all four remaining counts.

At 4:15 p.m. the jury began filing back into the room and took their seats. The jury foreman read the verdicts: guilty on ALL FOUR COUNTS!

There were many tears as the verdicts were all read one at a time, and I'm tearing up now typing this as I remember.

The defense attorney asked the judge to poll the jury, so each one of them--one at a time said, "GUILTY."

Though we were all told not to type, tweet, facebook, e-mail or text anything specific from the courtroom, I did live tweet very general comments here:!/moodyfastlane. You'll have to scroll way down to May 23-27 to read the tweets from that week.

Here is a list of the big media stories after the trial was over. Since AP carried the story, it was in hundreds of newspapers all across the United States and even around the world. I'm just linking to the major ones.

Man Found Guilty Of Raping Girl: WMUR

New Hampshire Man Found Guilty of Rape of Tina Anderson: ABC

NH man convicted of raping teen church member: Fox News

Rape victim who gets justice 14 years later speaks out:

Applaud Anderson for speaking out: Concord Monitor Editorial

Willis guilty of rape: Concord Monitor

Photo taken during the press meeting just after the verdict was announced.
photo credit: Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Cult Survivors (and Their Supporters)

Tina Anderson, left, and Jocelyn Zichterman, center, talk with supporters after a Merrimack Superior Court jury found Ernest Willis guilty of forcibly raping and impregnating his children's 15-year-old baby sitter, who belonged to the same church, more than a decade ago. (AP Photo/Alexander Cohn, Pool) AP

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