Holmes Juror Is Off Case Over Buddhist Qualms About Prison
(Bloomberg) -- A Buddhist serving on the jury in the Elizabeth Holmes trial was taken off the case after she told the judge she can’t in good conscience vote for a prison sentence.
“It’s really hard for me,” the unidentified juror explained to the judge Wednesday at the end of the first month of trial. She added that if she has to vote for the Theranos Inc. founder being found guilty, sending Holmes to prison for a “long, long time” would be “my fault” and weigh too heavily on her conscience. She offered to sit through the trial and deliberations as long as she doesn’t have to vote. “If I’m not to vote, I’ll be OK.”
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila excused her after she said she can’t separate her religious views from the case.
Jeff Schenk, a prosecutor, was quick to support her dismissal, saying the juror’s beliefs “seem to be sincerely held.” Kevin Downey, a lawyer representing Holmes, said he wasn’t asking for removal but also didn’t object to it.
Davila then faced a new challenge when the alternate juror he chose to replace the Buddhist expressed her own misgivings about deciding the fate of Holmes, who could be sent to prison for as long as 20 years if convicted of fraud.
“It’s her future,” the alternate told the judge. “I don’t know if I’m 100% sure if I’m ready to participate in something like this” because “English is not my first language.” She said she’s following the trial.
Davila then explained that it’s not the jury’s role to punish a defendant -- and talked the woman into staying on the panel.
“You’re not permitted as a juror to even consider that at all in your deliberations. That’s off the table,” he said, reiterating that her job is limited to being a fact finder. “Hopefully that eases your conscience.”
The Buddhist was the second juror replaced by an alternate since opening arguments were presented Sept. 8. The first was excused after she discovered that her employer wouldn’t excuse her from work for more than three months. The jury is now comprised of eight men and four women and there are three remaining alternates. The trial in San Jose, California, is expected to end in December.
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