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‘Juror No. 6’ stirs debate on sentencing
Question of the Day
Mr. Caron brought a unique perspective about life in the nation’s capital into the jury box. He knew both sides: the “official Washington” with its government buildings and tourist attractions, as well as the city neighborhoods hit hard by drug dealing and violence.
For more than two decades, Mr. Caron worked as an economist in downtown Washington at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He helped figure out the logistics of getting U.S. food aid to foreign countries.
He also saw another side of the nation’s capital. In 1979, he bought a home within blocks of where Rayful Edmond III - perhaps the most notorious drug dealer in city history - operated in the Northeast section of Washington.
“The first time I came over we were making spaghetti and I heard these pop, pop, pop sounds outside,” Ms. Brennan recalled. “I said, ‘How strange that people are setting off fireworks.’
“He said, ‘Yeah, that’s right, sure, they’re fireworks.’ ”
In fact, the sounds of gunshots became routine in parts of the District in the mid-1980s, when crack cocaine spawned unprecedented gang violence. On a few occasions, Mr. Caron’s front windows were hit by stray bullets. He was robbed twice. Police investigated a murder that happened near the couple’s front yard.
After the Ball trial, he told his wife about a particularly testy moment in deliberations. Another juror dismissed something he said, telling him he was just a white man from Capitol Hill.
“He could have said something but he let it go,” she said.
There were other things he would not let go.
“Can this be true?”
For 10 months - eight months of trial and two months of deliberations - Mr. Caron and his fellow jurors heard testimony about drugs, guns and violence in the Congress Park neighborhood of Southeast.
Ms. Brennan said she was naturally interested in how her husband was spending all of his time, but he never talked about the case until after the trial. Still, she got a clue once when the couple went food shopping.
“There wasn’t any baking soda and I said, ‘Why don’t they have any baking soda? Who’s buying all this baking soda?’ ” she recalled. Her economist husband replied matter of factly, “Oh, you need that to make crack cocaine.”
After 10 months, the jury returned convictions against several of Ball’s co-defendants, including murder charges against cohort David Wilson. Ball was acquitted on all but one charge, and none of the defendants were found guilty of taking part in a criminal conspiracy.
In his letter, Mr. Caron referred to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office last year, which was posted online, that said Ball and two co-defendants faced up to 40 years in prison.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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