- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — Bobby Anderson Sr. was deliberating with a jury when his only son was shot during a robbery. He continued to deliberate in the murder trial even after his 35-year-old son died the next day of his wounds.

“I wanted to see this through,” Mr. Anderson, the jury foreman, told the Baltimore Sun.

His dedication to his civic duty is unusual, court officials say.

“I haven’t seen too many individuals with the fortitude and willingness to continue with the process under those circumstances,” defense lawyer William R. Buie III said.

About 800 prospective jurors are called to Baltimore City Circuit Court each business day. An average of 250 show up. Jury Commissioner Nancy Dennis said she hears weak excuses every day — someone complained recently of a blistered toe.

But Miss Dennis said she also hears tales of jurors who continue to serve amid personal hardship. There was an older man with a medical condition that qualified him for being excused, and there was a woman whose terminally ill sister had only a few days to live. Both served anyway.

“There’s a pain in my heart because I know he’s suffering,” Miss Dennis said of Mr. Anderson. “But it’s also a reaffirmation for me. I know that there are good people in this city people who care, people who have integrity. He’s obviously one of them.”

Mr. Anderson, who works as a machinist, said he knew that if he excused himself, the case would have ended in a mistrial and would have had to start from the beginning.

He also thought he could keep the two crimes separate as he and the other jurors worked to reach a unanimous decision.

When the jury got the murder case of Corey Anderson (no relation) on June 7, they took a voice vote. It was about 50-50, Mr. Anderson recalled. He said he was among those who had decided the defendant was guilty of murder.

As the jury was dismissed that evening, Mr. Anderson’s brother met him at the door of his Chesley Avenue home. “Bobby, I have some sad news.”

Police think Bobby Anderson Jr., 35, was shot during a robbery that day at a flower shop where he ran a pager business. Police have no suspects.

Bobby Anderson Sr. rushed to Sinai Hospital, where his son was on life support and in critical condition.

The judge asked whether Mr. Anderson could continue to serve on the case. He said he could. Neither the prosecutor nor the defense attorney objected.

On June 9, the deadlocked jury sent a note to the bench. “Judge, we are still unable to reach an agreeable verdict as one of the jurors states she cannot judge the defendant because of her religious beliefs.”

After receiving the note, Judge David Young declared a mistrial and reset the case for August.

Some of the jurors cried out of frustration. Mr. Anderson went home to bury his son.

He said his experience on the jury, and with his personal crime story, has left him feeling disheartened about crime in Baltimore and about the criminal justice process.

Still, he knows how he will react if he gets his summons in the mail next year. “If they call,” he said, “I’ll have no problem serving.”

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