Aug. 19, 2016
The jury is empaneled in Farmville, N.C., where Bob Kelly’s trial has been moved because of pretrial publicity in Edenton.
Dennis T. Ray would turn out to be a major mischief-maker both inside and outside the jury room. Ray read aloud from a contraband Redbook article on how to identify child molesters, disobeyed the court’s instruction not to visit the alleged crime scenes, reported that a jailhouse snitch had shared personal knowledge of Kelly’s guilt and displayed a supposed “magic key” referred to by several child witnesses.
Unfortunately, Judge Marsh McLelland told defense attorneys he didn’t consider Ray’s rogue behavior – or that of a second juror, who dramatically revealed during deliberations that he himself had been abused as a child – to be a “tremendous problem.”
At least three jurors would later express deep doubts about the guilty verdict.
Roswell Streeter, at 28 the youngest juror, would write:
“I’ll say this to the last day of my life, that the evidence that came through the courtroom did not prove that Bob Kelly committed any kind of sex abuse.” He told “Frontline” he had felt intimidated and confused.
Mary Nichols was suffering from advanced leukemia, and Marvin Shackelford had suffered two heart attacks. Both acknowledged afterward that worries about their health had moved them to vote guilty simply to cut short deliberations and go home. It had been nine months since the trial began.