Brandon Mitchell, a juror in the Derek Chauvin murder case, shared with Insider what it's like to serve in a high-profile criminal case.
Jurors in the highly politicized Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial entered their fourth day of deliberations on Friday.
Mitchell thinks the Rittenhouse jurors taking longer to return a verdict indicates they are "probably leaning guilty on some of the charges, and some of the charges they still aren't sure."
Serving on a high-profile jury is all about staying focused on the case in front of you and tuning out any outside distractions, one of the jurors who convicted Derek Chauvin told Insider.
Brandon Mitchell was the first person to speak publicly after serving on the jury that convicted Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, for the murder of George Floyd. Floyd's murder set off a wave of anti-police brutality protests that lasted through summer 2020, including demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Since Tuesday, jurors have been deliberating the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of fatally shooting two men and wounding a third man during the unrest in Kenosha on August 25, 2020. The high-profile homicide trial has been live-streamed for anyone to watch, and protesters have gathered outside the courthouse while the jury does its work, resulting in at least one scuffle and several arrests.
Mitchell told Insider that jurors in the Chauvin trial dealt with the pressure of that similarly high-pressure case by putting themselves "in a bubble." The only practical way the jury could avoid seeing information about the Chauvin case outside the courtroom, he recalled, was to completely disconnect themselves from social media and to be mindful of what conversations they were entering with family and friends.
"It's just about putting yourself in the right position," Mitchell told Insider. "It's not going out and being too social. It's not going to your bar or wherever you might be social."
During jury selection, some potential jurors told the judge overseeing the Rittenhouse case that they were afraid they would receive threats regardless of the verdict. At least one person who expressed this concern was chosen to serve on the jury. Before the jury resumed deliberating for a fourth day on Friday morning, one juror reportedly said that "the media coverage is insane," and another said that he woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn't sleep for hours.
Asked if the Chauvin jurors were ever afraid of threats or retaliation, Mitchell told Insider they were just focused on the case.
"You take it so seriously," Mitchell said. "Like I don't even want to think of anything else that could possibly stress me out, because you are making a real serious decision on somebody's life."
Jurors in Chauvin's case deliberated for more than 10 hours, split across two days, before reaching a guilty verdict. Mitchell said he thinks that the Rittenhouse jurors taking longer to return a verdict indicates that they are "probably leaning guilty on some of the charges, and some of the charges they still aren't sure."
Rittenhouse now faces five charges, including first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree reckless homicide, and endangering safety. Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder also gave the jury permission to consider lesser charges on some of the counts against Rittenhouse.
In Mitchell's experience, it can be difficult for jurors to keep up with what evidence is related to each charge. He said all the evidence presented in the Chauvin trial was at the jury's fingertips throughout their deliberations.
"We were given a flash drive with the evidence so that we didn't have to necessarily go back and get it or anything like that," Mitchell told Insider.
The jury in Rittenhouse's trial has asked to re-watch multiple videos that were played by the prosecution during trial, prompting the defense to ask for a mistrial on Wednesday. The defense argued that during discovery, the prosecution gave them a lower-quality version of a drone video than the one they played at trial. Schroeder ordered the entire courtroom cleared on Wednesday so that jurors could watch the drone video in full.
The jurors are likely basing their arguments for Rittenhouse's guilt or innocence on what they've seen in these videos, Mitchell said.
"That's what's going on there," Mitchell told Insider. "They're using those videos to say, 'well, this is what I thought happened here in the video and this is how I viewed this happening.'"
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