Juror tries to give Bible to defendant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

&uot;Read these words. These words will set you free.&uot;

So read a note that juror Linda Davis placed inside a Bible she attempted to give murder defendant Thomas Lee Johnson, who on Tuesday was found guilty in the December 2001 bludgeoning death of a Goodman Street resident.

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Linwood Williams, 63, was found dead in his small home, after being struck on his head seven times with an ax handle, according to court testimony.

On Tuesday, just before final arguments were set to begin, Davis removed some personal papers from her Bible and asked a sheriff’s deputy if the book could be passed on to Johnson. With the rest of the jury out of the room, Davis told Suffolk Circuit Court Judge C. Edward Eason that she decided over the weekend to give the book to Johnson.

&uot;I don’t think his trial is going well, because the witnesses that have come forward have not spoken for him.&uot;

Eason refused Davis’ request and returned her Bible, telling her the action &uot;would not be appropriate at this time.&uot;

Although two fellow jurors had inquired about her Bible, Davis told Eason she had not told anyone about her intent to give it to Johnson. He instructed her not to mention it.

Eason also refused defense attorney Johnnie Mizelle’s attempt to have a mistrial declared or to have Davis removed from the jury.

&uot;It is highly unusual,&uot; Mizelle said. &uot;It’s obvious she has already formed a biased opinion.

&uot;That attitude has contaminated at least two other jurors,&uot; said Mizelle. &uot;I don’t believe it can be cured by removing her from the panel.&uot;

Eason refused, saying he believes Davis’ comment that she will be able to fairly evaluate Johnson’s case.

&uot;Mrs. Davis is obviously a person of conviction,&uot; Eason said. &uot; Mrs. Davis said she had not formed an opinion and that she is able to be fair and impartial.&uot;

During individual polling of jury members, Davis found Johnson guilty and supported sentencing him to 30 years in prison.