The judge in the Randy Steven Kraft murder trial dismissed an Anaheim woman from the jury Wednesday, reportedly because she may have violated the court’s order not to discuss the case with anyone.
Jane A. Jowdy, 58, later said she was surprised that Superior Court Judge Donald A. McCartin called her into his chambers to talk, then asked her to leave the jury before the trial resumed Wednesday morning. Jowdy says she does not believe that she did anything wrong.
“I was the most tight-lipped person on that jury,” she insisted.
McCartin has refused to state why Jowdy was dropped from the trial, but told the other jurors Wednesday morning that it was for “personal reasons.”
Jowdy also refuses to say why she was dismissed. “The judge asked me to say it was for personal reasons, and that’s all I’m going to say.”
But a source close to Jowdy said it appears she “may have said something to someone not on the jury which might have been misconstrued.”
Jowdy insists that she never said anything negative about Kraft to anyone, and that she has never formed, let alone spoken, an opinion about his innocence or guilt. Her only other response was that “I never ever said anything about Kraft to any other jurors.”
Kraft, 43, is on trial in Santa Ana charged with the murders of 16 young men in what some experts say may be the most expensive criminal case in the state’s history. Because attorneys had told the judge that the case could take up to a year, he ordered that the 12 regular jurors be joined by eight alternates--double the usual number of alternates in a capital case.
The judge actually ended up with nine alternates. He added one when there was some confusion about whether a juror was a legal resident of the county. In the end, the lawyers agreed to keep that juror, plus the ninth alternate.
The judge listened to witnesses Tuesday in his chambers behind closed doors, then ordered the records and the minutes of that session sealed from the public. Jowdy said she does not know whether the session was about her.
Jowdy, however, confirmed that leaving the jury was the judge’s decision, not hers. But now that it is done, she said, she is relieved.
‘A Big Relief’
“At first I thought it might upset me,” Jowdy said, pointing out that she has been listening to testimony since September. “But then I got to thinking, it’s a big relief for my family, and there were a lot of personal plans I can now keep.”
Jowdy, a homemaker, said she believes she was a conscientious juror. “I filled eight notebooks; we all took lots of notes.”
She also praised the others on the 10-woman, two-man jury.
“We laughed and joked on breaks, but we were extremely conscientious about not discussing the case. That is a very good group of people on that jury,” Jowdy said.
Lawyer Cites Order
C. Thomas McDonald, one of Kraft’s attorneys who was at the closed-door session Tuesday, cited the judge’s order to lawyers not to discuss it.
Kraft’s prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Bryan F. Brown, has also declined to comment on the dismissal.
Jowdy is the second juror to leave the case. Sandra Kay Dyer, 40, of Anaheim left earlier for health reasons. Jowdy was replaced Wednesday by an alternate selected at random: Connie Goldfarb, 48, of Seal Beach.
McCartin ordered the other jurors not to speculate on the reasons for Jowdy’s departure.