a bench with a view

a bench with a view

Monday, September 23, 2013

yes, I would have voted guilty

Reynaldo Bonoan, 28 years old, with a 6-year-old daughter and scheduled to marry his fiancee, his daughter's mom, a month later, died May 19, 2012 at 4:21 p.m. in a family neighborhood in South San Diego, witnessed by at least a dozen of people just outside doing normal activities on a spring sunny afternoon; just down the block from the birthday party he had been attending for a relative's young child's first birthday.

Reynaldo Bonoan was shot in the back as he was running, trying to get away from Deon Bryant, the one with the gun, 16 years old at the time.  Mikee Haynes was with Deon, but he had no idea Dean even had a gun or had an intent to use the gun.

Reynaldo pleaded "don't shoot me, don't shoot me", but he died at the scene, a single gun shot to his back that penetrated his heart.  He died instantly. 

A year later, in the courtroom, sitting, listening to the trial of Mikee Haynes for felony murder, the grief of his fiancee and his mother was still palpable and raw.  Time had not begun to heal the loss they had on that day, May 19, 2012.

I didn't know Reynaldo Bonoan.  I never heard of the shooting on the news, or if I did, I "dismissed" it as another sad shooting that unfortunately happens more often than not in San Diego County.

I had never heard of the charge of felony murder until May 30, 2013 when I found myself in a courtroom, having been summoned for jury duty, and had actually been called randomly along with 49 other people also serving jury duty to see if we would be picked for the jury to hear the case of Mikee Haynes, who was charged with felony murder.

I walked into the courtroom, along with the 49 other people, and my first reaction was "it sure looks smaller than it does on TV." My second thought after I sat down at the seat assigned to me as I looked at the defendant, Mikee Haynes, was "this is serious business, drunk driving or a drug charge."

My jaw would have dropped if I had allowed it when the judge said the charge of felony murder and described what it was.

Mikee was 19 years old at the time of the trial.  He was all of 18 years and 1 month when the crime occurred on May 19, 2012.  He was one month short of graduating high school. 

He looked like your average young man. 

What is the felony murder charge you ask?  California has a law that if in the commission of a robbery or a burglary someone is killed, even if you didn't actually do the killing, if you were there or helped plan the robbery or burglary, you could be charged with felony murder.

And that is what Mikee Haynes was charged with.  He was involved in the robbery of Reynaldo Bonoan, they were going to steal marijuana from him that he was going to try to sell to them.  They had planned that part to steal.  They had not planned to kill him, well let's say four out of five of them involved hadn't planned murder. I'm not sure what Deon Bryant's intent was, the one who had taken the gun from Andrew Oliver's house, unknown to anyone else. 

For whatever reason, the deal went bad and Reynaldo Bonoan ran, Deon shot, Reynaldo died.  In the course of the investigation, Deon would be arrested, Mikee would be arrested, as he was with him at the time, Andrew Oliver would be arrested for driving the car, and Tyronne Wells, another guy in the car and 17 years old at the time of the crime, would be arrested for being with them during the time of the shooting. 

At the end of the jury selection, I was amazed to find that I had been selected as one of the 12 jurors.  I was kind of excited to see how things would happen as I had never served on a jury before.  I told hubby I had been selected, but of course could not tell what the case was. The case was scheduled to go 5-7 days.  My employer pays up to 10 days of jury duty time so there was no problem with my job.

I was riveted by the testimony when we began hearing the case the following Monday.  I would look at Mikee and wonder what was going through his head, hearing the testimony that had him at the scene and the events that unfolded.  I sympathized with the victim's fiancee as she testified and felt sad listening to his mom's soft crying.

The case did not go to the jury.  On the third day of testimony when we arrived, we were delayed for two hours to go into the court room. When we finally were allowed in, the judge said we were dismissed as they had reached a plea in the case.  She then went on to say that Mikee Haynes had pled to a charge that would have him in jail for 17 YEARS.  She thanked us for our service and said the attorneys would be outside later if we wanted to talk with them.

The district attorney never came out to talk to us, but the defense attorney did.  She filled us in with why Mikee took the plea for 17 YEARS as he had no idea what we the jury would find him guilty of and if we found him guilty of felony murder he could get 25 years to life in jail.  No one wants to have that type of a sentence so he was willing to get the sentence he did.

Deon Bryant, the shooter, got 25 years to life.

Tyronne Wells had taken a similar deal as Mikee and got 17 years.

Andrew Oliver was scheduled to go to trial next and they thought he would plead to second degree murder and get 25 years.  He was 22 at the time of the crime.

The fifth guy in the car they were not sure if charges would be brought against him.

Reynaldo Bonoan's mom was there listening to the defense attorney talking to us.  She cried again, saying "why did they have to shoot him? He was saying "don't shoot, don't shoot".  We all hugged her and I said I was praying for her and her family. 

I'm also praying for Mikee Haynes while he is in prison. The defense attorney said most likely he'll be out when he is about 33 years old.  It seems like a lifetime away. I wonder at my age of 55 if I'll still be alive when he comes out. 

I bet he had no idea there was a law of felony murder when he went along with the crime that they were going to commit. 

I wonder had he known, if he still would have gone along.

Another juror said she couldn't wait to tell her teenage kids about the case to let them know that they need to be careful what they do and who they hang around.

It was such a sad case to be involved with.  There were no clear winners here.  Reynaldo is dead and his daughter will never get the chance for him to walk her down the aisle; his mom will always grieve him.  Mikee, who otherwise was a relatively good kid, ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time and it would cost him that long prison sentence.

And yes, if it had gone for us to deliberate the case, I would have had to vote guilty because as defined by the law for felony murder, he was guilty of it with the evidence I had heard up until the time of the plea. 

This was my first time on a jury.  I will continue to do my jury service as I am summoned.  I just don't know how eager I will be to be on another jury. 


jack69 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
salemslot9 said...

all took a risk
and lost
including the victim

Gramma 2 Many said...

I have never served on a jury. Not that I have not wanted to, just have never received the call. Interesting how those random selections go. Some people get called over and over and others, never. So far I am in the never category.
It would certainly be a serious responsibility to sit on a jury such as the one you were on.

Bijoux said...

I've actually been summoned for jury duty five times, three of them since 2011. I was able to get a dr excuse twice for my daughters care. Still never sat on a jury though. It seems like cases always get settled at the last minute, many times before even going to trial. I'm not sure how I would handle sitting through the details of a murder case. I'd probably cry!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I've yet to ever have to serve on a jury. As citizens it's our right and our duty to do so, but I've always been thankful I've never had to. I am not a good one to judge any one and would not like having to do so. So sad young people get mixed up in such things. Life has so much to more to offer.

Renegades said...

I haven't ever served on a jury. I did however have to give a deposition when I was a young teenage girl. 3 friends of mine were involved in a car accident. My very good friend and his cousin were killed. The trial was to try and prove vehicular manslaughter. I was called because I was one of the first to see the survivor at the hospital. I just cried and cried as I gave mine. My very good friend dead, his cousin dead, and the third involved in a trial. Both mothers sat there just staring. It was so much pressure on a young girl.

Pat Hatt said...

Never have at all. Knew about the felony murder though from tv shows. Have to be careful what one does and who they hang out with, as one moment can take a lot of years away or a life too.

Joanne Noragon said...

A tragedy all around.and still playing out every day in this country. Children don't understand consequences, until they happen.

Jeanie said...

What a story, Betty. I really admire people who sit on a jury in a trial of this nature. I was a paralegal for years so I have seen civil trials but never a criminal one. I have been called for jury duty, but never had to serve. So much tragedy in this for everyone involved.

Chatty Crone said...

There are never any winners in cases like these are they? I had not heard of this case here in GA.

jack69 said...

I deleted the foreign language entry. HA!.
Our justice system would be much better if all jurors had love and understanding. We all wish life were more simple, living thru the complications sometimes takes its toll on OUR lives.

Hollie said...

Oh how sad!! No winners indeed!! I too will be praying!! I have served one time on a DUI case!! It was very interesting!

Sharon said...

What an interesting, and terribly sad, story. I'm sure that there are far too many just like it. I was aware of the law of felony murder. And yes, perhaps it will serve as a deterrent to some when they consider accompanying someone in an illegal venture. My husband and I like to watch true crime documentaries on TV, and I am so saddened by how many young lives are wasted. Human life is not valued by some.

Good for you for doing your duty.



Very sad indeed.

Linda said...

Nothing better to do than marijuana, stealing, carrying guns, killing- welcome to our odd culture. Can't wait till drug is legal in more states- NOT!!! Everyday the news reports these and domestic killings, keeping the jury pool busy. Compliments on much needed, unfortunately, jury duty you served.

Big Mark 243 said...

...wow Betty... that is an awesome responsibility... sitting on a jury with so many lives in your hands... both families as well as the subjects... I just don't know what else to say... I hope that the justice served brings solace to the grieving family...

Mevely317 said...

Gosh, Betty ... thank you for this detailed share ... drawing me in there with you and the other jurors and family. I've always dreaded serving, and rehearsed reasons to be excused, just in case. (Isn't that awful?) What touched me most was your hugging Reynaldo's mom. I hope she will find some measure of comfort ...there are too, too many mothers out there weeping. God bless you!

Aneta said...

How very sad. I sat on a jury for a criminal trial once, and I found it very stressful, although fascinating, too. I was emotionally exhausted at the end of it all. It wasn't a murder trial, but it was harassment. Very troubling.

Intense Guy said...

A very sad situation - that could have been avoided by all involved.

I would hate to be a judge - some cases are ... 50-50 I'd be flipping a coin and that's not a good way to "do justice".

Marianne said...

I am now thinking I am relieved to have never served on a jury. I would see too much of my sons in the defendants, but the law is still the law. Thank you for your civic duty, Betty, even if you didn't have to make the final call.

Linda said...

Sorry for the rant, can you tell you hit a nerve, too many locally. Your point was probably more on who we follow.Excellent point!

The Brown Recluse said...

I don't necessarily like that law...I did know about it, and I fully understand the "why" of it...but what if the boy was telling the truth, and he only intended to take the man's weed...he's now serving 17 years for something he didn't know was coming, providing he's not lying. Like you said, there's no clear winners here, and had the boy not been involved in wrong-doing in the first place, he wouldn't be in jail. It's sad...all the way around, mostly for the family of the dead man.

Like you, I would have had to vote guilty because that's the law, even if I don't like it.