The airports were crowded with holiday travelers as I flew back home to Wisconsin from a business trip on July 2, 1999. Dinner was on the table when the phone rang at 5 P.M. Groans resonated around the table. It wasn't Stephen Meagher, though. It was my dad calling from Fort Myers.
“John? The TV news just broke the story that Whiteside and Jarrell were convicted,” my father said loudly, above the television noise in the background.
Surprised, I exclaimed, “Already?”
“Neeb,” my dad continued, “was acquitted and the jury was hung in regard to Dick.”
Just minutes before in Tampa, Judge Susan Bucklew's courtroom had quieted as the jurors entered at 4:43 P.M. They had deliberated for three and a half days. Clearing her throat, Bucklew prepared to hear the verdicts. “Madam Clerk,” the judge was quoted in the trial transcripts, “I'm going to ask you to publish the verdicts and they're in order by indictment. Mr. Jarrell, sir, we're going to start with you. If you will rise….”
The deputy clerk read the first verdict. “In the case of the United States of America versus Jay A. Jarrell, verdict: We, the jury, find the defendant Jay A. Jarrell as to Count 1, the offense of conspiracy: 'Guilty.'” The courtroom reverberated with both groans and sighs of relief.
The deputy clerk continued to read each count regarding Jarrell. The guilty finding was read after each count, except the seventh, of which he was found not guilty. Each time a guilty verdict was read, Jarrell shook