Back in Court with Michele Lodzinski

Michele Lodzinski was back in court on August 23, 2016 and not to get sentenced as was originally planned after a jury handed over a Murder One Conviction on May 18, 2016. Defense Attorney Gerald Krovatin, it seems did a lot of law research this summer and has returned to the courtroom to further his client’s plea of innocence in the death of her son 25 years ago. One of the strangest moments in court that morning, before Superior Court Judge Dennie Nieves even had the chance to hear the oral arguments of two defense motions to either get a mistrial for Michele Lodzinski or get her an acquittal, was when one of the former jurors on the trial was asked to leave the courtroom by a court officer. It seems that Krovatin spotted the former juror in the back of the courtroom and asked the judge for a side bar along with the two prosecutors to discuss the issue that resulted in the juror’s expulsion.

His first motion, ironically, was also about the expulsion of a juror, this one happening during the trial. “The replacement of juror number 1 for juror number 6, left the court with no other choice but to declare a mistrial,” Krovatin stated. “The misconduct of juror number 1 in his doing outside research on the Internet about FBI Agent Butkiewicz violated juror oaths.” Agent Butkiewicz, according to Krovatin was a key witness for the state, having found the blue blanket that opened up the cold case in 2012.

He talked about “seepage” effecting juror deliberations, as if they were hot house flowers receiving too much water. Not only did he take offense at this seepage issue, he also felt that jurors didn’t deliberate long enough after the juror number 6 was placed on the panel. Three jurors, before the switch were leaning towards the defense version, upsetting Krovatin’s apple cart. The judge interjected that juror number 12 ratted out the foreman, “she said, ‘he was doing outside research.’” Krovatin said she ratted him out because she didn’t agree with him and he might have persuaded other jurors. The judge reading from the record, “Juror number 13 said ‘We were talking about credibility of what’s his name (Butkiewicz), it could have changed some people…’” The judge remembered that when he first started interviewing jurors about the foreman they didn’t want to talk about him doing outside research. The tricky part of the judge interviewing the jurors about the misbehaving foreman, was that he is not allowed to know about the particulars of their deliberating. That is private. So this is a very tricky business.

And Krovatin’s other big problem was how the jury could only deliberate for four hours with the substitute. The judge had instructed them to begin deliberations from the beginning.“How do you go through a two month trial in four hours?”

Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christie Bevacqua you can imagine was not very happy with Defense Attorney Gerald Krovatin’s motion for a mistrial.

“You have sunk to a new level, and you speculating about what the jurors thought during deliberations is all speculation. The judge dismissed the juror for personal reasons The dismissed juror failed to follow his oath, he wasn’t candid with the court, and he was dishonest and failed to follow the instructions of the judge.”

Krovatin’s second motion, acquittal for his client has been heard three times by the court so I think there is less of a chance for this old hat. Yes it is circumstantial evidence, yes, only bones were found so no cause, and yes, the mother had no prior accusations of  abuse of her five year old son, but a jury heard the case and found her guilty of murder one. She was the last person with him as Scott LaMountain explained to the judge. His body was found across the street from where his mother worked, in a creek. He was a healthy little boy, what happend to him the hours before his mother reported him missing?

The only thing we will find out in thirty days is if his mother will be sentenced for his death.


About valeri84

I am the cultural reporter for the Highland Park Mirror and I am also the Coordinator of Circulation and Public Relations for the Highland Park Public Library. I am responsible for adult programming for the library and for the past seven years have founded and organized The Friends of the Library Poetry Night Series. My poetry will appear in the Fall 2012 Patterson Literary Review.
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