Kilpatrick corruption trial juror speaks out about case

(WXYZ) - Detroit's former mayor will learn his fate next month. 

Kwame Kilpatrick is facing decades behind bars after a jury convicted him of racketeering and other corruption charges.  Now we're hearing from one of the jurors who sat through the Kilpatrick Corruption trial.

For six months – they were sworn to secrecy.  In the courtroom, Shawn McKinney was known only as Juror #13.  But now he's breaking his silence to show us how being part of the Kilpatrick Corruption Trial changed his life.

"When I found out who it was for, I was just like kind of blown away," said McKinney.

Shawn McKinney will never forget the moment he received the summons for federal court jury duty.  McKinney says he was shocked last September when federal prosecutors and the defense teams chose him as one of four alternate jurors for the Kilpatrick Corruption Case.

As a member of an anonymous jury -- each day McKinney and his 15 fellow jurors were brought into court in top-secret vehicles – with covered windows.

"My first day there, when they had us hiding, and I seen the paper windows -- I go, ‘this is not good,'" said McKinney.

In March, the jury convicted Kilpatrick and his friend Bobby Ferguson on racketeering, bribery, extortion and other charges.  They found Bernard Kilpatrick guilty of a single tax charge.  The jurors were hung on the racketeering count for the former mayor's father.

"That wasn't enough evidence… [It] looks bad but it's not beyond a reasonable doubt," said McKinney.

McKinney says during the trial – on four different occasions he saw suspicious cars outside of his home.  One day McKinney says he even had to call the U. S. Marshals after a man followed him to the mall.

"He came down, and told the guy – you follow him again, you're going to get arrested… When my daughter would come home from school, I wouldn't let her stay there.   Because I was afraid," said McKinney.

But Juror #13 praised the security from the U. S. District Court, saying Judge Nancy Edmunds, her Court Security Officers and the Marshals were all wonderful.

McKinney says it was hard to avoid all media coverage of the trial for six months and being a juror was both  demanding and rewarding.

"It changed a lot of people," said McKinney.  "You had different aspects and types of people…  But you have to get along, you have to respect another person."

"Did you ever think, gosh I'm sitting through this whole ordeal and I don't actually get to deliberate," asked 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.

"Yeah it did [bother me]," said McKinney.  McKinney said that was hard, "Because I wanted my voice to be heard.  More than anything."

Even though, as an alternate, McKinney wasn't with his fellow jurors for the 3 weeks of deliberations, he was in the courtroom front and center when the forewoman announced the guilty verdicts.

"I just said yes," said McKinney, because you agreed with the verdict.  "The evidence was all there."
"Beyond a reasonable doubt," asked Catallo.
"Beyond a reasonable doubt," said McKinney.

McKinney says he came in to the case open minded, but after seeing all of the money that flowed into the former mayor's accounts--he does believe crimes were committed.

"What did you think of the golf clubs, and the trips, the massages," asked Catallo.
"I thought - I would love that.  I would love that. The Bahamas?  I would love that.  I don't know any other mayor that does that," said McKinney.

McKinney says he thought the defense was weak – and told us that he felt that having the former mayor's wife and children in court for only closing arguments backfired.

"That whole trial, not one of them showed up. And then they all come in, dressed to the nines," said McKinney. 

McKinney says he thinks Ferguson and Kilpatrick should both spend decades behind bars, but he wants the former mayor to be able to see his children.

"Hopefully that will break that cycle that these kids will grow up.  If they want to do politics that's fine – do it the right way," said McKinney.

Shawn McKinney says the jurors are all still very close. They still get together nearly every month to socialize and catch up.

Judge Nancy Edmunds will sentence Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson on October 10.  She will then sentence Bernard Kilpatrick on October 17. 
 

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