There are 118 seats for spectators in the courtroom in which the case of State v. Hayes is being tried. Although court is not scheduled to open until 10 a.m. this morning, I am told there might already by a full house. On the fourth day of deliberations, a verdict is expected. Indeed, many folks think a verdict is long overdue.
I have been following the press coverage of this case closely, including the accounts of those who have been sending instant messges via Twitter. My sense is that there are very few disapassionate and undecided folks watching these proceedings. Lacking from the reporting on this case has been any critical perspective about such things as the extraordinary decision to keep a jury over the weekend, a practice unheard of in Connecticut. Reporters compete to show sensitivity in this brutal case. But this case pits the state against a man; in this contest to determine whether Hayes shall live or die, sensitivity for a nonparty should at best be good manners, but not a fulcrum from which to evaluate the proceedings.
Here's a request: Will some enterprising journalist take a tally of all those assembled today? Ask folks how they would vote, if they could vote: death? or life without possibility of parole? Don't let anyone avoid taking a position. I've seen little by way of dispassionate reporting in this case. Sympathy abounds.
I suspect the vote will fall overwhelmingly in favor of death. And I wonder, really, how much of that great yearning for execution jurors cannot help but sense. Words alone are not the only means by which we communicate. Social psychologists have a word for the sort of nonverbal cues that can send messages: sociometery.
My sentiments in this case are clear. I abhor what Steven Hayes has done, but I abhor the state's decision to seek death even more. I cannot help but wonder whether a jury looking out at a somber lynch mob feels pressure. I hope at least one juror will refuse to give the state the life of Mr. Hayes. Indeed, I hope this jury stuns observers and concludes with one voice the killing isn't justice. I will settle for a vote of 118 to 12, or even 129 to 1, so long as the killing stops.