Guilty: One juror’s take on Stockdale case
BRECKENRIDGE – For the past two weeks, Lisa Wallace would arrive home from a long day and cry.
The college sophomore was one of 14 jurors who spent almost seven days weighing evidence and delivering a verdict in the Brian Stockdale murder case.
It took 11 hours of evidence evaluation for the jury to unite in convicting Stockdale of manslaughter and first-degree assault.
It wasn’t an easy decision.
Police had charged Stockdale with second-degree murder for his role in the fatal beating of Cody Wieland Nov. 1, 2002.
“We wanted to make sure we were doing justice to the law, to the people involved,” Wallace said. “We wanted to make sure everyone felt good about the decision we made.”
District Court Judge David Lass declined a request to release a list of the juror’s names, saying some want to remain anonymous.
For Wallace, some of the toughest aspects in the deliberations came with trying to accurately interpret the law.
At one point, the jurors asked Lass and the attorneys how they were supposed to make a decision in Stockdale’s case when there are two other men facing the same charges in the same incident.
They asked if the words “willingly” and “knowingly” were interchangeable.
They also asked for the definition of first-degree murder, which would mean premeditation was involved.
Wallace and her 13 fellow jurors took into account the evidence, testimony and questions presented by attorneys. Some points left her wondering.
“For me, I was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockdale was, in fact, kicking his (Wieland’s) head,” she said. “I think it’s more than likely he was, but beyond a reasonable doubt? I couldn’t go there.”
However, she added, the fact Stockdale omitted the argument outside Mambos in his videotaped statement about the incident was a “big red flag” for the whole jury.
The question of a “fourth man” involved in the fight didn’t weigh heavily in the minds of the jurors, despite the defense’s attempt to show shortcomings in the police investigation, she said.
“Brian put himself at the place of that murder,” Wallace said. “It’s not like there’s this other person and Brian wasn’t there. (The possibility of a fourth person) didn’t do anything to Brian’s case.”
As the defense had hoped, Williams – and possibly others – became confused by contradictory testimony.
“The discrepancies were enough to make me unsure where Brian was kicking Cody,” she said. “But it’s a year later. It’s human nature (to forget and get facts mixed up). The fact they were able to recall anything was unbelievable. But it’s our job as the jury to decide what was the real story. But I don’t think anyone really can know the real story. Brian is the only one who knows.”
Law enforcement officials felt the jury did an incredible job.
“I obviously don’t second-guess the jury,” said newly appointed Sheriff John Minor, when asked his opinion on the verdict.
“It’s what makes our system great. It’s the jurors’ decision and I respect that fully. They saw the facts, weighed the evidence and made a decision. I respect them for their service and what they did.”
Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman agreed.
“I’m very pleased with the job done by the district attorney and the police department,” he said. “I’m pleased with the work the jury did. I view this as a victory, a good thing. It shows that there was death involved, and it holds someone responsible for that.”
Wallace said the experience was enlightening.
“I’m never going to get that chance to see how the system in America really works,” she said. “I’m glad I was picked. We all felt it was our duty, it’s what we have to do to have the privileges we have in this country. It was an honor. I’ve grown a lot and learned a lot.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or
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