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Counseling an Option After Murder Trial


Jury selection in the murder trial for Daphne Wright is expected to
be completed Tuesday. The judge could decide to offer jurors
post-trial counseling because of the graphic details they’ll be
exposed to.

By Kent Erdahl

Daphne Wright’s murder trial will soon unfold in a brutal
progression, from a hacksaw found at the alleged murder scene to body
parts found in a Sioux Falls landfill. Now it’s soon up to a
twelve-person jury to take in all the graphic details.

“The court tries to present it as gently as possible, if that’s
possible for some of the things we’ve got to show jurors,” says
Second Circuit Court Administrator Karl Thoennes.”(We) try to make
this process as, not necessarily easy, but as least brutal as we can
for the jurors.”

In anticipation of the Wright trial, court administrators consulted a
South Dakota handbook for managing jury stress, it includes a
pamphlet for jurors advising them how to cope with a graphic or
disturbing trial.

In 1999, The judge in Robert Leroy Anderson’s murder trial went
further, offering jurors the opportunity to receive post-trial

“We’ve not heard that many of the jurors ever took advantage of that
opportunity, but the precedent is certainly there,” Thoennes said.”If
Judge (Brad) Zell, in this current case that’s going on now, thinks
that’s appropriate then I’m sure that would be an option we can make

Although jurors may once again have that counseling option, Thoennes
says the stress impacts more than this one case and more than just
twelve jurors. He learned that personally a number of years ago after
looking at a single photo of a young victim.

“It was just a hand on the carpet with a defensive wound across her
hand and she had pink nail polish on her fingers,” Thoennes said.
“I’ll never forget that one. That one has stayed in my mind ever
since, and so it’s not always what you would think bothers jurors and
court staff the most.”

Although other states will sometimes offer counseling to jurors, the
Texas legislature is currently considering a bill requiring courts to
offer counseling to any juror involved in a trial with graphic
evidence or testimony.

Once jury selection is finished, Daphne Wright’s trial is expected to
last about a month.

(( Source:  KSFY ))