Melinda Hernandez says of voting to acquit two New York City police officers of rape, "I am a feminist. This was devastating to me. But I had to do my job and be fair and impartial."
In an interview with Women's eNews, Hernandez sounded conflicted and exhausted, on the one hand saying there was no evidence to convict Kenneth Moreno and his alleged accomplice, and on the other implying she thought the evidence had been tampered with, and that more protests outside the courthouse would have made a difference.
"It all came down to the forensic evidence," Hernandez said. "There was none at all. No hair, no semen, no pubic hairs in the evidence collected from the apartment or in the rape kit collected at the hospital. There was a small red patch found on her cervix, but that could have been caused by several things, including penetration by a penis." That's pretty strange, the interviewers note, given that it's undisputed that the officers were in the woman's apartment four times.
"I thought the evidence, in this case, should have gone straight to the medical examiner...It shouldn't have gone to the police lab," Hernandez said. (Isn't a belief of evidence tampering worth looking into at least?) She also said that the victim's testimony was too equivocal, muddled by having blacked out while drunk. But Hernandez said of the victim, "There was no doubt in her mind about what had happened. A woman knows when she is penetrated. But without any evidence, it couldn't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And if there is a reasonable doubt you must acquit."
After the verdict, women protested outside the New York City courthouse. But Hernandez says it was too late. "Perhaps if there were women demonstrating outside the courthouse every day it may have helped the jurors be more aware and more conscious of their verdicts. Who knows? Waiting until after the day of verdict was too much too late." That doesn't sound much like impartial justice.
NYC Juror Questions Handling of Rape Evidence [Women's E-News]