MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - For the first-time ever, a juror who could have changed the outcome of the Noura Jackson murder trial speaks out. Jackson is the woman who served nine years for stabbing her mother to death in their East Memphis home.
In an exclusive interview, Senior Local I-Team investigator Jeni Diprizio spoke with the juror who spent three weeks listening to the testimony. He was convinced Jackson was not guilty.
Emil Roberts sat in on the entire trial. When deliberations began, he was randomly selected to be an alternate juror, so he was sent home. If he had stayed, the trial may have ended with a hung jury.
"I wouldn't have found her guilty myself," said Roberts. He says he often wonders what happened while jurors deliberated.
"It actually bothers me she was found guilty because in my mind I'm trying to see what did they see that I didn't see and I still don't know," said Roberts.
Roberts was known by the judge, lawyers, and other jurors as "question man" because he often asked questions when witnesses were on the stand.
"I was there taking notes, and if something didn't match the other notes I wanted to know why," said Roberts.
After listening to the testimony, he had some observations about the Memphis Police Department. "They screwed up the crime scene, they screwed up the evidence," said Roberts.
The jurors were sequestered for three weeks. Roberts says one juror was convinced of Jackson's guilt, before the trial even began.
"As soon as we got on the trial, 1st thing she said was 'I know she is guilty. She is just like my daughter.’ I told her to keep quiet. You're not supposed to talk about it. She didn't say anything the rest of the time," said Roberts.
In the end, jurors convicted Jackson of second degree murder, based on circumstantial evidence. There was no DNA evidence connecting her to the crime scene. But the lack of DNA apparently wasn't an issue for jurors, according to author Lisa Hickman. Her book, "Stranger to the Truth", details the murder of Noura's mother, Jennifer Jackson. Hickman sat through the trial and interviewed a juror.
"She said in my interview that they went on too much, there was too much from the defense about the lack of DNA," said Hickman.
Despite the lack of DNA, Hickman said of the juror, "she was very committed in her belief of Noura's guilt."
"To convict someone of murder I want some hard evidence myself. I don't want theory," said Roberts.
Jackson's second degree murder conviction was overturned in 2014. Instead of going through another trial, her lawyers say she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter so she could get out of prison. In the end, Jackson served nine years behind bars. Only Local 24 was there when she was released in August. To this day, she insists she is innocent.
"If she's not guilty, that's a lot of time for a young girl to be in jail. The best years of her life really. I feel sorry for her if she's not guilty," said Roberts.
Just last week, one of the prosecutors in this case, went before a legal panel connected to an ethics violation. Stephen Jones admitted not giving Jackson’s defense a key witness statement. The ruling on that should happen any day.
Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich is also facing misconduct charges in connection to a statement she made during closing arguments of the Jackson case. Weirich's hearing takes place next month.
The following statement from Noura Jackson was released by her attorney:
"I am thankful for the many people who continue to believe in my innocence. It is my hope that the TBI will honor the memory of my mother every year on her birthday by checking their database for anyone matching the DNA profile of the blood found in my mother's bed on the night of her murder. If not, I hope the TBI will cooperate with the Innocence Project later this year."