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An inside view of jury deliberations in Enumclaw pastor Malcom Fraser's child rape and molestation trial
Editor’s note: The sentencing date for Fraser is 8:30 a.m. July 26 before Smith in courtroom 4C at the Regional Justice Center in Kent.
A juror from the 12 who decided the fate of Sound Doctrine Church assistant pastor Malcolm Fraser has come forward to tell the story of the deliberations.
Fraser was found guilty May 29 of raping and molesting an 11-year-old girl in Enumclaw from 2005 to 2006.
The jury of four women and eight men agreed on the guilty verdict at 9:20 a.m. May 29 after two hours and 20 minutes of deliberations.
The trial before King County Superior Court Judge Lori K. Smith began April 3.
The jury began deliberations at 2 p.m. May 28 following closing arguments.
The juror agreed to an interview May 29 shortly after the verdict was read.
“It was the toughest thing I have ever done,” the juror said. “We knew we were affecting a lot of lives.”
The juror felt very confident with the guilty verdict but said it “was still gut-wrenching.”
The juror said the jury knew Fraser’s wife would be affected and Fraser would go to jail.
In the end the juror said the members recognized, “It was not our fault. It was his fault.”
The juror said when the members first began deliberations after seven weeks of testimony there were some with a few doubts, “but they weren’t very strong.”
On the first vote, according to the juror, it was six guilty and six undecided. There were no votes for acquittal.
Following the first round, members went around the table and the presiding juror wrote issues in questions on a board.
After that discussion a second vote was taken; it was nine guilty and three undecided.
The juror said the process of going around the table was repeated and the third vote was 11 guilty and one undecided – but leaning toward guilty.
The juror remembered defense attorney Ann Carey asked them to take the time to consider the issues carefully and not rush. Members of the jury decided to go home and sleep on it.
The juror said the undecided person went home and prayed and thought about the decision.
The next morning the jury met and took a vote. It was unanimous – guilty on all counts, two charges of first-degree rape of a child and two of first-degree child molestation.
“I didn’t sleep at all that night,” the juror said. “None of us took it lightly. I was drained. It was very emotional. My hands were shaking. Everyone felt really bad.”
The juror had often seen jury trials and deliberations reported in the media prior to this case and wondered how a jury came to one decision or another.
“It’s easy for people to second guess,” the juror said. “I used to do that.”
Sitting on the Fraser jury gave the juror a new perspective on the process and how a jury comes to a verdict.
“It was impressive, “ the juror said of the Fraser jury deliberations. “There was no arm twisting. It was very civil. It was impressive how everyone picked up on the same things – little things.”
The juror said the members told the attorneys, Carey and Deputy Prosecutor Jason Simmons, and the judge they had done a “really good job.”
The juror said he felt Carey had done the best she could with “what she had to work with.”
The juror said Simmons was prepared for the defense witnesses and “whatever wall she (Carey) built up Mr. Simmons came in and mowed it down. I give Mr. Simmons full credit.”
The juror said if there was a single defining moment in trial, it was the testimony of the young victim who brought Fraser’s crimes to light.
The juror planned to go into the trial with an open mind and hold a clear presumption of innocence until proven guilty, just as the juror would want to be treated “if I were in his (Fraser’s) shoes.”
The juror said the members found the young woman’s testimony “really credible.” During the beginning of the young woman’s testimony the juror said she acted like a normal 18 year old, until the questions moved to memories of the rape and molestation.
“Her voice dropped and she reverted back to that 10-year-old girl,” the juror said. “Her testimony was very believable.”
The juror said as the trial went on the guilt of Fraser become increasingly clear.
The defense presented three theories. The first was a conspiracy against the church led by former member Athena Dean.
The second was Fraser had a medical condition, phimosis, that allegedly caused pain during sexual activity.
The third was the timeline. The defense contended Fraser wasn’t in the house except during a short period of six to seven weeks.
The juror said the conspiracy theory was “not an issue” considered by the jury. The juror said that theory crumbled when the young women testified, “She didn’t like Athena Dean all that much. It made me think they were trying to distract.”
The phimosis theory fell apart when the prosecution brought out Fraser had not been treated for the condition since the late 1990s. The prosecution showed Fraser was not seen again for phimosis until several months after he was charged with the crimes.
The members also questioned why he didn’t get the condition fixed in Scotland when he was first seen for it, if it was so painful as the defense contended.
The prosecution also brought out Fraser could have had the condition repaired for free in Scotland.
The juror said the timeline was the one issue that raised some initial doubts. That theory fell apart when Simmons pointed out in his closing argument that whether it was six week or six months, Fraser was in the home long enough to commit the crimes. Even the defense witnesses testified Fraser had lived in the victim’s home for at least six weeks.
The defense brought two expert witnesses to testify, but the juror said neither provided the impact the defense hoped, and may have hurt more than helped.
John Charles Yuille, a forensic psychologist from British Columbia, testified on memory. Yuille was also critical of the interview by Detective Grant McCall of the Enumclaw Police Department.
The juror said the criticism by Yuille of McCall did not hold up. When Simmons asked Yuille if he would have done the interview, is it possible it would have turned out the same way, Yuille said yes.
The juror said McCall probably should have kept the recorder running all the time, but the detective did “well with what he had.”
The juror said he felt Yuille “didn’t help the defense. He was just collecting his $450 per hour.”
The juror said Yuille helped the prosecution more in terms of describing how the young woman’s memory should work.
“I know I have been on this case for seven weeks and it feels like seven months,” the juror said, which is how the juror thought the young woman felt and remembered the abuse.
The other expert, Dr. Phillip Welch, who testified about Fraser’s phimosis, blew up for the defense according to the juror because he was an OB-GYN who had not seen or treated anyone with the condition since the late 1970s when he was a resident.
The juror said the testimony of the church members appeared rehearsed. The juror said senior pastor Josiah Williams’ testimony was not considered to be credible when he said the church had nothing to the with the group video recording the proceedings (enumclaw.com), even though he knew them, they are church members and they lived with Fraser.
The juror thought a senior pastor should be interested in the truth and not trying to protect Fraser.
The judge had instructed the jury before deliberations they were the only ones who were to decide on the credibility of a witness, and it and was their responsibility.
The juror said while Carey was very prepared and did well, the defense still boiled down to “a lot of smoke and mirrors.”
The juror said while the members may not have agreed with the church practices, “we were not trying the church. I didn’t agree with the manners boot camp, but that wasn’t the issue.”
The juror said, “Mr. Simmons did a good job of portraying him (Fraser) as controlling.” The juror said the members saw Fraser as seeking power and control in the family home so he could commit his crimes.
“If you can’t believe a victim like (the young woman),” the juror said. “Then you can’t believe anything ever.”