Jury members in Dugan trial speak out

November 12, 2009 (CHICAGO) In the middle of two days of deliberations this week, several jurors say there was a signed verdict form that would have given Jeanine Nicarico's killer life in prison instead of the death penalty.

Volumes have been written about the variables that influence a jury.

For example, jurors in DuPage County are more likely to give a death sentence to a child killer than one in Cook County. But in the case of Brian Dugan, the time it took to gather people in court at 10-o'clock on a Tuesday night may have ended up meaning the difference between life and death.

Brian Dugan will await his date with the executioner at the condemned unit at the state prison in Pontiac. But the death sentence, jurors now say, almost didn't happen.

"I know we did sign that one form which was life, natural life. We didn't go into the courtroom with that," said Michael Euringer, Dugan juror.

"We did submit that but then when there was a little time between, we decided we needed more time," said Jill Russell, Dugan juror.

Jurors Jill Russell and Michael Euringer say while they and eight others supported death for Dugan, two of their fellow jurors said "no." Death sentences must be unanimous.

But in the less than 30 minutes it took to notify the judge of their decision and assemble court personnel the two hold-outs re-considered.

"I think it's just the most difficult decision a person can make and I think that's what they were grappling with those few moments waiting. It just hit them 'we have to go a little further,'" said Russell.

The jury retreated to a hotel, slept on it, then deliberated for six more hours before declaring Dugan should die for his crime.

It is the latest twist in a case that took 26 years, three wrongful convictions and a confession to reach its conclusion.

The two jurors we spoke with say the gruesome details of the abduction, rape and murder of Jeanine Nicarico along with Dugan's history of killing and the explanation that he killed because he couldn't help himself "all" influenced their decision.

"I said to myself 'maybe he did have problems. Maybe he does have a certain kind of condition' but that doesn't license you to go out and kill people," said Euringer.

"I think it was seeing the pictures of the brutal, heinous crimes committed on little girls and young women who were basically defenseless," said Russell.

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