Aristeo Duenas was plenty outspoken outside the city courthouse on Friday after a verdict came down against now-convicted gay basher Kathryn Knott. He apparently had more to say.
So the 33-year-old public school teacher who lives in Brewerytown logged into Reddit under the name “nedthedragonslayer” and opened himself up to an AMA, or an “Ask Me Anything.” (Since the posting of this, Duenas deleted his account but his comments remain.) Duenas opened up about what went on in the jury room for more than two days.
Knott, 25, of Bucks County, was accused by prosecutors along with two of her friends of beating up Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught while yelling gay slurs and then leaving them at the scene. Both men suffered injuries from the beating; Haught was hospitalized for days.
After four days of testimony, Knott was found guilty of misdemeanor assault, among other charges, but was acquitted on the felony charges, which included aggravated assault. She’ll be sentenced Feb. 8. Three jurors who spoke to media after the verdict described a chaotic situation in the jury room. In his Reddit AMA, Duernas elaborated on the heated exchanges:
“We were all in tears when we handed the verdict to the court official,” he wrote, “because the large majority of us felt she deserved much much more.”
Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from his AMA:
1. There was one juror that was ‘just so stupid’
nedthedragonslayer: We were all extremely upset about it, and this one woman in particular was just so stupid. You could read her the same law over and over again, and she’d say “I just don’t see it that way.”
AbsentEmpire: That sounds like someone who doesn’t live in reality or has some major privilege.
nedthedragonslayer: Actually quite the opposite, she was this 46 year old lady from the 5th and lehigh area. She was so wrapped up in parts of the trial that made no difference to the law. Like the fact that Andrew’s bag was stolen at the scene of the incident. It had ZERO bearing on any charge but she kept saying things like “I just can’t get past this bag being stolen”. We’d say things like “That has nothing to do with anything!” and then she’d yell and accuse us of trying to bully her into a different opinion. We left the deliberation room with the opinion that She fucked this thing up majorly, and there was nothing we could do about it.
2. He was ‘baffled’ by the ‘holdout juror’
Strong_like_bill: What specific points did the holdout juror raise to validate their decisions?
nedthedragonslayer: They said there was too much reasonable doubt, but then refused to acknowledge that we had provided so much evidence to support the claim… We were just baffled by the ignorance. And anytime you would try to explain it to her the way we all saw it, she would say “I feel like you are all attacking me right now and not letting me speak!” when in reality, she spoke the most out of anyone in the group. I gave up talking to her at one point.
3. The jury really didn’t believe the defense witnesses
win7-myidea: what was the feeling about the defense witnesses?
nedthedragonslayer: Their stories were disjointed and did not match up very well. And at one point one of the character witnesses admitted to being coached on what to say by the defense…on the stand.
4. Kathryn Knott’s attorney looked like ‘a mafia lawyer’
PrivateEyesWatchingU: Your opinion on the lawyers involved?
nedthedragonslayer: As for the defense, he seemed exactly what you would Expect from a defense lawyer. He was very well dressed, thousand dollar suits, very well put together. He looked like a mafia lawyer haha. Anyhow, his arguments were pretty good as to why there may be reasonable doubt but he kept focusing on small aspects of the case that most of us felt didn’t matter.
5. This defense attorney apparently contacted this juror
nedthedragonslayer: Yesterday one of the defense attorney’s employees messaged me on facebook, saying that Mr. Busico (defense attorney) appreciated my comments to the media, has been a boxer and done brazillian jiu jitsu for 6 years and said “he could tell I was a fighter the moment he saw me”. In reality, I guarantee he googled my name and found my previous fights online from when I used to compete in mma. He asked that I contact him so he could discuss the case with me further. I told his employee that this made me uncomfortable and I did not have interest in discussing the case with him because he represents Knott. It was creepy.
6. They didn’t believe Knott was a ‘peacekeeper’
7744666: What did she even say on the stand? “No, I didn’t hit them”?
nedthedragonslayer: She said she didn’t want anyone to get hurt and she was trying to be a peacekeeper. None of the evidence pointed to that being true.
7. ‘We had a pretty liberal group’
linvoylegend: Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, I’m assuming.
nedthedragonslayer: Actually, if we had anyone on the jury who was prejudice against gay people, they never mentioned it. It seemed we had a pretty liberal group.
8. This juror empathized most with the victim who was hurt less
[deleted]: How did you feel on the issue personally and why?
nedthedragonslayer: I was ready to convict on almost all charges, but personally, the testimony of Hesse, the boyfriend of haut who was injured more heavily, got to me. I empathized with him about a loved one being beaten so badly. It was our duty to bring justice
9. Most of the jury thought ‘groupthink’ took over for Knott and her friends
Strong_Like_Bill: Do you think this was a street fight that got out of hand? Or was this more of deliberate hate crime?
nedthedragonslayer: As a group, reviewing the evidence, we found it very unlikely that this group was out roaming the streets looking to beat up some gay people. The way it seems is that they were likely drunk, walking to a bar, and one idiot from the group instigated a conflict with two gay men. This led to some confrontation and then groupthink sort of took over.
10. It was the conspiracy charge that hung them up
dydz: Did you feel that the totality of the crime committed against those two, as opposed to just Knott’s contribution, played a big role in the decisions you or other jurors?
nedthedragonslayer: That’s where we could not agree on the conspiracy charge. Was this one big event? Was it two separate events? Because at points, the situation calms down and the girls are trying to get the guys to go, but then somehow it escalates to the extreme violence at the end. Many of us felt we had to treat it like two separate actions because there were two separate charges (simple assault and aggravated assault). This is basically what stalemated us for conspiracy. I honestly think she should have gotten all four counts of conspiracy, but a big part of it was that conspiracy requires an agreement, either spoken or unspoken, and there was reasonable doubt that she had not agreed upon the extreme violence taken upon andrew haught.