DA seeks counseling for jurors

Monday, October 6th 2008, 7:27 pm

By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The trial for the murder of a three-year-old girl known as "Precious Doe" began Monday.

Jurors will listen to the details explaining how the accused Harrell Johnson allegedly killed Erica Green in 2001.

The panel will have to see pictures and hear testimonies about the crime, which could cause jurors to suffer from nightmares and stress, both during and after the trial.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said the state owes jurors resources like counseling.

"It's tough, I lost sleep over it," juror Mike Bounds said.

It's been three and a half years since Bounds served in the jury box and helped decide the fate of Scott Eizember.

"You saw a lot of gory gruesome details that most people wouldn't want to see and don't want to see," Bounds said. "I certainly didn't enjoy looking at them."

Bounds heard how Eizember killed A.J. and Patsy Cantrell, shot his ex-girlfriend's son and beat up his ex-girlfriend's mother. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

"He's on death row and I helped put him there and it's not something I'm proud of, it's something I had to do," Bounds said.

Bounds still thinks about the case, but he's never talked to a counselor about what he saw.

"Hearing this testimony and seeing this evidence really does have an effect of people, long last effect," Prater said.

Prater said the state should provide psychological counseling for jurors who need it after a traumatic trial, and plans to ask lawmakers to push for the resource next session.

"There's never a lack of people coming to the legislature seeking money, but I think this would be money well spent, when we're helping jurors who've provided a service to the community," Prater said.

Bounds does not want counseling, but said, others could benefit. He hopes to never serve on the jury in a murder trial again.

"I wouldn't want to do it again, but I did it and we made the right decision as far as his trial is concerned," Bounds said.

Other states pay for counseling. Texas just passed a law last year, allowing for 10 hours of free psychological counseling after jurors sit through a graphic trial.

Prater said he's willing do a pilot program in Oklahoma County, but, he believes counseling should be available statewide.


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