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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Were Estefano jurors under the `CSI Effect'?

Estefano Jurors in the trial of the man accused of shooting songwriter Estefano say prosecutors did not show enough evidence to prove their case.

When Latin songwriter Estefano testified against the handyman accused of shooting him, it wasn't that his story was so unbelievable.

Jurors just wanted more.

That's according to two jurors who acquitted Francisco Oliveira Jr. of shooting Fabio ''Estefano'' Salgado.

"They didn't have nothing to go on. No DNA. No powder burns. No fingerprints. I can't do nothing to a guy until they got something to go on,'' juror Thomas C. Griffith said on Thursday. 'It was just hearsay -- `Junior shot me.' ''

Jasmin Qyyum, a 19-year-old juror, said shortly after the trial: ``The state didn't do an adequate job.''

The jury's decision surprised observers who believed prosecutors Alicia Garcia and Michael Von Zamft had a compelling case that included the songwriter's vivid testimony identifying his would-be assassin.

But the verdict underscored the unpredictability of Miami-Dade's diverse juries, and the so-called ''CSI Effect'' -- jurors who expect evidence like the popular CBS television series that depict investigators using sensational science to solve crimes in one neatly packaged hour.

''Unfortunately, this is proof of what we have said: There is a CSI Effect,'' Von Zamft said. ``We question jurors about that and they understand that CSI is phony but they want to see the same things as on TV and refuse to accept it's not possible.

``Therefore, they stay on the jury and that mind-set stays with them.'' [Mark Godsey]

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