JURY: The People vs. Juan Corona by Victor Villasenor

JURY: The People vs. Juan Corona

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The vote on the first ballot was 7-5 not guilty. Eight days later a jury of 10 men and 2 women convicted Juan Corona of killing 25 men--the biggest mass murder ever pinned on one man. Villasenor recreates those eight overwrought days in the jury room. A riveting, suspense-filled court-room drama? Alas, no. Tedious and tendentious is more like it. Although Villasenor, himself a Chicano, had originally been inclined to suspect a frame-up, he became overwhelmed by the sincerity of the jurors. They worked so hard; they sifted through a mountain of evidence (117 witnesses; 980 exhibits) which, everyone agreed, was ""one fucked-up mess."" The jury system is triumphantly vindicated! Villasenor comes to share the jurors' belief that while the prosecutors and defense attorney ""passed the buck"" and hid behind their ""professionalism,"" twelve ordinary folk--some of them outright boobs--persevered and had no ax to grind. Of course lots of questions go unanswered and the evidence is all circumstantial but eventually Naomi, the last addled hold-out, is persuaded. Corona remains an enigma. Everyone is relieved that it's over. So were we.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1977
Publisher: Little, Brown