You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Patrick Swayze widow on Seth Adams jury that deadlocked 8-1


By the time jurors in the Seth Adams case were sent home last week without reaching a unanimous verdict, all but one agreed Palm Beach County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Custer had no reason to fatally shoot the 24-year-old outside a Loxahatchee Groves nursery, an attorney for Adams’ family said Monday.

Attorney Wallace McCall, who represents Lydia and Richard Adams, said two jurors he talked to and another juror who reached out to his law partner agreed the jury voted 8-1 that Custer used excessive force in the May 2012 shooting death.

Without revealing the names of the jurors he talked to or the name of the apparent hold-out, he said the three jurors agreed it was incorrectly reported to U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley that it had been a 7-2 decision. The three jurors agreed that the vote on a separate question – whether Custer had intentionally destroyed his cell phone to prevent the revelation of damaging text messages – had been 8-1 as reported to Hurley.

McCall said it is unclear how the error occurred. But, he said, jurors recalled that in early votes during three days of deliberations there had been two hold-outs. But, he said, by the time Hurley on Wednesday declared a mistrial because the panel had unable to reach a unanimous verdict, the three jurors said eight agreed Custer had used excessive force.

They said the one juror had “personal issues,” but didn’t detail what made the juror steadfastly disagree with the rest of the panel, he said.

“They’re upset. They’re very, very upset,” McCall said of the three jurors who came forward. “They felt they worked incredibly hard. They felt we absolutely proved the case.”

None of the nine jurors were willing to talk to The Palm Beach Post despite repeated efforts to contact them.

One of the nine jurors is Lisa Niemi Swayze, the widow of famed “Dirty Dancing” actor Patrick Swayze, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2009.

McCall, who had asked the jury to award Adams’ parents $10 million to $20 million for the loss of their son, said jurors told him they never talked about possible damages. While some numbers were thrown out, he said such conversations were halted while jurors struggled to reach agreement on whether Custer used excessive force.

Attorney Richard Giuffreda, who represents Custer and the sheriff’s office, wasn’t immediately available for comment about whether he had spoken to any of the jurors.

Adams’ parents believe the truth about their son’s death outside the family-owned A One Stop Garden Shop came out during the month-long trial, McCall said.

Custer testified that Adams attacked him and that he was forced to shoot, fearing Adams had grabbed a gun from the cab of his truc. But McCall and attorney Stephan LeClainche made a case using evidence collected by the sheriff’s own investigators that Custer’s story didn’t add up. Bullet casings, a bullet fragment and a puddle of blood were all found at the back of the truck, feet from where Custer said the shooting occurred.

While believing they scored a moral victory, McCall said, Lydia and Richard Adams want to retry to the case. He said he will also entertain any settlement offers from the sheriff’s office.

Hurley, who harshly criticized the sheriff’s office investigation of the shooting during the trial but outside the jury’s hearing, has urged both sides to work toward a settlement. He has scheduled a hearing on March 30 to determine the next step in the case.

McCall said that while he has had other hung juries in his roughly 40-year career, the holdout typically is a soft-hearted soul who wants to give money to the victim.

“It’s extremely rare to have one hold out for the defense,” he said. “These people wanted to be on the jury. You don’t want to be on a jury to screw over someone.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

More millenials live with parents in S. Florida than anywhere else
More millenials live with parents in S. Florida than anywhere else

A new study suggests that millennials in South Florida live with their parents at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. >> Read more trending news The study conducted by Abodo found that 44.8 percent of millennials in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area still live with their parents. That’s the highest percentage...
Man whose parents locked him away for 2 years wants them to stay in prison
Man whose parents locked him away for 2 years wants them to stay in prison

For two years, Mitch Comer’s mother and stepfather, Sheila Comer and Paul Comer, kept him locked inside a bedroom in his family’s rental home in Georgia. He was shut off from the outside world and even his two younger sisters until September 2012. By then, Comer, who was 18 at the time, was loaded on a bus and sent to Los Angeles with...
Inmate accused of plotting murders of sexual assault victims
Inmate accused of plotting murders of sexual assault victims

An inmate in a Pennsylvania jail the Allegheny County Jail is accused of plotting the murders of five juveniles who accused him of sexual assault. Michael Scherbanic, 29, a prisoner in the Allegheny County Jail and is now charged with 27 new criminal counts, including solicitation to commit criminal homicide.  >> Read more trending news...
NEW: Man resembling sexual predator seen near Jensen Beach park
NEW: Man resembling sexual predator seen near Jensen Beach park

A person resembling a violent sexual predator recently released from prison was spotted Wednesday near a Jensen Beach park, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. An anonymous caller reported that 65-year-old Ernest Eugene Reigh was near Indian Riverside Park, off Sewall’s Point Road about two miles north of the Hutchinson Island Causeway...
Dalia Dippolito lawyers seek contempt charge against prosecutors
Dalia Dippolito lawyers seek contempt charge against prosecutors

Less than a week after the judge issued a gag order against lawyers in Dalia Dippolito’s upcoming murder solicitation retrial, her attorneys are asking him to hold prosecutors in contempt for allowing Boynton Beach Police to keep a viral video from the case on the department’s YouTube page. Defense attorney Greg Rosenfeld on Tuesday filed...
More Stories