Victors: Deputy D.A.s Mara McIlvain (l.) and Frances Young (c.)
At 11:45 a.m. today Judge David Wesley’s clerk began reading the jury verdicts Wesley had just unsealed, perused and approved. The tension in the packed courtroom had been oppressive since Department 102’s doors opened. Prosecutors Frances Young and Mara McIlvain seemed subdued, but the defense team – who, so often through the two-month trial, were the image of jocular bonhomie – looked glum. Jon appeared in court wearing a light gray suit and shiny gold tie. Some of Jon’s many supporters bowed their heads or clasped their hands as if in prayer.
When the first guilty verdict was pronounced on the very first charge read, the life went out of Jon’s supporters and attorneys, as though each knew what was coming – a near shutout of convictions involving a tight string of felonies and misdemeanors ranging from lewd acts upon a child to forcible rape. By the end of the clerk’s reading, some 15 minutes later, the damage to Jon’s life was evident: 16 guilty verdicts, four acquittals and three counts on which the jury had deadlocked. Jon now faces life in prison with parole possible only after 67 years, according to Young, who, in a later press conference, branded Jon as “a 34-year-old pedophile masquerading as a fashion designer.”
Defense attorney Leonard Levine after the verdicts
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 13 but as court ended and Jon’s sister Sanjana sobbed inconsolably on a friend’s shoulder nearby, lead lawyer Leonard Levine promised an appeal.
“He hasn’t given up hope,” Levine said of Jon, “and neither have we.”
Much of the appeal may focus on Juror No. 12 whom, last Thursday, the jury foreman had requested be removed for refusal to deliberate, a request denied by Judge Wesley. This seemed to portend a possible deadlock, but for the most part this was not to be the case. Somewhere between then and today the panel went from being a hung jury to a hanging jury. Defense lawyers almost routinely appeal convictions when a hold-out juror is persuaded to go along with the majority for a conviction. At the time of publication it wasn’t known if No. 12 would agree to be interviewed by defense attorneys.
“We won’t know until we talk to him,” Levine told the L.A. Weekly about the role No. 12 may play in the appeal. “He preferably will talk to us and clear up our questions.”
One other area Jon’s lawyers will explore, said co-counsel Anthony Brooklier, is the amount of contact that occurred among Jon’s accusers prior to the trial.
“The cumulative effect of these counts was very prejudicial,” Brooklier said of the 23 charges, involving nine accusers, that his client faced.
In the meantime, Jon will remain in custody and, following sentencing, will confront extradition requests for charges filed in New York and Texas. After the verdicts were read, Judge Wesley summoned counsel for both sides to the bench and for a moment Jon was left by himself – a pale, lonely figure whose only sign of cheer was his shiny gold tie.