“We were taking bets on who was with us and who weren’t,” says Danoff about the six men and six women on the jury. “Some jurors were shaking their heads. Others, we couldn’t read them at all. It is a game, because you never know what they are thinking.”
Testimony concluded on August 27, and the jury began deliberating that Monday afternoon. Racz was ordered to return to court every morning until a verdict was reached. It wouldn’t take long. After deliberating for just more than a day, the jury buzzed Judge Ronald Coen, informing him that they had reached a verdict.
All the main players were in court by 10:15 the next morning. Absent was Racz’s attorney Mounger, who had suffered a stroke a few days before. Other no-shows were Joann (who arrived after the verdict) and Katelin, who had eaten breakfast earlier that morning with her father but didn’t want to be present for the verdict. Extra bailiffs were on hand in case of a disturbance.
The jury found Racz guilty of first-degree murder. The former cop who spent the last 16 years as a free man just shook his head as the jurors reaffirmed their verdict one by one. He then emptied his pockets and handed the contents to his attorney Israels. Everyone was looking at Racz, including his son, Glenn, as he hesitated briefly before being ushered by bailiffs out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
“I think I was as nervous as John,” says Danoff, but “I am glad I went that day. I have been carrying this thing on my back for so long and now it is off my back. It is redemption. It wasn’t in vain.”
As to what Danoff is going to do with the rest of his life? “I have to decide if I want to stay on as a reserve,” he says. “I am not saying I am out of it yet, but I am winding down.” He then adds sheepishly, with a smile: “You are hanging out at the house. You aren’t the boss there. And you have to ask where to sit for god’s sake.”
Intern Sophia Kercher contributed to this story.