After deliberating for almost 20 hours, the jury in the case of former City of Chicago worker Michael Jackson took only a few minutes to deliver its verdict.
On Monday, Aug. 21, the jury found, Jackson, 38, guilty of second-degree murder in the Feb. 4, 2005, death of 62-year-old cab driver Haroon Paryani. However, the jury acquitted Jackson of first-degree murder and aggravated vehicular hijacking. ( Second-degree murder was one of the charges the jury had the option of choosing; another was vehicular homicide. )
Jackson was charged in the death of Paryani. The two got into a fight over an $8 fare that left Paryani dead near Briar Place and Cambridge Avenue in Lakeview. Jackson ran over the taxi driver three times with his own vehicle.
The deliberations stretched over Friday, Saturday and Monday. Jurors debated until about 11:30 p.m. Friday. Proceedings were suspended early Saturday after a juror fell ill on the way to the courthouse. Monday's deliberations spanned from 9:30 a.m. to about 7:45 p.m., with jurors asking questions and submitting notes a few times.
On Sept. 20, Judge James Schreier will hear post-round motions before sentencing Jackson. The range of punishment for second-degree murder stretches from probation to 20 years in prison.
As the verdicts were read, Jackson—dressed in a dark suit, light blue shirt and patterned tie—displayed little emotion. The same was true of John C., Jackson's partner; Jackson's family; and Paryani's family.
In rejecting the first-degree murder and hijacking charges, the jury had to dismiss both simultaneously because they were linked. Under the felony murder rule, a person can commit first-degree murder if any death ( even an accidental one ) results from the commission of certain violent felonies—in this case, aggravated vehicular hijacking.
The jury left en masse, declining to talk with reporters. At least one juror, a female, had tears streaming down her face on her way to the elevator.
After the hearing, both sides claimed victory. Tom Breen, senior defense attorney, told reporters that the 'jury seems to agree with [ the contention ] that a man was killed in sudden passion. ( Breen said that Jackson never meant to hijack the cab [ i.e., it was not premeditated ] and that Paryani was the aggressor. ) Mercedes Luque-Rosales, the assistant state's attorney who served as lead prosecutor, said that 'we have a 62-year-old cab driver who's dead and a [ 38 ] -year-old [ man ] in jail. The jury has held Michael Jackson responsible for the death of Haroon Paryani. We have justice with the jury's verdict.'
Seemingly, both sides succeeded in conveying the original intent of their opening statements. A jury of nine women and three men listened as Luque-Rosales pegged Jackson as a cold-blooded murderer. 'Little did [ Paryani ] know that his shift [ on that day ] would end in murder. Haroon Paryani's murderer sits in this courtroom. What was his weapon of choice? Haroon Paryani's own cab.' On the other hand, the defense painted Jackson as an Everyman who was roughed up by a driver who had a history of violence.
Two members of the Paryani family briefly spoke after the verdict was delivered. Amir Paryani, Haroon's son, communicated via sign language that he 'would like to thank the state's attorney, the jury and the judge,' adding that 'I know that my father is at peace.' Sharifa Paryani, Haroon's widow, also expressed her gratitude before breaking down.
When asked how Jackson was feeling after the verdict was read, Breen responded that his client 'is still stunned by everything. He has a lot of respect for the jury. However, he had hoped for a better result.'
Regarding the upcoming hearing, Luque-Rosales indicated that she does not plan to take things easy. 'In light of the brutality of this act, we'll be seeking substantial penitentiary time,' she said.
For Jackson, however, his trials are literally not over. In April 2005, he allegedly attacked nurse Susan McNamara at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital after being admitted there for attempting suicide; supposedly, the HIV-positive Jackson spat on her and threatened to infect her. He has been charged with reckless assault in that case. ( At the time, he was free on $750,000 bail in the murder charge; Schreier subsequently revoked bail. ) In addition, Jackson allegedly had sexual contact with inmates in the DuPage County Jail without mentioning his HIV status; the charge in this instance is reckless conduct.