The shape of those talks remains unclear. No one could be sure whether the stream of questions from the jury room since it got the case June 1 came from one juror or 11. After she sent jurors home Tuesday, Sarmina told the lawyers she was reluctant to grant the panel's latest request: to have days' worth of testimony read to it.
The witnesses that jurors want to rehear include the Bucks County man who says Brennan tried to rape him at age 14, the man's mother, and an archdiocesan investigator who interviewed Brennan in 2006. Jurors also asked to hear the testimony of a former Northeast Philadelphia altar boy who described abuse by Edward Avery, a former priest who prosecutors say Lynn knew was a predator.
Earlier, the judge remarked that she wasn't worried about the jury's progress. Juries routinely need a full day to sort through evidence in a trial that lasts just a day or two, Sarmina noted. This one included more than 60 witnesses and nearly 2,000 records presented over 11 weeks.
But that optimism melted as the hours passed. The last request launched a new round of sparring among the lawyers and judge.
After erupting in frustration earlier in the day, Brennan's attorney, William J. Brennan, could manage only a laugh. "Your honor, I have no trouble with you instructing them that if they're that confused, it's called ‘reasonable doubt,'?" he said.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti suggested something less drastic. "Maybe we should tell the jury they can start working to 8 or 9 o'clock at night," he said.
One of Lynn's lawyers, Thomas A. Bergstrom, asked the judge to tell jurors "they have to rely on their recollections of testimony."
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington disagreed. "Give them what they want, your honor," he said.
The defense lawyers blamed the prosecution for any juror confusion, suggesting jurors couldn't remember key witnesses from two months ago because they had to endure weeks of testimony about sexual abuse committed decades ago by priests who aren't charged in this case.
"Maybe your client shouldn't have lied for two days on the stand," Blessington shot back at Lynn's lawyers.
Sarmina said she was leaning toward asking jurors to narrow their requests, but would decide by Thursday. "We are not going to read back two days of testimony," she said.
Contact John P. Martin at 215-854-4774, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @JPMartinInky on Twitter. We invite you to comment on this story by clicking here. Comments will be moderated.