Juror chose to be excused from case over ‘adverse exposure’ to defendants

One juror in the trial of Kimberly Potter was excused from the trial over his own potential “adverse exposure” to certain defendants in the case.

The judge found that one of the jurors who were selected to sit on the jury for Potter’s trial, and was excused from sitting on the jury, may have sought to provide the jury a favorable outcome in the case due to his “interests in the case in general, as well as his own personal experiences in another significant proceeding before the court, which may be adverse to these defendants.”

The judge was referring to the DuPage County youth, Rodolphe Leblanc, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 2006 rape and murder of 15-year-old Lee County, Florida, resident Daunte Wright. A Florida jury was given the option of making that sentence be carried out by hanging, or by hanging the defendant, Leblanc.

The judge set the remaining jury to resume deliberating their case on Thursday, and said they would now deliberate on whether there was sufficient evidence for a third-degree murder conviction for the charges of child abuse resulting in death in this case.

The judges also set the court date for Potter’s trial for October 25. Potter is accused of killing 14-year-old Daunte after placing her in a suitcase that was left by a rural road to suffocate her. The hearing on Thursday lasted about 15 minutes.

“Your Honor, I feel like we’re in a jailhouse game,” Potter said after the hearing.

Potter added that she doesn’t “think there’s any one particular person that caused it,” but rather that there is more than just one person to blame.

“It’s easy to point the finger at someone else, but none of these people in particular,” she said.

Potter told WGN-TV she was taken by surprise at the public outcry over the sentence for Leblanc. Potter’s son, who has also suffered from autism and other mental health issues, was one of several witnesses called by defense attorneys.

“I don’t think anything quite equals it,” Potter said. “My son is no more dangerous than [Leblanc’s] son. What we have here is an extremely horrific situation, and I guess some people are offended by what they perceive as just someone’s child being involved in it.”

Leblanc was serving a 20-year sentence in the stabbing death of his girlfriend’s 19-year-old son. He was convicted of murder after telling investigators that he killed his girlfriend’s son on Easter night in 2004 because the victim had broken up with his girlfriend. Investigators, however, found that Leblanc didn’t kill the boy, but rather had orchestrated the death by giving him a lethal cocktail of drugs to make it look like suicide.

Evidence presented at Leblanc’s trial showed that he tied a rope around the child’s neck, smothered him with a pillow and dumped the victim in a trunk. Leblanc told police that he planned to switch the victim to a Dumpster and pay to have it removed.

When asked how she intended to solve the case, she said “people need to be held accountable, no matter what.”

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