Jury integrity paramount in Mynisha retrial

Lawyers in the Mynisha Crenshaw homicide re-trial will begin picking jurors next week, a crucial element of the process that may have dogged the first trial in Rancho Cucamonga in fall 2006.

Three suspects are ready for trial, to be held in San Bernardino this time, in a brutal gang retaliation shooting that killed 11-year-old Mynisha and wounded her older sister.

In the retrial, jury selection couldn’t be more paramount after potential threats surfaced during the 2006 trial while court testimony was underway.

Prosecutors learned one of the jurors hailed from an area favorable to the street gang whose members were on trial, according to those close to the case. Defendant Sinque Morrison had identified a juror as being from the Grape, an area controlled by a Los Angeles street gang, in a telephone call from the jail, The Sun reported in October 2006.

In a separate instance, Sheriff’s deputies who control the inmate holding area at the courthouse found a kite, or a note passed among inmates, referencing jurors. Working on one of the jurors. Need you to have some new booties take care of that Ms. Davis business, maybe even at the courthouse, the note said.

Court officials, at the time, said no one on the jury was named Ms. Davis but the situation was enough to cause alarm. In response, Judge Shahla Sabet held a closed-court hearing to interview jurors one by one and assess any possible misconduct.

The jury eventually deadlocked on most of the charges against defendants Sidikiba Greenwood, Harold Phillips and Morrison, and prosecutors say they aren’t taking any chances with jury selection and safety in the second trial.

Considerations are being made to reduce chances of the situation from happening again, Deputy District Attorney Ron Webster explained this week. However, no details were revealed.

The three men, suspected members of the Pimps, Players, Hustlers and Gangsters street gang, are charged with Mynisha’s death and the wounding of her older sister in the November 2005 shooting.

San Bernardino Police say the gang was retaliating for the shooting death of one of its own members, four days earlier in the same area. Numerous rounds were fired into an apartment near Mountain Avenue and Citrus Street, where Mynisha and her family were eating dinner.

The girls were unintended victims.

Eight other defendants in the case have already taken plea bargains. A judge delayed defendant Michael Barnett Jr. from going to trial earlier this week after his lawyer asked for more time because of an illness.

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