Behind the scenes at the Arroyo trial

I had a chance this afternoon to talk to the forewoman of the jury that convicted retired NYPD detective Jose Arroyo of drugging and raping — but not kidnapping — a woman at a Greenburgh motel. Click here to read the web update.

The forewoman’s name is Linda Blake, and she’s a 49-year-old Greenburgh resident who works as an administrator for a computer company.  This was her first trial, as it was for several other jurors, who deliberated yesterday afternoon and this morning before reaching their split verdict.

She said deliberations were “very, very intense” and that the panel was split at first between Arroyo’s guilt and innocence. But while each juror had an opinion about Arroyo, the victim, and the truthfulness (or not) of several witnesses, she said the verdict was made solely on the evidence presented at the trial.

The jury spent almost as much time reviewing the evidence as they did deliberating it. As jury forewoman, Blake sent out several notes on behalf of the panel, asking for read-backs of part of the victim’s testimony, medical testimony about the timeline of drug impact and the definition of second-degree kidnapping. They also repeatedly watched parts of a security video from Doyle’s Pub in the Bronx, where Arroyo met the victim and, prosecutors alleged, spiked her drink.

Blake said the jury could not tell from the evidence if the woman was so impaired that she could not consent to leave with Arroyo. The uncertainty stemmed from medical tesimony about how long Ambien needs to take effect and a witness who said the victim walked across the street after leaving the bar with Arroyo.

But she said there was no doubt that the drug had taken effect by the time they reached the motel, and that she was unable to consent to the sex or to being posed and photographed nude.

“We used the evidence, our experience and our common sense,” she said.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.