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.

Arroyo rape trial hearings begin

Pre-trial hearings opening today in the case of Jose Arroyo, a retired New York City police detective accused of drugging and raping a woman at a Greenburgh motel a year ago.

Arroyo, 47, is facing a five-count indictment for rape, kidnapping and assault and up to 25 years in state prison on the top counts. He is accused of chatting up the 31-year-old Texas woman Nov. 14 at Doyle’s Pub in the Bronx and slipping a drug in her drink that caused her to pass out. Prosecutors say her then took the unconscious woman to the Alexander Motel on Tarrytown Road in Greenburgh, beat and raped her. The woman, after waking up the next morning, grabbed a key and tried using it on several cars in the parking lot. That prompted the motel manager to call  Greenburgh police.

At today’s evidentiary hearing before acting state Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Neary, a Greenburgh police officer testified that the woman was “clearly distraught … mostly scared” when she told him that she woke up with a man she didn’t know and had no idea how she got to the motel. The woman had visible bruises and scrapes to both cheekbones, the officer said. When police entered the room, they found Arroyo sleeping and the butt of a handgun sticking out from a pillow next to him. They took the giun and told him he could have it back after he sobered up.

Arroyo claims the sex was consensual, but authorities say she was incapable of consent because she was physically helpless because of the drug. Prosecutors say they have videotape showing Arroyo spiking the woman’s drink, stirring it up and handing her the glass when she returned to the bar.

Assistant District Attorneys Christine Cervascio and Patricia Murphy are prosecuting the case. Defense lawyer Peter Tilem is representing Arroyo.