NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Every few years, Americans are called for jury duty. While some enjoy serving, others can be be changed forever.
That’s even more likely when the trial involves a violent crime, such as the murder trial of former Upper West Side nanny Yoselyn Ortega.
Ortega was convicted of stabbing to death Lulu and Leo Krim in their bathtub five years ago. The trial lasted six weeks, with Ortega being found guilty of murder last month.
Chloe Beck was an alternate juror on the case, and says the graphic pictures of the children’s bodies are forever burned into her mind.
“Once that picture got in my hand I couldn’t even that’s when I realized there is real evil,” Beck told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.
She says the judge told them not to outwardly react to the pictures and she couldn’t discuss the case with anyone, even fellow jurors.
“Being told to be silent about this anguish about this hurt about something I never thought I would see, it broke me,” Beck said.
The New York State Office of Court Administration says it’s during the”… jury selection process when prospective jurors are questioned by the Court… as to their potential reservations regarding a specific case. That is the venue to voice one’s concerns.”
Beck says the jury was only told it would be a high profile case that may last 15 weeks. Since then, she says she’s a different person.
“I see those pictures, I can’t spend a lot of time in my bathroom,” Beck said. “I struggle even with my own kitchen knives.”
The court system does not offer therapy or counseling for jurors, and psychologist Dr. Harris Stratyner says it’s something that’s needed.
“I’ve seen jurors and have had jurors as patients who have been having a form of post traumatic stress disorder,” Dr. Stratyner said.
He says PTSD can hit jurors years after the fact.
“It’s been 5 years since the nanny trial and it’ll play over, all over again,” Dr. Stratyner said. “They’ll get scared about their families, they’ll get scared about their children.”
Beck says she plans to go to therapy, but believes courts should provide on-call counseling for jurors during and after trials. Presently, a juror can ask to be dismissed during a trial but the decision is ultimately up to the judge.