How a Jury Decided to Send An Ex-Cop to Prison for 263 Years
A member of the jury that voted to convict former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw — resulting in a 263-year prison sentence for rape and other charges — is speaking out for the first time.
“After so long, [the jurors and I] felt like … somebody with a higher power brought us together for a purpose,” juror Daniel Speaks said in an interview with ABC News’ “20/20.”
Holtzclaw, 29, was accused of committing sex crimes while he patrolled low-income neighborhoods. Police say Holtzclaw followed a pattern when he targeted potential female victims, checking their backgrounds for prior arrests or warrants. Nearly every single one of Holtzclaw’s accusers had histories of drug abuse, prostitution or outstanding warrants.
By the time the case went to trial in 2015, detectives had identified 13 women, all African-American and most of them middle-aged, who had accused Holtzclaw of sexually assaulting them. Holtzclaw was convicted by an all-white jury, comprised of eight men and four women, in December 2015 on 18 of the 36 counts he faced related to rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and other charges.
The jury that convicted Holtzclaw was comprised of eight men and four women, all white.
During the trial, local groups and members from the Black Lives Matter movement staged protests outside the courthouse supporting the 13 accusers, and Speaks said everyone inside could hear them.
“At one point the judge had delayed the hearing … and told us to basically ignore [the protests],” Speaks said.
After listening to weeks of testimony, the jurors were sequestered by a judge and isolated from their jobs, families and lives for deliberation. The jury deliberated for four days, a courthouse record for the longest sequestered jury in county history.
Speaks says that it was DNA evidence on the inside of Holtzclaw’s pants and testimony involving a 17-year-old victim that helped get the deliberations moving.
“During her testimony, she became very emotional and cried. You could just see something different in her when she started talking about the rape and when it happened,” said Speaks.
Speaks said for all the talk of race outside the jury room, it never came up in their deliberations. At first, Speaks said, a number of jurors were ready to set Holtzclaw free because they didn’t believe some of Holtzclaw’s accusers.
“There was some jurors that — due to that fact [of] who these victims were –- had a hard time believing them,” Speaks said.
Speaks said despite the questions surrounding the women’s credibility as witnesses, he believed them.
“For them to show up and testify, I felt like they truly wanted their story known, and they wanted justice,” Speaks said.
After the verdict was read, one of the jurors approached Holtzclaw’s family and girlfriend and said, “My heart’s with you.”
Holtzclaw’s girlfriend, who asked that her real name not be used, told “20/20” that she thought this meant the juror wasn’t happy with the verdict and would one day “be able to come forward and say, ‘I think I’ve made a mistake,’ and hopefully, that will help us and change things.”
But “20/20” spoke to the juror who hugged Holtzclaw’s family, and she said she stands by the verdict and that her gesture was out of pity for a family destroyed by the actions of their son.
All of the jury members “20/20” spoke to said they are proud of the verdict they rendered.
“I mean, there were some stressful moments in there, when some people got upset, but in the end, I think we were all pretty proud of what we did,” Speaks said.
Watch the full episode on ABC News’ “20/20” TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET.