Local News

Jurors Forced To Put Lives On Hold In Another Durham High-Profile Case

Posted May 13, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— After spending days on jury selection, the jurors picked for the Mike Peterson murder trial can expect weeks of testimony and deliberation. A juror, who was seated in another high-profile case in Durham, is still dealing with the aftermath of her civic duty.

For four weeks in 1998, the Timothy Blackwell drunk driving trial was center stage at the Durham County Courthouse. It also was a major part of Glenda Hightower's life, one of the twelve jurors who sat on the case.

"I had to eat, drink, live and die jury duty," she said.

At that time, the case had been a mainstay in the news. As jurors, Hightower said they had to adjust their lifestyles.

"For someone who customarily watches the news, reads the papers, discuss issues with their friends, your hands are tied," she said.

Authorities say Blackwell was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when his pickup truck collided with the Dails' minivan in 1997, killing Megan. Jurors sat through a month of testimony, including details about Megan Dail's death.

"It was pretty emotional. Lots of us had tears," Hightower said.

During the trial, jurors had to set aside their emotions and focus on the facts, but years later, Hightower said the case is still with her.

"I've thought about this man a lot and I thought about this jury experience a lot. A lot of that has haunted me," she said.

At that time, the jury sentenced Blackwell to life in prison, which Hightower said was a gut-wrenching decision. She said even though she and the other jurors had to spend most of their lives at the courthouse, they were just doing their civic duty.
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