‘Amish Attacks’ Jury Stands By Verdict

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CLEVELAND -- Some of the jurors in the Amish hate crimes trial say it was time-consuming and emotionally draining.  Two of them spoke out Thursday afternoon after delivering their verdict.

The jury convicted breakaway Amish leader Sam Mullet and 15 of his followers of federal hate crimes.  They found them guilty of assaults, which included cutting the hair and beards of Amish men and women with whom they had an ongoing religious dispute.

"I live near Amish, I don't know any of the community personally.  I respect them, highly," said juror Stu Smith from Ashtabula County.

"We took each person separately, each incident separately.  We had to do it that way in order to get through it.  We thought maybe it would be another week, but we went over and over and over it.  Dotted every "I", crossed every "T," said juror Sandie McPeak of Kirtland.

The two gave the media insight into their deliberations, which lasted more than 30 hours over the course of five days.  They said it was a difficult process, sometimes emotionally draining, but they wanted to be sure nothing was left out in making their decision.

"Many of the conversations were the difficulty of separating personal and religious aspects of the trial.  The questions I think were most difficult," Smith said.

"It was just repeating and repeating, so when we got towards the end, it was just a little bit easier because we had already covered all of it," said McPeak.

The jurors say they felt both sides made good arguments.  And although defense attorneys said there will be appeals, they stand by their verdict.

"I say good luck, if that's what they have to do, they have to do it.  We just felt like we came up with the best decision that we could," McPeak reacted.

*Click here for additional coverage of the trial...