Police: Jury foreman 'pranked' with threatening note
Friends say they were going to tell friend note was a joke the next day
Grand jury proceedings were interrupted after the foreman found a threatening note that turned out to be from his friends, according to authorities in Arizona.
A 41-year-old man from Casa Grande, Ariz., who was serving as the foreman for grand jury proceedings, reported going out to his truck when he was on a court break on Oct. 16 and finding a handwritten note stating, "You better not find my dad guilty! I followed you home last Wednesday I know where you live, a******! Early Road sound familiar?"
Jury proceedings were postponed as detectives investigated.
The note was written on a guest check used by restaurants, and detectives went to restaurants in Pinal County to track down where the check came from. At L & B restaurant in Florence, Ariz., a waitress told deputies that another waitress was on duty the previous day and the note looked like her handwriting.
Deputies spoke with the waitress from the previous day who said two men came into the restaurant and asked for something to write on. They said they were going to play a joke on a co-worker who was in town at a grand jury. One of the men wrote the note and then asked her to rewrite the note so their friend wouldn't recognize the handwriting. The waitress said she warned the men it was a bad idea because their friend would likely call the sheriff's department, but the friends said they would tell their friend the following day.
The restaurant had the credit card receipt with Will Packard's name.
Packard, 33, of Maricopa, said he and Robert Marquez, 36, of Casa Grande, said the entire incident was a "prank."
Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles released the following statement on the note:
"No thinking person would joke about having a bomb in their carryon baggage as they board a plane because they understand security officials will necessarily have to take the comment seriously to protect the public.
"I guarantee public threats made against judicial authorities, particularly jurors, are treated the same way and for the same reasons. In this case, the foreman of a Pinal County Grand Jury was threatened in the performance of his sworn duty in a note left on his personal vehicle telling him he was not safe in his own home, if he didn't vote a defendant 'not guilty.'
"Just as what would happen at an airport or the entrance to the courthouse, this threat to the rule of law was met with an immediate, professional and appropriate response. The note was analyzed and the writer quickly identified through an exhaustive all out investigation in the tradition of the best law enforcement agencies in the world. The results revealed an innocent waitress was duped into writing the threat by people who viewed the hoax as 'a joke.'
"No drill or training exercise establishes more clearly the readiness of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office to defend the rule of law in Pinal County. Nevertheless, the trauma inflicted on the foreman, the risk of wrongful arrest for the innocent writer of the note, the great expense of the all-out investigation by PCSO, and most importantly, the overall potential risk of tampering with the integrity of our judicial system requires my office's action. Any risk to our criminal justice system requires my office act immediately and decisively."