Kristina Williams was among several jurors who argued for convictions in the Hamas-support case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The case ended in a mistrial Oct. 22 after jurors could not reach unanimous verdicts on most counts. In this edited summary of Williams' interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, she explains why she felt the defendants were guilty and describes how others, especially juror William Neal, reacted to her arguments.
Kristina Williams Transcript:
"I was pressured into voting the way they wanted me to vote. But to me, I felt like… the guilty… I always thought guilty. …..
It was very difficult some days. When I get off the jury every night I would come home and basically cry because I felt like every time I spoke I would get knocked down, criticized, one way or the other for something pertaining to the way I voted. …..
And in the morning I didn't have a problem with getting up and going to do my civil duty. I enjoyed doing it. I felt like what I was doing was very important and was something that would be a positive influence in my life. But there were just some days that I didn't want to go in because of one juror, and I wasn't the only one that felt that way…..
And when they gave us notepads and pens to write, I was glad, because I was able to start taking notes, and ‘cause I figured that they were going to have a lot of things to discuss since it was going to be six weeks or longer for the trial, and I wanted to try to write down what I could to do a fair trial…..
We wrote down these names, and we wrote down the evidence that was ‘pro' and ‘con' on what the ‘guilty' people thought made him guilty and what the ‘not guilty' people thought made him not guilty. And each time we did that, we would get somebody to come back and say, ‘Well how can you say that that's not in the evidence, that it's not relevant?' And a couple of us said ‘Well to us it's relevant. This is what we think.'…
I believe all of them was guilty on the conspiracy, but on the wire transfers I didn't, they didn't have, show proof on a couple of the defendants to show that they had hands-on money to these committees that were in the trial. And under those circumstances I couldn't just find them guilty because there was no evidence. But yes, I believe that all of them had knowledge of conspiracy….
And Mr. Neal come out and said ‘Well if you're going by the evidence in this room then you need to go home.' And I got extremely upset. I was mad, but I got very, very upset, and yes I got very emotional….
I believe that they, again I think it was Shukri Abu Baker that said he didn't know Abu Marzook. But Abu Marzook gave him $275,000 to start the Holy Land Foundation. If he didn't know him, then how was he able to get that kind of money? ….
Another one that made me get convinced that he knew what he was doing is when Shukri Abu Baker said ‘War is deception.' And that was kind of, that was pretty intense for me, that, why would he say that? I know he said it at the Philadelphia meeting. And, if it's a charity set up, then why is he saying that? And plus, there was Hamas leaders there, and they showed tapes of Hamas leaders. And if this is supposed to be a charity fundraising, why is Hamas there? So, I just thought - in being hands on with the paperwork and the moneys, and they found information in Infocom - if they're charities, then why are they trying to hide all this information? ….
And I think I brought this out that these people were smarter than that to just come out and write the word Hamas on a check. I said, I think they knew what they were doing; they were just smarter than that to be that obvious that they were supporting Hamas. And you know, some of the jurors, they wanted to see the word Hamas on a check. Sure, I would have loved to have seen Hamas on a check. But it's realistic, I think these people were just that smart……
I was not in there to convict people. I was in there to do personally what I felt strongly about is to try to do justice and do what was important. And to me, I wasn't trying to be pro-government or anything like that. I was just following the evidence. And to me the evidence on all of them was there, just not all the evidence……
I told them that I wasn't happy when I voted this way. And when we went in there to the jury room, because the uh judge wanted us to see if we could deliberate, they come out and says ‘Well, you said you were sure about this.' And I said, ‘Look, I told you I said I would vote your way because I told you that I couldn't find the evidence on this.' I said, ‘But I wasn't happy with the way I voted. I told you guys I wasn't happy with the way I voted.' And Neal told me to ‘shut up and go back to sleep.'…..
It got very, very heated. It got very personal and very defensive. And to be honest with you, I don't know exactly what words were exchanged, but it was at the point that if we didn't take a break it might have gotten worse……
So Monday morning when I go there I didn't want them to get off because I was forced into voting the way they wanted me to vote. So I wrote a letter to the judge and asked if we were going to be polled, because if we weren't I was going to make a statement before we went into jury duty."