Man Says He's on Heroin to Avoid Jury Duty

By hh339 · Jun 27, 2006 · Updated Jul 1, 2006 ·
  1. hh339
    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A man made a mockery of the justice system when he tried to get removed from a jury pool in a death penalty case by claiming he is a heroin addict and a killer, a judge said.

    Benjamin Ratliffe, 21, of Columbus, was charged with contempt of court and obstruction of justice and ordered to spend a night in jail.

    Ratliffe filled out a questionnaire form for potential jurors and professed to having a "bad jonesin' for heroin." When asked if he had ever fired a weapon, he wrote, "Yes. I killed someone with it, of course. Right."

    Ratliffe doesn't believe in the death penalty and wanted to be excused from the trial, said his attorney, Scott Weisman.

    The potential jurors were being screened for the trial of Quarran S. Covington, who is charged with aggravated murder in the slayings of two Georgia men in May 2005.

    In court, witnesses said, Ratliffe shrugged his shoulders when questioned by Covington's attorney and refused to answer any questions seriously.

    On Thursday, Ratliffe apologized to Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Julie M. Lynch, who had ordered him to jail the day before.

    "He didn't try to defend his responses, and he lied under oath and he was insubordinate," said Lynch, who ultimately removed Ratliffe from the jury pool and dismissed the charges against him. "You do not make a mockery of the process."

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