"[R]easonable doubt went out the window when Cuadra opened his mouth" sayeth another juror, and it's clear the other 11 pretty much agreed with her.
Yet even in "hindsight" Harlow's lawyers say in the book (quoting a post-conviction interview) they HAD to do, given the state of the trial up to that point.
One problem I've always had with this post-trial reasoning, however, is that it directly contradicts what Harlow lawyers said during the trial. Just prior to Harlow taking the stand it, was reported that Harlow was "Going against his lawyer's advice not to testify,...".
This makes me wonder. Were Harlow's lawyers really the driving force behind the decision, as they claimed after the trial? Or were Harlow's lawyers simply being kind to Harlow, by taking the blame for his terrible unilateral decision against their advice?
Only ONE of those lawyers statements can be true. Is it the during-trial statement, or the post-trial statement?
My personal belief is that Harlow's lawyers were telling the truth in the first instance; that Harlow overruled their advice, and ordered them to put him on the stand. I base this on a number of factors, including Harlow's Kocisphere-related behavior, and how easy it was for him to dupe a wide range of bloggers and supporters, from Elm to Jason Ridge, into believing whatever lies he served up at the time. There were his own blog posts, both pre- and post-arrest, written with such overweening arrogance. And there were his tape-recorded efforts at image maintenance, which shows that he thought himself some sort of Svengali-like master of manipulation.
In short, he successfully suckered so many people in the past, he thought it would be a piece of cake to sucker just 12 more.
And it was that decision, according to the jurors, which sealed his doom.
Update 38: The jury verdict rolls in. And here is to me one of the biggest surprise revelations in the book, that initially only 8 of 12 of the jury "voted" Harlow guilty initally.
When I blogged about this issue back in 2009, I didn't get any impression there was a formal vote taken, just that 4 of the jurors rhetorically hemmed and hawed (and smoked) a bit before finally and formally voting guilty:
1) Amazingly, four jurors actually held out for a bit on finding Harlow guilty in the guilt phase:
“There were four jurors who thought it could have been Joe,” Scutt said. “You had no direct evidence, no DNA linking (Cuadra) to the murder. There was so much circumstantial evidence. There were several that couldn't put the knife in his hand.”
A smoking break, of all things, quickly broke the logjam, however:
“The jurors went out for a smoke, and when they returned, one of them told us she thought about the case when she was outside for a cigarette and came to agree (Cuadra) was guilty,” Stavitzski said. “The other jurors who had doubt then came around.”
Smoking was definitely hazardous to Harlow's health in jury deliberations."Lets enter the realm of speculation for a bit. We already have a core of 2 jurors who voted to a acquit outright and two probably leaning that way such that they abstained. Lets say a few things went differently during the trial. Let's say Joe testified and fell on his sword in accordance with Plan C (or D or whatever). Lets say Harlow's image makeover and blog misinformation campaign succeeded, and the court room was filled with "FREE HARLOW" t-shirt wearing supporters every day. Lets say those 4 Harlow-leaning jurors became 6...or 7. THEN we are looking at at least a hung jury...and possibly a not guilty verdict.
The fact that 4 jurors felt strongly enough at the outset to decline to formally VOTE guilty, despite the mountain of evidence that was presented to them, tells me the case outcome was actually a lot closer than I thought in 2009.
Update 37: Some final comments on Melnick's cross-examination. What the book tells me that I did not really know before is the occasional combativeness of Harlow on the stand with Melnick. This didn't come across to me strongly during the news accounts and court watcher reports back in 2009 (to my recollection, anyways). The only impression I remember back then was that Melnick was having a field day, ferreting out various major inconsistencies in Harlow's story, much to Harlow's embarrassment.
I wonder if that combativeness was a wise strategy? If your whole defense is based on claiming to be a defenseless bully victim, is it a good idea to respond to bullying by the prosecutor by bullying him right back?
Most interesting moment detailed in the book: Melnick bringing up the Here TV Roecker interview, and Harlow trying to explain it away by claiming Roecker taped him for the show without his knowledge (!!!). Considering that recording a phone call without permission is a crime in most states, this incident of selling an ally and supporter of his down the river astounds me today, just as much is it did in 2009.
Most interesting moment NOT detailed in the book: This exchange -
"“Mr. Cuadra, let’s cut to the chase. Are you saying that Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart have anything to do with this murder?” Melnick asked.
“No,” Cuadra responded."Which I think shows a big difference between the book, and the blogs as they existed back in 2009. This little Q and A was a huge deal in the Kocisphere back in 2009, as there were still bright embers of hope amongst the Brent-bashers that Harlow would at some point turn to the jury, and dramatically implicate Sean and Grant in the murders. That concise word "no" dashed all those pent up hopes. The Brent-bashers silence after this point was deafening; their disappointment was palpable. It was one of those major Kocisphere moments.
The book handled this whole matter (probably correctly, IMO) with a couple of paragraphs at the start of Chapter 6 ("To be clear,..."), and never returned to it. So, what was of thermonuclear importance in 2009 did not even make the cut in 2012.
Update 36: Melnick begins cross-examining Harlow at the start of Chapter 12. This is generally remembered here to those following the trial live back then as a great slaughter (with Harlow being the slaughteree). Just go back to the thread in question here, and browse through the comments to get a picture of all this.
Melnick begins the chapter by blowing up the whole dominating Joe theory with gusto, and the book gives a few examples of taped statements of Harlow, used by Melnick, to show that Harlow wasn't just this wus being pushed around all the time by "Terror of the Tidewater" Joe.
In fact, going back to that old thread, you can find some excerpts on that point I managed to find on my own back in 2009:
"Update 6: Per Sassy's advice in the comments here, I went combing through the CCTs and BBTs, to see what clues I could find as to who dominated who in the Harlow/Joe relationship. These were the most telling items I found:
"HARLOW CUADRA: I'll tell you what, when we're nude on that beach you can ask me whatever the hell you want.
GRANT ROY: Okay.
JOSEPH KEREKES: Really?
HARLOW CUADRA: Yea."
Here we have Harlow making a critical (ha ha, how's that for understatement!) decision in this saga, all on his own. Joe meekly aquieses, with the one-word question to Harlow: "Really?"
And then right after that we have:
"GRANT ROY: So y'all going to Sea World tomorrow?
JOSEPH KEREKES: Honestly Grant, if you can't give us a positive word tonight, we're gonna head back tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon.
HARLOW CUADRA: Well we'll give you 'til tomorrow."
Now, here's the exact opposite; Joe makes a decision, and then Harlow completely overrides it.
I think we now know who was the "controlling" partner in this relationship."The thing is, I could have easily found more such examples combing through the BBTs back then. If you read through those transcripts in their entirety, it's very clear that Harlow is, at the very least, an equal co-partner in the relationship (indeed, an excellent argument can be made that Harlow was dominant over Joe via manipulation). In any case, as all of these statements reflecting the relationship between Harlow and Joe rolled in the Kocisphere as the case developed, Harlow never came across to us as a dominated wallflower.
And you know, the best evidence of this isn't even these various tape snippets. It's one of the prime witnesses who testified in the case: Justin Hensley.
Here's what Hensley had to say about the relationship (back in Chapter 4):
"Hensley rejects suggestions that Kerekes was dominating over Cuadra. Kerekes could be "a loud mouth," Hensley said, and Cuadra "just kind of put up with it." "I grew to be, you know, a friend of (Harlow), because he took care of me and (Cuadra and Kerekes) had their disagreements about things, but I don't think Harlow would do anything for Joe," Hensley said."
Boom. That's really game-set-match on this issue. Hensley actually LIVED with them, thus he was better positioned to judge this question than practically anyone else on this planet. He was testifying under oath on this matter, and he has absolutely NO conceivable reason to lie. So, it's easy to see how the whole dominated-Harlow theory got rejected by the jury.
Update 35: Chapter 11, Harlow on his own behalf. Before we get into Harlow's story, we need to remind ourselves of the context in which it was told.
This court room story was Harlow's third major story. The first story, if you all recall, was that the real killer stole Harlow's well-circulated escort photo off the internet, and he had nothing to do with the murder at all. This story began to fall apart when the Vegas photo of he and Brent together was discovered, an impossible coincidence that made it clear he was lying.
The second story was that he had an innocent meeting with Kocis in PA, arrived at the house, peeked in, smelled smoke, and left. This was the story famously labelled Plan B in the intercepted three-way calls. Harlow and his supporters stuck to this story until Joe's plea deal, admitting he'd been a party to murder, made Plan B completely untenable as well.
Notice that each change in story was never made voluntarily. It was always forced upon Harlow by the revelation of new facts pointing to his guilt, necessitating a new story be concocted that manages to explain away all the facts, both new and old. The jury knew of this history of tale-telling and story-shifting, as did the bloggers.
The jury and the bloggers also knew of his other attempts at deceit, such as his campaign to find fake alibi witnesses, the aforementioned three-way calls in which fake stories (which were even given "Plan" letters) were openly bandied about, and the creme-de-la-creme, happening JUST before Harlow took the stand: Joe walking into the court room saying that Harlow had asked him to lie and tell yet another story, but he decided against it at the last minute.
And right at that moment, the poor, downtrodden, frightened and innocent Harlow mask drops, and a pair of ANGRY Harlow eyes shoots bullets at Joe. Joe leaves the court, the poor, downtrodden, frightened and innocent mask goes back up, but not before at least one juror witnesses the facial transformation.
So, that's the context.
And with that in mind, here in a nutshell is Harlow's court room story:
Harlow and Joe wanted to shoot porn with Brent Corrigan, but there were complications with this lawsuit Brent was in with a company called Cobra Video. Harlow had a very low opinion of Cobra Video, saying their marketing was unbelievably poor, and "their edit work sucks."
Brent settles his lawsuit, so yay, he can shoot porn with Harlow. But Harlow and Joe decide that it would help build Harlow's audience to shoot a video with Cobra beforehand. Because as we all know, nothing helps builds an audience like working for a company with terrible marketing and sucky editing.
So, Harlow arranges an interview with the owner of Cobra Video. But he does so using a fake name. Because as we all know, the best way to boost yourself name recognition in the industry is to work under a fake name no one will recognize.
Anyways, the interview is going swimmingly until Harlow's boyfriend Joe starts pounding intensely at the front door. Now, several witnesses have testified already that Kocis NEVER answered unexpected knocks at the door. But those were just normal knocks! Obviously a menacing, rapid pounding with a heavy fist is a splendid occasion to throw caution to the wind, break tradition, and open that door. So, Kocis opens the door...
And then Joe the jealous boyfriend bursts in and cuts Kocis' throat, while Kocis quite understandably complains about the fact that his throat is being cut. Harlow, naturally, is mortified at this turn of events.
And that is pretty much Harlow's story. True, I left some details out, but like I said this is but a nutshell, and I think all the major points have been hit.
I'm not going to waste a lot of time here telling you my opinion of all this...I save it for the comments. Perhaps the occasional faint whiff of sarcasm in my retelling of the story may have given me away already.
But I will make a note of a few minor additional points about Chapter 11:
1) Harlow states that Joe controlled his finances so much that Harlow did not even own a wallet. Now, I have a question that I'm going to crowdsource out to you all: Is there a police record posted, on PC's blog perhaps, of the inventory of possessions taken off their person when Harlow and Joe were arrested? PC has a LOT of documents posted on his blogs, but I can't remember if an arrest inventory sheet is among them. And it's been so long I don't even know where to begin to look.
I'd be VERY curious to know if a wallet was found on Harlow...
2) Harlow states that Joe had a habit of bursting in jealously on his sessions with clients...similar to how he says he bursted in on Kocis. However, none of the Harlow clients called to testify (Nep, Hal(l)ford, etc..) testified to this. Why were none of the bursted-in clients called in to testify on this critical bit of alleged evidence?
Also...one would think a bursted-in client would be quite irate at Norfolk Male Escorts. So much so they would leave a bad escort review. However, looking at Harlow's old reviews (yes, they still exist, Harlow and Joe are listed as "retired", LOL) there is no review in existence mentioning any such bursting in by Joe.
One would almost believe, by the complete lack of easily obtainable supporting evidence, that Harlow is making this bursting in thing up.
3) Harlow states that he sat in on three or so phone calls by Kocis, each about five minutes long. If true (and in this particular instance, I can think of no motive for Harlow to lie) this verifies my earlier theory about Harlow arriving BEFORE the Macias call, and sitting in on phone conversations between Kocis and Lee Bergeron and Macias.
IMO this is probably the most interesting thing in Chapter 11.