Collin County Jury Wasn't Deceived by Jason Lowe's Lurid Defense Tale

It doesn't take much legal expertise to at least hazard a guess as to why the Collin County jury in the Jason Lowe trial has twice as many women as men. Understand, I have no inside knowledge in the case. But if I were representing this particular defendant, the last people I would want in the jury box would be a grim line of stern-faced fathers, maybe with daughters of their own. If that was the situation here, it didn't work. On Wednesday, an eight-woman, four-man jury found Lowe, 28, guilty in the murder of his 27-year-old live-in girlfriend, Jessie Bardwell. Conventional wisdom, which in this case was dead wrong, still tends to hold that women might be softer, more forgiving, more sympathetic toward personable young men with nice haircuts and good suits. For the last week, that's the role Lowe has assumed to present the defining performance of his life. But I cannot imagine a parent - father or mother - who would not grow sick with rage at hearing the testimony in this trial. Not the case presented by the prosecution, mind you, the painstakingly assembled and ultimately convincing view that Lowe purposely murdered Bardwell, then dumped her body under a debris pile in rural Farmersville. That's enough to make even the most sympathetic and forgiving among us reel with horror. No, I'm talking about the defense case, Lowe's meticulously rehearsed version of "it was all a tragic accident." This particular mea non culpa was enough to make even the most reasonable citizen yearn for a sentence of not less than - I don't know - a million years at the scariest maximum security unit in the Texas penal system. That will not happen. Lowe, in spite of his witness-stand imitation of a heartbroken lover, had the presence of mind to negotiate a deal for himself up front. Before he would tell police where he had dumped the body of "the love of his life," he nailed down a promise that he wouldn't receive any criminal sentence greater than 50 years. That's still a lot, and it remains to be seen what will happen during the punishment phase of the trial. But there's something about this particular trial that was purely infuriating. I know, of course, that trials aren't, at the very heart, about the victims. They can't be. They're about the accused, and what-are-we-going-to-do with this person. And I don't blame defense lawyers for doing their jobs. In this instance, it looks as if they did the best they could given what courthouse regulars calls "a bad set of facts" - evidence that makes your client look really, really bad. The price on justice can be steep, and in this instance, Bardwell's grieving family and friends had to pay by listening as Lowe tried to explain that, well, yes, he told a seemingly unending series of lies. And that Bardwell had already been dead for days when he was still telling her increasingly frantic family she had "gone shopping." They had to to listen to his cringe-worthy tale, which the jury ultimately did not buy, that Bardwell hit her head during a bout of drug-fueled sex, and that's what caused her death. They were not spared the ugly fact that Lowe was sending naked texts of himself to women he met online and calmly job-hunting while his girlfriend's body was hidden in the garage for days, with the inevitable biochemical consequences of what happens to unattended human corpses. I ache for this young woman's family, for every family that has to sit in a courtroom and endure a string of tales about a victim who is no longer present to offer a self-defense. Jessie Bardwell, who thought she had met the man she would marry, did nothing wrong. Nothing, except allowing herself to be deceived by a monster. It happens every day. This Collin County jury was not deceived by the defendant's tears, or his tidy suit, or his nice-guy haircut, or his plaintive claims about the "love of his life."They saw the monster only too well.  Continue reading...

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