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Juror who voted to spare Luna's life 'at peace' with her decision
By Tara Malone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/20/2007

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The lone juror whose vote spared Juan Luna's life in the Brown's Chicken trial last week is praying for the families of seven people slain in a Palatine restaurant 14 years ago.

"She prays for God to help those families. Her heart really goes out to them," the juror's brother-in-law, Nisaac Rosario, said Saturday.

Facing intense media scrutiny, the woman relatives describe as "reserved" and "loving" left her North Side Chicago apartment with her husband and two children after the final verdict last week. She declined to comment publicly about the trial and asked that she not be named. Her brother-in-law spoke on her behalf.

Rosario said he did not know of his sister-in-law's role in the trial until Friday, a day after jurors sentenced Luna to life in prison without parole for his part in the Jan. 8, 1993, murders.

The five-week-long trial took an emotional toll on her, Rosario said, echoing a view shared by other panelists.

Confronted with horrifying images of the killings at a Brown's Chicken & Pasta restaurant, detailed DNA evidence and the emotional loss described by the seven victims' families, the juror struggled with the weight of the task. She wouldn't wish the responsibility on anyone, Rosario said.

The woman relied on the evidence to guide her decisions about Luna's guilt and his ultimate punishment. Though their family is a religious one, Rosario said facts, not faith, shaped her views. She openly wept when the jury's decision convicting the Carpentersville man of the bloodiest crime in suburban Chicago history was read aloud in court.

"She took to heart what the judge said, to make the best decision based on the evidence and based on how you feel. She said she did that to her fullest power," Rosario said, noting that she took a quiet role during the group's deliberations. "She said it was an uncomfortable decision, knowing how much each juror's decision mattered."

Hers more than most.

In an 11-1 vote, the young mother cast the sole vote that ensured Luna will spend his life in prison without parole. Under Illinois law, a death sentence may only come with a unanimous vote.

The hold-out juror is "at peace" with her decision, Rosario said.