Jury foreman: Giannini accuser 'never said no'

WMC Action News 5 has new insight into a disturbing case that captivated the Mid-South.

A millionaire businessman was pitted head-to-head with a part-time Waffle House worker and mother of four.

The 28-year-old woman claimed she went to computer company mogul Mark Giannini's Eads mansion to interview for a house keeping job, but while there she says Giannini violently raped her.

Click here to watch Part 1 of this story.

Facing three counts of aggravated rape, Giannini's attorney argued in graphic detail that the woman knew she had gone to the mansion for sex, and called her a liar out for money.

After seven hours of deliberation, 12 jurors sided with Giannini.  Immediately, social media lit up with Mid-Southerners questioning the jury's decision saying jurors failed Giannini's accuser.

Shortly after the social media outrage, the jury foreman sent a package to WMC Action News 5's Kontji Anthony with all of his notes. He then agreed to sit down with Kontji to set the record straight.

"We have been made out to be uncaring for the victim," he said.  "We weren't. We wanted to find the evidence that supported her claim."

Twelve days after delivering the not guilty verdict, the jury foreman discussed with Kontji what happened inside the court and jury room.

He asked for anonymity because the accuser in the case admitted in court she was a former cocaine smuggler for a Mexican drug cartel.

"This is a drug dealer who has been running cocaine and spent time in jail for running cocaine from Mexico to the U.S. and now we're supposed to believe her," he pointed out.

"Her testimony was she got there, she went into the restroom to brush her teeth, used Scope, and then she went back out.  He was already in the pool.  He was already naked in the pool and then he told her to get undressed, get in the pool, we're going to have sex and she did."

Prosecutors presented images of a woman's bruised body, claiming the photos were of the accuser. The accuser testified the photos were taken by a "friend" who she would not identify.  The foreman said he wanted to see photos taken by a professional.

"You couldn't tell who it was," he added. "The photos were from the neck down or the waist down."

In notes taken by the foreman during the trial, he wrote the accuser appeared to be out for blood.

Describing her in his notes as "A drug smuggler, liar thief and went to jail. She blames everything on other people. Always the victim."

The foreman said he never believed the accuser was going to Giannini's mansion for a job interview.  "She seems to be lying," he wrote.

The foreman said there simply was no evidence a crime had been committed, but he believes the accuser might not have known exactly what she was getting into.

"I don't believe she knew ahead of time that it would be rough," he said.

He said if she had admitted she went there for sex, but then it got violent, the verdict might have been different because he felt she was lying about one thing, so she might be lying about other things.

Kontji: The moment that it started to get violent, do you think that became rape?

Foreman: I think if it ever became violent, we don't know…they (state's attorneys) didn't have the evidence a jury would expect…whenever we had a break, we would all go back to the break room and say, 'Please, God, give us one piece of evidence. Stop with the rhetoric. We don't care. Give us the damn evidence.

The foreman said he wanted to see the physical evidence in the form of the actual material or something like a DNA report.

"You have all these towels that supposedly were used during all this raping going on and there's no evidence on the towels?" He questioned. "Something's not right with that…I wanted something tangible."

What he says he got instead were prosecutors who were not prepared.

"They wasted the taxpayers' money by not being prepared," he said. "They didn't have a damn piece of evidence.  Not one that could say look, here's this man's property. This is what he used to do such and such and such."

"The state has no case," the foreman wrote in notes.

"If she truly is a victim, the state failed her," he foreman explained.

He said no real evidence was ever presented and that the accuser testified she never told Giannini "no," when the two had sex.

He wrote in his notes in circled, bold letters, "SHE NEVER SAID NO."

The foreman says that testimony was pivotal.  "Huge. Huge," he said. "She could have said, 'No, I'm not going in the pool, no I'm not having sex with you, no I'm not taking off my clothes, no I'm not drinking'".

He told Kontji the state's attorneys were too green.  His notes read, "The attorneys for the state are 3 young, rich white 'kids'".

He says jurors saw the attorneys rolling their eyes and chatting while the defense was speaking.  His notes from court read, "State's lawyers seem unprepared, they don't seem to know how to act in a courtroom."

"Are these people for real?  Is this their first case?" the foreman wondered aloud. "These were comments we were making because it was so disruptive."

He says jurors were also frustrated by a comment made by Giannini's defense attorney, Steve Farese.

"People can be very good at lying," Farese said during closing arguments. "Women can be especially good at it because they're the weaker sex," Farese went on to say.

The jury foreman says Farese's statement didn't influence the outcome of the trial, but it was a distraction because jurors were offended by the comment.

"It made us all mad he would even throw that out there because the case was on rape," the foreman explained. "There was no place for that."

After closing arguments, jurors arrived in the jury room, and took a vote.

"We were all hoping we had the same vote and would go home," described the foreman.  He says two men and two women wanted a guilty verdict.

"They wanted to hang that guy. He was horrible, he was this, he was that. They called him all kinds of things and stories and names," the jury foreman recalled. "They were going to fry him regardless and it hung us up."

In the foreman's "Judge's Instructions" notes, he circled the word "consent."  He says a major issue for jurors was how to define consent.

During deliberations, jurors asked the judge for the legal definition. The judge met with attorneys on both sides and the attorneys agreed no additional information should be provided.

"Some people needed that to go forward because they didn't have a legal definition," the foreman recalled. "All they had was their definition of what consent was and that was different between different people…by her saying she wanted to go home, was that enough?"

The foreman says it was the two male jurors who held out until the end. He quoted them in his notes as saying, "I have to find Giannini guilty of something."

"I said, 'Fine, this is what you do. You go through all of the testimony and find one piece, one, just one. One piece of evidence and we will be a hung jury'".

The deliberation stretched out over seven hours. The foreman says jurors began yelling at one another in frustration.

"We went through everything we had that had been provided at least a dozen times," the foreman described.


He says the jurors considered lesser charges like sexual battery and assault, but he says there was too much reasonable doubt.

"There were a lot of questions, people were mad, they didn't want to be there," he recalled.


The foreman told Kontji jurors never heard the accuser's screams in the hallway at 201 Poplar, after the verdict was read.

The foreman said fellow jurors he spoke with after the trial were shocked, when they came home to learn Giannini faces two more rape charges in separate cases.

Kontji asked him if he thought this verdict would deter future rape victims.

"I highly recommend anyone ever attacked, raped or even assaulted to come forward because there's someone down the line who you may be saving," he said.  "I hope that they will come forward and I hope they will have a better team of lawyers who will really present the evidence and give the jury the opportunity to see that evidence, to hear that evidence and to be able to connect the dots so that there could be a different outcome."

Giannini's next trial is scheduled for September.

The accuser in last month's case is suing Giannini in circuit court for $6 million.

The Shelby County District Attorney's office did not respond to our request for a comment in this report.

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