FORT WORTH — On Friday afternoon, a Tarrant County jury sentenced an Azle woman to five years in prison and assessed a $10,000 fine for stealing a mentally impaired man’s life savings.
But they didn’t stop there.
Jurors decided after the trial that they wanted to donate money to 58-year-old Johnny Bryant to help him recoup some of his loss. Most were going to start with the $166 they received for their jury service.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 44 years of law practice,” said prosecutor Joe Shannon, who fired off a personal check for $250 for the fund. “They know that the guy has been wronged and they wanted to right it a little bit.”
Crystal Jones, 22, the jury forewoman, said a couple of jurors had relatives or friends who are mentally disabled and really felt for Bryant.
“If that was our brother or friend, we would hope someone would do it for us,” Jones said, adding that she has an autistic brother. “It was emotional for many of us.”
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated about two hours on Friday before sentencing Cynthia Sue Hardee, 46, to five years in prison for one count of theft of property and one count of misapplication of fiduciary property. On Thursday, the jury found Hardee guilty of helping herself to at least $75,000 of Bryant’s retirement money after the pair opened a checking account together.