ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As the trial of Fabian Gonzales gets underway, jurors will be exposed to graphic and shocking images, and experts say those images can be damaging to jurors.
The three-week trial will have testimony and jurors will see the evidence which will include lapel footage or the autopsy images of Victoria Martens. The state wasted no time Wednesday, showing jurors the horrific scene officers walked in on, in 2016. “I had this fight going on inside of me you know my head told me she was dead, my heart wanted me to do everything I could for that little girl,” said one officer in court who responded that night.
It can be traumatic for those who aren’t used to seeing things like that. “In this kind of a case, the exposure of the jury to emotional information, often accomplishes the goal of the attorney, but kind of overlooks the fact that juries are people,” said Dr. Jeff Younggren, a forensic psychologist at the University of New Mexico.
He says some jurors can walk away from a trial unaffected. Others aren’t so lucky. This “vicarious trauma” can have lasting effects on people, and those who are on the jury, help is going to have to wait until after the trial is over. “Getting that kind of care would be important, but because of the realities of the courtroom, that care is likely not going to come to them until the trial is over,” Dr. Younggren said.
Sometimes jurors break down mid-trial because of what they see. In those cases, the juror can be replaced with an alternate.
“If there’s an exclusion that occurs, that doesn’t stop the process at all, you’ve got a juror who’s been sitting there, they then fill the empty seat, and the process goes on.”
However, it is not up to the court to provide the mental help some people might need and experts in the field say they should. “Individuals need to take care of themselves, and then need to be willing to say, I need to be with somebody else, or I need to talk with somebody who knows how to handle these issues,” said Dr. Younggren, “There’s no magic in psychotherapy.”
KRQE News 13 called the courts today to ask if there will be a psychologist for members of the jury after the trial. They would not comment.