The 12-person jury in the State vs. Dharminder Vir Sen deliberated for just over two hours Friday afternoon, before rendering a verdict on three counts. Sen was charged with three counts for his involvement in the home invasion and shooting of Robert Ernst on August 26, 2009. Sheridan Media's Mary Jo Johnson has the report.
Count 1 - First Degree Murder, the verdict is Guilty.
Count 2 - Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Burglary, the verdict is Guilty.
Count 3 - Aggravated Burglary, the verdict is Guilty.
Neither the State nor the Defense required the jury to be individually polled, accepting their corporate acknowledgment to Judge John Fenn that the three Guilty verdicts were true and accurate of their decision.
The call to come back to the Sheridan County Courthouse came at around 3:40 pm, and Dharminder Sen's mother [from Nebraska], grandmother [from California] and aunt [from New York], who had been present throughout the five days, arrived at about 3:53 pm. Understandably, the three were very emotional as they waited.
Dharminder Sen was at first brought into the courtroom wearing his leg shackles and handcuffs over his civilian clothes. His attorney, Tim Cotton, angrily spoke to the Detention Center guard, saying it was not right for him to be wearing them. Sheriff Dave Hofmeier, along with Prosecutor Matt Redle and Cotton, went into Judge's Chambers, and Cotton returned to inform the guard to take Sen out and to remove the cuffs and shackles. As he did so, Sen's mother tearfully thanked Cotton.
Just before bringing the jury in, Judge Fenn told the Court that he was grateful for the respectful attitudes of everyone over the past five days, but would in no way tolerate either any celebrations or outbursts of any kind when the verdict was read, or he would exercise his Power of Contempt.
The jury filed in somberly, with many jurors visibly moved by the seriousness of the decision they had just made. Dharminder Sen stood stoically while Clerk of District Court Nicki Arney read the three verdicts; his mother, grandmother and aunt quietly sobbed.
Judge Fenn asked Sen to stand one more time and said that a sentencing date would be set. Until then, his bond was revoked, and he was remanded back to the Sheridan County Detention Center. As the guard escorted Dharminder Vir Sen out of the courtroom, his family told him they loved him.
Representing a relieved Ernst family was daughter Lisa Ernst Knox, who had traveled from Chandler, Arizona for the second time -- she was also present with her sister Ann for the Dennis Poitra, Jr. trial in September. Ms. Knox was very happy with the verdict, and returned home to Linda Ernst with the news.
Covering the State vs. Dharminder Vir Sen trial for sheridanmedia.com news, I'm Mary Jo Johnson.