Judge hears from juror who claims guilty verdict for man who killed Tempe Fire captain was coerced

Friday was supposed to be the day 22-year-old Hezron Parks would be sentenced after being convicted of murdering Tempe Fire Captain Kyle Brayer in 2018. Instead, Parks' sentencing was canceled, and the second-degree murder conviction may potentially be tossed out.

Two days ago, a juror came forward claiming the verdict was coerced, and on Friday, Juror Number 8 moved from the jury box to the witness stand, explaining what happened to the judge.

"Typically, once a verdict is in, that's it. We go to sentencing," said Parks' attorney, Stephen Crawford. "This is a first time right here. Very, very rare."

Crawford said he has no clue what will happen next. During the surprise hearing, a juror testified that she and others were "bullied into a verdict of second-degree murder by the majority of the jurors". Juror Number 8 said the verdict was not unanimous, and that she, along with five other jurors, did not entirely agree, and she was not allowed to voice her opinion during deliberations.

The juror cried on the stand, saying it was "eating at her", and ultimately, she decided she needed to say something before Parks was sentenced. So, she told the Jury Administrator, and then, the Jury Commissioner alerted the judge, who canceled the sentencing.

"This is a moving piece," said Crawford. "We didn't expect today to happen. This is absolutely a surprise."

Judge Foster is now considering summoning five more jurors for questioning. Meanwhile, Parks' attorney filed a motion to get the verdict tossed out. Parks has maintained he shot Brayer, in self-defense, after Brayer kicked his car and aggressively approached his car during a night of partying in Old Town Scottsdale.

"There is no celebration regardless of what the judge decides," said Crawford. "Two families are greatly impacted."

It remains to be seen if the judge will go through with questioning more jurors. Ultimately, if the judge decides to toss out the second-degree murder verdict, he could order another trial.

Hezron Parks