An attorney in a murder trial in Florence, Alabama, died after collapsing in court during her closing arguments.
Jean Darby was delivering her closing argument on behalf of her client, Alfonso Jarmon, when she suddenly lost her balance, WHNT reported. She attempted to compose herself but collapsed and lost consciousness. A plainclothes police officer performed CPR on Darby until paramedics arrived. She was taken to the hospital.
Darby, who was 64, died in the hospital, two days after she had collapsed, the TimesDaily reported.
She was remembered by friends as someone who fiercely defended her clients.
"She worked extraordinarily hard to be sure anybody she represented had all the rights the law allows," Judge Mike Jones told the TimesDaily. Former District Attorney Deborah Bell Paseur said that Darby "went about the business of her life quietly and humbly, avoiding all attention to herself but accomplishing much in service to others."
Following Darby's collapse, Judge Gil Self deliberated on whether it was appropriate to continue the trial. Ultimately, the trial was allowed to continue and the jury found Jarmon guilty of murder.
Self spoke with the jury before going ahead with the trial, asking them if they could be objective and removed from the shocking turn of events in the courtroom.
"Now, I need to know from each of you, can you put aside and proceed with the remainder of the trial?" Self asked the jurors. "Can you call it down the middle, set aside sympathy and only apply the law to the facts in the case?"
Each juror signaled to Self that they would be able to take sympathy and emotion for the attorney out of it to judge the case properly.
"So we will proceed," Self concluded, adding that he wanted the jury to disregard the closing arguments previously made by Darby as well as by Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly.
"Take what was put into evidence and what you have heard from the witness stand. Make your decision based on those facts," he said.
Jarmon reportedly showed no emotion as the guilty verdict was read.
"It’s sad what has happened to Ms. Darby and our prayers and thoughts are with Jean and her family," Connolly said following the verdict. "But the jury wanted to complete their task, and I commend them for putting everything behind them and moving forward."
The evidence against Jarmon, he added, was "overwhelming."
"[What he did] was a senseless murder. He’s a danger to society and needs to be taken off the streets," Connolly said.
He will be sentenced on Dec. 6.