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What happens when the babysitter cancels on a juror in a Baltimore murder trial?

The first full day of jury deliberations in the trial of suspects in the murder of Baltimore bartender Alex Wroblewski was to begin Wednesday, but as the morning went on one juror was missing.

Testimony had concluded a day before. Two alternate jurors had been dismissed. All that remained was for 12 people to decide whether to convict a Virginia couple accused of gunning down Wroblewski in South Baltimore.

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Except there were only 11 jurors present. The phone rang in the judge’s chambers. He then called the prosecutor and three defense attorneys into the empty courtroom.

Their missing juror was stuck home with her child.

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“Her babysitter had an emergency,” Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert Taylor Jr. explained.

Upstairs, the 11 other jurors waited to begin deliberations. The law requires 12 to start. The judge had another murder trial coming up. He didn’t want to send them home to try again tomorrow.

Tonya Hayes, 38, of Atlanta, Ga., and her boyfriend, Marquese Winston, 25, of Richmond, Va., are standing trial in the killing of Alex Wroblewski, a beloved bartender in South Baltimore.

He also couldn’t dispatch the deputies to bring the woman in and ask her to discuss murder with a child in her lap.

“What do I do?” the judge asked them.

“Is there any possibility, if the juror consents, we could arrange some sort of child care?” said Natalie Finegar, a defense attorney.

Assistant State’s Attorney Sheryl Atkins spoke up. “Are you volunteering?”

Downstairs in the courthouse jail, Tonya Hayes, 38, and Marquese Winston, 25, awaited their fate on murder charges. Wroblewski’s friends and family had packed the courtroom during trial.

Further delays — worse, a mistrial — would affect everyone. So the judge called the juror back — and she had good news.

Her mother could watch the child that afternoon, the judge said. No lawyers would be babysitting.

Hours later, however, she still hadn’t shown.

“She told me she would be here at 2 p.m.,” the judge said. “I tried to call her — no answer.”

Now they were losing patience in the courtroom.

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“She needs to be brought in,” Atkins said. “That’s unacceptable.”

So the judge told the 11 people to come back tomorrow. Then he sent the deputies out to find the missing juror.

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