Skip to main content

POV: Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2

Airs Monday, July 16, 2018 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Lindy Lou in the jury box.

Credit: Courtesy of Florent Vassault

Above: Lindy Lou in the jury box.

A juror reconsiders her thoughts on the death penalty

If you kill a murderer, do you become a murderer as well? Lindy Lou Wells Isonhood asks her granddaughter this question, while explaining the role she played on a capital jury.

Although Lindy voted for Bobby Wilcher, a convicted murderer, to receive a death sentence, she found that the views she had once held on capital punishment changed drastically during the course of the trial and afterward.

Director Florent Vassault brings to light Lindy’s struggle to understand her guilt and sorrow in “Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2,” debuting on POV on Monday, July 16, 2018.

POV: Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2: Trailer

For 20 years, Lindy has lived with an unbearable feeling of guilt. Committed to fulfilling her civic duty, Lindy sat on a jury with 11 other jurors that handed down the death penalty to a Mississippi man convicted in a double homicide. But an overwhelming feeling of regret compels Lindy to track down her fellow jurors and tackle an oft-politicized issue with humor and sincere curiosity.

Through Lindy’s experience we learn how a civic obligation meant to last no longer than a few weeks can become an enduring burden.

After two decades of self-reflection and internal conflict, Lindy seeks out the other jurors to learn whether they were also affected by the trial.

Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 - There Are No Answers

This is the first conversation that Lindy has with a fellow jury member about her feelings of guilt and remorse after the conclusion of the trial. The jury member empathizes with Lindy but believes she made the right decision.

“I thought this story would offer an opportunity to shift our vision of the death penalty from a vague and distant idea to something more tangible and complex,” states Vassault. “Jurors are an essential element of the criminal justice system, but no one knows how they feel after leaving the courthouse.”

Throughout the film we are reminded of Lindy’s conservative ideals, which once supported placing a murderer on death row.

Now, rather than feeling satisfied that justice was served, Lindy feels like a killer.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Florent Vassault

Newspaper with lead story about Bobby Wilcher's case that reads "Execution."

We see her grapple with the evolution between who she was and the outlier she is becoming in her own community.

She is a proud Southern woman wrestling with her identity and values; in one instance Lindy shares her military background and shows the two pistols that are kept in her car, all while continuing on her journey to find closure from having to, as she puts it, “kill somebody.”

Nearly all the jurors are willing to share their honest feelings about the trial with Lindy. Most accept serving on the jury as a civic duty they had to fulfill, no matter what their consciences said.

Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 - You Have To Live With It

In this exchange between Lindy, Allen and Allen’s wife we hear about their shared emotional and spiritual challenges after the verdict was given and after the execution was carried out.

Some jurors are indifferent about the trial, while others have developed ways to rationalize and take the emotion out of their decision.

Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 - It's Been So Long

This clip offers a different viewpoint from a jury member who appears to have very little emotion about or memory of sitting on the jury.

Kenneth, the foreman of the jury, remembers how quickly they were able to agree on Wilcher’s death sentence. Since the trial he has been trying to suppress his feelings, but an insightful conversation with Lindy allows them both to process their emotions momentarily.

Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 - Jury Foreman

The conversation with the jury foreman offers further ethical and moral perspectives on the death penalty. We also hear the letter the jury wrote that was read at Bobby Wilcher’s trial.

The film also shows the lack of support that Lindy receives while trying to reconcile her feelings about the trial. Lindy was a true believer in the death penalty who later befriended the murderer she sentenced to death. This alone leads friends and family to believe she has “gone off the deep end.”

She guides her own search for self-healing, driving from house to house for answers on what her husband calls an “adventure.”

Lindy and another juror named Bill discuss how surprised they are that their feelings are completely disregarded by others. “How can you take so lightly what we went through?” Bill remarks.

“Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2” encourages audiences on all sides of the fence regarding capital punishment to think beyond the sentence and to consider the emotional toll that jurors experience with such a decision.

Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2 - Pebbles and Ripples

In this clip we hear Lindy reflecting on the larger lessons she has gained from conversations with fellow jury members 20 years after the trial.

“When talking about the death penalty, few think about one of the most integral parts of this contentious process: the juror,” said Chris White, executive producer of POV. “‘Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2’ is a delicate examination of the jurors and the emotional baggage they may carry well after the trial and execution. It also brings national audiences a complicated, not-often-seen view of the South and its residents, revealing both the depth and range of their views and beliefs.”

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

This film will stream online on POV.org in concurrence with its broadcast. Full episodes of POV are available to view on demand for a limited time after broadcast.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

POV is on Facebook, Google +, and you can follow @povdocs on Twitter. #LindyLouPBS

"Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2" is on Facebook.

CREDITS:

Director is Florent Vassault. Writers: Cécile Vargaftig and Florent Vassault. Editor: Léa Masson. Original score by Alexis Rault. Executive Producers for POV: Justine Nagan and Chris White. Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television’s premier showcase for nonfiction films.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.