A TENSE High Court in Wanganui coursed with emotion last night, as the jury unanimously declared Tracy Jean Goodman guilty of the murder and burglary of Marton pensioner Mona Morriss on January 3, 2005.
Goodman stood rigid in the dock, shaking with controlled emotion as the verdict was read.
As the jury declared Goodman "guilty" on the first charge, burglary, a public gallery packed with Morriss family members erupted in cheers.
Goodman looked down and pressed her hand to her forehead, clearly controlling strong emotions, which shook her body.
As the jury declared her guilty of murder, she remained controlled, but members of her defence counsel cried as they watched her leave the dock.
Within seconds of this, the sole Maori or Pacific Island juror collapsed, dazed and unable to recognise her name or speak to the other jurors who crowded, concerned, around her.
One of Mrs Morriss' 28 grandchildren, Tina Henley, a paramedic, worked to bring the woman round as court staff called an ambulance. Those in the public gallery strained to look, concerned to see how she was.
Goodman's sister, Leah-Jane Hamahona, and her daughter sat quietly crying then left, as weeping members of the Morriss family hugged each other in relief, as well as the prosecution lawyers, court staff and police who worked on the investigation.
The Morriss family, who had sat shaking with emotion, crying and holding hands as they waited for the verdict, were so overcome they were unable to say how they felt.
Mrs Morriss' daughter, Glen Meade, her face running with tears, said she was "numb". "It's like, oh my God, we've lived this for two and a-half years."
The jury of eight women and four men had retired to deliberate at noon yesterday and came to a verdict after about eight hours, filing wearily back into court around 8.30 last night.
After the juror was taken away by ambulance, Justice Mark Cooper returned to court to close the four-week trial with an address to the 11 remaining jurors.
"You have seen a side of life some of you never imagined existed and probably never thought you would be so close to," he said.
"When someone dies a violent death, there's endless ramifications really, in terms of the grief of those family members who suffer."
He thanked them, telling them he could not recall a jury so attentive or more engaged in court.
He invited them to return to their loved ones and resume their normal lives as soon as they could.
Goodman was convicted and remanded to December 7 for sentencing. Ambulance staff reported the juror was fine as they left the court.
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