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Woman Convicted In Jury-Tampering During Philadelphia Shooting Trial

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A woman has been sentenced to at least 7½ in prison for tampering with a Philadelphia jury.  Her boyfriend was on trial for a drive-by triple shooting.

Philadelphia Prosecutor Carrie Sarhangi says the crime rocks the very core of our justice system.

According to testimony, defendant Yolanda Watson, 48, approached a juror near the courthouse during the deliberation phase of the trial and tried to influence the juror's opinion in her boyfriend's case.

"She was basically trying to slander one of the witnesses involved in Commonwealth v. Rico Lofton," prosecutor Carhangi explains.  "She mentioned something about $38,000.  And as the juror was told to do, he came back to court the very next morning and explained everything to the court staff."

She says Watson followed the juror for a block and he felt threatened, especially since the man on trial was accused in the shooting of a teen, a grandmother, and a three-year-old.

Watson was arrested and Lofton was convicted of the shootings anyway.  Even his attorney, Richard Hark, applauds this tough sentence:

"It's extremely appropriate. The sanctity of a jury trial is all-important in a jury trial."

Watson was sentenced today as her four daughters sobbed in the courtroom.  The judge called the crime "unforgivable."

Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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