‘It was a wild ride:’ Man jailed for missing jury duty thankful for judge’s change of heart

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Deandre Somerville said he’s a man of faith and everything happens for a reason. So what, exactly, was the reason Somerville had to spend 10 days in a Florida jail after he overslept and missed jury duty, other than a judge thinking it was the appropriate sentence?

God was showing him that “this is somewhere you never want to go,” Somerville told HLN’s Lynn Smith in an interview on “On The Story.”

“It was a wild, wild ride,” Somerville said of his time in jail. “I saw some things I didn’t want to see.”

One of his bunkmates had a seizure, and he saw a man get beat up in a fight.

The first thing that crossed his mind when Judge John Kastrenakes handed down his sentence was his disabled grandfather, Somerville said.

“I’m about to go to jail for 10 days, and that means 10 days I’m not going to be able to help my family and not be able to help my granddad,” he said.

Kastrenakes found the 21-year-old from West Palm Beach in contempt of court after he missed a civil trial and didn’t call the court to explain what happened. The judge vacated the contempt finding and rescinded the sentence of probation in an order he signed on Saturday, Oct. 5.

Somerville said he was “ecstatic” when he read that his sentence had been vacated and his record wiped clean, saying one of his biggest concerns was having to go to interviews and explain why he had been in jail.

“I just felt like, dang, I’m going to have to live with that for the rest of my life,” Somerville said. “So to get that news, I was just real happy.”

Kasternakes vacated the sentence after Somerville apologized in a letter. In his ruling Saturday, Kastrenakes said the letter was “moving, sincere, and heartfelt.”

“I know that he has been totally rehabilitated,” the judge wrote.

Kasternakes said that he ordered probation because he wanted other people to understand that serving on a jury “is serious business deserving of attention, respect, and adherence to their oaths.”

“I quickly learned jury duty is really important,” Somerville said on “On The Story.” “I definitely got the message that it’s really important.”

Something else happened because of those 10 days in jail, Somerville said.

“Since I’ve been out, I’ve just gained so much confidence in myself,” he said. “I found myself, and now I feel like the sky’s the limit.”

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