WEST PALM BEACH — After failing to convince one juror — the widow of actor Patrick Swayze — that Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Custer had no justification for fatally shooting Seth Adams, other members of the panel on Tuesday voiced relief that Adams’ parents will be paid $2.5 million by the sheriff’s office to end the lawsuit.
“I felt the family got a little bit of closure and that made me happy,” said Erin Pflaz, who was among nine jurors who were sent home by a federal judge on March 15 when they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict after listening to four weeks of testimony in the case.
Another juror said she, too, was relieved that Richard and Lydia Adams wouldn’t have to endure what promised to be yet another agonizing trial in the 2012 death of their 24-year-old son. Tuesday was the five-year anniversary of the shooting.
The jury’s lopsided 8-1 vote undoubtedly pushed Custer and the sheriff’s office to the negotiating table, Pfalz said. “I don’t think he would take the chance that another jury wouldn’t find him guilty,” she said.
The evidence was overwhelming that Custer had no reason to shoot Adams when the two met near midnight in the parking lot of the family owned A One Stop Garden Shop in Loxahatchee Groves, Pfalz said. Adams lived and worked at the nursery off Okeechobee Boulevard and A Road with his brother and sister-in-law.
Eight jurors who agreed Custer used excessive force were frustrated that they were unable to give Adams’ parents the verdict they deserved, Pflaz said. She didn’t say directly that Lisa Niemi Swayze, who lives in an oceanfront condominium in Boca Raton, was the lone holdout.
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