It should have surprised no one that finding a fair and impartial jury for Martin Shkreli’s trial was a mountain to climb.
By the time jury selection rolled around in June, the 34-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals with the perpetual smirk was Public Enemy No. 1 for raising the price of the AIDS drug, Daraprim, by 5,000 percent overnight.
More than 200 potential jurors were excused from his federal fraud trial that concluded earlier this month, where he was found guilty on three charges of securities fraud and now faces prison time.
“This was a witch hunt of epic proportions, and maybe they found one or two broomsticks,” Shkreli told reporters after the verdict was read, according to The New York Times.
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A transcript of the jury selection process, published by Harper’s magazine, shows how hard it was to find people who didn’t openly admit they hated him, his looks — one juror said bluntly Shkreli looked like a certain piece of male anatomy — and his “disrespect” for the Wu-Tang Clan.
“He’s the most hated man in America,” one prospective juror said.
This is how it went down for Juror No. 1, according to the transcripts:
“The court: The purpose of jury selection is to ensure fairness and impartiality in this case. If you think that you could not be fair and impartial, it is your duty to tell me. All right. Juror Number 1.
Juror No. 1: I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him.
Shkreli lawyer Benjamin Brafman: I’m sorry.
Juror No. 1: I think he’s a greedy little man.
The court: Jurors are obligated to decide the case based only on the evidence. Do you agree?
Juror No. 1: I don’t know if I could. I wouldn’t want me on this jury.
The court: Juror Number 1 is excused.”
Later, the court dismissed Juror No. 41, who had seen Shkreli’s picture in the newspaper and said they couldn’t be fair because “there was something that didn’t look right.”
“The court: All right. I’m going to excuse you. Juror Number 59, come on up.
Juror no. 59: Your Honor, totally he is guilty and in no way can I let him slide out of anything because —
The court: OK. Is that your attitude toward anyone charged with a crime who has not been proven guilty?
Juror No. 59: It’s my attitude toward his entire demeanor, what he has done to people.
The court: All right. We are going to excuse you, sir.
Juror No. 59: And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.”
Shkreli bought the only copy of Wu-Tang’s double album, “Once Upon a Time In Shaolin,” for $2 million in 2015, just days before his company raised the price of its AIDS drug. The hip-hop group did not know the reviled Shkreli was the buyer.
The arrangement eventually dissolved into controversy and a heated war of words between Shkreli and the hip-hop group, earning Shkreli even more scorn.
He was reportedly not allowed to release the album commercially for 88 years. But he promised to leak part of it if Donald Trump became president, which he did.
He also played parts of the album again during a livestream after his conviction.