They have worried about the money they were making on jury duty. They have fretted over losing health insurance after being away from their jobs for so long. They have missed trips. They have had car wrecks and family emergencies.
For five weeks, they have visited the downtown Charleston courthouse almost every workday. And when they had the chance, the jurors trying to decide a former police officer's future in the wake of Walter Scott's shooting death could have easily given up.
They did not. Despite signaling the panel was deadlocked — unable to reach a verdict in former patrolman Michael Slager's murder trial because one member had "issues" and refused to agree on a guilty finding — the jury foreman said they wanted to press on. It was a stunning, bewildering about-face for many who watched.
What exactly is motivating the jurors is guesswork, experts said. But it's clear that many feel a duty to mold the fitting conclusion they think the case deserves. People like Scott family attorney Chris Stewart think they sense the importance of their mission. In a way, Stewart said, their determination channels Scott himself.
"Today, he did all of his speaking," Chris Stewart said Friday of Scott, the 50-year-old black man shot in the back as he ran away from a confrontation with Slager. "All of this deliberation — all of the back and forth, never giving up by the jury, trying to find justice — was Walter Scott speaking, his voice reminding us that we will get justice in this."
How long the jury will last is likely to be answered early this week when its members indicate any progress — or an unbreakable deadlock. It's a rare dilemma in a case that already stands out in South Carolina legal history, lasting longer than most murder trials.
Whatever happens this week, the case won't be over. A mistrial would raise the question of whether he would be prosecuted again state court. Any conviction would prompt an appeal, likely with the jury's indecision as a primary basis. An acquittal would give federal authorities an opening to pursue their civil rights case that had been put on hold.
Robby Robbins of Summerville, a former 1st Circuit solicitor, said deliberations that last more than a day are inching toward a mistrial. But it's also uncommon for a criminal trial to last longer than a month, he said. That's a big time investment for the jurors to give up on, Robbins said.
"Knowing how long it took to try this case and how much work went into trying this case, there’s some glimmer of hope that they can reach a unanimous decision," he said. "(The judge) will give them every opportunity to do that."
Slager, now 35, stopped Scott's car on April 4, 2015, for a broken brake light. Scott jumped out and ran, with Slager giving chase. The officer said Scott got his Taser during a fight and pointed it at him. When they stood, Slager said he fired out of "total fear" for his own life.
But a bystander's video showed the Taser bouncing behind Slager and Scott turning and running away. Slager fired eight shots, and five of the bullets hit Scott from behind.
Lead defense attorney Andy Savage told jurors before they started deliberating Wednesday that his client was faced with a split-second decision that was legal under the circumstances.
But Savage also pointed to the far rows of pews in the courtroom, where news reporters sat, and to the authorities who were there, placing some of the blame on them. In an age when police uses of force against black people were scrutinized so closely, he said the public, fed by a false narrative in the media, had made Slager a punching bag for other wrongs and transformed his trial into a way to right them.
"I hope you put an end to that," Savage said. "I hope you tell the state of South Carolina, the media that they have to do a better job."
But those sorts of considerations were the first thing 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson cautioned about in her closing argument. The jurors, she told them, must judge Slager for what he did that day and not in the grand scheme of controversy over police-involved deaths.
"We know that there are things going on in this country," Wilson said. "But you cannot base your decision of what's going on elsewhere."
But something about the defense's argument resonated with at least one of the jurors. That person's reasoning for an apparent steadfast resistance to a conviction is unknown, as the juror wrote to the judge, "I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict."
"I respect the position of my fellow jurors, some of (whom) oppose my position," the juror said in the rare letter. "I expect those who hold opposing views not to change their minds because I see them as good, honest people."
Little is known publicly about the lone holdout. The juror's motivation and background have been the source of broad speculation on social media, but the voir dire process — the questioning during jury selection about any biases — was closed to the public.
What's fact now is the public's close attention on the jury and the significance many have placed in its decision — or indecision.
Two advocates of local black communities stood near the scrum of TV cameras outside the county courthouse as the jury deliberated on a clear, cool day last week. James Johnson, South Carolina president of the National Action Network, and Thomas Dixon, co-founder of The Coalition: People United to Take Back Our Community, greeted and shook hands with passersby.
"We want the people to see that we are standing vigilant," Dixon said.
Johnson added, "The world is watching what we’re doing."
Muhiyidin d'Baha, a leader in the local Black Lives Matter movement, meanwhile, dubbed this a "reflective moment" for jurors to decide whether to accept or reject the fiery rhetoric that typified President-elect Donald Trump's campaign.
The advocates ventured inside Friday as the judge announced the jurors' impasse. But when the foreman said they wanted to continue, whispered curses and shaking heads among supporters of Scott's family indicated a mix of astonishment and hope.
The proceedings reminded Justin Bamberg, a Democratic state representative and another attorney for the Scotts, of a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. about accepting finite disappointment without losing infinite hope.
"Lord willing, Monday morning, what we’ll see is a jury of 12 reach a unanimous decision," Bamberg said. "And justice for Walter Scott and justice for others who are living vicariously through the Scott family will be had."
But the announcement dashed Slager's and his family's hope that he would surely be home for the holidays. Slager is expected to stay free on bail if a mistrial were to happen. When the news was aired, his father sat with his legs crossed, his right hand on his forehead, and he stared ahead.
The jurors had emerged earlier, exhausted. They would say later that the were "beat" and wanted to return this week. One man rubbed his eyes and took a seat next to the foreman in the front row of the jury box — not his usual spot.
Gary Lovell, a local attorney who specializes in civil law, said he has twice seen jurors return after an "Allen charge" — the judge's last plea for those in the minority to reconsider the majority's opinion — and announce an ambiguous position on whether they want to continue.
"That situation rarely occurs," he said, "and the trial judge in that situation exercises the discretion permitted him under the law."
After the judge gave the jury the go-ahead to keep deliberating, Stewart, the Scotts' attorney, walked out of the courthouse to say the family's journey wasn't over. No one's is.