Justice has triumphed for the Jumbo Food Market, and the store's managers are scorching from the agony of victory.
A 12-member jury has convicted a 33-year-old Washington woman of stealing from Jumbo's Eastern Avenue store last February. She ate two strawberries.
"To be honest," Jumbo secretary-treasurer Mike Herman said yesterday, "I wish this whole thing had never happened."
Jacqueline Datcher, who was spied by a security detective as she allegedly gobbled the evidence, now may have to pay a large price for that quick, guilty taste up to 18 months in jail or a $500 fine. She will be sentence Aug. 7.
Dratcher's lawyer, Samuel Ochipinti, says that Dratcher testified during the trial that the security officer who arrested her was abusive to her, and that she did not admit eating the strawberries.
Meanwhile, Jumbo officials will be trying to convince the Prince George's County circuit judge who is handling the case - and every one else who calls - that they are not as mean as they sound.
"This whole thing is a mistake," Herman said. "I've been here 20 years and I've never seen anything like this happen."
It seems that store manager James Cypress supported prosecution of Datcher because he believed she was under arrest for a more serious charge, Herman said.
"When he was called into court, (Cypress) thought he was going to testify against the woman for (a different charge)," Hermand said. "The he got up on the stand and found out she was charged with shoplifting."
"We would never knowingly do something like this," Herman said. And Ochipinti said, "It was a mistake to ask for a jury trial. If I had taken it before the judge he would have acquitted her."
It may be little solace to Datcher, but her case may save others from strawberry nightmares.
"I'm going to personally see to it," Herman said, "that this will never happen again."