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Juror Misconduct Leads to Mistrial of Man Accused of First-Degree Murder

Juror misconduct has resulted in the mistrial of a man accused of shooting an Inverness man on the dance floor of an illegal after-hours club in Wildwood.

The mistrial was asked for by the man’s defense lawyers on Wednesday after the juror allegedly brought his notes from the Sumter County courtroom into the jury room before deliberations started. The juror apparently disobeyed the judge’s orders.

A bailiff brought the alleged misconduct to the court’s attention after the prosecution had rested its case, right before the defense was slated to go up next.

The judge in the case has started contempt of court proceedings against the unidentified juror.

The prosecution and the defense are scheduled to meet with the judge on Tuesday in a hearing to discuss what to do about scheduling another trial.

The defendant in the case is accused of first-degree murder. He allegedly shot to death a 30-year-old Inverness man in March of 2010 at a club located in a dimly lit shed behind a Wildwood home.

Patrons apparently paid an entrance fee at the gate to get into the club.

A witness said a wedding reception was being held there at the time of the shooting.

At least two witnesses at the club testified this week before the trial was shut down that they saw the accused with a gun before and after the shooting took place.

Jurors selected through jury selection take an oath to follow the court’s instructions. This process is designed to produce decisions based on the information presented at trial and exclude any outside influences. A defendant has the right to receive a fair trial and when even one juror violates his or her sworn duties, this misconduct can be grounds for a new trial.

If during the course of a trial, or shortly after, it is discovered that jury misconduct transpired, then a motion can be filed for a new trial. This is a request to have a new jury hear the case and decide on a verdict.

Jury misconduct can refer to several issues, including:

  • Receiving Outside Information
  • Discussing the Case with the Media, Press, Prosecutors or Witnesses
  • Participating in Improper Deliberations
  • Deliberately Deceiving Attorneys During Jury Selection
  • Engaging in any other Type of Misconduct that May Lead to Prejudice Against the Defendant

If the misconduct is not prejudicial, then a motion for a new trial will not be granted. If it is, then a new trial will be granted and a new trial will begin as if no previous trial had ever happened.

If you believe jury misconduct interfered with your right to a fair trial, or to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, contact The Villages Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton online or call 352-369-5334.

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