From the Tampa Bay Times website, a Hillsborough county judge is vowing to send a juror to jail because he took it upon himself to research a suspect accused of murder…
In Tampa, after ignoring multiple warnings from the assigned judge not to research a murder case starting this week, a potential juror found himself in the crosshairs of the enraged judge.
The juror, name withheld, along with 200 other potential jurors were given written warnings not to research this death penalty case. They were also warned multiple times by the judge not to discuss the case with their fellow jurors. 199 of them apparentely listened. One man did not. And when Judge Bill Fuente of Hillsborough found out that the would-be juror disregarded his instructions he was out of patience. The judge told the wanna-be sleuth to leave his address with the bailiff because he was going to jail. He then threw the juror out of his courtroom!
This judge is presiding over a first-degree murder trial of a man, 30, charged with raping and brutally stabbing a mother of three back in 2007. Because the state is seeking the death penalty, this trial is expected to last up to a month.
This judge had previously attempted to try the suspect last year but was unable to because the criminal defense lawyers couldn’t find 12 acceptable jurors out of a pool of only 60.
Though not his fault, this same judge has previously presided over another failed high profile murder case earlier this year. Dontae Morris, accused of killing multiple people, including police officers, had a mistrial after the judge dismissed over 80 prospective jurors when he learned that they were talking about the case over lunch, against the judge’s instructions.<
For this current case, the judge was extra careful this past Monday. After ordering a panel of 200 prospective jurors he gave all of them a written order not discuss the case with anyone and stressed that they were NOT to research the case. Between lunches and breaks, he reminded them about the order and warned them not to talk about the case.
Then yesterday, a fellow juror reported the suspect talked over lunch about Googling the murderer's name at home the previous night. The juror reported the conversation to the bailiffs who informed the judge. This time, the angry honor did not dismiss the entire panel, but said the man could count on a jail sentence.
As far as the man goes, he is claiming that he didn't read the written order and knew nothing about it. He is also claiming that he learned nothing about the murder suspect from his online research and assummed other jurors did the same thing. This juror claims he cannot afford a criminal defense lawyer for his case so is doing the only thing he can think of…writing a letter of apology to the judge, admitting he was wrong and begging for forgiveness!
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