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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Jury problem at Measles trial

(Relatives of Maryann Measles. Credit: Hartford Courant)

I think it's time to bring in the alternate juror.
The co-foreman of the jury considering the fate of Keith M. Foster, accused in the 1997 murder of Maryann Measles, told the judge this afternoon that he and other jurors are concerned about the psychological well-being of one of the jurors.

The foreman's testimony indicated the juror in question is a man.

The foreman said the juror is not participating in deliberations and other jurors are concerned about his well-being and fear he may harm himself.

"I have concern about one of the jurors and I'm not sure what to do about it," the foreman told Judge Elliot Prescott, who began presiding over deliberations Wednesday in place of Judge Thomas V. O'Keefe Jr.

"And when you say you have concern about one of the jurors, does it go to their willingness or ability to participate in the deliberations?" Prescott asked.

"I believe participate, yes," the foreman responded.

"And in trying to speak in general terms, can you tell me what you mean?" the judge asked.

"I think he's emotionally unstable and unable to come to a decision based upon the evidence," the foreman responded. "That's all I can tell you."


The foreman said, "We actually have fear for his safety, physically. It is that emotional."
If these people involved in the killing of this poor girl get off the hook because of a juror, it will simply be horrible.
Members of the victim's family stood in silence in the hallway outside the courtroom, apparently stunned at developments.

Litchfield State's Attorney David Shepack and defense attorney Donald J. O'Brien met with Prescott in his chambers to discuss the next step.

That step could mean bringing back one of three remaining alternates, in which case deliberations would have to start anew. If the defense and prosecution agree, the case could continue with 11 jurors, said a court official familiar with the case. Or the judge could declare a mistrial.
A mistrial would be outrageous. This case has gone on too long as it is right now so throw the unstable juror out and lets get this over with. The family of Measles deserve closure.

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long...
A Superior Court judge this afternoon excused a juror who said he was no longer able to bear the stress of deliberations in the case of Keith M. Foster, who is on trial in the 1997 killing of 13-year-old Maryann Measles of New Milford.

Three alternate jurors who heard evidence in the case will be summoned to Superior Court in Waterbury Thursday morning and one will be selected to join the jury and continue deliberating Foster's fate. Foster faces a host of charges, including felony murder, murder, sexual assault and kidnapping in the case.