May 16, 2014

The Timothy Littlefield story the mainstream media did not cover; another juror gives perspective

On May 9, I posted on this blog that the Timothy Littlefield case would be retried, possibly due to juror misconduct. Since I was not in court, I wanted to verify and get some information.

The next week, the NCJ and Times-Standard followed up. Those publications said that the case has a retrial and that a mistrial was declared due to juror misconduct. The first time this case was tried, the jurors deadlocked 11-1; the second time, all jurors found him guilty of 11 charges and he was sentenced to eight life sentences without parole. The District Attorney's Office is appealing Judge John Feeney's decision to the State Attorney General. That's it.

So who do you believe? The juror who did not sign the sworn affadavit  until May 5, 2014. In his affadavit, he claims he did not realize the defense had no burden of proof. But this did not dawn on him until he talked to the defense's investigator.

According to the sworn affadavit on May 5, this juror received a phone call in September 2013 from a private investigator, Kevin Stonebarger, who asked him if he was willing to talk about his time spent as a juror. Fair enough. Attorneys for both sides do that. The timing was shortly after the verdict was reached in the 2nd trial.

Russ Clanton who represents Timothy Littlefield has been vocal about his client's innocence. He has been quoted and has talked with me. He went to great lengths to get the verdict thrown out. There were motions filed with the Court after the verdict alleging that advocacy groups were communicating with witnesses. They were denied.

This affadavit comes after these other attempts failed. It was in this affadavit that this juror suddenly had questions about the victim's grandmother and mother. Again, a claim made by Mr. Clanton when defending Littlefield.

The victim is a young family member, Littlefield is someone she knew and trusted.

Even Mr. Clanton has been quoted saying that District Attorney Paul Gallegos, Judge John Feeney and he all gave explicit and clear instructions to the jury about burden of proof.

In this affadavit, the juror Michael Lynch, claims that the prosecutor and the investigating officer were communicating with other jurors. This was conveyed to Mr. Lynch by Mr. Stonebarger.

Mr. Stonebarger did not witness any such interactions or he would have reported them, he said.

It seems that Mr. Lynch came to several conclusions and a change of heart after speaking with Mr. Stonebarger.

In court, under questioning from the Judge, Mr. Lynch claimed differently and said that he did know that only the prosecution had burden of proof.

So which is it Mr. Lynch? When were you telling the truth? In the jury room when you deliberated and agreed with the other jurors? When you signed the affadavit? Or in court to Judge Feeney?

Having been a juror locally, covered and sat in on many jury trials, the Judges are serious, the attorneys hammer the point over and over again that the prosecution has the burden of proof. That is what jury selection is about.

Since I have been covering the Cook cases and a few cases, a concerned community member has anonymously communicated with me and has commented on my blog. I had no idea who this person was, except that he or she appreciated my coverage of the courts and the child molestation cases.

When I did the recent Littlefield post, I was contacted by this person. I have spoken to this individual who was a juror in the same trial. I will not reveal this person's identity because I do not want this individual harassed or intimidated into silence.

Here is what this person had to say to me initially via email:

"Seems like a ridiculous decision to me, months after the trial, one juror says something to Clanton's investigator, as easily misspeaking as anything, and even after on the stand saying he knew that the burden was with the prosecution, the verdict can be tossed?

 All three parties (Clanton, Gallegos, Feeney) gave explicit and clear instructions throughout the trial and at the start of deliberations about the burden of proof and the necessary standard for conviction. The jury unanimously decided that burden was met (easily, I might add). Suddenly none of that matters because one of the jurors has second thoughts (possible coerced or otherwise influenced by the defense, something that is forbidden during trial for this very reason)?

The limited coverage makes the mistrial sound extremely suspicious. A convicted child rapist was set free and we have almost no information as to why. Your coverage of the courthouse is as good as any in the county, I hope you can shed some more light on this."

This person summarized what many feel.

When I spoke with this individual, this person said "I had a business card left at my place from Kevin Stonebarger. Did not call him back"  Seems like one juror caved in; the question is why.

 I don't just accept what Paul says to me. I ask questions beyond the surface. That is why he does not respond to me. Thad and Will are writers I respect but it easy to accept Paul's reasons when you don't know the personal history of the attorneys, their views on certain issues; these opinions do affect the cases they try. There is often an untold story behind certain cases.

We ask a jury to base their decision on evidence. Yet attorneys can have feelings that may bias them but can be masked under procedures. We have excellent Judges and good attorneys locally and they do a good job.

The decision to appeal to the Attorney General, some attorneys feel is a lost cause, it will be denied. Judge Feeney, according to these lawyers, did not make a bad ruling, juror misconduct is a serious allegation.

A person is entitled to a good defense. Timothy Littlefield has a lawyer who believes he is innocent. Yet, something about this sudden change of heart does not add up.

Come to your own conclusions. 

7 comments:

  1. Something does not add up, I agree.

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  2. I would like to compliment John on this piece. This is very disturbing. In order to get the story out John reached out to another Juror. From the beginning this story launched, I asked myself why weren't other Jurors brought forth to counter act this. If the juror testified truthfully and there was no evidence that he ever equivocated on this improper transfer of the burden of proof during the deliberations then a declaration 8 months later that was disavowed in court has very little weight. Also why wasn't 't there not 15 days to respond to this via the Rules of Court. So many questions about this one. The following is a list of trials that Gallegos has backed up. Littlefield, Curry, Ferrer and Warren. He has a little over 6 months to complete those.

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  3. See what happens John when you dont print an accurate story and choose not to get the real one....people begin to get the wrong idea and even DA candidates will politicize it.

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  4. Kevin, you contacted me over the weekend. We exchanged polite emails. I extended an invitation to you privately and I am extending the same invitation here in an open forum. If you think there are factual errors, state them in open forum and if there is something to be corrected, I will correct it.

    I have journalism and writing experience for over 30 years, and no one has ever has ever accused me of misquoting them. You want to talk on the phone and not put anything in writing. If you want to avoid being misunderstood, writing is the best way. There is documentation.

    I am not going to talk with someone on the phone who is alleging errors. I have not talked to you before this weekend.

    What I have written is based on information from court documents, written and verbal verification. I had information for a few days but I waited to see the court file before I rushed and posted.

    The only politicizing of this is by your comment. You are not an unbiased party. You were hired by Mr. Clanton and he is paid by his client. Paul has an opportunity to address this in writing, just as you have.

    If your objective is to get the truth out, then the best way to do that is provide information in an open forum, not just to me, not just to any other party that puts out what you want said.

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  5. Arcata Police Officer Kevin Stonebarger is no longer employed with the Arcata Police Department. As readers might recall, Stonebarger was involved in a verbal rumpus over a parking space in February 2012, outside Pho Tien Long restaurant in Eureka, where he and other members of the drug task force were having lunch.

    APD Chief Tom Chapman would not say whether Stonebarger was terminated or left of his own accord.

    An internal investigation into the incident had concluded Stonebarger committed several violations of conduct, including using a badge inappropriately, being rude to the public and overstepping his authority as a peace officer when he threatened to arrest a tow truck driver -- who was trying to haul away another agent's vehicle that occupied the space -- and the owner of the parking space -- who was lawfully trying to record the events, which were taking place in public. Stonebarger was taken off the drug task force and reassigned.

    http://www.northcoastjournal.com/Blogthing/archives/2013/03/29/arcata-cop-in-parking-space-fracas-exits-force

    HOPEFULLY THIS ISNT THE SAME PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR

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  6. LETS ALL HOPE THIS WASNT THE SAME PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR WHO INTERVIEWED THE JUROR.

    http://www.northcoastjournal.com/Blogthing/archives/2013/03/29/arcata-cop-in-parking-space-fracas-exits-force

    Arcata Police Officer Kevin Stonebarger is no longer employed with the Arcata Police Department. As readers might recall, Stonebarger was involved in a verbal rumpus over a parking space in February 2012, outside Pho Tien Long restaurant in Eureka, where he and other members of the drug task force were having lunch.

    APD Chief Tom Chapman would not say whether Stonebarger was terminated or left of his own accord.

    An internal investigation into the incident had concluded Stonebarger committed several violations of conduct, including using a badge inappropriately, being rude to the public and overstepping his authority as a peace officer when he threatened to arrest a tow truck driver -- who was trying to haul away another agent's vehicle that occupied the space -- and the owner of the parking space -- who was lawfully trying to record the events, which were taking place in public. Stonebarger was taken off the drug task force and reassigned.

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  7. The Humboldt County court system is clearly corrupt!! How is this even still going on??? Please oh please lets hope this moves to the state level and we can get this trial moved out of the county...its been forever now (more that 5 years!)...Its time to close this case for good! The system is clearly broken here.

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