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.