Mistrial For Pasco Murder Case
PASCO, Wash. - A judge declares a mistrial for a Pasco man accused of homicide. Lawyers complained media exposure tainted the jury pool.
The trial started okay, but too many potential jurors could rattle off the facts. And lawyers couldn't work with a jury pool savvy to the case.
Thursday the plan was to pick 12 jurors and start opening statements. But 47 of out 80 potential jury members said they already knew about the case from TV and the newspaper.
It's not the first time local media coverage has influenced a jury pool. But this time Franklin County Prosecutor Steve Lowe said the court failed to tell jurors to stop watching the coverage. He became visibly upset and motioned for a mistrial.
"Now that we've already spent a day with almost 20 of them, finding out what they heard from yesterday. Now to go back and start basically from ground zero with a set of jurors, I think it's a better idea at this point to ask for a mistrial and start with a new set of jurors," said Lowe.
Back in October, 60-year-old Charlie Harper allegedly got into a fight with 65-year-old Cleveland Everhart. The fight caused Everhart to have a heart attack and die. Harper's defense didn't want the mistrial, and neither did the judge.
"I know we have selected other jurors in this judicial district as with our juries in this judicial district where the coverage was much more extensive," said Hon. Robert Swisher, Benton Franklin Superior Court.
But after a little discussion Harper's defense changed their minds. And said it would be better to scrap this trial and start over in another county.
"We don't feel, that because of the publicity in this matter, that we can obtain a fair and impartial jury in Franklin County," said Carl Sonderman, Harper's Defense Attorney.
Harper's defense has not yet filed a motion to move the trial, but claim they plan to do so once it gets going again. Right now it's scheduled to start in Franklin County on May 23, 2007.