Hearing on mistrial set for September

Jurors will be called to testify about behavior

August 12, 2010|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

Four Baltimore jury members will be called back into court — this time to testify — next month during a hearing that will decide whether a mistrial is required in the state's first successful gang prosecution.

Jurors convicted Dajuan Marshall, 28, on Monday of killing a rival gang member in 2008. But Juror No. 8 told the judge after the verdict that another jury member — identified as either Juror No. 10 or No. 11 — had Googled the case during testimony.

If true, the outside research could have influenced the juror's views of the defendant, Marshall's defense attorneys say. Jurors are supposed to make their minds up based solely on information presented to them in court.

Juror No. 8 also said that another juror's child was a homicide victim, which might not have been revealed to the court as required, and that others possibly used cell phones or computers to look up the prison time associated with various charges.

Marshall's defense attorney, Roland Walker, has filed a motion for a new trial based on the allegations. And Baltimore Circuit Judge L. George Russell III said Thursday he plans to summon Jurors 1, 8, 10 and 11 to testify during a hearing Sept. 8.

"I need to make a determination … [whether ] it was possible the alleged misconduct prejudiced the defendant," Russell said. "The only finding I can make is whether it probably affected the defendant's right to a fair and impartial trial."

Outside research by jurors has led to mistrials throughout the country, including Maryland, where assault convictions were overturned last year because a juror looked up a medical term on the Internet.

Marshall, a member of the Spyda Bloods gang, was convicted of murder in the killing of Kenneth "Cash" Jones, who allegedly belonged to a rival set of the local Bloods, known as the Pasadena Denver Lanes.

The killing was found to have been a gang act, which also led to a conviction for gang participation resulting in death. Marshall faces a maximum of life in prison on the murder conviction, plus another 20 years for the gang verdict, the first in the state under a 2007 statute that was updated this year.


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