Robert Maddaus’ first-degree murder trial will have to wait another week after a judge dismissed a jury pool today because of misconduct by two prospective jurors, a delay that costs the court $3,300.
The two are former state Department of Corrections employees. During jury selection today, other prospective jurors overheard the two men discussing Maddaus’ criminal history.
The juror pool thus was tainted and possibly prejudiced. After the dismissal, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy said a new pool of prospective jurors will convene Monday for selection in the trial.
Maddaus, 40, is charged in connection with the shooting death of Shaun Allen Peterson outside a Capitol Way residence.
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Maddaus is accused in court papers of killing Peterson, also 40, because Maddaus was angry over Peterson’s alleged theft of “drugs or money.” Peterson had been handcuffed before he was shot several times Nov. 16, 2009.
Prospective jurors are not supposed to make prejudicial statements about a defendant in the presence of other prospective jurors during jury selection because it might affect the defendant’s right to a fair trial.
Pomeroy said she will consider sanctions against the men and will inform them by letter of her decision in about a week. She also chastised them, saying other prospective jurors heard them use the words “three strikes” and “derogatory” during their conversation about Maddaus.
“You made a very serious error of judgment, and I hope that it will never be made again,” she said.
Pomeroy noted that the court cost to bring in the jury pool for Maddaus’ trial was $1,800 on Monday and an additional $1,500 on Tuesday, and now that money is wasted, because the selection process must start all over again this coming Monday.
Both men apologized to Pomeroy before they were dismissed.
Jeremy Pawloski: firstname.lastname@example.org