Fireworks in teacher sex trial

December 9, 2008 8:32:41 PM PST
A local charter school teacher was convicted of sexually assaulting a former student. But one juror apparently has second thoughts about that guilty verdict. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

By Monday, it looked as if the jury had made its decision -- 12 to zero in favor of convicting James Mayes of sexual assaulting teenage girl. But by morning, all that changed when a juror had a change of heart, refusing to proceed with deciding punishment.

"They don't care about that young man," she told us. "They don't care about him from day one."

The juror claimed she had been coerced by the other jurors to vote guilty. After a heated exchange with the judge and eventually being dismissed, she laid it all on the line.

"They never looked at his options," she told us. "They didn't look at his situation. I don't want to talk."

The unusual circumstances lead the judge to make a decision. With the blessing of both sides, deliberations were allowed to continue with the remaining 11 jurors. It was done by applying a statute typically used when a juror becomes ill, disabled or suffers a death in the family. While not exactly within the scope of the statute, former Judge Eric Andell thinks it was the wise thing to do.

"It's a little roll of the dice. There's nothing concrete about it, but made the right decision in this case," he said.

The strangeness of the trial did not end there. A few hours after deliberating, the jury returned a verdict of two years probation. But Judge Susan Brown refused to accept it because it didn't meet the minimum sentence. The jurors went back to deliberate, this time returning with a 5 year probation term.

Jury forewoman Alejandra Ramirez says at no point did the jury rush a verdict.

"I think that being we were here for 7 days, it speaks for itself that we took the charges and allegations very seriously and took his life and his family and hers and her family very seriously," she said.

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