The Dirksmeyer case UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Dirksmeyer case UPDATE

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 6:46 AM

Why would the judge dismiss a juror from the panel hearing the Nona Dirksmeyer murder case?

I don't know. Deliberations resume today and we'll perhaps learn more at the conclusion.

The event happens to make me think of the West Memphis Three murder case. In that case, the public learned after the fact that some jurors knew about and -- judging by their notes -- considered defendant-damning facts that were not part of the evidence. This is particularly sensitive when a defendant has exercised his right not to testify and has offered no rebuttal to information that comes from outside evidence.

UPDATE: Yup. Like I thought. The defendant in this case has a past record (which could not be considered by jurors, unless he had taken the stand and allowed cross-examination on his past). Some jurors apparently are aware of the adverse background, it became clear on the release of a juror's note by the judge as he dismissed a second juror, leaving only one alternate.

Jurors sent Pearson a note about 7 p.m. Thursday that prompted 15 minutes of conference between him and attorneys before the judge sent the panel, now comprised of seven men and five women, home for the night.

The note read:

"Can a juror's 'common knowledge' ... include knowledge of a previous accusation or conviction if said information may lend to the establishment of a certain behavior or sequence of behaviors? Should we assume that because this information was excluded from the prosecution argument that it can't be considered?

"This information has not been discussed in deliberation thus far at all.

"Also, what happens if no verdict is reached?

"Does G. Dunn simply go free or is he subject to being tried again?"

According to the Russellville Courier, the defendant, Gary Dunn, spent time in prison in 2002 after an attack on a woman at Bona Dea Trails in Russellville.

If there's a conviction here, with this kind of talk going around, the defense lawyers are going to howl that the jury was tainted by this "common knowledge," I'm guessing.

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