Forget about a runaway juror. This was a juror with a runaway tongue.
A juror’s comments led a Douglas County judge to declare a mistrial Friday in the first-degree murder trial of Avery Tyler.
It is unclear whether the juror will be held in contempt of court.
The woman’s reported comments about Tyler’s alleged involvement in the 2012 shooting death of Delayno Wright flew directly in the face of the judge’s repeated admonitions that jurors not discuss the case.
After a key witness described recognizing Avery Tyler, a man he knew from high school, as being involved in a fatal shooting, a juror reportedly told a fellow juror words to the effect of: “Well, looks like this thing’s done.”
The juror made the comment during recess. Another juror reported the comment to District Judge Duane Dougherty’s staff. About half of the jury reported hearing the juror make that comment or other comments about the case.
Both the victim and defendant are African-American. So was the juror who made the comment.
The woman — a preschool teacher in her early 20s — had given some hints that she might be prone to talking too much. She reportedly disclosed to attorneys during jury selection that she may have difficulty staying quiet about the case when talking with her sister.
Neither side struck her from the jury pool, and the juror took a vow to not talk about the case until it was submitted for the jury’s deliberations.
After declaring the mistrial, Dougherty said he had yet to consider a contempt action against the juror.
Dougherty had given jurors the standard admonition at least 10 times — ordering them to not discuss the case with each other or anyone else.
All told, the mistrial will cost Douglas County at least $7,000 in jury duty pay, witness transportation fees and trial preparation costs.
It also means that Tyler, 25, must wait another several weeks before he stands trial.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys also must regroup their witnesses and evidence in the case.
County Attorney Don Kleine and Public Defender Tom Riley said the juror’s conduct was disheartening.
Kleine said juror problems come up every once in a while but they typically involve accidental behavior — glimpses of newspaper stories or comments heard in hallways.
“This one was a little more egregious,” Kleine said.
The juror reportedly was tearful after being questioned in the judge’s chambers.