Molest Case Juror Becomes Ill
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A juror fell ill Tuesday while deliberating the last 13
counts in the marathon McMartin Pre-School molestation trial, and the panel's
talks bogged down on questions about a conspiracy charge.
It was uncertain whether the juror would be well enough to return Wednesday
to deliberations in the nation's longest, costliest criminal trial.
The jury, in its ninth week of deliberations in the 2 1/2-year-old trial,
attempted Tuesday to resolve the question they had raised with the court as to
whether they could split their verdict on one count against both defendants.
The jurors - who have been considering a total of 65 molestation charges
against Raymond Buckey, 31, and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 63 - were
puzzled about whether they could convict one defendant of a conspiracy charge
while acquitting the other.
Earlier in the day, Superior Court Judge William Pounders sent attorneys to
consult their law books while jurors deliberated on other counts in the case.
They have agreed on 52 verdicts, which have been sealed by Pounders. None
of the verdicts is official until it is announced in court and affirmed by
No alternates remain in the case, and the judge has expressed concern that
losing one of the 12 remaining jurors would force a mistrial.
Pounders, responding to a written question submitted Friday, told jurors
Tuesday they could indeed split their verdict.
The jurors then wanted to know how that could be since the conspiracy law
calls for conviction if ``an agreement is entered into by two or more persons
with a specific intent to commit a public offense ...''
The jurors asked whom one defendant would if conspired with, if not the
Pounders suggested telling them that one defendant could have conspired
with ``a person or persons whose names are not known,'' but defense attorneys
Dean Gits, who represents Mrs. Buckey, said the jurors should be instructed
that they must agree on the identity of a co-conspirator even if the person is
unidentified in the charges.
Danny Davis, who represents Buckey, said jurors should not be allowed to
convict a defendant on the basis of conspiracy with ``a ghost conspirator.''
``Now we're saying, `Go for a ghost. Don't deliberate the identity of a
conspirator,''' said Davis. ``This is not OK for Raymond Buckey.''
Davis moved for dismissal of the conspiracy charge because of insufficient
evidence, but the judge denied the motion. Jurors need not identify the
unidentified co-conspirator to agree on a verdict, the judge said.
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