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Sirens & Gavels

Thompson’s lawyers cite jury interview

Karl Thompson's lawyers say jury forewoman Diane Riley's statements to media this week are further evidence of the need to examine whether outside information was considered in deliberations.

Riley told The Spokesman-Review no jurors considered information not presented at trial when the convicted Thompson of excessive force and lying to investigators, but she also said a juror knew someone who lived in Spokane and that politics here are corrupt and dirty.”

“The fact that the allegedly 'corrupt' or 'dirty' politics of Spokane was discussed during jury deliberations is particularly alarming given the fact that the jury made its determination regarding Defendant Thompson's guilt based upon its belief that 'everybody felt 100 percent that this was a police cover-up,” lawyer Courtney Garcea wrote in a declaration filed today. “Whether there was or was not a police cover-up was not an issue to ever be considered by the jury.”

Garcea points to Riley's comment that “most of us had never heard of this case” as acknowledging that outside information such as Zehm's mental illness or his purported innocence could have been considered.

She also points to statements Riley made to KREM 2 news that jurors suspected Otto Zehm may have been disabled by looking at photos of him as a sign that jurors improperly considered that information when reaching the verdict.

She also points to Riley's statement that Zehm was taken from this Earth “because of the mistake and bad judgment of another man.”

In order to convict Thompson of using excessive force, jurors had to find that he acted with bad or evil intent. Garcea says Riley's statement shows the jury erred in convicting Thompson, and that they inaccurately believed Thompson caused Zehm's death.

Judge Fred Van Sickle has not yet ruled on the request by defense attorneys that jurors be questioned about their deliberations.

Also this week, Thompson's lawyers filed a motion for him to be acquitted, saying the government failed to prove its case.

The written motion, which seeks a hearing on Dec. 19, is essentially the same motion attorney Carl Oreskovich unsuccessful argued during the four-week trial in Yakima.

Thompson faces several years in prison at his sentencing scheduled for Jan. 27.


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