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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: mistrials

11 of 12 jurors wanted to convict Moore

Shellye Stark testifies in Spokane County Superior Court on March 12, 2009. (SRarchives)

One juror.

 That's what stood between Brian Leigh Moore and felony convictions for first-degree murder and conspiracy to first-degree murder.

Eleven jurors wanted to convict Moore (pictured left) on both charges, but one juror refused.

A mistrial was declared Monday.

Prosecutors plan to retry Moore, possibly in August or September, for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale Robert Stark (pictured right), who was killed in his home at 1620 S. Maple St., by his estranged wife, Shellye Stark.

 Shellye Stark claimed self-defense and years of domestic abuse but was convicted by a jury, though that conviction was thrown out because of technical errors and she now faces a new trial.

Moore, who turned 46 on May 8, already is a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty to weapons charges in federal court in California related to unregistered guns and homemade silencers found at his warehouse in Anaheim when Spokane police arrested him there in April 2009. Jurors at this trial did not know about those convictions, nor did they know the outcome of Stark's 2009 trial.

Moore traveled to Spokane just before Shellye Stark's trial and met with this reporter at Neato Burrito. He discussed what he said was a history of abuse by Dale Stark against Shellye Stark and said he continued to face questions about the homicide. He alleged misconduct by the police department and said they were grasping at straws. “They've got nothing,” he said in March 2009.

But 12 jurors had little trouble convicting Stark (pictured above and left) of first-degree murder.  She was sentenced to 51 years in prison but is back in the Spokane County Jail awaiting her new trial.

Eleven jurors wanted to convict Moore of the same thing. That's after hearing from Moore himself, who admitted to spending some of Dale Stark's money after his death but said he was just trying to help the woman he loved pay her legal bills.

Moore is married, though separated, with one son. In a letter to the federal judge who sentenced him on the weapons charges, Moore said the effects of his arrest and imprisonment have been “to say the least, dramatic.”

“I have lost everything, from my good name, to the respect of my son,” Moore wrote. “I can not begin to express my shame.”

A key witness for the prosecution was Ted Pulver, a private investigator hired by Stark and Moore. He told jurors Moore essentially admitted to helping orchestrate the serving of the restraining order so that Dale Stark would grow angry and Shellye could say she shot him in self defense. (The defense had a witness tell jurors that Pulver does not have a good reputation for telling the truth.)

In his closing argument, Moore's lawyer, Jeff Compton, pointed to what he said was a discrepancy in Pulver's testimony. Pulver told jurors Moore claimed to have had Shellye's son and nephew briefed on the plan, but Compton said the two entered the picture at the last minute after Shellye's sister was badly injured in a car crash with a bull moose while driving to Spokane from Priest River.

“Unless the moose was in on this, unless Brian Moore can control wildlife, what he has claimed to have said by Ted Pulver makes no sense,” Compton said. If Moore did plan where “the boys” were to be positioned, shouldn't the son and nephew be charged, too? “How about the moose? Should this be the state of Washington versus Bullwinkle J. Moose?” Compton said.

The moose is a timeless aspect of this case that really does just appear out of nowhere.

In Shellye's 2009 trial, the jury foreman said the moose was viewed as divine intervention that failed. After Moore was arrested, it was revealed in court documents that he'd told his wife he was traveling to the Spokane area because he was working on a case involving a woman who had crashed into a moose. (Moore's wife did not learn of the homicide until June 2008.)

Police say Moore tried to escort women he was having sex with for money to pay for Shellye's defense. A woman he had sex with just after learning of Dale Stark's homicide told police Moore mailed her husband a graphic letter and provocative photos of her after she refused to take money out of her equity line of credit on her home in order to help Shellye.

A yellow Pontiac Solstice convertible bought with Dale Stark's life insurance money remains in Spokane police custody. It was seized in California when Moore was arrested.

Past coverage:

Aug. 6, 2010: Theft charged dropped against Stark's father

Plea replaces life sentence w/ 3 years

A Spokane man whose three-strikes trial was halted because of concerns about racist comments made by jurors has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

 Bobby S. Galloway, 24, was sentenced to three years in prison for third-degree assault after pleading guilty last week before Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno.

Galloway already has two convictions for violent felonies. Had he been convicted of first-degree assault as originally charged, a judge would have no choice but to sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Galloway was arrested last May after stabbing a man outside the Top Hat Tavern, 6412 N. Division St.

He was on trial in February, but Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen declared a mistrial after a juror reported inappropriate, racially toned comments being made in the jury room, court officials say.

Witness sought in three-strikes case

Police are looking for a witness in an assault case that could put the defendant in prison for life. 

Morgan S. Snider, 23, (right) is expected to testify in the first-degree assault trial of Bobby S. Galloway, but police said this week that she still has not been located.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen declared a mistrial Monday in Galloway's case after a juror reported inappropriate, racially toned comments being made in the jury room, court officials say.

Galloway (left) faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of felony assault because he already has two previous convictions for violent felonies.

Galloway, 24, is accused of stabbing Mickey Davis during a fight May 5 outside the Top Hat Tavern, 6412 N. Division St.

His new trial is set to begin April 2. Snider is wanted on misdemeanor driving warrants.

Anyone with information on Snider's location is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Mistrial after juror blasts defense lawyer

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — A mistrial has been declared in a Kitsap County drug case after a juror was overheard expressing a desire to punch prominent Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne in the nose. 

The Kitsap Sun reports that Browne, whose high-profile clients have included “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore, repeatedly sparred with Superior Court Judge Theodore Spearman during the trial.

Browne (pictured) reportedly ignored the judge's order that he keep his objections to a single word and was twice fined $500.

Browne said the judge's rulings in the case called his mental state into question.

By last week Browne refused to continue to participate in the trial in protest of Spearman's handling of the case. A mistrial was declared after a bailiff overheard a juror expressing a desire to punch the attorney.

Browne's client, Dominic Briceno, had been accused by county prosecutors of six drug-related felonies. Spearman ordered a fact-finding hearing concerning Browne's conduct for July 27.

Man shot by police won’t be retried

Prosecutors have dismissed assault charges against a man shot by Spokane Valley police in 2009. A jury was split 6-6 after Michael E. Young's trial last March in Spokane County Superior Court.

Prosecutors decided not to pursue another trial, and Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Johnson dismissed two counts of second-degree assault against Young this week.

Young's lawyer, James Kirkham, called the move “the correct result.”  He said Young is still recovering from his injuries.

“All along he's maintained that he didn't do anything wrong,” Krikham said.

Deputies Walter Loucks, Darell Stidham and Scott Bonney shot Young outside his home at 11709 E. Fairview Ave., on Dec. 27, 2009.

Young had reportedly threatened to kill himself and was armed with a .40-caliber Glock. The charges alleged Young pointed a gun at the officers before he was shot.

A neighbor who witnessed the shooting said Young never pointed his gun at deputies but refused orders to drop it.

Loucks and Sgt. Dale Golman received life-saving awards for their work on Young after he was shot, but a review of the shooting by sheriff's officials criticized the move.

“Was it possible their rapid response saved the suspect's life? Possibly,” according to a report by Pat Knight, the sheriff's lead firearms instructor. “But rushing up to someone who was armed and just fell to the ground is dangerous…The deputies could have stayed in position and assessed the situation for a short period of time before making the approach to ensure their safety.”

Golman is credited with helping control Young's bleeding; Loucks established an airway to keep Young breathing, according to a sheriff's office report.

Sheriff's officials recommended reiteration training on how to respond to injured suspects and to “continue to reinforce the concept of 'shoot until the threats ceases to exist.'”

Plea deal drops attempted murder case

A Spokane man whose attempted murder trial ended in a mistrial last week was sentenced this week to nearly 10 years in prison.

Don R. Davis, Jr., 29, pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance and drive by shooting in a plea deal that dropped the attempted first-degree murder charge.

He was ordered to serve 116 months in prison by Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque on Wednesday. Leveque declared a mistrial last week after a witness offered testimony that Davis' lawyer, Rob Cossey, said was a surprise.

The charges stem from a wild car chase on Oct. 4, 2009, that includes several collisions as Davis attempted to force his ex-girlfriend and former best friend off the roadway.

He also was accused of breaking into an apartment and stealing a handgun that was used in a drive-by shooting.

Plea deal expected after shooting mistrial

A judge has declared a mistrial in the case against a Spokane Valley man who was facing up to 50 years in prison following an attack on his ex-girlfriend and his former best friend.

Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque declared the mistrial Wednesday after a witness offered testimony that the defense said was a surprise.

The witness said defendant Don R. Davis, 29, admitted possessing a gun that investigators said was used in a drive-by shooting as part of the case.

Defense attorney Rob Cossey objected because that information had not been presented to him by the witness or by Deputy Prosecutor Gayle Ervin in preparation for the trial.

“It was completely out of the blue. It was out of the witness’s mouth before I could do anything,” Cossey said. “I asked for a mistrial and the judge granted it.”

Davis is expected to plead guilty to some of the charges on April 6.

“We think we can reach a resolution,” Cossey said, “but it doesn’t include the attempted murder charges.”

Ervin had charged Davis with 10 criminal charges, including two counts of attempted first-degree murder, following a series of events that began on Oct. 4, 2009, with wild vehicle chase on Interstate 90 that included several collisions as Davis attempted to force his former best friend, Clayton Cooper, off the roadway, according to court testimony.

Davis was also charged with breaking into an apartment and stealing a shotgun that witnesses said was used in a drive-by shooting. Just minutes after that event, deputies conducted a search warrant and found the stolen gun in the trunk of the car Davis was driving, according to court testimony.

If convicted of all charges, Davis faced as much as 411 months in prison plus about 200 months for the weapons charges.

Jury deadlocks in police shooting trial

A hung jury led to a mistrial today in the case of a man charged with assault after he was shot by Spokane County sheriff's deputies.

A new trial will be held for Michael E. Young, 56, who is charged with two counts of second-degree assault after deputies said he pointed a gun at them as they responded to reports that he was suicidal.

Deputies Walter Loucks, Darell Stidham and Scott Bonney shot Young outside his home at 11709 E. Fairview Ave., on Dec. 27, 2009.

A neighbor who witnessed the shooting said Young never pointed his gun at deputies but refused orders to drop it.

The jury of five women and seven men began deliberating about 10:30 a.m. today and announced they were deadlocked about 3 p.m. The trial began Monday.

Young's lawyer, James Kirkham, said the jury was divided 6-6.

Past coverage:

March 2: Man shot by deputies on trial for assault

Criminal history leads to mistrial, again

A convicted burglar's criminal history has led to the wheels of justice getting derailed for him once again.

Jury selection was underway Tuesday when attorneys asked if any of the 40 prospective jurors knew Gary D. McCabe, 45, who is accused of stealing more than $25,000 worth of rare gold and silver coins.

One man said he'd transported McCabe several times while a correction officer at Geiger Corrections Center and has transported McCabe several times.

Because other potential jurors were present when the man referenced McCabe's criminal history, Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark dismissed all 40 people and reset the trial for later this month with a new jury pool.

The same case nearly went to a jury last month before one of the jurors realized that McCabe probably burglarized her South Hill home.

A mistrial was declared, and the woman identified her stolen camera in the evidence pool.

McCabe already is to serve seven years in prison for a 2009 burglary.

Past coverage:

Oct. 12: Burglar stole more than gold

March 27, 2009: Arrests may crack burglaries

Juror links defendant to home burglary

A Spokane woman never imagined that serving on the jury of a burglar would solve her burglary, as well.

“In all my time as a prosecutor, that’s the first time I had a juror solve her own case,” Deputy Prosecutor Bob Sargent said. “What are the odds of picking a jury and picking a gal who is a victim of the defendant but doesn’t know it? Then she gets a suspicion that is correct.”

Shea Swoboda, 28, had her South Hill home pilfered Aug. 16. Last week, she realized defendant Gary McCabe (right) may have burgled her own house, which led to a mistrial.

Read Thomas Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 12: Burglar stole more than gold

March 27, 2009: Arrests may crack burglaries

Juror’s cell-phone surfing prompts mistrial

A juror caused a mistrial in a recent Stevens County drug case after he used a cell phone to look up legal information.

Betty Torres will be retried after a judge granted her lawyer’s mistrial motion last week because a juror accessed the Internet from his phone in the jury room to “answer some question about the charge,” according to the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office.

Torres is accused of helping exchange heroin for pills manufactured to look like OxyContin pills.

The trial began Monday. Jurors were preparing to deliberate Tuesday afternoon when the court learned of the juror’s Internet use, Rasmussen said.

“All the effort by the parties and the court and the jury was wasted, as well as the 30 or so persons who had been summoned and from which the jury was chosen,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen wrote about this in his weekly column. Read the column by clicking the link below.

Second mistrial declared in rape case

A mistrial was declared in the trial of a young man accused of raping a woman at a party on Halloween 2007.

Kevin A. Thompson is charged with second-degree rape for the alleged attack at a home in the Whitworth University area.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese declared the mistrial on June 23 after the jury submitted a question, according to court records.

Thompson’s first trial last November ended in a hung jury. The jury was made up of seven women and five men, with one man acting as an alternate juror.

A new trial is set for Aug. 17.

Thompson is represented by Scott Staab. Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Edward Hay is prosecuting the case, according to court records.

Read past coverage of the case here and here.

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