December 15, 2010 in City, Idaho

New trial sought in CdA racism case

Juror reported feeling pressured after first vote
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Two Coeur d’Alene brothers convicted in October of a hate crime have requested a new trial, accusing the presiding juror of misconduct.

Frank Tankovich and his brother William Tankovich Jr. were convicted of felony malicious harassment and conspiracy to commit malicious harassment for a 2009 altercation with a Puerto Rican man, Kenneth Requena.

The Tankoviches’ attorneys, Jedediah Whitaker and Chris Schwartz, said in their motions for a new trial that the presiding juror attempted to influence another juror “through the use of guilt, recrimination, harassment and the false display of authority.”

Court transcripts show that an inquiry of a juror was held following the verdict in the chambers of 1st District Judge John Luster with the attorneys present. The juror, identified in court documents only as “juror Hyslop,” said he had told the other jurors he and his buddies once drew a swastika on a truck after mud-bogging. He said the other jurors asked if he was racist.

“I’m not but to a point I guess I am,” he said. “It didn’t affect me being fair.”

The juror said he voted “not guilty” in the first vote “and they all got after me – I got tired of it after about one hour of that and I said guilty. I don’t know if I feel good about my decision.”

The guilty verdict required a unanimous vote.

When the juror was asked by Luster in chambers if he had given in to intimidation, the juror responded, “Nope.” However, he said, “I kind of felt pressured after the not guilty vote. The jury talked about my beliefs. They didn’t like my opinion. They said I shouldn’t be racist. … I felt they’re guilty based on the law but not in my opinion. A little of what changed my mind is what they said to me about my beliefs.”

The juror said that after reading the jury instructions and discussing it, “I came to the conclusion they’re guilty.”

The motion for a new trial said the court’s instructions informed the jury that its verdict “could not be reached by compromise.” It says the “pressure and intimidation” applied by the presiding juror resulted in an invalid verdict that violates the defendants’ constitutional rights.

A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for Jan. 7.

Sentencing has been set for 3 p.m. Jan. 13.

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