FAIRFIELD — The effort to garner a new jury trial for a Suisun City man found guilty of murder has been accelerated by his attorney, who wants a judge to order a new trial at a hearing Tuesday.
Ryan J. Moore shot and killed Bettina Brown on the night of Oct. 23, 2012, at his Stellar Way home. Moore had been drinking heavily before he picked up a rifle and shot Brown in the chest.
Moore’s lawyer, during a two-week trial in August 2013, called the shooting an accident and said her client’s blood-alcohol concentration may have been as high as 0.34 percent and that he was experiencing a blackout at the time of the shooting.
Moore did not take the witness stand during his trial. Now his lawyer claims several jurors were talking about Moore not testifying during their deliberations, which violated Judge Wendy G. Getty’s repeated admonition about not doing just that.
Getty last month reviewed the recent written statements made by some of the jurors. That prompted Getty to schedule a Jan. 27 hearing for her to question four of the jurors about what they did behind the closed doors of the jury room.
Probably the most outspoken juror is Juror No. 3. Shortly after the guilty verdict, Juror No. 3 called Getty’s chambers to tell a court clerk that the guilty verdict was not his verdict. He later claimed he had never been on a jury before and felt intimidated by the other jurors and believed the shooting had been an accident. Juror No. 3 also reported that during a break in the trial, he overheard other jurors complaining to each other that Moore’s lawyer had too many character witnesses, another possible violation of Getty’s admonitions.
Juror No. 1 reported that just before the jury announced its verdict, he felt rushed and pressured not to defy the group by trying to get them to deliberate further over lingering doubts.
Some of the jurors’ observations are contradictory.
Juror No. 10 claims Moore’s decision not to testify was discussed among jurors for as long as four hours. Juror No. 3 said three other jurors discussed how Moore testifying would have filled in holes left open from other witnesses. Juror No. 5 claims the subject of Moore not testifying involved “brief comments” that “did not last very long.” That was clarified to estimates of discussions lasting 30 to 60 minutes. Juror No. 12 said jurors talked about it twice. Juror No. 8 said three jurors talked about Moore not testifying “for a few minutes if that.” Juror No. 9 said the subject was discussed, but for only about 10 seconds. Juror No. 2 said the subject was brought up but not discussed other than to say they can’t discuss it.
Moore’s lawyer is not focused on how long the topic of Moore not testifying was discussed. Instead, she said that since the subject was repeatedly discussed and since one juror said they were influenced by Moore not testifying, Getty should overturn the jury’s verdict.
Getty refuses to tell prosecutors or Moore’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Meenha Lee, which jurors she was going to speak with Jan. 27 or what questions she intends to ask them. Lee wants to know who the jurors will be and what questions they are going to be asked. Lee also wants the chance to have them answer her questions.
Getty has also ordered prosecutors and the Public Defender’s Office to not contact any of the jurors before the Jan. 27 hearing.
Lee does not want to wait until then. She is arguing there is already plenty of proof that Moore deserves a new trial and is asking Getty to order a new trial at the Tuesday hearing.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.