Man Gets Stabbed To Death After Jury Accidentally Lets Him Go [Updated]
In a ridiculous turn of events, a confused Fresno jury accidentally signed a "not guilty" form instead of sending a note saying they were deadlocked. The result was allowing defendant and five-time felon Bobby Lee Pearson to walk, even though eight of the 12 jurors believed him to be guilty. Pearson, 37, was being charged in an alleged burglary alongside co-defendant Terrel Minnieweather, 31. A third suspect took a plea deal, leaving only Pearson and Minnieweather to stand trial. The pair was accused of breaking into an apartment last May and stealing a video system as well as a gun. The homeowner interrupted them and wrestled with one of them, but wasn't able to clearly identify them.
After two weeks of testimony, the jury came back Wednesday with a guilty verdict for Minnieweather and a not guilty verdict for Pearson.
Fresno County Superior Judge W. Kent Hamlin was shocked, The Fresno Bee reports, saying he'd never experienced anything like it in the more than 100 jury trials he'd presided over.
He had read the jury the instructions, including the part where all 12 jurors have to agree on a unanimous guilty or not guilty verdict. The jury, which was deadlocked 8-4 with the majority finding Pearson guilty, was confused about several pieces of evidence. This included a cell phone police dusted for fingerprints, but which they never turned on; footprints found that were never matched to defendant's shoes; and a mask and gloves found in a nearby trashcan that contradicted with the homeowner saying that the burglars weren't wearing masks or gloves.
Despite the confusion, the proper thing to do would have been to send a note saying they were deadlocked—not filling out a "not guilty" form and turning it in to be placed on record.
So while Minnieweather faces 30 years to life come his July sentencing, Pearson will walk, and nothing can be done due to the rule of double jeopardy.
UPDATE, 12:30 pm: Bobby Lee Pearson was killed shortly after he was released, Reuters reports. He went to pick up some belongings at his sister's home Thursday morning when he allegedly got into a dispute with her boyfriend, who stabbed him. The boyfriend's name has not been released.