A jury deciding the fate of a man accused of killing three people on a Calaveras County pot farm reported Thursday afternoon they were having trouble making a decision and asked for clarification on the charges and on what constituted reasonable doubt.
After explaining the elements of impartial self-defense and manslaughter and describing reasonable doubt, Judge Tim Healy read the instructions for a hung jury, which in essence told jurors to keep an open mind and consider other ways of reaching a consensus.
Jeremiah Barrett is on trial for second degree murder in the shooting deaths of Daniel Haney, Terry Glen Looney Jr. and Wesley David Smith at a marijuana farm owned by Barrett’s brother Leon Grammer on Oct. 20, 2015.
The jury foreman sent the judge a written message shortly before 2 p.m. but did not say what the vote was. The jury began deliberations Wednesday afternoon.
“Stick to your guns with your opinion,” Healy said. “But be open minded.”
Healy dismissed the jury to continue deliberations shortly after. He requested they deliberate for a few more hours and return Friday if a decision had not been reached. They discontinued deliberations about 4:45 p.m.
The vote to convict must be unanimous.
Ken Foley, Barrett’s defense attorney, objected to Healy reading the deadlocked jury instruction, saying he would have liked to know the split of the jury before employing the instruction.
After the jury was dismissed, Foley said he felt as if the instruction left the impression the jury wouldn’t be able to emerge from deliberations or finish the trial until a definitive decision had been made. He didn’t think it would allow the jury to admit they were deadlocked.
“That was my problem,” Foley said. “It says ‘Stay out. We won’t let you go home (until a decision).’ ”
After Healy read the hung-jury instruction, the foreman told the judge the jury had been extremely vocal throughout deliberations. He said people were not afraid to speak up.
“That was exactly why I argued against the instruction,” Foley said later about the foreman’s response.
Healy also reread jury instructions from Wednesday to clarify imperfect self defense that would downgrade the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter, self defense and reasonable doubt.
The afternoon hearing was the second time the jury stepped away from deliberations with questions. They rewatched video footage and listened to court-reporter transcribed testimony of Dr. Robert Lawrence, a pathologist who conducted the autopsies on the victims. Both were items of evidence presented by the prosecution.
Contact Calaveras County reporter Jason Cowan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4531. Follow him on Twitter at @jcowan1031.