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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Sex in the Jury Complicates Old Case

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A convicted killer demands a new trial, claiming two jurors had sex while they were sequestered, and so did two sheriff's deputies guarding them. Roberto Dunn, 34, claims his lawyers did not do enough to persuade the judge that sexual relations tainted the verdict.

Dunn's demand is before St. Louis Circuit Judge Julian Bush, who presided over the trial in 2000 in which Dunn was found guilty of killing his girlfriend's mother. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The sex was part of several missteps by the jury, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. During the trial, a sheriff's deputy told the judge that she heard jurors improperly discussing the case before deliberations. The judge questioned four jurors and continued the case with the same panel. Then while sequestered, two jurors allegedly had sex with each other, and two deputies assigned to guard them allegedly had sex with each other.

Dunn's new assistant public defender, Lisa Stroup, told the Post-Dispatch that the original trial attorneys should have called jurors as witnesses and questioned them about the claims. Stroup is doing that now.

Judge Bush must decide if Dunn's original attorneys, Sharon Turlington and David Burns, of the state public defender's capital case office, failed to provide effective representation. If Bush finds that to be the case, he can grant Dunn a new trial.

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