- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A federal appeals court has ordered a new trial for a drug defendant who was convicted after an alternate juror took part in deliberations.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday sent back the Little Rock federal case of Manuel Maldonado Aguilar, who was convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute and sentenced to 19-1/2 years in prison.

In February, the appeals court ordered a review of whether the alternate took part in deliberations. The ruling says the juror’s participation was prejudicial.

Ten jurors and the alternate testified in a fact-finding effort ordered by the court. The alternate said she asked questions but didn’t offer a view of whether Aguilar was guilty. But the appeals court said that’s enough for a new trial.