- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) - Prosecutors questioned the impartiality of a juror after her husband posted online that the case was a “witch hunt” during a trial when a Kansas man was acquitted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, unsealed transcripts show.

The juror was allowed to stay on the Jackson County panel that ultimately last month cleared Jacob Ewing of charges of aggravated indecent liberties and aggravated criminal sodomy with a child younger than 14 years old, the Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/2q0VthV ) reported.

The newspaper said it has obtained unsealed transcripts of a closed-door meeting with the judge in which a special prosecutor, Jacqie Spradling, voiced concerns about the juror and the trial’s setting in Holton, a 3,300-resident town divided by allegations against Ewing.

At issue were posts by the juror’s husband on a Facebook page dedicated to Holton, with the husband questioning the accuser’s age - she was 13 at the time of the alleged attack in 2014 - and describing the trial as a “witch hunt.”

When confronted about that during the private meeting with the judge April 20 before deliberations, the juror denied discussing the case with her spouse and said his feelings about Ewing’s guilt or innocence wouldn’t compromise her impartiality, the transcripts show. She called herself “a very independent thinker,” and said, “I apologize for my husband.”

“It’s not like we’re deciding whether to have turkey or ham for Thanksgiving, you know. It’s a very serious, serious matter,” the transcripts quote her as saying.

But the juror also admitted she didn’t want to be on the panel, fearing Holton run-ins with people involved in the case.

“Because it’s just a high-profile case and, regardless of which way it goes, who wants to go to Wal-Mart and run into, you know, the victims’ advocates or, opposite end, the defendant’s family?” the transcript quotes her as saying. “You know, it’s just not something that’s going to be comfortable.”

Spradling unsuccessfully asked that the woman be replaced, citing the juror’s reluctance to serve and her contemplation of avoiding public places.

Ewing remains jailed, awaiting more sex crime-related trials scheduled for June, August and October. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

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