Wednesday, November 10, 2004

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — A juror in the Scott Peterson murder trial who apparently did her own research on the case was removed yesterday and replaced with an alternate, and the judge ordered the panel to start all over again with its deliberations.

“We’re going to send you back. Start all over again and keep in touch,” Judge Alfred A. Delucchi told the panel on the fifth day of deliberations.

It was not immediately clear what the woman specifically did to be ousted from the jury. But a source said on the condition of anonymity that the juror apparently had disobeyed the judge’s orders to consider only the evidence presented at the trial.

“You must decide all questions of fact in this case from the evidence received in this trial and not from any other resource,” Judge Delucchi said. “The people and the defendant have the right to a verdict reached only after full participation.”

The judge removed the juror after meeting behind closed doors with lawyers in the case. A day earlier, Judge Delucchi lectured the jury about the importance of deliberating with an open mind, prompting speculation among trial observers that the panel could be nearing deadlock.

The dismissed juror, a retired utility company employee, was replaced with the next alternate — a woman in her 30s who worked at a bank and has four sons. The alternate juror’s brother was in and out of prison for drugs, leading her mother to become a drug counselor at a methadone clinic.

During the trial, the alternate juror seemed particularly attentive to defense presentations, and responded positively to the many jokes of defense attorney Mark Geragos. She also cried openly at the sight of the autopsy photos. Whether that means anything for deliberating the case remains to be seen, but lawyers for both sides left the courtroom smiling.

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