Judge denies motion centered on jury misconduct

ESCONDIDO — Tommy Williams got close to a new trial, but as the saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Superior Court Judge Joan Weber on Dec. 12 denied a motion by Williams’ attorney to have the 46-year-old man’s attempted murder conviction overturned due to jury misconduct.
Attorney Herb Weston told the judge that he couldn’t get any of the jurors to sign a declaration under the penalty of perjury relating to statements they made to investigators about what was said among the panel during deliberations concerning Williams not testifying.
However, he said jurors were willing to come to court and tell the judge personally.
Weber denied Weston’s request to investigate the possible juror misconduct by putting the jurors on the stand.
Weston said the law in this area is vague, because it states that a declaration is needed, but doesn’t give any weight to jurors who are unwilling to sign the declaration. “It’s sort of a Catch-22,” Weston said.
Police arrested Williams following an Oct. 27, 2007, attack on his now ex-wife, Jeannette Lawrence, in her Escondido apartment.
Throughout the trial, Weston argued that Williams was the victim of a plot perpetrated by his ex-wife to have him murdered in Vista jail by her son’s skinhead gang.
In April, a jury deliberated less than 10 hours before returning guilty verdicts on all six counts in Williams’ case, which included attempted murder, torture and false imprisonment.
Weber set Williams’ sentencing for Dec. 18.
Meanwhile, a hearing was scheduled for Jan. 14 in Octavian Crishan’s murder case.
Crishan, an elderly musician convicted of shooting his two roommates, killing one of them, had his conviction overturned.
Judge Joel Pressman ruled the jury foreman inadvertently introduced extraneous information into the panel’s deliberation.

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