HOUSTON (AP) — A former Houston police officer convicted in the videotaped beating of a 15-year-old burglary suspect during a daylight arrest is seeking a new trial, citing juror misconduct.
Attorneys for Drew Ryser said in a court motion filed Wednesday that the jury foreman researched the case online outside the courtroom, looking up the word “mistreatment” and sharing the search results with fellow jurors, contrary to instructions from the judge, the Houston Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/12jxTL3 ).
Special prosecutor Tommy LaFon said the issue will be reviewed.
“It’s something that we need to look at and ascertain exactly what’s going on,” LaFon said.
Jurors convicted Ryser last month of misdemeanor official oppression in the March 2010 beating of Chad Holley. Ryser was sentenced to two years of probation.
Lisa Andrews, one of Ryser’s attorneys, said jury foreman Jan Goehring did the online research after a day of deliberations, then brought his findings to the six-person panel the next day. The jury reached its verdict that day after 10 hours of deliberations.
“Bringing something into the jury room that didn’t come from the evidence or testimony is called ‘outside influence’ and the law is clear,” she said. “Drew Ryser deserves a new trial because the jury foreman did his own research.”
Jurors are allowed to consider only evidence the trial judge has allowed.
The motion also said the jury foreman told the other jurors that a “friend” told him not to worry about Ryser because “he has a job and has moved on with his life.”
The motion includes affidavits from two jurors swearing that Goehring brought in outside information. One juror said it influenced her decision to convict the officer.
No telephone listing for Goehring was available and he could not be reached Thursday for comment.
The judge at the trial, Ruben Guerrero, repeatedly advised jurors to not do any personal research or talk to others about the case.
“This juror clearly violated the judge’s orders,” Andrews said. “And he appeared to know more about the case than the other jurors.”
Two other Houston officers received probation after pleading no contest in April to misdemeanors related to the March 23, 2010, beating caught on video. A fourth officer was acquitted.
Holley was convicted of burglary and sentenced to probation, then last year was arrested on another burglary charge and sentenced in April to six months in jail.
Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com