Trials & Litigation

Judge OKs mistrial when juror won't deliberate due to religious beliefs, schedules contempt hearing

A Maryland judge declared a mistrial Thursday in a manslaughter case over the death of a law enforcement officer in a high-speed chase after a juror refused to deliberate due to her religious beliefs.

The juror did not initially raise this objection before deliberations began Wednesday in the case against Kevon Neal, so three alternate jurors were dismissed, the Washington Post (reg. req.) reports.

Early Thursday, however, the unidentified juror sent a note to Circuit Court Judge Michael R. Pearsons saying that she is a Jehovah’s Witness who cannot sit in judgment on another human being. said Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks. Asked why she hadn’t spoken up sooner, the juror said she had needed to research her religious beliefs to determine what they were.

A contempt hearing for the juror has been scheduled in February, and Alsobrooks said the woman could potentially be punished if she is determined by the judge to have been intentionally uncooperative.

Prosecutors say Neal was driving a stolen car when Prince George’s County officer Adrian Morris, 23, lost control of his cruiser on Interstate 95 in Beltsville during an Aug. 20, 2012 chase. It crashed, and he was ejected from the vehicle.

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