Thursday, December 8, 2011

Arkansas Murder Conviction Tossed Because Jurors Slept and Tweeted

The first-degree murder conviction and death sentence for an Arkansas man was overturned because one juror slept during the trial and one repeatedly sent tweets in spite of the judge's orders that they not do so. Erickson-Dimas Martinez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 2010.  Before the trial began the judge warned jurors not to discuss the case with anyone "and don't Twitter anyone about this case."  Less than an hour before the guilty verdict was announced, the juror tweeted, "it's over."  He would also send tweets on a daily basis commenting on the coffee and make comments like, "here we go again."   The juror claimed that even though he sent the Tweets he did not make up his mind about the case until the very end.  The Court of Appeals was satisfied with his explanation but not the Arkansas Supreme Court which threw out the murder conviction and the death sentence.  The court found that the tweets were a discussion, even though they were one sided.  The court found that it was inappropriate for the juror to share information about the case in such a public forum.  The court also suggested that a panel look into whether to restrict jurors from bringing cell phones with them to court.

Prosecutors claim that Dimas Martinez robbed a teenager at gunpoint and demanded money before he shot and killed him.  

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