Buckey Jurors Change Mind, Get Sealed Verdicts Back
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The jury deliberating in Ray Buckey’s molestation retrial sent word today that some members have changed their minds about two verdicts submitted earlier this week, and the judge returned the verdict forms to them for modification.
Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg, acting over objections from defense lawyers, agreed to give the jurors back the sealed envelopes in which they submitted two verdicts. They had reported earlier they were deadlocked on the remaining six molestation counts against Buckey.
Moments after the jurors were given the envelopes, they buzzed again and sent another note to the judge, which was kept secret. Attorneys were summoned to the judge’s chambers and a court hearing was scheduled for later in the day.
A court spokesperson declined to say whether verdicts were reached.
It was the latest unusual twist in the highly publicized case.
The first trial set records for time and cost, taking nearly three years and costing the county $13.5 million.
It ended Jan. 18 when the jury acquitted Peggy McMartin Buckey, Ray’s mother, of 12 charges, and absolved her son on 40 counts. The panel was deadlocked on an additional 13 charges against him and prosecutors went to trial for a second time on eight counts.
The two counts on which jurors in the retrial had flip-flopped today were not specified. In their note to the judge, they said the positions of some jurors were changed after they heard a rereading of testimony from a prosecution doctor who said that children showed medical signs of having been molested.
″After rereading Dr. (Astrid) Hager’s testimony, a number of jurors have changed their views,″ the note said. ″The two counts on which we have rendered verdicts are affected by this. May we have them back for modification?″ Buckey attorney John Wagner argued that the jury had completed its duty concerning those two charges when they submitted the two envelopes to the court, and it was the judge’s decision to send them back for deliberations on the other counts rather than announce the two verdicts in court when they were reached.
″There has been a unanimous decision in this case,″ said Wagner. ″There is no reason they should have the right to undo that decision.″
But the judge said no verdict is final until it is announced in open court, and he sent the envelopes back to the jury room.
Buckey, 32, sat in court as his lawyers argued their position. The jury wasn’t in the courtroom.
In the second trial, three adolescent girls took the stand to tell about a time when they were toddlers attending the McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach.
The three girls said Buckey molested them, but they were hazy on details and often pleaded lack of memory. One girl flatly denied that Buckey committed the sexual acts with which he was charged. Another girl recanted testimony she had given against Mrs. Buckey at the first trial.