Juror Buys Paper, Judge Declares Mistrial

A judge in Prince William County, Va., dismissed a guilty verdict in a murder trial after learning that a juror in the case had bought newspapers the day the jury considered the defendant's guilt, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Circuit Court Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. threw out the first-degree murder conviction of Gerardo N. Lara Sr. after the defense reportedly produced a videotape of a juror buying local newspapers, the Post reported.

Juror Lindy L. Heaster of Woodbridge was then held in contempt of court after she acknowledged to the judge that she had purchased newspapers last Friday morning, the day the verdict was given, Jon E. Shields, an attorney for the defendant, told the Post.
Last week, Shields told the paper, he saw Heaster buy the papers at a 7-Eleven. Shields said he then requested a mistrial on behalf of Lara, who was charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing of his wife, Marissa Lara.

The juror first lied under oath, claiming she only bought a cup of coffee. But when confronted with a surveilance tape, she admitted buying the papers. Details here from Editor & Publisher.