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What you need to know for 01/19/2018

Fate of absentee Schenectady juror to be decided at hearing

Fate of absentee Schenectady juror to be decided at hearing

A hearing has been called for next week to determine whether a no-show murder trial juror should be

A hearing has been called for next week to determine whether a no-show murder trial juror should be held in contempt of court and what punishment, if any, she might face.

The juror, only identified in court by her first name, Allison, or her juror number in the case, Juror No. 1, appeared in court Tuesday morning and was assigned an attorney to represent her.

The woman told the court she could not afford to hire her own attorney. Attorney Steve Signore was appointed to the job.

Judge Richard Giardino set the hearing for Tuesday.

The unexplained absence of the juror forced a mistrial in the murder case of Emmanuel Martinez. Deliberations had begun when she failed to show up for court. After she again failed to show up the next day, Judge Richard Giardino sent sheriff’s deputies to pick her up. By that time, the judge had to order a mistrial after more than two weeks of testimony.

Giardino indicated the first topic for the hearing is whether Juror No. 1 violated a court order and should be held in contempt.

No formal charges have been filed against her, attorneys said. If she is found in contempt, Signore said later, his reading of prior case law suggests it wouldn’t be an actual criminal charge, but a civil matter.

Even so, Signore said the penalties could be as much as 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Restitution would also be a possibility, he said, though if it got that far, the juror has no money to even hire her own attorney.

Signore said he has requested his client provide him documentation for the accounts she gave to the court, so he can use those in her defense.

She told court officials the first day she couldn’t come in because she was sick, but she failed to contact the court herself, and court officials had to reach out to her after she failed to show up.

Of her absence the second day, she said in court after she was brought in that her boyfriend had been injured late the previous afternoon. She again did not contact the court herself.

In court Tuesday, the juror was emotional. A court officer offered her tissues at one point in the proceedings. She was also emotional after Giardino had her hauled into court after the mistrial.

Family members of murder victim Jose “Mickey” Torres were incredulous the day the mistrial was ordered and called for the juror to be jailed.

Giardino indicated that, if he found the juror in contempt, he might allow family of the murder victim to speak, as well as Martinez himself, on how her actions impacted them.

The murder case will be retried, but it is still to be determined when and who will represent Martinez.

Martinez indicated in court Tuesday his family is unable to hire his original trial attorney, Cheryl Coleman, for the retrial. If he can’t afford an attorney, a new attorney will have to be appointed.

Martinez is accused of killing Torres and wounding Torres’ brother, Luis Gomez, on Aug. 30, 2013, the Friday night leading into Labor Day weekend. The shooting happened at Torres’ Becker Street residence.

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