TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A Vigo County judge delayed a sentencing hearing in a recent murder conviction after the defense claimed juror misconduct.
Dylan Morgan was convicted last month in the 2018 shooting death of Gage Eup. Last week, Morgan’s defense attorney filed a motion alleging the misconduct after he learned the jury foreman knew a detective who was a hearsay witness in the case. The foreman is responsible for running deliberations and singing verdict forms.
According to the defense, the witness was one of two detectives who interviewed Morgan after the shooting. The video of the interview was viewed twice by the jury throughout the trial.
The defense claimed the juror and detective were “not merely acquaintances, but rather appear to have a social relationship” noting the two were Facebook friends, and that the juror failed to disclose the relationship.
The prosecution argued that over the past year, the only comment the juror made on the detectives page was “Happy Birthday” with a cake emoji.
The prosecution also noted that prior to the trial, the juror in question had disclosed a business relationship with the defense counsel’s wife and that she was a family friend of the defense counsel growing up, and therefore “was willing to make even the most innocuous relationships known to the parties.”
The defense claimed that because the foreman notified the court of the relationship to another witness, that “it is possible, even likely that the juror intentionally concealed this information [connection to the detective] from the court and the parties.”
The defense asked the judge to grant a new trial.
In a second argument presented in the motion, the defense said that there was “insufficient evidence to sustain the verdict.” According to the defense, the evidence presented was only enough to convict on the reckless homicide charge.
Judge John T. Roach granted a motion to continue the sentencing, and scheduled a review hearing for Feb. 10.