Thursday, 24 March 2011

SBS: Pennsylvania: Lamont Cherry

Sheena Delazio Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE – A city man will again stand trial on homicide charges in the death of a 1-year-old after his first trial resulted in an acquittal of first-degree murder and a mistrial.

Aimee Dilger/The Times Leader
Lamont Cherry walks through the hall of the Luzerne County Courthouse on the way to a morning hearing with other prisoners behind him. Cherry now faces trial on charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Cherry first stood trial in McCloe’s death in January, and after a two-week trial, including jury selection, a mistrial was declared due to a juror’s misconduct after the jury had decided Cherry was not guilty of first-degree murder.
Juror Gretchen Black, a seventh-grade teacher at Northwest Area School District and mother of four, had conducted research after the jury had gone home for the day about retinal detachment – a complication of shaken baby syndrome McCloe allegedly suffered before her death.
An investigation was conducted and Black was not charged with any wrongdoing.
Cherry will now face charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Had Cherry been convicted of first-degree murder, he would have faced the death penalty or life in prison.
William Ruzzo, Cherry’s attorney, said he does not expect the new trial to last more than four days.
Polachek Gartley said there will be a pre-trial hearing on June 20 where she and attorneys will discuss questions asked to potential jurors as well as instructions to be given to jurors who are selected.
The judge said she will concentrate specifically on if any juror has heard about the case and what they know about it.
Jury instructions are also important, Polachek Gartley said.
Those instructions include what Polachek Gartley told the first Cherry trial jury numerous times a day – to stay away from media reports and the Internet and refrain from conducting their own research.
Judges presiding over criminal jury trials routinely instruct jurors not to discuss the case outside the jury room or view media reports.
Cherry testified at the January trial that he said he cared for McCloe for a number of months while living with her mother, Christa Smith, loving her, playing with her, changing her diaper and feeding her.

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