Juror Fired During Deliberations in Fatal Kidnapping Case for Doing Internet Research

“She is absolutely violating my instructions by looking things up on the Internet,” said Saylor, who warned jurors during the three-week trial that they should decide the case solely on the evidence presented in court and not make their decision. own research or view any. Media coverage.

The revelation stunned the defense team and prosecutors, who agreed that the jury should be dismissed.

The jurors, who had deliberated for about four hours Tuesday, were brought into the courtroom and told that the juror had been fired for violating the judge’s instructions and would be replaced by the remaining alternate.

They were instructed to begin their deliberations again so that the alternate could fully participate in the verdict.

Coleman, 36, of Providence, is accused of luring Jassy Correia into his car by promising to drive her home from a Boston nightclub in February 2019, then sexually assaulting her and suffocating her to death. He is charged with a single count of kidnapping resulting in death, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Correia, who had been celebrating her upcoming 23rd birthday with friends at Venu in Boston’s theater district, was trying to take an Uber back to a friend’s house in Dorchester when Coleman tricked her into getting into his car, prosecutors allege.

During closing arguments on Tuesday. Coleman’s attorney said Correia was aggressive after mixing alcohol and cocaine and that he had attacked Coleman after consensual sex. He also questioned Correia’s mental stability, noting that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had received treatment in a psychiatric facility.

Before dismissing the jury, Saylor called her into the courtroom and asked her what she had done and if she had shared any of her research with other jurors.

“No, I haven’t,” said the juror, who seemed visibly upset when the judge told him he had no choice but to fire her.

“I have personal experience with some of the things I was looking for on the internet,” the juror said, adding that she didn’t realize she was violating the judge’s instructions. Her intention was to “formulate my discussions” on issues she planned to raise during the deliberations, she said.

“Believe me, I would not have done anything to jeopardize my participation in this process,” he said.

“I don’t believe for one minute that you did anything in bad faith,” Saylor said. But she had violated a rule that requires cases to be decided on evidence presented in court, she said.

The remaining 12 jurors, including the alternate, were brought into the courtroom and asked if the dismissed juror had shared his investigation with them. They all said he hadn’t.

One juror, a man, told the judge he did not read the articles but saw the fired juror highlight them with marker and warned him to “clear it up with you.”

“I need to stress as strongly as I can that you shouldn’t do your own investigation,” Saylor told jurors before sending them out to deliberate. “When the case is over, you can search whatever you want.”

It was the latest setback in a case that has been upended by the pandemic. The trial was delayed a week earlier this month after the judge tested positive for COVID-19. Sixteen jurors, including four alternates, were initially appointed, but several were excused for various reasons over the past month.

On Tuesday, just before closing arguments began, the judge said he had excused a juror after she called to say she was stranded in Vermont after her car caught fire.

In his closing remarks, Assistant United States Attorney Robert Richardson said Coleman tricked Correia into his car and “didn’t tell Jassy what his real interest was early that morning: having sex.”

Richardson argued that Coleman killed Correia inside his car and showed “guilty consciousness” by keeping her body in his Rhode Island apartment for days while he investigated how to cover up his crime and planned to dispose of her body. Four days after Correia’s disappearance, police stopped Coleman on Interstate 95 in Delaware and found his body stuffed in a suitcase in the trunk of his car.

The autopsy showed that he died of strangulation and sustained blunt force trauma. Coleman’s DNA was found on Correia’s body, suggesting she was raped, prosecutors said.

Coleman is not charged with murder and prosecutors just need to prove that he kidnapped her, resulting in her death, and traveled across state lines.

Coleman’s attorney, Jane Peachy, said Correia voluntarily got into Coleman’s car and that “this theory that he tricked her or lured her into going with him is pure imagination.”

She claimed that Correia attacked Coleman after they had consensual sex. Coleman “panicked” after Correia was killed and “handled it as badly as she could,” she said. “That’s because he had no idea something like this would happen in her life,” she said.

Shelley Murphy can be reached at shelley.murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.

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