Hospitalized juror in Knodel case allegedly said she must "protect the children"
FARGO--Several jurors in the case of Aaron Knodel, the 2014 North Dakota Teacher of the Year accused of having sex with a student, do not want the case to be retried. That's according to Knodel's legal defense team, which filed a motion Wednesday...
FARGO--Several jurors in the case of Aaron Knodel, the 2014 North Dakota Teacher of the Year accused of having sex with a student, do not want the case to be retried.
That's according to Knodel's legal defense team, which filed a motion Wednesday asking a judge to acquit the decorated teacher on all five felony counts of corruption or solicitation of a minor.
According to the defense, the jurors took an initial vote when they received the case and before starting deliberations. At that time, 10 of the 12 jurors voted to acquit on all counts, with one of the holdouts switching sides "shortly thereafter."
The defense learned this via interviews with a majority of the jurors, according to an affidavit signed by a paralegal working on Knodel's team.
If true, it suggests that virtually all of the two days of jury deliberations were spent in deadlock with one holdout juror, who on the morning of the third day of deliberations became disoriented and was hospitalized.
The paralegal also learned that "several of the jurors expressed the belief that the case should not be retried as another jury could make no other findings than those of the majority of the jurors in this case."
Prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday seeking a mistrial following the discovery that the hospitalized juror may have lied during jury selection when she said she was not a victim of sexual abuse.
Cass County District Judge Steven McCullough polled the remaining 11 jurors on April 29--the day she was hospitalized--and found that the 12-person jury had reached a unanimous not guilty verdict on three counts, and on the other two counts, the hospitalized juror was the only person blocking a decision of not guilty.
Knodel's defense attorney, Robert Hoy, argued in his motion for acquittal that the 11 jurors who wanted to declare Knodel not guilty on all counts were the only reasonable ones. The hospitalized juror, on the other hand, "was not impartial and unbiased."
"The effect of this previous incident"--the juror's sexual assault--"manifested itself during deliberations, which is evident in the juror's conduct leading up to her hospitalization," Hoy wrote in his motion for an acquittal.
According to Hoy, the hospitalized juror said she needed to "protect the children."
Despite sending its "two best prosecutors," the state was unable to convince 11 reasonable jurors, Hoy concluded.
Knodel is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old female student in 2009.