Death Row Inmate Gets New Trial Because of Twitter

Juror tweeted throughout trial, raising risk of prejudice: Arkansas Supreme Court
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 9, 2011 9:14 AM CST
An Arkansas inmate is getting a retrial thanks to a juror's Twitter posts.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

(Newser) – A mere 140 characters has led to quite the mess in Arkansas. The state's Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a 26-year-old death row inmate receive a new trial because a juror tweeted throughout his first one. Though a lower court found Erickson Dimas-Martinez "suffered no prejudice," an associate justice yesterday wrote that "prejudice results from the fact that the juror admitted to the misconduct, which proves that he failed to follow the court's instructions, and it is the failure to follow the law that prejudiced Appellant." A sample tweet from juror Randy Franco: "Choices to be made. Hearts to be broken. We each define the great line."

Reuters reports he also wrote that "its [sic] over" before the verdict was read; Dimas-Martinez was convicted in the murder of a 17-year-old after a 2010 robbery. Franco acknowledged tweeting when questioned by the original judge, but he continued posting afterward, an action the court called "more troubling." And Franco wasn't the only problem during the trial, say Dimas-Martinez's attorneys: They claim another juror slept. (Read more Twitter stories.)

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