Before testimony could begin Saturday in the vehicular homicide trial of Scott Owens, a juror had to be separated from the rest of the jury and questioned by the judge and attorneys in the case after he was seen talking with a father of one of the teen victims outside the courthouse before the case.
State District Judge Michael Vigil himself witnessed the interaction and said he could tell neither the father nor juror, approached the other, but rather encountered one another by chance near an ashtray outside the courthouse.
“He talked to me about quitting smoking; how hard it is to quit smoking,” the male juror said in a hearing held in Vigil’s smaller downstairs courtroom away from most onlookers.
The only people in attendance were Vigil, a court reporter, the juror, Owens, defense attorney Dan Cron, Chief Deputy District Attorney Doug Couleur and myself.
Vigil warned against talking at all with people who may have a connection with the case, even if about something like smoking.
Neither Cron, nor Couleur decided to further question the juror and a mistrial was not called by the judge.
Couleur said he and fellow Chief Deputy District Attorney Juan Valencia, no relation to Ramos Valencia, talked to the father about the interaction and “He was very apologetic” and felt bad about anything that could be construed as affecting the trial.
Check Sunday’s New Mexican for a lot more from Saturday’s happenings in the trial.
Or here is a link to some coverage that is also in Sunday’s newspaper: