ESCONDIDO — A former Las Vegas musician accused of killing one roommate and wounding another, inched closer May 29 to a new trial after a San Diego Superior Court judge granted a motion to disclose jury identity information in the case.
Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman said he had “great, great concerns” about the possibility of juror misconduct in Octavian Crishan’s trial, but agreed with prosecutors that inquiries into the alleged misconduct during the jury’s deliberations should be handled through the court.
A letter will be sent out to the jurors informing them there has been an allegation of jury misconduct in the case and that the court would like to release their contact information to the attorneys to investigate the incident. If any juror objects to their information being released, they will have to contact the court.
Deputy District Attorney Paul Myers told the judge he thinks it is important to talk to the foreperson and other jurors to gain a better understanding of the foreperson’s comments.
“Because we only have the statement of jurors that have seemed to show sympathy toward the defendant, we feel that fairness dictates the granting of this motion,” Myers said.
A June 19 hearing was scheduled for further proceedings on the matter.
In February, Crishan was convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of his longtime friend Herman Wiesemeyer, 67, and the attempted murder of Matthew Vivian in Wiesemeyer’s Escondido home on Parktree Lane on April 18, 2007. Both Vivian and Crishan rented rooms from Wiesemeyer.
Currently, Crishan faces seven years to life in prison.
Four jurors have given sworn affidavits to the court about the alleged misconduct during the deliberations by the jury foreperson.
Initially, two women, Anne Chute-Jacobs and Victoria Davis, came forward explaining how the foreperson encouraged dissenting jurors to speculate about what a mistrial could mean for Crishan’s financial ability to maintain private counsel in a second trial, which could lead to a murder conviction, instead of the lesser included charge of voluntary manslaughter that the jury was opting for.
Prior to their sworn affidavits, both women had written the judge asking for leniency in Crishan’s sentence.
Their affidavits prompted Crishan’s attorney, John Cotsirilos, to file a motion for a new trial based on jury misconduct. Since then, two other jurors collaborated the discussion between the foreperson and jurors.
Cotsirilos, who had hoped the judge would deny the prosecution’s request and grant a new trial, objected to the prosecutors’ motion for release of the juror’s contact information saying that they lacked “due diligence” and that the procedure would allow the prosecution to “steer” jurors.