Question of juror misconduct raised in murder trial

Erin White
Erin White

Louisville, KY - By Connie Leonard - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The murder trial is over, but a juror in one Louisville case has been ordered back to court to face a judge. It comes after the juror allegedly watched a TV crime show about the case last week while the trial was still ongoing.

It was a late breaking development from inside the courtroom that had prosecutors scratching their heads.

"This is a first time for me," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Erin White.

White was not only surprised about what happened in the murder case, but is upset that a judge denied her request for a mistrial after it was revealed a juror allegedly used a TV show to do her own research on the murder.

According to White, the case in question was on an episode of the A&E crime show, "The First 48" and the decision of the jury focused on the 2009 strangulation of 43-year-old Antigone Graham Smith, a Louisville mother of seven. Smith's body was found by her 9-year-old daughter in her Louisville apartment on Zachary Circle. Her 1-year-old son was on the bed next to her body.

On April 16, the jury found Donald Fielder, Smith's boyfriend, guilty of reckless homicide instead of murder. Fielder said Smith had a gun nearby and he claimed self defense in court, just as he did in police interviews.

As sentencing was getting ready to begin on April 19, two members of the jury notified the court that another juror admitted she went to the video website YouTube during the trial and looked up part of the episode that focused on the Louisville case. Jurors are warned to avoid publicity on the case when a trial begins.

"She's facing contempt of court for disobeying a court order," said White of the juror in question.

The juror has denied the charge. Her hearing won't happen until May. Fielder was sentenced to four years for reckless homicide, a Class D felony.

"I will be speaking with my appellate department and we will hopefully be taking any steps that we can to have that issue re-addressed and perhaps reopened," White said.

Prosecutors say the juror also claims her accusers may have watched the show too. The judge's contempt hearing seeks to find out if any of the jurors are guilty of misconduct.

We tried to contact the defense attorney in this case for comment, but our calls were not returned.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.