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Published: Saturday, 2/2/2008

Jurors say comments didn't sway decision in rape case

King King

The 12 jurors who decided Vincent King's fate during his rape trial each said yesterday that comments made by a former juror who later was excused had no influence on their decision to find the defendant guilty.

The six men and six women of the jury were questioned yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court during a hearing held in response to a motion filed by King's attorney asking for a new trial.

The motion claimed that a former juror who was dismissed after others heard her comments, including calling King a "liar" during the trial, could have swayed the jury's deliberations.

Judge Frederick McDonald gave attorneys time to file additional memorandums and set a March 25 hearing date.

King, 34, was convicted Nov. 30 on one count each of rape and gross sexual imposition for the sexual assault of a 7-year-old girl.

Because the victim is younger than 10 years old, he faces life in prison for the rape conviction and up to five years for the gross sexual imposition conviction.

During the two-day trial, several witnesses testified, including the victim and the defendant.

The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before finding King guilty.

In his motion for a new trial, defense attorney Thomas Szyperski said that the former juror who was excused was heard making two statements.

During cross-examination of the victim, the juror was heard saying, "She's just a kid."

And when King was being questioned by a county assistant county prosecutor, the former juror was heard calling King a "liar."

Yesterday, all of the jurors said under oath that they were not influenced by the comments.

Three jurors said they did not hear anything and only four said they heard the former juror make a comment about the victim's youthfulness. The rest admitted hearing the statements.

When questioned by Judge McDonald about whether the comments were discussed in the jury room, most answered no.

About five jurors testified that the fact that the woman spoke up during the trial was discussed, but that specifically what she said was not discussed in the jury room.

"Shock. We were shocked that she had made a statement," one juror said.

Prior to the hearing, King told the judge that he believed at the time that the statements were a cause for a mistrial and questioned why, instead, a new trial was being considered.

"The fact that statements were made during the process of my trial my attorney should have filed for a mistrial," he said.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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