Bobby Lee Pearson, 37, was killed within one hour of being mistakenly released from a Fresno, California jail, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Pearson was tried for burglarizing an apartment with two other men while pointing a firearm at the home’s occupant. The jury deadlocked 8-4 in favor of guilt, but mistakenly signed off on “not guilty” because they were allegedly “confused” by the instructions on what to do in the event of a deadlock.
The judge determined that Pearson could not be retried because that would place him in double jeopardy.
The freshly released Pearson went to the home of his sister, Lasandra Jackson, to get some belongings. While there, a verbal altercation with her boyfriend, Willie Gray, 35, turned deadly. Pearson was found bleeding to death in the middle of the street, with stab wounds to his chest.
“Weird stuff, huh?” said Fresno police Sgt. Jaime Rios. “That he’s released and while he’s out, he’s murdered. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it.”
“The question that comes about in an incident like this is, ‘If Bobby Pearson would not have been released, would this murder have occurred?’” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters. “And the obvious answer is, ‘No, he would have been in jail.’
ABC News reports:
Jurors said they were confused by the forms, one of which was for a guilty verdict and the other for a not guilty verdict. One juror said there was no form they could sign to indicate a deadlock.
“It is bizarre,” said Eugene Hyman, who retired from the Santa Clara County Superior Court after serving for 20 years on the bench. “But I can’t find fault with anyone.”
Hyman, who had no involvement in Pearson’s case, said during trials, he would ask each juror whether the verdict read by the clerk was indeed their verdict. He said there’s nothing wrong with polling jurors en masse.
Fresno County Deputy Dist. Atty. William Terrence said the case is disturbing.
“It’s not like he was facing the death penalty, he was going to face some prison time. It was a very unfortunate incident,” Terrence said. “There’s not a death penalty on a burglary. “I’m not sitting here thinking he got what he deserved.”