Jury's Mistake On Verdict, Man Walks Free, Murdered Hours Later
By Erik Rosales
FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) — 37-year-old Bobby Pearson was freed because of a jury's mistake, and was killed about an hour later. Fresno police say Pearson was a career criminal, and was let out of jail late Wednesday night after jurors in his burglary trial made a paperwork mistake on the verdict forms. One juror told the judge they checked the 'not-guilty' box because there wasn't a form stating they could not decide. Police say once Pearson left the jail he went to his sister's Fresno home to gather some belongings. However, police say Pearson and his sister's boyfriend, 35-year-old Willie Gray got into a fight, which spilled out onto the street. A witness told police he heard a loud pop. Police found Pearson in the street. He was rushed to the hospital with two wounds to his stomach and chest, where he died. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says a steak knife was found lying next to Pearson's body. Gray took off in his girlfriend's car, and was later arrested at his home. Detectives also found a gun inside the home. However until an autopsy is done it's not known if it was used in the attack. Looking back at the juror's mistake in Pearson's burglary trial some may wonder could it happen again? Defense attorney Mark King says, "Yes, I can see how that can happen. You got a situation where people are out of their element." King says just as each criminal case is different, so is each jury. 12 people come together, each with different experiences and circumstances and each one must decide the fate of another person. King says, "While they are doing it, it can be very stressful. It is unfamiliar and it's uncomfortable. These folks obviously were confused about some of the paperwork. Things like this may have happened before and we just didn't hear about it. Because after that they were dismissed and go on with their lives." So, does this mean the justice system is broken? King says it's not perfect but it's the best we've come up with. In this case, a juror told the judge there wasn't a verdict form to sign to say they were deadlocked. They were split 8-to-4 in favor of finding Pearson being guilty. But because of double jeopardy, the judge had no choice but to go with the jury's decision, and release Pearson. King says, "They had two forms. They chose the one that made the most sense to them. They really didn't need a form to say that were deadlocked. I can see how that can happen. I have a little harder time when they said to the judge this was my vote, if they didn't vote that way. But things happen what is done is done." Pearson's co-defendant in the case was found guilty for burglarizing the Fresno apartment, stealing a video system and a gun.
KMPH Fox 26 is the Central Valley's news leader, covering Fresno, California and the surrounding area, including Clovis, Madera, Hanford, Visalia, Biola, Kerman, Tranquility, San Joaquin, Centua Creek, Coalinga, Avenal, Lemoore, Tulare, Selma, Caruthers, Tollhouse, Three Rivers, Porterville, and Merced.