Statement deniedEdwards jury submitted four questions to judge
The jury that heard the Rudolph Edwards case requested to make a statement in the courtroom about its verdict, but that request was denied.
The jury submitted four questions to the presiding judge, Joel Yates. The last of these read, “Are we allowed to make a formal statement in court after our final verdict? (underlines in the original).”
Yates wrote back to the jury, “No, but after the verdict and your admonishment has been lifted, you will be able to discuss this proceeding if you choose to do so.”
After deliberating for more than a day, the 12-member jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Edwards was charged with committing third-degree sexual assault in the Washington County Jail on July 16, 2011.
Court documents indicate that the jury asked Yates four questions during its deliberations. The jury submitted the questions in writing to the court attendant, who then delivered it to Yates. For each of the questions, the attorneys and the defendant were called into the courtroom. Edwards was being housed at the Washington County Jail during the proceedings, so he had to be transported from the jail to the courtroom so that he could hear the question.
The first question was whether the jury could read Dr. Cheng Huang’s deposition. Huang was a prosecution witness who examined the alleged victim Martin Medrano Vargas in the Washington County Hospital on July 17, 2011.
Huang did not testify in court but did answer questions before the trial from Washington County Attorney Larry Brock, the prosecutor, and defense attorney Jeffrey Powell. A transcript of the questions and his answers was produced and read aloud in court on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Since Huang was not present to testify, Assistant Washington County Attorney Shawn Showers read his part verbatim from the transcript. Brock and Powell also recited their questions just as they appeared on the deposition.
After conferring with the attorneys, Yates said that the jurors could not have access to the deposition.
“Just like all other witnesses’ testimony, you must use your recollection of that testimony as it was presented in court,” Yates wrote.
Brock said the question about Huang’s deposition was submitted after the jury had been deliberating for one to two hours. By late Friday, after the jury had deliberated for about a full day, it submitted another question to the judge. This one was “What is the protocol if the jury cannot come to an agreement?”
Yates wrote back that there was no protocol and that the jury should continue deliberating.
The third question was similar to the fourth question that followed it. The third question was, “Are we allowed to make a statement after our final verdict?”
Yates wrote that the jury must follow its admonishment (which means not discussing the case with anybody outside the jury) until reaching a verdict. He wrote that once the jury had reached a verdict, the admonishment would be lifted and the jurors could discuss the proceedings.
Court documents also reveal that the defense and prosecution agreed upon a few stipulations just prior to the presentation of evidence Tuesday, Jan. 15.
One stipulation was that there would be no mention of any DNA testing taken during the course of the investigation.
“The state does not intend to introduce DNA evidence and witnesses should be advised not to mention DNA testing,” the stipulation read.
In an interview Tuesday morning, Brock said DNA evidence was left out of the trial because it was not necessary since the defendant admitted to having sex with Medrano when the defendant was interrogated on July 17, 2011.