It ended as a mistrial. But, had it not ended as a mistrial, it would have ended as a hung jury because both sides were dug in and nobody was going to shift.
San Diego, CA (PRWEB) December 22, 2009
After a nearly two week long trial and days of deliberation, a judge declared a mistrial in a sex crime case involving a fifth grade teacher accused of molesting two former students. The defendant, Adrienne Feistel, 36, was charged with 17 counts of committing a lewd act on a child.
According to comments made by jurors following the judge’s announcement, the decision would have been split had a mistrial not been called.
“It ended as a mistrial. But, had it not ended as a mistrial, it would have ended as a hung jury because both sides were dug in and nobody was going to shift,” juror Tony Williams told reporters.
Jurors reportedly deliberated on the child molestation case for days before telling the judge they were deadlocked at 9-3 in favor of not guilty on the first 14 counts, and had voted not guilty on the other three counts. Feistel faces ten strikes and 30 years in prison if convicted.
“We worked really hard on what we wanted to do,” commented juror David Weinberg. “We just had two very polar opposite positions and we weren’t going to be able to reconcile.”
A status conference is scheduled for Jan. 11.
Judge Richard Whitney declared a mistrial based on two counts of juror misconduct. In one instance, a juror allegedly watched media coverage of the trial against the court’s admonition and discussed it with her fellow jurors. In another instance, a different juror told the other jurors that she planned to follow her heart rather than base her decision on the evidence in the case.
The case against Feistel involves two of her former students, who, according to prosecutors, she befriended before molesting them. "This case is about a violation of trust," prosecutor Wendy Patrick told the jury in her opening statement.
According to defense attorneys Anna Yum and Charles Quirk, the prosecution’s theory was based upon the notion that Feistel was “grooming” the two young boys by becoming close to them and their families before molesting them.
Despite the fact that the prosecution had multiple witnesses, Yum maintains that there is not enough credible evidence against her client. In her opening statement, Yum told the jury that “There is no medical evidence, no physical evidence, no DNA evidence, no credible evidence” to show that Feistel was guilty of the charged offenses. Rather, Yum commented that much of the evidence in the prosecution’s case was based upon “gossip and innuendo.”
Feistel reportedly became best friends with Brenda, the 16-year-old sister of one of the alleged victims in 2006. According to the prosecution, Feistel befriended Brenda to get to her 12-year-old brother, Christian. The defense challenged that theory, arguing that both Feistel and Brenda were going through rough times in their lives when they met and they looked to each other for support.
According to defense attorneys, Brenda looked up to Feistel for guidance, friendship, and direction, even more so than her own mother.
Allegations against the defendant came out during a police investigation of a domestic disturbance in August 2008. Yum told the jury that the investigation began when Brenda called the police to report that she was being physically abused by her mother, Maria Garcia. Brenda also contacted Feistel to pick her up from her house and to rescue her from the abuse. When Feistel arrived on the scene, the police were questioning Maria about the domestic dispute. Maria then pointed to Feistel and accused her of molesting her son four months prior to the day in question.
“From the beginning I urged the jurors to have an open mind and to pay attention to the credibility of the evidence,” said Yum. In her opening statement, Yum urged the jurors to pay attention to the timing of the accusations. She said that Maria’s ulterior motives for accusing Feistel is two-fold, “number one, to protect herself from getting in trouble with the police, and number two, to regain the love and control of her daughter when she saw that Brenda was choosing to seek guidance from Feistel over herself.”
After the allegations were made, defense attorneys allege that the investigation shifted from that of a domestic disturbance to child molestation.
The second alleged victim, Antonio, admitted that he did, in fact, have sexual intercourse with the defendant. However, according to Yum, he never said they had sex before he was 18.
Before becoming a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego, Yum was a Deputy District Attorney at the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. As a prosecutor, Yum worked in various assignments, including the sexual abuse and child abuse unit where she handled child molestation cases.
Yum worked with co-counsel Charles Quirk on the case. Quirk has been a San Diego based criminal defense lawyer for approximately 30 years. “One thing Charlie and I did, is we never gave up,” she said. Yum pointed out that the trial was, “a long hard fought battle.” She stated that the defense is hoping to resolve the case, but “if it goes to trial, it goes to trial. And, we will be ready to fight it.”
Case # 219312 Superior Court of California, County of San Diego (Central Division)