Judge William Fuente declares mistrial, sends jurors home in Richard McTear murder case
1:24 PM, Aug 20, 2013
7:37 PM, Aug 20, 2013
TAMPA BAY - A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the case of a man accused of throwing an infant out of a car window onto Interstate 275 in Tampa in 2009.
The mistrial came a day after the baby's mother, Jasmine Bedwell, 22, made statements on the witness stand that had already been barred by Circuit Judge William Fuente. The defense attorneys for Richard A. McTear Jr. objected and asked for a mistrial.
Fuente heard from attorneys Tuesday morning before issuing the ruling.
"The jurors heard testimony they should not have heard under any circumstances. In this court's opinion, a mistrial is necessary,"Fuente said. "I'll say this: I do this with extreme reluctance. I'm not suggesting that any counsel did anything inappropriate."
The baby's mother took the stand on the first day of the first-degree murder trial for McTear, 25. Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Ron Gale asked Bedwell about phone calls she received from McTear before baby Murray's death.
Bedwell testified that McTear told her he would harm her and the baby, who was not his son.
"He told me he was going to shoot my baby in the face," Bedwell said Monday,"and he was gonna kill both of us."
That threat had made earlier in a phone call that all parties agreed would not be referred to in this trial. Because of that, the judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial.
"The jurors heard testimony that they should not have heard under any circumstances," said Judge Fuente. "And in this court's judgment, this would vitiate the entire trial so in this court's conclusion a mistrial is necessary to ensure the defendant receives a fair trial."
Today, Judge Fuentes ordered attorneys to come back before him September 13th with a plan to reschedule the witnesses and set up for a trial later this year. He sent the jurors home, thanking them for their service.
"It's a little frustrating only that you put all this time in and it was okay, go home," said Juror Lori Reyes. "It's over with now."
Reyes said she was prepared to sit through some tough testimony and was ready for a two week investment of her time and a first-hand look at the justice system. She was intrigued and shaken by what she'd heard so far.
"And then when I found out baby and then I found out I-275…" Her voice trailed off. "I was like Oh my God, this is horrific."