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Mistrial in murder case shows need for juror honesty

Juror failed to disclose alcohol abuse, psychological health issues

SAN ANTONIO – A mistrial was declared by District Judge Lori Valenzuela on Monday in the trial of accused killer Joshua Gonzales after a juror admitted that he had been drinking during the trial and had psychological issues, including being bipolar and having PTSD.

He had not shared that information during the jury selection process.

Referring to the mistrial, District Judge Jefferson Moore said, “This is a very sad thing for everyone involved.”

Jury selection, Moore said, is not a game of 20 questions in which prospective juror try to fool the judge and the lawyers.

 “We must decide diminishing returns,” Moore said, discussing the importance of honesty during the selection process.

RELATED: Murder trial ends in mistrial after juror discloses new information

“How much information are we really going to get from this person to determine whether they’re going to follow the law?” he said.

“The last thing we want to happen is to have a prospective juror get on the jury and then realize that they should have told us something,” said defense attorney Eddie Garcia.

In an effort to avoid that, prospective jurors are given questionnaires addressing such things as health issues.

And during questioning by lawyers, they are asked for additional information.

Moore noted that another way to avoid a mistrial is to select alternate jurors. That is an option available to the trial judge.

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