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Mistrial declared in ATM case

Jury deadlocked after 7 hours of deliberation

July 26, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer (gneese@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - After deliberating for seven hours over two days, a Houghton County jury was unable to reach a verdict on whether a Dollar Bay man was involved in breaking into a South Range bank's ATM in October.

A mistrial was declared in the case of Gordon Lewis, 20, Wednesday afternoon. Lewis had been charged with safebreaking, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

The jury came back multiple times throughout Wednesday - first with questions, and then with increasingly pointed declarations of a gridlock.

Article Photos

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Gordon Lewis of Dollar Bay, right, reacts to the announcement of a mistrial in his case in Houghton County Wednesday. A jury deliberated for seven hours but was unable to come up with a verdict in his trial for safebreaking in October at Miners State Bank in South Range. At left is Lewis’ attorney, David Gemignani.

Houghton County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Makinen said after the morning, the hung jury was not a surprise.

"Part-way through this morning, after the series of questions, it appeared that a deadlock was certainly a potential, so at this point, I was not surprised to see it," he said. "I don't know that anybody would have expected it after the first day, but that's why we have juries."

He said he did not know yet whether he would bring the case to trial again.

"I'm not planning anything at this moment," he said. "I will meet with the investigating officer to see whether or not there is some follow-up that we can do. Some issues may be able to be resolved. We don't know that at this time."

Lewis also has a trial pending on an unrelated larceny charge at Michigan Technological University. Makinen said the decision to retry the case would have no impact on that case.

Lewis' attorney, David Gemignani, said he's not thinking yet about what new avenues he might take in another trial.

"I'm just trying to digest what happened here, look at what options we have and what our choices are," he said.

He also complimented the jury for their work.

"I want to thank them for their efforts in looking at all of the evidence, all the testimony, going through the instructions (and) following the instructions," he said.

Lewis' alleged co-conspirator, Paden Rothenberger, testified during the trial about Lewis's involvement. He said Lewis' need for money to get a better lawyer had been the impetus for the robbery. The prosecution also presented receipts for a drill purchased in Marquette before the attempt, as well as jailhouse phone calls from Lewis to his wife trying to get her to plant evidence against Rothenberger.

Lewis said he had never been involved with the plan, and had turned down Rothenberger's requests to borrow money shortly before the incident.

He and another woman with whom he was romantically involved said his vehicle was on blocks at the time of the ATM robbery, and could not have been used. Another Houghton County jail inmate, Cody Riutta, testified Rothenberger had said if Lewis ended his harassment of him, he would "tell the truth in court."

The jury deliberated for an hour and a half Tuesday before resuming Wednesday shortly after 8:30 a.m.

After 45 minutes, the jury again watched a video of the ATM robbery attempt. Clothes allegedly worn by Lewis in the robbery had been entered into evidence and taken to the jury room.

After another hour, the jurors asked for the date and time of the attempt, as well as an exploratory trip allegedly undertaken by Lewis beforehand. There was a timestamp on the video, though it would have been too distorted to see in fullscreen.

Gemignani said he had mentioned in his opening statement that the robbery had taken place late Monday night, while the exploratory trip took place early the preceding Sunday.

It was decided jurors would have to rely upon their memory of the evidence.

After 2 hours and 20 minutes, the jury made their first indication they could not reach a verdict.

About an hour later, the jury again emphasized their deadlock, this time stating why: differences of opinion on credibility of witnesses, and of perception of evidence in the trial.

About 2 p.m., the jury sent another note, this one more emphatic.

"We are deadlocked," the note said, with the last word underlined. "After following the advice of the court and repeatedly revisiting all of the factors involved in this case, we are no closer to determining a unanimous verdict. We do not believe additional time is going to change this fact."

After the jury was let back in, Judge Charles Goodman asked the foreperson if the jury would be able to reach a unanimous verdict. She said no.

The jury was sent back in, and Goodman announced his intention to declare a mistrial. Lewis reacted with an occasional restrained smile amid a mostly stoic expression.

A pretrial hearing will be scheduled to determine further actions in the case. Lewis was returned to the Houghton County Jail.

 
 

 

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