Spokane Stockbroker To Face Trial Again

By Tom Bacon

A Spokane stockbroker must face trial again for the death of a motorcycle passenger four years ago despite a judge's mistake in his first trial.

A Spokane jury found Jon A. Strine "not guilty" in 2011 of vehicular homicide in the death of Lorri Keller who was riding with her husband, Gary Keller, on their motorcycle. Gary Keller was paralyzed in the crash.

But when the jury came back out with the not-guilty verdict after a two-week trial and two days of deliberations, the trial judge saw that many of the jurors were upset, some to the point of tears.  She decided to poll the jury members individually about their verdict and was shocked to find that six of them had not agreed to the not-guilty verdict.

So the judge overruled the not-guilty verdict and declared a mis-trial, meaning that Strine would still have to face the criminal charges.  The judge mistakenly ruled that she was required to conduct the individual polling, but Strine's lawyer failed to object at the time.  His lawyers took the case all the way to the Washington Supreme Court, arguing that a new trial would violate the constitutional ban against double jeopardy - that is, being tried twice for the same crime.  But the state's high court unanimously tossed out Strine's argument, ruling that prosecutors may put him on trial again because his original jeopardy was never extinguished.

The justices held that the jury was clearly deadlocked, despite the jury foreperson's declaration of "not guilty" and that made a mistrial a manifest necessity.

Copyright 2013 Spokane Pubilc Radio.
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