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Juror in Benton County Murder Trial Dismissed for Using Cellphone

Benton County justice center
(Benton County website)

According to court officials, the juror used her cellphone to look up the definition of a certain word.

The murder trial of Joshua H. Hunt had gone to the jury for deliberations Friday after six days of testimony.   The jury was in the process of deliberating the evidence, when one of the jurors used her cellphone to look up the definition of the word “premeditation.”

Jurors in trial cases are strictly forbidden from using cellphones during such proceedings, although the woman told officials she announced it to everyone in the room, and did not try to hide it.

During deliberations Monday morning, the 12 jurors were discussing the case when the woman said she couldn’t find the definition of the word in the packet of information and instructions they were given.

In such cases, instead of declaring a mistrial, an alternate juror is going to be brought in, but now the jury must start the deliberation process all over again.

Hunt is being tried for the July 4, 2013 fatal shooting of Joshua Snapp.   Hunt has claimed the shooting, which occurred in a remote area outside of Richland, was not planned.  He claimed his judgement was clouded by drug and alcohol use.   But prosecutors say it was planned, or premeditated because of the purchase of a gun a week earlier, and Hunt allegedly asking friends where a good spot to kill somebody would be.   Prosecutors also say Hunt shot Snapp because he believed he was a police informant.

Snapp’s body was discovered after co-defendant John C.I. Young told a Benton City convenience store clerk he’d just seen someone get shot.

 

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