Mistrial declared in attempted-murder case
Konolus Smith, the Meyers man accused of trying to kill his wife by forcing her to take an overdose of pills, was found guilty Friday of spousal battery and making criminal threats.
But the jury in the seven-day trial in El Dorado County Superior Court didn’t reach a verdict on charges of attempted murder and false imprisonment.
Judge James Dawson declared a mistrial on the counts of attempted murder and false imprisonment because of the misconduct of a male juror.
The nature of the misconduct was not immediately clear.
Sentencing for Konolus Smith on the two felony convictions is scheduled for Jan. 28.
Pamela Smith had accused her husband of tying her up in the early-morning hours of Aug. 29 and threatening to stab her with a pair of scissors if she didn’t swallow a combination of pills. The defense contended Pamela Smith took the pills in a suicide attempt.
On Friday, one juror wiped tears from her eyes, one sighed heavily with his hands on his head, and several had their eyes to the courtroom floor as Dawson discussed whether deliberations should move forward after the determination of misconduct.
Although the remaining alternate juror was called to the courthouse and there was discussion of having the jury start deliberating from scratch, Dawson then polled the jurors about their decision on the counts of making criminal threats and spousal battery.
The five male and seven female jurors said they felt Smith was guilty of those two counts, and Dawson determined their decision on those charges could stand.
Konolus Smith, sitting in a gray suit with his hand on his chin, showed little reaction to the jury’s decision.
“The jury has made their decision, and I have to respect their decision,” defense attorney Jordan Morgenstern said while leaving the courtroom Friday.
Before dismissing the juror blamed for misconduct, Dawson said the jury was roughly split on the attempted-murder charge.
A member of the jury also told the judge that they had yet to reach a complete decision on the false-imprisonment charge before the determination of misconduct.
Dawson said he was “very, very upset” because of the juror’s actions, a sentiment echoed by Deputy District Attorney Peter O’Hara.
“I think it’s a shame that the choice of one juror wasted thousands of California taxpayer dollars,” O’Hara said while leaving the courthouse Friday. “He ignored a court order and shocked us all.”
Neither O’Hara nor the dismissed juror would comment to the Tribune on the nature of the misconduct.
O’Hara said he will need to consult with his superiors before considering whether to retry Konolus Smith, but at least one member of Pamela Smith’s family said she is looking ahead after Friday’s verdict.
“I’m thankful that the trial is over and we can all move on,” Terry Van Essen, Pamela Smith’s sister and a witness in the trial, said in an e-mail after the verdict. “Thanks to the jurors for their time and sincere efforts in this case.”
Another male juror was dismissed from the trial Dec. 18 because he said he was adopting a child the next day. No misconduct was involved. The first alternate replaced him at that time.