Garrett Cheney is hugged by a woman in the parking lot of the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Thursday, July 28, 2011. Cheney is moving to overnturn his conviction.
File photo | AP
Statement Analysis and commentary in bold type.
BANGOR, Maine — It will be at least a month before a Superior Court judge issues a written decision on a South Berwick man’s request that his July conviction on charges connected to the hit-and-run death of a University of Maine student 21 months ago be set aside or that he be granted a new trial.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson spent less than 30 minutes Tuesday morning hearing oral arguments at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Garrett Cheney, 23, was found guilty by a jury on July 28 of manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury, and criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants in connection with the death of Jordyn Bakley, 20, of Camden.
Cheney faces up to 30 years in prison for the manslaughter offense alone. He remains free on $50,000 secured bail while awaiting sentencing.
A sentencing date has not been set, but it is unlikely to be scheduled before the end of November.
Consider that emotions run high in a case involving death. The bystander was not wise in yelling anything to the jury, as it allows an attorney to attempt to use it to discredit the jury verdict.
“The pressure this comment placed upon the jury cannot be credibly discounted and it deprived [the] defendant of his right to have his case decided by an impartial jury, one that remained untouched by prejudicial and improper outside influences,” Bly argued in seeking a trial for his client.
Bly also has asked for the names and hometowns of jurors so he can determine whether they were unduly influenced by the individual’s statements.
Earlier this month, Anderson denied a similar request from the Bangor Daily News.
Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almylast month called Bly’s motions perfunctory.
“I expect that the court will deny them without much argument or even thought,” he said in a telephone interview. “These are fairly routine motions that are rarely granted. And there is no reason for them to be granted in this case.”
A jury can make a decision based upon the evidence presented.
The judge was made aware of the bystander’s statement and jurors were questioned individually about it when they returned from lunch, Almy said.
“Mr. Bly at that time never raised any objection to continuing the trial and the judge found no reason to stop the trial of declare a mistrial,” the district attorney said. “There is no basis for his motion. It was all explored when it happened. The jurors were questioned and all agreed, even Mr. Bly, that there was no reason for a mistrial.”