At least two jurors in the sexual assault trial of a former Las Vegas police Explorer engaged in misconduct, his attorneys said in court Wednesday.
Joshua Honea, 24, was convicted in December of one count of sexual assault of a minor under 16 in what prosecutors say was a yearslong sexual relationship with a girl, starting when she was 11.
His attorneys, Jonathan MacArthur and Monique McNeill, asked District Judge Kathleen Delaney for an acquittal or a new trial.
The judge, however, withheld a ruling, saying she will review established case law before making a decision on the 49-page motion detailing the alleged misconduct.
“I’m not striking the declaration right now,” Delaney said. “This is something worthy of the court’s additional time and attention in a way that’s meaningful.”
Records show one juror had read at least one Las Vegas Review-Journal article regarding the trial, referencing during deliberations the story’s headline that the alleged victim, who recanted her accusations against Honea on the stand, “dropped a bomb on the State.”
The girl, now 18, is a friend of another juror’s sister, the motion said. The Review-Journal is not naming the girl because she was a minor when the relationship took place.
Each of the two jurors, according to a declaration from another juror, had lunch alone together during the last week of trial, and made statements such as Honea “must go down for something,” and that Honea “needed to be convicted of something,” according to testimony from other jurors.
One accused juror indicated that the state “did not do its job, and therefore the jury must do that job.”
“That’s in the free exchange of the deliberation process that he needs to be convicted,” prosecutor Stacey Kollins said.
Merely the fact that one of the juror’s sisters knew the alleged victim doesn’t indicate prejudice, which is necessary to establish grounds for a new trial, Kollins said.
“We don’t go fishing for prejudice, they have to show prejudice now,” she said.
Regarding the newspaper article, Delaney said, “There wasn’t anything in the article that wasn’t well known to the jurors.”
But McNeill argued the question is whether an average juror would be influenced by his sister and if other jurors were influenced by these statements.
In addition, she said, if the juror read one article, he might have researched others pertaining to the case.
Honea, whose bail bond was revoked Dec. 26 because of a bondsman’s fear that the defendant was a flight risk, was granted bail Jan. 3 and is now out on a $100,000 bond until his Feb. 26 sentencing.
Delaney said she wants to ensure her decision is thoroughly articulated.
“It’s not just a matter of something looks fishy, so we have to have an evidentiary hearing to flush it out,” she said. “I will make that determination, and that will drive the train as to what else we have to do.”
Contact Briana Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.