Potential Juror’s Misconduct Leads to Mistrial in William Gregory Double-Murder Case
FlaglerLive | October 11, 2010
The prosecution and the defense spent all of last week whittling a pool of 100 jurors down to 12 to hear the trial of William Gregory, the 27-year-old accused of murdering an ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend in Flagler Beach in 2007.
This morning, before hearing the first arguments, Circuit Judge Kim C. Hammond declared a mistrial. Several members of the victims’ families and friends streamed out of the courtroom in tears.
One of the potential jurors who had been dismissed on Friday spoke inappropriately, in front of the jury pool, about his relationship with a finger-printing firm, and said that he was dismissed because the prosecution would love him but the defense would not. One of the jurors who had been seated made a call to the court on Friday, after hours, to describe the incident. The juror left a voice mail that wasn’t heard until this morning.
The judge brought up the call this morning. The juror described it. Hammond ordered a recess. When the judge returned, he asked that the courtroom be cleared of everyone, visitors, family and press included. The defense and the prosecution conferred with the judge. Ten minutes later, the courtroom was re-opened, the jury returned, and the judge, after profuse apologies to the jury, declared a mistrial.
A new jury pool will have to be called in, and the slog through that pool will begin. The process was so laborious last week that both sides ended up accepting the minimum of 12 jurors, without alternates, just to get the trial going. That’s a risk since, if anything were to happen to any of the jurors, the trial would be aborted.
We reported earlier that jury selection would re-start next Monday: that’s not the case. A date was not set.Gregory is accused of sneaking into the house where his ex-girlfriend, Skyler Meekins, was sleeping with her boyfriend, Daniel Dyer, early the morning of Aug. 21, 2007. Gregory allegedly murdered them both with a shotgun that was in the house. Meekins was 17. She’d broken off her relationship with Gregory after dating him for two years. Dyer was 22. They were in Skyler’s grandparents’ house in Flagler Beach when the murders took place. Gregory and Skyler had a 1-year-old daughter, Kyla, together.
The mistrial is only the latest in a troubled progression. Gregory’s first attorney, Assistant Public Defender Matt Phillips, originally delayed the trial, citing overwork. Phillips then begged off, citing a conflict of interest. That was in June 2009. Two other attorneys took on the case, and then withdrew, again citing conflicts of interest. Hammond finally assigned Garry Wood, a Palatka attorney who’d spent a dozen years with the Putnam County State Attorney’s office, to Gregory’s defense.
Assistant State Attorney Chris France is prosecuting the case.