Juror Accused of Bias After Guilty Verdict for Charles Coates

A jury last month found Charles Monroe Coates guilty of second-degree murder and three related weapons charges in the February 2011 shooting death of his cousin, Eddie A. Leonard Jr.

A hearing next week, though, to look into allegations that one of the jurors may have been biased may give Coates the chance for a new trial.

According to a motion filed by defense attorneys Thomas Dybdahl and Jacqeline Cadman, one of the jurors worked with Coates’ wife, LaShun Cloutterbuck, in the cafeteria at The George Washington University Hospital from December 2010 to October 2011, and he flirted with her on a few occasions.

Coates wrote in an affidavit that he often met his wife at her work to accompany her home on the bus and that he met many of her co-workers, including the juror.

He said he confronted the juror, who he described as an “older bald headed light skin man,” about the flirtation in January or February 2011 and the man “stepped off and we never spoke again.”

According to the motion, the juror never mentioned his interaction with Coates or his knowledge of Cloutterbuck, who was listed as a potential witness, during jury selection. The juror claims that he never met Coates before the trial started.

It seems the exchange of words between the juror and the defendant were fairly minor,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman said during a hearing Monday before Judge William M. Jackson. “I just don’t think it was a big deal in the juror’s mind, so if it did happen, that’s why he didn’t remember it.”

But Jackson said he felt compelled to hold a hearing to determine whether the interaction took place and if the juror was biased.

I can’t resolve that issue without hearing the testimony of the defendant, his wife, and finally, the juror,” Jackson said.

The three will be called to testify at the hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 10:00 a.m. Sentencing for Coates is still scheduled for Dec. 14 at 9:30 a.m.

blog comments powered by Disqus