Mistrial declared in murder trial; defense attorney says jury was tainted

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24 2012 12:39 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — What was supposed to be a five-day murder trial stalled Tuesday afternoon after a judge declared a mistrial.

Court records show 3rd District Judge Dennis Fuchs' determination came in the case of Francisco Alverez, 56, after defense attorneys moved for a mistrial.

Alverez's attorney, Robert Engar, said he couldn't go into detail about what happened, but the concern was about the integrity of the jury.

"Something happened that tainted the jury," he explained. "We had to move for a mistrial and the judge granted it. Now, we're going to set another trial date."

A scheduling conference has been set for Nov. 5.

"You generally don't want a case to mistry," Engar said. "We were prepared, (prosecutors) were prepared, they want to get it done. (But), sometimes, these things happen and that's all you can do."

Tuesday was the second day in the trial of Alverez, who was charged with murder, a first-degree felony; possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony; and felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony, in connection with a May 2011 shooting that left Jorge Veracruz, 29, dead.

It is believed Veracruz and Alverez were arguing when Alverez pulled out a gun and shot Veracruz three times.

The incident drew attention because it took place in broad daylight in a park where numerous baseball games were taking place.

A Little League baseball coach, Brandon Schroeder, testified at a previous hearing that he heard the gunshots and took off running, as directed by bystanders and witnesses, after a man on a bike.

He said that the man on the bike was trying to dispose of the gun and that when he fell from the bike trying to do so, Schroeder tackled him.

Alverez later told police Veracruz was trying to rob him.

Emiley Morgan, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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