Although Movie Buffs general manager Larry Warren Peterman gained a reprieve this week because of a hung jury, it appears likely that the pornography case will be tried again.
Peterman was charged with 15 counts of distributing pornographic material, a class A misdemeanor, in connection with videos rented and sold at the American Fork and Lehi Movie Buffs stores in 1996. In 4th District Court this week, a panel of six Utah County residents failed to reach a consensus and a mistrial was declared.But prosecutors now say they plan to proceed with another trial, as long as the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver doesn't invalidate the search warrant used to seize the videos.
"There's nothing I can think of at this point that would persuade us not to retry it," Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson said Friday. "I would hope to do this as quickly as possible, and we're ready to go."
However, Judge Lynn W. Davis, who sat on the bench throughout the trial and watched 15 hours of sexually explicit films along with the jurors, will be reassigned within 4th District Court beginning July 1. The judge who will replace him, Steven L. Hansen, will have to decide how soon he can schedule the trial, Bryson said.
It's likely that the case wouldn't be retried for at least six months.
If the case is retried, prosecutors likely would keep the case as simple as possible by staying with the misdemeanor charges and re-doing a plea-in-abeyance agreement with two other Movie Buffs employees, Bryson said. The agree-ment kept Movie Buffs owner Susan Janae Kingston and district manager Marjorie Ann Cramer out of the trial in exchange for no contest pleas.
The prospect of showing the 15 movies again in court probably won't appeal to prosecutors, defense attorneys or court personnel. But the jurors at the trial will have the most difficult task.
One of the jurors at the recently concluded trial told the Deseret News that watching the films for three days was a very difficult task. However, he encouraged prosecutors to retry the case. The juror said that five members of the panel wanted to convict Peterman, but a lone juror's reluctance to define a community standard for pornography led to the mistrial.