A judge has ruled that Floyd Eugene Maestas, who was convicted of aggravated murder and given a death sentence, does not merit a new trial despite Maestas' claims of juror misconduct.
Maestas argued that one juror during jury selection failed to disclose information about her own son's problems involving the juvenile court, which Maestas argued might have gotten her bumped from the panel during jury selection.
Maestas also contended that the jury incorrectly "considered extraneous information" during its deliberations that resulted in him getting the death penalty specifically, that one juror voiced the opinion that a life sentence without parole doesn't always mean someone won't eventually get parole.
Third District Judge Paul Maughan stated in a 14-page ruling that, among other things, the motion for a new trial was without merit and was supported only by hearsay affidavits.
Maughan wrote that in the case of the juror whose son had previous juvenile legal troubles, the woman on a jury selection questionnaire had filled out sections that described her son getting prosecuted and put on probation for passing a bad check. The judge termed the woman's responses "candid" and wrote that if defense attorneys had not wanted her on the jury, it was their responsibility to question the woman more closely after learning the information.
As for the woman who said she knew of individuals who had gotten parole even thought they had been given life sentences without the possibility of parole, Maughan wrote that this was based on the woman's personal experience and that does not come under the category of "improper extraneous information."
In this situation, the woman had taken a University of Utah criminology class where a Board of Pardons member was a visitor and had spoken about parole.
Maestas was convicted and sentenced to die by a jury in January for the murder of Donna Lou Bott on Sept. 28, 2004. Prosecutors say Maestas broke into her home at night to rob the place. Two other men who also participated in the robbery, but insisted they did not take part in the violence, testified that Maestas beat, strangled and stomped the 75-year-old woman to death.
The trio then went to the home of an 86-year-old woman who was roughed up and robbed but not killed.Both co-defendants agreed to plea deals with a lesser charge in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors, and one man has been sentenced to prison. The other is still awaiting sentencing.