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Juror’s Facebook link to victim’s family no cause for rape mistrial

September 24, 2015

A trial court properly denied a convicted rapist’s bid for a mistrial because a juror failed to disclose she was a Facebook friend with a relative of the victim, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Judge Rudolph R. Pyle wrote for the panel that the appeal presented a novel issue: whether the juror engaged in misconduct by not disclosing during voir dire that a relative of the victim was among her more than 1,000 friends on the social media network.

Kastin E. Slaybaugh moved for a mistrial after he was convicted of the Class B felony charge but before he was sentenced. Pyle wrote that the juror was deposed, Facebook evidence and affidavits were examined, and the trial court determined that the juror was being truthful when she said she had no knowledge of the victim or her family.

The juror explained that as a Realtor, she used her Facebook page for networking purposes and in some cases had never met the people she “friended.” Slaybaugh’s motion for mistrial was denied.

The appellate panel affirmed the trial court in Kastin E. Slaybaugh v. State of Indiana, 79A02-1411-CR-798.  

“Slaybaugh merely suggests that the evidence reviewed by the trial court — specifically, the Facebook pages submitted with his motion — support a decision opposite that of the trial court. Slaybaugh’s argument that the trial court abused its discretion by finding that the Juror was truthful during voir dire is nothing more than an invitation to reweigh the evidence and the court’s credibility determination, which we will not do,” Pyle wrote. “Slaybaugh has failed to meet his burden of showing juror misconduct. Indeed, he has failed to show that there was misconduct, let alone gross misconduct.”


 

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