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State v. Amick

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

June 16, 2015

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
MICHAEL E. AMICK, Appellant

Argued and Submitted January 13, 2015

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF OREGON COUNTY. Honorable J. Max Price, Judge.

Amick was represented by Samuel E. Buffaloe of the public defender's office in Columbia.

The state was represented by Gregory L. Barnes of the attorney general's office in Jefferson City.

Richard B. Teitelman, Judge. All concur.

OPINION

Richard B. Teitelman, J.

Page 414

Michael Amick appeals a judgment convicting him of second-degree murder and second-degree arson. The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded because the trial court violated section 494.485[1] by substituting a discharged alternate juror after the jury had begun its deliberations.

Facts

Mr. Amick was charged with first-degree murder, section 565.020, and second-degree arson, section 569.050.1, for killing Leona Maxine Vaughan and setting fire to a house. A jury found Mr. Amick guilty of murder in the second degree and arson in the second degree. The court entered a judgment of conviction consistent with the jury's verdict and sentenced Mr. Amick to concurrent sentences of life imprisonment for murder and seven years for arson.

After the evidence was presented, and before the jury began deliberating, the trial court excused Juror 14, who was an alternate juror. Juror 14 returned home, and the jury began deliberating.

The jury deliberated for more than five hours before the trial court excused Juror 12 from service due to health concerns. The trial court instructed Juror 14 to return to the courthouse. The court then substituted Juror 14 for Juror 12 and instructed the jury to " continue deliberations."

Prior to the substitution of Juror 14 for Juror 12, defense counsel requested a mistrial because: (1) Juror 14 could not get " caught up on what's been discussed" after five hours of deliberation; and (2) it was possible she had discussed the case with someone after being released, even though she had denied any such discussions. Defense counsel stated that calling Juror 14 back after the jury had begun deliberating would " create an enormous amount of error at this point" and that " after five and a half or six hours of deliberation, we can't just throw somebody else into the ring." Alternatively, defense counsel asked that the jury be sent home over ...


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