By Jessica Clark
First Coast News
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL -- Justin Barber appeared in front of a judge in a St. Johns County Courtroom Thursday for part of the sentencing phase.
No jury was present.
However, his attorney, Bob Willis, wants the jurors back in order to ask them what they heard outside the courtroom during the murder trial in June.
In that trial, the jury found Barber guilty of murdering his wife, April. The jury also recommended Barber will receive the death penalty.
Willis has filed a Motion To Interview Jurors. In it, his reasons for wanting to question all twelve jurors are based on media coverage of the trial.
Willis also mentions the former prosecutor in the Barber case, Maureen Christine, who appeared on Court TV during the course of the trial. He says she spoke about items that were eventually determined to be irrelevant to the case and never admitted into evidence in the trial.
Willis points to a piece of body armor Barber purchased on eBay, for example. Willis states, to his understanding, that Christine suggested Barber wore the body armor "in the course of this crime and was discarded afterwards." He says her commentary was prejudicial, irrelevant, and incorrect. Willis writes "there is literally no relevance between that curiosity item and the circumstances of this case."
Christine told First Coast News Thursday she talked about things on Court TV that were public information. She said she was no longer apart of the case when it went to trial, so she could talk about these things.
Christine added, the jury was told not to pay attention to media reports, and thus would not have heard what she said on Court TV.
In the motion, Willis writes he's aware the jury was told "to avoid exposure to any materials outside the courtroom. Nonetheless, the type of commentary that is at issue here, including specific reference to alleged facts or evidence that are being kept from the jury, presents an unique and inherent threat to the requirement."
The Court will hear the motion to interview jurors September 5th at 9 a.m. in the Putnam County Courthouse. The motion for a new trial that Willis also filed will be heard at that time as well.
First Coast News