MT. CLEMENS, Mich. — A jury foreman who took to social media to complain about being picked as a juror and then to discuss the murder case while it was still being tried may have put the guilty verdict in jeopardy.
Harvey Labadie and another juror's posts on Facebook — at least one of them made from the jury room in the Macomb County courthouse in Mt. Clemens — were cited by attorneys in their request for a new trial for Terry Wilson, 21, of Clinton Township.
Wilson is scheduled to be sentenced July 8 by Judge Jennifer Faunce to mandatory life in prison after he was found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his childhood friend William (Willie) Clark during an argument at a Clinton Township park. The jury also found Wilson, 21, guilty of a felony firearms offense.
A hearing on the motion for a mistrial is set for June 16.
The defense attorneys wrote that Wilson's right to a fair trial and impartial jury was violated because of improper communications the jurors made on Facebook. The law firm discovered the communications on the jurors' public Facebook profiles June 2, the day Wilson was found guilty.
The mistrial motion states that Labadie made two sets of inappropriate comments on May 28 and May 31, at first complaining about being picked to serve.
"More importantly, Mr. Labadie makes comments that suggest that he is considering the possible penalty in his decision and that he is already predisposed to a certain verdict. Those comments were made before deliberations and before the jury reached a verdict," according to the motion.
According to exhibits filed with the motion, the first comments on May 28 state the foreman is waiting in the jury room. "This is interesting and also boring — at Macomb County Circuit Court," it reads. He again states that he is "feeling bored."
On May 31, according to the motion, Labadie wrote that jury duty was still going on: "Hopefully the last day. I was told there is no way you will be on a jury the first time getting called. LIARS."
He also wrote: "Not cool a young man is dead another young man will be in prison for long time maybe."
The motion also states that another juror, Gary Ludwig, made comments on Facebook less than four hours after the verdict that the case had been in the newspapers, suggesting he had read newspaper coverage before the jury reached a verdict.
It was unclear Monday whether either juror could face sanctions for the social media postings. Neither juror could be reached for comment Monday evening.
The shooting occurred May 5, 2013, near the basketball courts at Prince Drewry Park. Wilson testified he was scared and on edge, thinking he was going to be beaten up after he stole an Xbox game system that belonged to Clark's brother the previous December.