BREAKING: Juror's memory puts double-murder trial on hold in Port Townsend
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Michael J. Pierce, left, and his defense attorney, Richard Davies, during jury selection earlier this month. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The Michael J. Pierce double-murder retrial is on hold after a juror said she might have seen Pierce walking by the side of the road on the night of the slayings.

Juror 13, Laura Meynberg of Port Townsend, told the bailiff after testimony ended Wednesday that an incident referred to during opening statements had triggered a memory of a large man walking along the side of the road at night, although she could not say when or where that instance occurred.

After dismissing Meynberg from the jury and consulting with attorneys from both sides, Jefferson County Superior Judge Keith Harper recessed the trial until 9 a.m. Monday to allow lawyers to determine how to accommodate the new information.

“This is the sort of trouble that we thought we might run into when we had a trial in Jefferson County,” said attorney Richard Davies, who is representing Pierce.

“This is why we asked to be moved to another county for retrial.”

Prosecuting Attorney Scott Rosekrans said he would like to interview Meynberg and perhaps use her as a prosecution witness.

This the second trial for Pierce, 38, who is accused of killing Pat and Janice Yarr of Quilcene and setting their house ablaze to hide the deaths on March 18, 2009.

He was convicted of two first-degree murder charges in 2010 and was serving a life sentence in Walla Walla State Penitentiary when the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction last July 27.

That came after Pierce's attorneys successfully argued that his post-arrest statements should have been suppressed.

Having a member of the jury become a prosecution witness is unprecedented, at least in Rosekrans' experience.

“I've been at this for a long time and I've never seen anything like this,” he said.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 18. 2013 1:33PM
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