The online activities of one of the Kathryn Knott jurors, Juror #4 Ari Duenas, are raising questions among Knott’s defense attorneys over whether Knott has the case for a mistrial, though it seems a stretch at best.
Duenas, a public school physical education teacher living with his wife and son in Philadelphia’s Brewerytown neighborhood, and also an army veteran and mixed martial arts fighter, has been talking about the case on Reddit after the fact, Newsworks reports:
I’m a Redditer, so I’m always on there anyway,” Duenas said recently. “There were a lot of comments on there about the trial, some of them were kind of crazy.”
He’s commented 8,042 times on Reddit under the username nedthedragonslayer.
Last week, Duenas and 11 other jurors convicted the Bucks County woman of simple assault, reckless endangerment and simple assault in the group beating of two gay men in Center City last September. The jury acquitted Knott of the felony count of aggravated assault.
But Duenas’ comments on media coverage of the trial have raised the question of whether he may have violated the court’s instruction that jurors stay away from media accounts until a verdict was reached.
Hoping to rein in what he saw as crazy Reddit theories about the case, Duenas over the weekend took to his favorite Web forum to set the record straight with an AMA thread, or an ask-me-anything, a freewheeling Q&A feature on the site.
“I was juror #4 on the Kathryn Knott trial, AMA!” Duenas called the thread, where he elaborated on the occasionally testy mood of the jury room — “There were points where we were flat out yelling at each other” — described what he thought of at least one of his fellow panelists— “the idiot juror”— and characterized the jury verdict as a “huge compromise.”
Duenas noted in the remarks that he was aware during the trial that media was getting parts of the story wrong, and that is what is raising the hackles of Knott’s defense attorneys:
Reading, watching or listening to coverage of the case during the trial is a violation of court instructions and could amount to a finding of being on contempt of court, thus triggering mistrial motions from Knott’s defense team.
Knott’s defense attorney, Louis Busico, said it would be a “tough row to hoe” to win a mistrial appeal based one ambiguous Web comment, but it was certainly something, among many other possible approaches, he’s now examining.
After the statement was pointed out to him, Duenas wrote a disclaimer on the top of the Reddit thread clarifying his remarks.
“I didn’t speak to anyone about it, not even my wife,” Duenas wrote. “I mostly just occupy my time with work, soccer, and my son, I guess I’m a little out of the loop.”
…Duenas, for his part, denies ever accessing any media about the trial while it was happening. He said he spent 20 minutes reading articles about the trial in the courthouse after the verdict was reached, something he said the judge signed off on.
That, he said, was the first time he read anything about Kathryn Knott outside of the courtroom.
(Duenas image WHYY)