Judge in Yanez Trial Offers Jurors Support

July 05, 2017 06:25 PM

The judge who presided over the manslaughter trial of a Minnesota police officer tells the jurors who acquitted him in the fatal shooting of black motorist Philando Castile that he supports them despite widespread public criticism of the verdict.

Ramsey County District Judge William Leary III says in a letter to jurors that the criticism is based on a failure to understand the job that jurors were asked to do.

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View the letter Judge Leary wrote to jurors in the Jeronimo Yanez trial here.

Leary wrote that he was not providing his own opinion of Yanez's actions, but wanted to convey to jurors that their verdict was fully supported by a fair interpretation of the evidence and the law they were obligated to apply.

Asked to speak with KSTP about the letter, Leary said via email: "I appreciate your interest but I don't believe any discussion would be of any additional value."

Former U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose, now in private practice at DLA Piper LLP, said such a gesture is rare.

"This letter just amps up the volume on what is already a very high profile case," she said. "I have not seen anything quite like this before."

One of the male jurors on the panel, who asked not to be identified, said he was surprised Leary sent a letter. 

"We have heard as a jury a lot of negative backlash," he said, adding Leary did address the jury in person after the verdict. "It was our job to determine if (Yanez) broke the law … we couldn't say beyond a reasonable doubt that he did."

Asked via email for comment, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office declined to add anything beyond what it said in a post-verdict press conference and an FAQ it posted last week to its website

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The Associated Press

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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