LAS VEGAS (AP) - A man convicted of second-degree murder is seeking a new trial, alleging that a female juror sent sexually suggestive letters and visited him in jail.
The juror, Marnie Ramirez, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Friday report that she felt sad for the defendant, 27-year-old Ricky Vazquez, and that she tried during jury deliberations to hold out for a conviction on a lesser charge, voluntary manslaughter.
Vazquez's lawyer, Keith Brower, didn't name Ramirez in his written request for a new trial. But he told Clark County District Court Judge Valerie Adair that a juror visited Vazquez in jail after the October trial and told Vazquez she conducted independent research about him.
The judge scheduled a Tuesday hearing on the request.
Ramirez, a 21-year-old married mother who works as a bank teller, said she visited Vazquez in jail and wrote letters to him after trial was over. In one letter, Ramirez writes that she's a sex addict and wants to touch him "and see where it all leads to."
"I'll give you a 'hint' if you really want to get me, smile and I'm all yours!" a letter says. She also offers to send photos.
Ramirez denied a physical relationship with Vazquez, and insisted they did nothing wrong.
"It (the trial) did get to me emotionally," Ramirez told the Review-Journal. "He probably doesn't have anyone to talk to."
Ramirez said she didn't contact Vazquez during the weeklong trial. She said she visited him afterward because she felt bad he was found guilty of second-degree murder.
A co-defendant, Lee Vincent, 24, was convicted of first-degree murder in the Sept. 10, 2006, robbery slaying of Richard Morris, who was found shot to death in a Las Vegas neighborhood. Sentencing
for both men was set Dec. 1.
District Attorney David Roger said Ramirez's actions weren't grounds for a new trial.
"Where's the prejudice? He got the benefit of one juror advocating on his behalf," he said.
Authorities said a juror contacting a criminal defendant during a trial could prompt a mistrial.
But Robert Fellmeth, a University of San Diego law professor and former prosecutor, said it was not necessarily improper for a juror
to contact a defendant after trial is over.
"There are a certain number of women who are enamored by the drama and emotion and tragedy of major felons," Fellmeth said.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)