ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — On Tuesday, the jury for the Alexander Weiss case couldn’t reach a verdict, forcing Judge Joseph Chase to declare a second mistrial, turning this into a complicated process.
FOX 47 talked to Meshbesher and Spence Law Partner, Zach Bauer, a legal expert, independent from the case, to talk about what this means and what could be coming next.
He says in his experience, it would be rare and uncommon to see a case tried more than three times, but the future of the case is now in the hands of the prosecutor, whether they want to go through a third trial.
“There’s really no limits to the amount of times it can be retried,” said Zach Bauer.
He continued by saying mistrials happen about one in every 12 or 15 jury trials, especially when you’re dealing with high level felony offenses.
“For the defendant, a mistrial basically means you kind of go back to square one,” continued Bauer.
With a jury, they must be unanimous in their decision to either convict or acquit, which means how the jury is split, could help decide whether they go for another retrial.
“Often times there will be feedback that both the defense attorney may get, as well as the prosecutor may get, on whether or not that jury was split 10-2 to convict or 6-6, and that that may sometimes lead to decisions being made by the state as to whether or not they truly believe that they could get another outcome if they tried again,” explained Bauer.
While the jury’s split is not known at this time, Bauer says it isn’t a surprise a case like this would have a hard time reaching a unanimous decision.
“When you have cases that involve things like self-defense, like firearms and second amendment rights, racial issues as well. Those are all different things that 12 of us in a vacuum sometimes can’t agree upon, let alone in a situation where you’ve got a person standing trial that they could face prison time on,” said Bauer.
According to Weiss’ defense attorney, the maximum time he could be facing is 15 years in prison.
“Sometimes I’m assuming they would get input from the victims family on what their wishes may be, but they have the sound discretion to make the decision of whether they’re going to go ahead and re-try a case, or whether they decide they don’t believe that even if the evidence came in perfectly, based upon their first two experiences, that that would likely change the outcome,” explained Bauer.
With a third trial potentially on the horizon, that means another group of jurors would have to be found, something Bauer says shouldn’t be too much of a problem given Rochester’s size.
“It may be more difficult to find a fair and impartial jury moving forward, with the amount of media attention this case has gotten, but typically you’re able to find 12 or 13 people that either don’t know enough about the case or on the alternative can set aside the feelings they do know about the case and deliberate thoughtfully and truthfully,” said Bauer.
From the mistrial declaration, the prosecution will have about 30 days to decide whether or not to go through with a third trial.