ALIQUIPPA, Pa. (KDKA) – There are now serious questions about the impartiality of one juror who voted to convict Sheldon Jeter, which could put last week’s guilty verdict in jeopardy.
KDKA Investigates has learned that this juror actually lived next door to the family of Rachael DelTondo, the slain schoolteacher with whom Jeter once had a romantic relationship. His defense attorney says the verdict may be tainted.READ MORE: Jury Finds Sheldon Jeter Guilty In Fatal Shooting Of His Friend, Tyric Pugh
What would be the chances? A juror empaneled to weigh the fate of Sheldon Jeter in the shooting death of Tyric Pugh is the neighbor of Rachael DelTondo — the woman with whom Jeter was once romantically linked. DelTondo was shot several times in the driveway just feet from a home KDKA confirmed is owned by the female juror’s parents.
“We’re definitely concerned about it. It’s hard to imagine that a neighbor of the DelTondos would end up on a jury for or against Sheldon Jeter,” said Jeter’s attorney Michael Santicola.
Though he’s never been formally named a suspect, Jeter has been under investigation in connection with the DelTondo murder for the past 3 years. Santicola says the case has gained national attention and the juror could not help know of Jeter or have strong feelings about him.
Sheehan: And that is potentially prejudicial in her rendering a verdict?
Santicola: Yeah, of course, I think it would be overtly prejudicial and even subconsciously prejudicial.
KDKA knocked on the door of the house, but the juror’s mother said her daughter was not home. The mother gave us a phone number, but the woman did not return our calls.
In a statement, District Attorney David Lozier said, “I can’t comment until we have a motion stating facts.”
In selecting the jurors three weeks ago, the defense attorneys and prosecutors specifically did not mention the DelTondo murder but Santicola says this juror should have spoken up before being empaneled.
“I don’t want to say she wasn’t truthful. Maybe she didn’t realize, but I think through the cards, she was more likely aware of who he was and how his name was involved in the other case,” Santicola said.MORE NEWS: Grand Jury Expected To Soon Recommend Filing Of Homicide Charges In Case Of Rachael DelTondo
Santicola says they are reviewing transcripts of the questioning of the juror. After that is complete, he will decide on whether to petition for a mistrial. If granted, that would mean the case would need to be tried all over again.