ALIQUIPPA (KDKA) — Attorneys for Sheldon Jeter are asking for a mistrial following their client’s conviction in the fatal shooting of his close friend, Tyric Pugh.
Jeter’s attorney filed a motion on Tuesday afternoon requesting a hearing to petition the court for a mistrial. Last month, a jury in Beaver County found Jeter guilty of first-degree homicide in Pugh’s 2020 shooting death.READ MORE: KDKA Investigates: Juror In Sheldon Jeter Homicide Trial Was Rachael DelTondo's Neighbor
- To read the full brief, click here.
In the legal brief filed Tuesday, Jeter’s attorneys are calling into question the impartiality of Juror Number 3, who voted to convict.
Jeter is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow in the shooting death of Tyric Pugh, but the defense wants to delay and have a mistrial declared. DA David Lozier says his office is ready to proceed with the sentencing. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/2BTsWL6ECJ
— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) July 20, 2021
KDKA Investigates reported last month that this juror actually lived next door to the family of Rachael DelTondo, the slain schoolteacher with whom Jeter once had a romantic relationship.
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“The particular juror is the next-door neighbor to the DelTondo family, both during this trial and at the time of the murder,” said Jeter’s defense attorney Michael Santicola. “Her next-door neighbor was murdered and the individual that she’s sitting in judgment of in this case was someone that was mentioned in that case.”
In 2018, DelTondo was shot several times in her parent’s driveway, just feet from a home that KDKA confirmed is owned by the female juror’s parents.
Though he’s never been formally named a suspect, Jeter has been under investigation in connection with the DelTondo murder for the past three years. Since that time, Jeter has garnered national attention as a possible suspect in the murder. But the defense said when questioned during jury selection, the juror revealed no knowledge of Jeter or the present case.READ MORE: KDKA Investigates: Transcripts Reveal Conflicted Juror In Sheldon Jeter Homicide Conviction Was Married To His Relative
KDKA also obtained transcripts of the court’s questioning of the juror. They revealed that she was actually married to — and apparently divorcing — a relative of Sheldon Jeter. The defense also produced a picture of Judge Kim Tesla presiding over the couple’s civil wedding ceremony and cited specific line of questioning at jury selection.
The Court: So, you haven’t heard anything about this case from third persons, radio, TV or any form of multimedia?
Prospective juror: I don’t believe so, sir.
Santicola said the statements and the conflicts should have kept her off the jury and have now tainted the verdict.
“It’s almost one of those things that you can’t make this up. How did this possibly happen?” Santicola said.
The filing also states that despite explicit directions from the judge not to discuss the case with others, she did so with her father, who the defense calls the “unconstitutional thirteenth juror.”
“Prayed on this case, talked to her father about it, and made a decision prior to when closing arguments occurred,” Santicola said. “Ultimately, we believe there is enough of a problem with this particular juror that a mistrial should be declared.”
In addition, defense attorneys say the juror disregarded court instructions by speaking with other jurors during sidebars.
Jeter is scheduled to be back in court Wednesday for sentencing.MORE NEWS: Jury Finds Sheldon Jeter Guilty In Fatal Shooting Of His Friend, Tyric Pugh
Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier said he has not read the motion and his office is ready to proceed with the sentencing. Attorney Santicola wants sentencing delayed and Judge Tesla to hold a hearing on his motion for a mistrial.