A 21-year-old Tucson man who won a new trial because of juror misconduct was convicted of first-degree murder for the second time Friday.
Mario Acedo will be sentenced to life in prison with or without the possibility of release next month by Pima County Superior Court Judge Howard Hantman.
On Aug. 27, 2010, Christopher Montaño agreed to go with his friend to buy $20 worth of marijuana in an area near East 36th Street and South Country Club Road.
When the men arrived, Acedo jumped into the back seat of the car, announced he was going to rob the men and then shot Montaño, said Deputy Pima County Attorney Malena Acosta.
During Acedo's original trial, defense attorney Brick Storts asked Hantman for a mistrial at two separate points after a juror told the judge and fellow jurors she was scared because one of Acedo's supporters was staring at her from the courtroom gallery.
Hantman barred Acedo's 13-year-old brother from the courtroom, but he denied Storts' motions, and Acedo was ultimately convicted.
Hantman later granted Acedo a new trial after learning five or six jurors were walking to a restaurant downtown when a group of people who had been seen in the courtroom drove by in a Hummer and yelled, whistled and flashed some sort of hand signals at the group, apparently in an attempt to intimidate them.
In addition, the attorneys and the judge learned a juror on the case wrote a letter instructing people to contact Hantman if something happened to her. She put the letter in a lock box, gave a friend the key and told another juror what she had done.
Other than the juror who felt she was being stared at, none of the jurors came forward to report their concerns during the trial.
Two other men, Aerath C. Hubert and Jarrett C. Carter, are serving life sentences with release possible after 25 years for their involvement in Montaño's death.
On StarNet: Follow the news and events at Pima County's courthouses in Kim Smith's blog, At the Courthouse, at azstarnet.com/courthouse