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Hoak's lawyer likely to ask for mistrial

Taylor points to unusual notes from juror

Taylor points to unusual notes from juror

November 21, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. ? Defense attorney Paul Taylor said Wednesday he will likely ask that Raymond Hoak's second murder trial be declared a mistrial after the discovery of unusual notes from a juror in the trial that ended Tuesday.

Taylor did not say when he will ask for a mistrial, but he said it will not occur this week.

Taylor said he also needed to talk with Hoak before moving ahead with the request.

If presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. overturns Hoak's conviction, it would be up to the state whether to have a third trial for Hoak, Taylor said.

Talk of a mistrial request began after a bailiff discovered the notes on a white piece of paper in Steptoe's court Tuesday after a jury convicted Hoak of voluntary manslaughter in a 2003 shooting death at Images nightclub, lawyers in the case said.

The note was unusual in that jurors are only allowed to use a yellow, court-provided notebook to take notes during trial, Taylor said.

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The note appeared to contain information pertaining to a legal issue that was not covered in presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr.'s preverdict instructions to the jury, lawyers in the case said.

The note also contained penalties for possible verdicts, which jurors are not supposed to have, Taylor said.

Steptoe instructs jurors not to do their own research in a trial or conduct experiments on cases, Taylor said.

Assistant Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Crofford, one of three prosecutors who handled Hoak's trial for the state, said Wednesday it is hard to tell if a mistrial could be declared because of the juror notes.

Hoak, 31, of Kearneysville, W.Va., was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Larry G. Hose, 29, of Kearneysville, W.Va.

Hoak at one time had an affair with Hose's former wife and there had been a long-running feud between the men, according to testimony.

Tensions came to a head Feb. 9, 2003, when Hoak and Hose met up in a parking lot outside Images nightclub along W.Va. 51 near Middleway, W.Va.

Hose was shot once in the chest, and Hoak was seen getting into a car after the shooting and was found by police at a house off Hite Road, according to testimony.

Hoak claimed he acted in self-defense when Hose was shot, although Crofford pointed out to jurors that Hoak had three opportunities to avoid a confrontation with Hose the night of the shooting.

For the voluntary manslaughter verdict, Steptoe will choose a prison sentence for Hoak between three and 15 years, Crofford said.

Hoak's first trial in 2005 ended in a mistrial when jurors could not reach a verdict.

Lawyers in the case and court officials said it is hard to say how much the two trials cost.

There are a large number of expenses that would have to be totaled up involving costs for expert witnesses and travel expenses and pay for jurors, among other costs, officials said.

"I don't think it's a cheap undertaking," Taylor said.

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