Mistrial declared in Bennington child sexual assault case
BENNINGTON — The trial of a Bennington man accused of child sexual and physical assault ended in a mistrial Friday because of reported juror issues.
Joshua Boyer, 33, went on trial Wednesday on three felony charges: repeated aggravated sexual assault on a child, first-degree aggravated domestic assault and aggravated sexual assault on a child resulting in serious injury.
Judge John Valente, of the Vermont Superior Court in Bennington, declared a mistrial Friday morning after receiving a report that some members of the jury supposedly discussed the case during breaks in witness testimony, according to the official audio recording of the hearing.
Valente had repeatedly instructed jurors not to discuss the case until he'd handed it over to them for deliberation. The trial had been scheduled to last till Friday.
"The information that we've been made aware of — again while not saying it's true or not true — could affect the perception of integrity," Valente told jurors, adding that the attorneys on both sides had earlier agreed to a mistrial. "The U.S. Supreme Court in a number of cases and the Vermont Supreme Court in a number of cases talk about the integrity that's embraced by the concept of a jury trial."
Authorities accuse Boyer of repeatedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl, whom he knew, at a Bennington home between the summer of 2017 and the spring of 2018. In one incident, Boyer allegedly strangled the girl when she threatened to tell on him.
Defense attorney Kate Lamson said the girl made up the accusations to get something she wanted.
Boyer's charges are each punishable by up to life in prison. On his domestic assault charge, the maximum penalty is linked to his being a habitual offender. He has three Vermont felony convictions, according to his charging document.
When asked by the Banner if the state plans to retry the case, Deputy State's Attorney Alex Burke declined to comment, citing the open case.
The prosecution and defense attorneys will return for a hearing Nov. 18 to discuss how they'd like to proceed, according to court records.
Boyer is detained at the Marble Valley correctional facility in Rutland.
Contact Tiffany Tan at firstname.lastname@example.org, @tiffgtan on Twitter or 802-447-7567 ext. 122.
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