A state appeals court on Friday rejected a Millville man’s argument that his 2011 conviction should be overturned because of a juror’s disclosure during deliberations that she was a sexual-assault victim.
Wilbur Sanchez was indicted on a series of charges after authorities alleged he repeatedly beat, sexually assaulted and threatened to kill a woman in December 2009.
However, the jury only convicted Sanchez on a charge of terroristic threats. They returned not guilty verdicts on charges of aggravated sexual assault, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon, and could reach no verdicts on charges of sexual assault and criminal restraint.
Sanchez was sentenced to four years in state prison in November 2011.
On Friday, a two-judge panel of the Appellate Division of Superior Court rejected Sanchez’s argument that his conviction should be overturned because of the juror’s action. Sanchez contended in his appeal that the jurors received “prejudicial information” when told by the juror in question about her sexual assault. The judge excused the juror from the trial.
According to the appeals court ruling, not all the jurors heard the woman’s declarations. The jurors also told the Superior Court judge presiding over the trial that the woman’s conduct, which included becoming hysterical, and statements about being a sexual assault victim would “not affect their abilities to be impartial, the ruling reads.
The trial judge then denied a defense motion for a mistrial.
The appellate judges upheld the motion denial on Friday, writing that the woman’s comments and conduct “were not of such a nature as to irreparably taint the jury.”
State Department of Corrections records show that Sanchez, now 40 and who goes by several aliases, is in Southern State Correctional Facility in the Delmont section of Maurice River Township.
The department’s records show that Sanchez’s maximum release date is May 28.
Contact Thomas Barlas: