Judge Paul Ridgeway dismissed a juror on Wednesday from the Jonathan Broyhill trial after another juror heard him talking about a conversation he had with his wife.
The juror, a plumber known as Juror No. 1 in the Wake County Superior Court proceedings, had told others on the jury that his wife had been watching a live stream on the Internet.
One of the jurors sent Ridgeway a note on Tuesday night, alerting him to what she thought might be a violation of his rules.
Jurors are instructed not to talk about the case among themselves until all evidence has been presented, closing arguments have been made and the judge instructs them on how to proceed.
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They also are told to refrain from discussing the case with others and not to do any research on their own about the case so that when they go behind closed doors together they only will consider information from the trial.
Broyhill, 33, is accused of fatally stabbing Jamie Hahn in April 2013 and attempting to kill Nation Hahn, her husband.
The defense team has acknowledged that Broyhill wielded the knife inside the Hahns’ North Raleigh home on April 22, nearly two years ago. But the public defenders on the case also have said Broyhill had carried around an 8-inch kitchen knife in his backpack for weeks. He bought it at a Harris Teeter several week before the attack and had contemplated using it to end his own life, the defense team postulated in some of their questioning.
Wednesday was the sixth day of testimony.
The morning started with Ridgeway asking Juror No. 1 about the allegations from Juror No. 5.
The juror acknowledged that his wife had been watching the trial online and had told him that, but he stressed that they had not discussed details of the case.
He also said he should have avoided the situation.
After hearing that, Ridgeway then polled each juror and the two alternates individually about what they had heard from the juror, who ultimately was dismissed. Some had heard the juror mention his wife was watching the trial online. Others described being at the opposite end of the table where the juror was sitting and not involved or paying attention to what he was saying.
One woman recounted hearing him say that his wife told him the jury was not being shown on the live stream during the trial coverage.
After hearing from all the jurors and the two alternates, Ridgeway dismissed the one juror, moved one of the men serving as an alternate into his place and rejected a request from Joseph Arbour on the defense team to declare a mistrial.
Ridgeway said he was confident the other jurors understood his instructions and intended to remain impartial until they were asked to decide Broyhill’s fate.
Nation Hahn, the only witness so far who was inside the two-story house when the violence occurred, began testifying Tuesday, faced a lengthy cross-examination on Wednesday and will return to the stand on Thursday.
Broyhill has rocked in his chair at the defense table and cast his eyes downward, as Nation Hahn, a friend of more than a decade, chronicled the events the left him a widower and the 33-year-old defendant facing a possible sentence of life in prison.
During his cross-examination, Arbour has asked Nation Hahn about his friendship with Broyhill and trips they made together with others and with Jamie Kirk Hahn.
In painstaking detail that made some jurors visibly restless, Arbour also asked Hahn to recount, as best he could, a time line for when he arrived home on April 22 until he went upstairs to change out of his work clothes and put on basketball shorts. Arbour also asked Hahn where he was and what he was doing in the upstairs bathroom when he heard his wife’s screams.