Judge may schedule new trial in murder case
WEST JORDAN Third District Judge Royal Hansen said he will decide by June 10 whether to schedule a new trial or impose a sentence for Parley Jeffs Dutson, who was convicted of shooting his girlfriend to death two years ago.

A jury convicted Dutson of murder and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies, in July 2008. He fatally shot Kara Hopkins, 15, in 2007 after she rejected his demands and forceful attempts to have sex while surrounded by a number of young people at a party. Dutson was then high on alcohol and a tea brewed from psychedelic mushrooms.

Defense attorneys say Dutson deserves a new trial because one female juror did not disclose during jury selection that she had been raped at age 15. The matter came up during deliberations about Dutson's fate. The woman subsequently told the court that she did not think of the issue during jury selection and does not consider herself a crime victim.

Defense attorney McCaye Christianson told the judge Monday it was "highly unlikely" this juror would have served on the jury if she had disclosed that she had been the victim of a crime, especially a sexual crime that bore many similarities to what happened to Hopkins.

Christianson acknowledged a new trial would entail a "huge outlay" of time and resources, but said Dutson is not responsible for a serious flaw in his trial that previously was unknown to defense attorneys, prosecutors and the judge.

"Mr. Dutson is not the one who should bear the loss or suffer the consequence," she said. "He deserves a fair trial before an impartial jury."

However, prosecutor Kimberley Crandall said the state's position is that the juror was not being dishonest. The woman was not asked about sexual assault, but instead was asked a general question about being the victim of a crime.

"It isn't something she thinks about. She had no reason to have that in her head," Crandall said. "She cannot fail to honestly answer a question she is not asked."

Crandall said in response to questions from the judge, that she does not believe the matter is enough to "arrest judgment" in Dutson's case and require a new trial, although the juror issue possibly could be raised on appeal.

e-mail: lindat@desnews.com
Originally published Monday, May 4, 2009