Surprise jury decisions in famous San Diego trials - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Surprise jury decisions in famous San Diego trials

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The Casey Anthony trial isn't the only time the public has been shocked by a jury's decision. Here in San Diego, we have seen our share of cases that had unexpected outcomes.

Like millions of others around the nation, News 8 legal analyst Bill Nimmo says the Casey Anthony jury decision also caught him by surprise.

"You've got to remember, those same people that were shocked weren't sitting there listening to the evidence and were not bound by the rules that the person is presumed innocent and the evidence has to show it beyond a reasonable doubt," Nimmo said.

In June 1991, Bill Nimmo was defending Lincoln Park resident Stacy Butler for the murder of San Diego police officer Jerry Hartless. Butler's jury hung 6-6, producing a mistrial.

"I thought Stacy Butler was innocent and he didn't do it, so when the jury hung 6-6 I was very relieved because they were going for the death penalty," Nimmo said.

In the late 1980s, separate juries found Sagon Penn not guilty twice in connection with the murder of a San Diego police officer and the wounding of another. In a sense, it was the Rodney King case turned inside out.

"The law enforcement officers are going to hate that verdict, the public's not going to understand it. But [Penn] had a good lawyer, he had this guy named Milt Silverman, a basic San Diego legend, and they did a good job," Nimmo said.

In November 1993, jurors acquitted Spring Valley resident Dale Akiki of 35 charges involving dozens of children. They complained about overzealous prosecutors and therapists on a witch hunt.

"A lot of these prosecutors and law enforcement were following all of these witchcraft type of cases, and there was another one up in Los Angeles that was very similar where the kids were describing all kinds of satanic rituals… and the Akiki case followed on the heels of that," Nimmo said.

Dale Akiki eventually sued San Diego County, Children's Hospital and several therapists who treated alleged victims. He was awarded a $2 million settlement.



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