CHULA VISTA (CNS) - Citing jury misconduct, a judge Thursday granted a new trial for a former firefighter convicted of molesting a 10-year-old neighbor girl.
Thomas Garrett, 73, also former commodore of the Coronado Yacht Club, was convicted last year of molesting the girl in his home when she lived next door to him in Chula Vista in 2011. He was arrested in February 2012 when girl's mother went to police and accused him of committing lewd acts on her daughter.
A jury found Garrett guilty of four felony counts of committing a lewd act on a child and one misdemeanor count of battery. Jurors deadlocked on another sexual assault charge.
Afterward, the judge learned that two jurors disclosed during deliberations that they had been molested as children.
A juror said one of the disclosures, which came during a discussion about the credibility of uncharged victims, "hung in the air, it was so emotional." Another juror said he was "shocked" by the disclosure.
"We got hoodwinked," defense attorney James Pokorny told Judge Alvin Green Jr. "They (the jurors) were not fair."
In granting a new trial, the judge said the disclosures constituted jury misconduct and could have influenced the votes of other jurors.
Deputy District Attorney Harrison Kennedy said the District Attorney's Office will move forward with a second trial against Garrett. A status conference was set for Feb. 28.
Garrett worked for the San Diego Fire Department for 32 years, retiring in 1997 as a battalion chief. He joined the Coronado Yacht Club in 1990 and served as its commodore from 2009 to 2010.