WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A retired Palm Beach County deputy convicted of manslaughter won't be getting a new trial.
The Palm Beach County judge who presided over the murder trial of Carlton Nebergall on Monday denied both a renewed motion for a mistrial and for a new trial.
Nebergall was found guilty of manslaughter March 16 for shooting and killing his estranged son-in-law in February 2018.
It was Nebergall's second trial. The first ended in a mistrial last year after a juror was caught using a cellphone while Nebergall's defense attorney was making his closing arguments.
Defense attorney Michael Salnick argued that Judge Jeffrey Gillen should have declared a mistrial because of the coronavirus crisis.
However, Gillen ruled that Salnick's argument "is not persuasive."
The jury had indicated it was deadlocked before ultimately reaching a verdict. However, the jury didn't deliberate on Friday, March 13 because one juror said she had to travel out of the state.
By the time jurors returned to deliberate after the weekend, Salnick had requested a mistrial.
Gillen said that, "taking all of the circumstances into consideration, that the interests of justice required completion of the trial," he received approval from the chief judge to continue the trial.
Gillen’s ruling also claimed Salnick erroneously stated the Florida Supreme Court issued an order suspending all trials March 16. An exemption in the ruling allowed for existing trials to continue with the approval of the chief judge.
"In fact, the order was not issued until March 17 at 9:03:06 p.m., more than thirty-two hours after the jury had reached its verdict," Gillen wrote. "Regardless, there was absolutely no reason for either this court or the parties to conclude that any juror felt pressure to reach a verdict quickly, without due deliberations because of virus-related or any other concerns."
Gillen also concurred with the state’s observation that it was Salnick, after consultation with his client, "who insisted on not utilizing the remaining alternate to take the place of the juror who had previously-arranged travel plans."
"Had the traveler-juror been replaced with the second alternate, the jury could have deliberated through Thursday and, if necessary, on Friday," Gillen wrote.
Gillen also ruled that there was "no basis" for a new trial.
"There is simply no reason to believe that the jurors decided the verdict 'by lot' and, frankly, neither defendant’' motion nor the reply argues that jury reached its verdict 'by lot,'" Gillen wrote.