While courthouses are mostly closed now as West Palm Beach residents navigate the confusion brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, one West Palm Beach courtroom kept a trial alive while others were being asked to remain indoors. While all new trials have been postponed, some trials that had already begun before the coronavirus outbreak just kept on going.
Judges were given latitude as to whether or not a trial should continue or be postponed. If the judge determined that it was in the interests of justice to continue with the trial, then the trial continued as if nothing was happening.
Which case kept going? It was one of the most sensationalized cases in the West Palm Beach area: The case of retired police officer Carlton Nebergall. Nebergall’s defense attorney pleaded with the judge to declare a mistrial. This would have meant that the entire proceedings had to be started over. But the attorney’s pleas fell on unsympathetic ears and the jury was forced to continue to deliberate.
A Reason for Appeal
Nebergall’s attorney expressed reservations that the current environment would put “enormous pressure” on jurors to render a verdict as quickly as possible so that they could be done with the entire thing and go home to their families. The defense attorney could still bring this up if he should appeal a verdict of guilty as it is likely that in the current climate the jury is preoccupied with issues of their own safety.
That being said, Nebergall’s attorney would have to go through the process of appeals. Had the judge decided that the deliberations had to stop, it would have created a second reason for the defense to appeal a verdict rendered down the road, whenever this situation ends. The defense could have argued that the facts of the case were no longer fresh in the jurors’ minds and that their verdict should be expunged on that basis.
As of March 12, the jury was deadlocked 8-4, but one female juror has already been excused from the trial after exhibiting “flu-like” symptoms.
Nebergall Found Guilty of Manslaughter With Firearm
The former police officer was found guilty of manslaughter with a firearm. Prosecutors had hoped to get a first-degree murder conviction, but jurors did not see enough evidence of premeditation to warrant that outcome. Nebergall could face up to 30 years, however, since there was a firearm involved in the incident.
It’s unclear whether or not the defense will appeal the verdict given that Nebergall was not convicted of first-degree murder (but still could be if there is another retrial). Much will depend on what kind of sentence Nebergall gets for the shooting. Chances are, however, that the defense is happy with this outcome.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a serious crime, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. for more information on how we can help protect your rights and prevent you from being overcharged.