Judge rules newspaper did not bias jury against defendant
WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) – A Washington County judge denied a motion Tuesday to allow Johnatan Sanchez, 20, a new trial, ruling the jury was not prejudiced by newspaper accounts of Sanchez’s criminal history.
According to a press release from Washington County Attorney Larry Brock, district court judge Randy DeGeest ruled that there was no evidence or facts showing any juror saw the article detailing Sanchez’s criminal record or were prejudiced by it, which the release said was printed in a local newspaper on the day the jury was selected. The members of the jury were not allowed to take Sanchez’s criminal history into account while reaching a verdict.
The motion also argued that the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence and that Sanchez was entitled to a new trial.
“Judge DeGeest, after carefully weighing the evidence and considering the credibility of the witnesses, found that the jury verdict was not contrary to the weight of the evidence,” the press release said. “Therefore, Judge DeGeest denied Mr. Sanchez’s motion for a new trial.”
On July 26, Sanchez was found guilty in Washington County Court of four counts of first-degree robbery. DeGeest also found Sanchez guilty of the crime of ‘felon in possession of a firearm.’ After the verdict, Brock said he plans to seek a minimum sentence of 50 years in prison. The four counts of first-degree robbery are each a Class B felony that could bring up to 25 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. Sanchez is scheduled to be sentenced at 11 a.m. Dec. 16.
According to court records, at about 3 a.m. March 9, Sanchez allegedly threatened five people with a double-barreled shotgun and robbed them. The records say that Sanchez was at a residence at 410 E. Madison St. in Washington and that several subjects were at the residence. The report says that Sanchez grabbed the shotgun from the corner of the living room and pointed it at five different subjects. It was reported that he pointed the gun at their heads and chests. The record alleges Sanchez ordered the subjects to empty their pockets and that he removed all the cash from the subjects’ property, then returned the property to them. The report said that he stole about $270 cash and some marijuana from the victims.