Monroe gets four years probation on cocaine delivery conviction
SALINE CO.—After 63 days in the Saline County Detention Center, Tim Monroe is a free man today, 03.30.10.
In a two-hour hearing held at the small courtroom at the SCDC (just up the hall from state’s attorney Mike Henshaw’s offices, where the grand jury is usually held), Monroe’s attorney Paul Christenson argued for a mistrial and retrial, put on witnesses, and even Monroe himself to give an impassioned statement to the judge; but in the end, judge Ron Eckiss determined that while there would be no retrial, there would also be no prison time, either.
Monroe was set for sentencing today on his Feb. 4 conviction of delivery of a controlled substance (cocaine) which dated back to early 2008. Originally scheduled for Tuesday March 23, the sentencing had been delayed by a week due to an illness of a Christenson family member.
However, a mid-February motion for mistrial/new trial was filed in the case, with Monroe alleging through Christenson a number of errors that could lead to a declaration of mistrial…if Eckiss saw it that way.
Christenson was busy over the last couple of days issuing subpoenas for every juror in order to obtain their testimony about what Monroe had learned were instances of juror misconduct.
Chief among the juror complaints was that regarding comments allegedly made by juror Shirley Smith. Smith was reported to have commented about Christenson’s appearance during the trial, stating that he “looked just like” her deceased husband. She reportedly announced this to the other jurors and brought in a photo of the late Mr. Smith to prove this to the other jurors.
However, that wasn’t all Smith was alleged to have said: she reportedly told other jurors that she despised her late husband because he was either brutal or otherwise mean to her, and as such, she would vote to convict Monroe because of Christenson’s likeness to the late Mr. Smith.
But when Christenson got Smith on the stand today, she would not attest to having said such a thing to the other jurors; only that Christenson bore a likeness to her late husband, and that she did indeed bring in a photo to show this likeness. That was the end of it. Try as he might, Christenson couldn’t get Smith to testify to anything further, including her feelings on Christenson’s likeness of the late Mr. Smith. Prosecutor Mike Henshaw interjected objection after objection every time Christenson tried, and ultimately, the defense attorney gave up.
Christenson also questioned juror Jesse Rister, whose wife Beth Rister is the principal of Galatia School. The juror misconduct in question with Rister was that he had allegedly told other jurors that he couldn’t go home to Galatia with a ‘not guilty’ verdict because it wouldn’t go well with his wife, given that Monroe was a former schoolteacher and coach at the school prior to his arrest and charges.
Rister didn’t give testimony to that effect; again, any answer he attempted to give to Christenson’s questioning was met with objections by Henshaw, which were sustained.
However, prior to Rister’s testimony, another juror, Janice Brantley, had been called to the stand and asked specifically about Rister and what he had said to the other jurors.
Brantley testified point-blank that Rister had told them he “hated to go back to Galatia and face people” if they were not going to be able to return a guilty verdict on Monroe, this on account of his wife and her position in the school.
Juror Lezlie Terry was questioned about Shirley Smith showing the photo of her late husband; then was bluntly asked by Christenson about whether she at any time during the trial went home for lunch. Terry replied that she only went home one time for lunch, at which time she “met her husband” and pointed to a man in the back of the room.
The inference here was that it had been reported to the defense that Terry had had an “illicit affair” with another one of the jurors; Disclosure later learned it was foreman Kevin Treistram, of Eldorado.
However, Treistram, who was present at the hearing but wasn’t called to testify, stated that there was never anything untoward going on with Terry, and he and his wife Tina were both very upset about the matter and were interested in knowing who had said this to the defense. There was nothing that could even remotely be considered ‘evidence’ of such a tryst: no photos, videos, recordings, and no eyewitnesses put on the stand. The problem the defense had with the matter, the Treistrams were told, was that somehow, both Treistram and Terry ended up on the jury together, which the defense felt was by design, as they premise was that the jury had been stacked against Monroe.
That premise was never explored, and the Treistrams have never received an apology or anything offered at all to make up for what they believe they have been made to endure since the allegation first appeared in court documents.
Christenson maintains that his sources are good but refused to elaborate any further on the matter, only stating that there was no point in calling Treistram to the stand since Terry was committed to what she was saying from the stand.
One sparkling moment for Christenson came when he had alternate juror James Hayes on the stand.
Hayes, over Henshaw’s objections about the fact that he was only an alternate, was able to testify a little more clearly to what Shirley Smith reportedly said to the other jurors about Christenson and her late husband.
“She came into the jury room on a break, and said that you resembled her ex,” Hayes said to Christenson, “and that she hated him. She said ‘I’ll bring in a picture tomorrow to show you guys.’”
Christenson asked if Smith had actually said she “hated” her late husband (whom Hayes called an ‘ex’) ; Hayes said she had.
Christenson then asked Hayes if he didn’t tell the attorneys, in voir dire questioning, that he knew one of the witnesses in the case, and Hayes said that was correct.
“I don’t know him personally, but I dealt with him in the past,” Hayes said.
“You told us you’ve been convicted of cocaine delivery,” Christenson said to him, whereupon Hayes explained that in 2002, he did indeed have a felony cocaine conviction.
“And who was your supplier?” Christenson asked.
“My supplier was Rodney Marcum,” Hayes answered…and Christenson quickly thanked the witness, stating “No further questions!” before anyone at the prosecution table could object.
Rodney Marcum was the key figure in the Monroe defense, as Monroe had stated all along that Marcum was HIS supplier, and that Marcum had several times over the tiny amount (.6 grams) of coke Monroe was caught selling to a confidential informant, Carolyn McGhee, and her drug task force contact, Justin Zurliene.
And it was Marcum, Monroe maintained, who told Monroe that he was in a “60/40 split” with Henshaw in his cocaine distribution.
Marcum reputedly had “the best shit in town.”
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