Man Gets New Murder Trial for Failure to "Hearken"

Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009  |  Updated 3:15 PM EDT
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Man Gets New Murder Trial for Failure to "Hearken"

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A Charles County man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend was granted a new trial because the judge failed to follow a century-old procedure known as "hearkening" after the verdict was read.

Isa Manuel Santiago was convicted in 2006 of killing LaToya Taylor, who was seeking child support from Santiago. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison.

The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling that Santiago's conviction must be thrown out because the judge failed to confirm that the jury's verdict was unanimous. The 4-3 decision came Monday.

State law requires unanimous verdicts. After the verdict is read, lawyers can ask that jurors be polled. If there's no poll, the judge or clerk is supposed to confirm the verdict by reading a standard phrase asking the jurors to "hearken to your verdict."
 

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