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Defense attorney calls for new trial in Dallas obscenity case

Dallas- Defense attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial in a federal obscenity case against a former Dallas police officer and his wife because a juror said the verdict wasn’t unanimous.

Deborah L. Marmon said she did not know she could say she disagreed with the guilty verdict when the judge polled the jury, according to an affidavit filed Monday.

Richard D. Goldman, a public defender for Garry Ragsdale and his wife, Tamara, said in a story in Wednesday’s editions of The Dallas Morning News that Marmon’s admission is important because the jury was responsible for determining what is obscene.

“I had a very hard time answering because that really wasn’t the verdict I wanted to hand down,” Marmon, 48, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I felt I was rushed into the courtroom from deliberations.”

Marmon said Ragsdale, 34 and his wife, 32, are not guilty.

Kathy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office, declined to comment.

The Ragsdales were convicted Oct. 22 in connection with selling videotapes depicting staged rapes through a Web site. The Fort Worth couple were charged with two counts of mailing obscene material and one count of conspiracy to mail obscene material.

The jury had to determine if the material appealed to prurient interest, depicted sexual conduct in a patently offensive way and lacked serious literary, political, artistic or scientific value before reaching a guilty verdict.

Legal experts said it will be difficult for the defense to win a new trial.

“I think the fact that in open court the juror agreed with the verdict is going to have great weight,” longtime Dallas County defense attorney Barry Sorrels said.

Attorneys cannot release what influenced a juror’s decision. Marmon said she felt pressured to make a decision and would have preferred having a few more hours to deliberate, She called defense attorneys the next morning.

“I kind of felt my vote didn’t count,” she said. “The only way I feel like I can right it is to speak up.”

U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater denied the defense’s request to contact the jury forewoman Danae Deltoro. She ruled that the jurors were polled in open court and stated that the verdict was his or her own.

Deltoro said Marmon and another juror hesitated to convict the couple, but jurors were unanimous when she called the bailiff to give the verdict.

The Ragsdales could face up to 20 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. Sentencing is Jan. 23.
 

 

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