Saturday, 2:15 PM
Mistrial declared after juror accused of sexual harassment
By John R. Ellement and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
A Suffolk Superior Court judge declared a mistrial today in a brutal murder case after two weeks of unsuccessful deliberations in which the lone holdout was accused of sexually harassing female jurors.
The panel sent a note to Judge Patrick Brady Wednesday saying that the eight women on the jury were being sexual harassed to the point that one broke down in tears. The man accused of the abuse was the only person voting to acquit two men of the 2004 murder of Betsy Tripp, who was tied up, tortured, and had her throat slashed.
The judge rejected the accusations and accused the jurors of using the harassment allegations as a tactic to rid themselves of the lone holdout. Brady did however grant a mistrial this afternoon when jurors still failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
Prosecutors had taken the sexual harassment allegations to the Supreme Judicial Court and asked Associate Justice Margot Botsford to investigate. Botsford declined to intervene in the case.
A new trial has been scheduled June 9. The defendants -- Quincy Butler, 34, and William Wood, 33 -- are both charged with first-degree murder and armed assault with intent to murder. According to prosecutors, the two men broke into Tipp’s Dorchester home with an “addiction-fueled robbery plot” on Feb. 12, 2004. It ended with Tripp dead and another victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the face that claimed his left eye.
Tripp’s sister, Cynthia Gorton, thanked the jurors this afternoon and said she was confident the men would be convicted because of the strength of the investigation by police and prosecutors.
“I’m honored that they would put that much time into my sister’s life,” Gorton said of the jurors.
The original jury had deliberated for four days when one juror was dismissed for health reasons. An alternate joined the jury on April 9 and deliberations started over.
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