Former jailer’s trial ends in hung jury

William Thompson: Quay County Sun

Jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict after almost five hours of deliberations following former-jailer Robert Gonzales’ trial on Wednesday. Judge Ricky D. Purcell declared a mistrial.
Prosecutor Donald Schutte has six months to retry Gonzales and said he plans on doing so.
Gonzales faced two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor and two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor. Three juvenile females testified that Gonzales performed sexual acts against them from December 2002 to July 2003 at the Quay County Juvenile Detention Center while he was a corrections officer there.
Jurors saw videotaped testimony Tuesday in which Gonzales admitted consensual sexual activity with the three juvenile females; however, on the stand Gonzales denied being involved in any type of sexual activity with the females.
Defense attorney Michael Garrett argued Gonzales’ videotaped admission was unintentional.
Jury foreman Pete Walden said jurors watched the videotaped testimony several times during deliberation, but did not want to give any more specifics about the jury’s deliberations.
“It was really close,” Walden said. “We had lengthy discussions. Some issues were discussed repeatedly.”
In his closing argument, Garrett suggested to the jury that one of Gonzales’ accusers may have reported Gonzales in order to reduce her jail time.
“These girls are continually violating the law,” Garrett said. “These girls are continually lying.”
Schutte asked jurors to imagine being a teenager in jail.
“They are locked down, terrified,” Schutte said. “He (Gonzales) had the control over them. He had the fear factor.”
Immediately after the trial ended, Garrett and Gonzales shook hands. Gonzales received hugs from supporters on his way out of the courtroom.
Gonzales and Garrett declined to comment, as Gonzales may face the charges again.
Schutte told prosecution witnesses to remain committed to a retrial.
“I understand your frustration,” he told them. “We have six months to do it again.”