Case expected to be retried because of jury poll

By Thomas Garcia Quay County Sun

A Tucumcari man faces a retrial after a juror changed his mind following the announcement of a guilty verdict, a prosecutor said.

Patrick Otero, 41, is charged with having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 2005 and 2006, prosecutor Len Walker said.

A Quay County jury found Otero guilty of the charges on Dec. 11, the jury foreman announced. But when a defense attorney asked Judge Stephen Quinn to poll the jury, one juror said he thought Otero was not guilty, Walker said.

Quinn declared a mistrial.

“I have an extensive trial background and have never seen this happen before,” Walker said.

The foreman of the jury informed the judge in open court that the deliberations had been difficult with the juror who ultimately voted not guilty, Walker said.

Otero’s attorney, S. Doug Jones Witt of Roswell, did not respond to queries about the case.

Otero is serving a 728-day sentence in the New Mexico Department of Corrections for violating an order of protection, evading arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court officials.

Walker told the court that Otero had used drugs to alter the girl’s state of mind before having sex with her.

Witt, the defense attorney, argued that the only evidence was provided by the alleged victim.