Murder conviction toppled by tweets


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The Independent US

The Arkansas Supreme Court has thrown out a murder conviction and says a new trial is needed because a juror slept during the trial and another tweeted.

Erickson Dimas-Martinez's lawyers had appealed against his 2010 conviction because a juror posted tweets despite the judge's instruction not to publish information on the internet or communicate about the case. The lawyers also said a juror slept during the trial.

In one tweet, juror Randy Franco wrote: "Choices to be made. Hearts to be broken... We each define the great line." Less than an hour before the jury announced its verdict, he tweeted: "It's over." Other tweets by Mr Franco made passing references to the trial, with posts such as, "The coffee sucks here" and "Court. Day 5. Here we go again."

Arkansas' Supreme Court said he violated general instructions to not discuss the case. Janice Vaughn, who argued Mr Dimas-Martinez's case before the Supreme Court last month, said the case could lead to new rules about jurors' use of phones.

Mr Dimas-Martinez, 26, was sentenced to death for shooting a teenager in 2006.