Judge rules mistrial in McAllister sex crimes case

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) A judge on Friday declared a mistrial in the third sex crimes trial of a former Vermont lawmaker.

Norm McAllister was facing a misdemeanor count of prohibited acts after the state said he set up his tenant to have sex with his friend to pay off a utility bill.

The legal saga dates back to 2015 and it may continue if the state retries the case.

Our Dom Amato was in court and explains why the case could no longer move forward.

"When does it end? You know, I did everything I thought a person should be doing in their life, tried to help people and this is what I get?" McAllister said.

That was former Vermont state senator Norm McAllister after a mistrial was declared Friday in his misdemeanor prohibited acts case.

"We're very disappointed," he said.

Friday morning, the jury passed Vermont Superior Court Judge Michael Kupersmith a note, letting him know that one juror may have heard a WCAX News story about the case before the trial began. The juror said it was influencing his decision on a verdict.

"On Tuesday night, there was an extensive Channel 3 report which went through the entire history of the case," defense lawyer Bob Katims said.

Kupersmith had no choice. The juror had to be dismissed.

The defense did not agree to move forward with a jury of 11 and there were no alternates. That's because Judge Kupersmith dismissed the two alternate jurors before deliberations began Thursday night. He wasn't supposed to. Court rules require alternate be sequestered while the jury deliberates.

"We do not believe it is permissible to replace the discharged juror with the alternate who had been previously discharged," Katims said.

The state agreed that the rule is clear and a mistrial was the only outcome.

"Probably would've been better if we had kept a couple of the jurors around but you can't anticipate everything," Katims said.

After the jury was dismissed, McAllister spoke with the media.

Reporter Dom Amato: How has this affected your life?
Norm McAllister: How do you think it's affected my life? I've played by the rules all my life... And I have these accusations brought on me and the state and everybody comes down on me like I am the number criminal of the world.

Franklin County Deputy State's Attorney John Lavoie declined to comment to reporters after the mistrial. He did not make it clear whether the state will retry the misdemeanor charge for a fourth time.