MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Stacy Wall will make a written decision concerning a federal court order to hold an evidentiary hearing regarding juror misconduct in Patrick McGail’s trial held August 2014.
Judge Wall ordered briefs to be filed by both Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell and McGail’s defense attorney Eric Eckes. Both parties requested transcripts from the hearing, which was granted. Judge Wall said she would notify the federal court the evidentiary hearing was held within the 90-day time limit and obligation to hold a hearing was met on Friday.
If juror misconduct is found, McGail could get a new trial for his role in the murder of Nathan Wintrow on Oct. 30, 2013 in the case.
The hearing focused on juror Kylie Spiers-Kautz’s claim, filed in an affidavit, that a statement made by the jury’s foreman regarding McGail’s church attendance influenced her decision to find McGail guilty, possibly alluding to juror misconduct.
McGail appeared in court Friday with Eckes. Members of Nathan Wintrow’s family and McGail’s family also were present in the courtroom.
In the federal court decision, Spiers-Kautz testified in her affidavit, “My decision was influenced to vote ‘guilty’ when the jury foreman … told the jury that he goes to St. Patrick’s Church the same church McGail testified going to and that he had never seen Patrick or his family at that church, so McGail must be lying. This information influenced me to not believe Patrick’s testimony. As a result of (foreman’s name) personal representation, I found Patrick McGail ‘Guilty.’
According to the federal court ruling by Judge Walter Rice filed on Nov. 13, 2018, “The evidentiary hearing will concern questions of what the jury foreperson said about McGail and/or his family’s church attendance and/or participation and its impact on the jury and its members.”
During Friday’s hearing, both Eckes and Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell questioned each juror separately regarding the following statement in the affidavit filed by Juror Spiers-Kautz.
Spiers-Kautz testified that McGail’s original defense attorney, Chris Bucio came unannounced to her home after the trial and questioned her about the jury’s deliberations. She also claimed the jury foreman ignored her requests to submit questions to presiding Judge Christopher Gee. Spiers-Kautz claimed the jury foreman’s statement about McGail’s church attendance “had a large impact on me.”
“It just kept ringing in my head,” she said. She later stated, “I could not unhear that statement.” Prosecutor Kendell asked Spiers-Kautz if she hadn’t heard the statement if would it have changed her verdict. She claimed yes, she would have found McGail not guilty.
When asked about when she was polled by Judge Gee about her verdict of guilty, Spiers-Kautz said she didn’t have the courage to say otherwise on that day.
Spiers-Kautz said Bucio helped her write the affidavit, both at her home and his office. She denied being compensated in exchange for her affidavit.
When questioned by Kendell, he noted Spiers-Kautz participated in a protest against his office held on the Miami County Courthouse plaza on Oct. 14, 2014. A group of protesters appeared outside his office in support of Bucio, whose office had been raided previously. Spiers-Kautz said she attended but said she was only there for 15-20 minutes. Kendell presented the court with phone and text message records between Bucio and Spiers-Kautz. According to Kendell, 179-189 text messages and 14 phone calls were exchanged between Bucio and Spiers-Kautz. The phone records were from Aug. 1 through Sept. 11, 2014.
On Friday, 11 of the 12 jurors appeared and made statements regarding the statement and its impact on their decision to find McGail guilty. Ten of the jurors, not including the jury foreman or Spiers-Kautz, testified the statement did not influence their decision to find McGail guilty. One juror was unable to attend due to being out of state, but his statement was recorded by the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office and was submitted to the court. According to the state, that juror claimed the statement did not impact his verdict of guilty. Jurors who were present were questioned if they considered outside evidence and if they felt bullied in making their verdict, which they all stated they did not.
One juror testified that he signed an affidavit at McGail’s former attorney Christopher Buico’s office, but stated the church statement had little to no influence on his verdict.
One juror testified both Bucio and Spiers-Kautz came to her home after the trial ended. She claimed she didn’t recall the jury foreman’s statement in question. The juror claimed she felt “like I was trapped” and was made uncomfortable with Buico’s questions. The juror told the court she told the pair to leave her home.
McGail, now 22, was sentenced to serve 24 years to life for his role in the home invasion, which led to the murder of Nathan Wintrow on Oct. 30, 2013, in Troy.
Following a jury trial, McGail was convicted of two counts of murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery. McGail was part of an armed home invasion of Wintrow’s Troy home on Oct. 30, 2013. Wintrow was shot and killed by co-defendant Jason Sowers during the altercation. McGail testified in the jury trial that he was aware of the planning for the robbery but claimed he did not enter Wintrow’s home. Sowers entered a plea of guilty, along with Brendon Terrel, co-defendant. Sowers was sentenced to serve 18 years to life and Terrel was sentenced to serve 14 years to life following plea agreements with the state and testified against McGail. Sowers and McGail entered the home during the invasion while Terrel acted as a lookout outside of Wintrow’s home.
In July 2016, Judge Christopher Gee denied a request for McGail’s sentence to be reduced on grounds that McGail failed to show remorse for his role in the murder of Nathan Wintrow during his jury trial.
During the jury trial, McGail was represented by Bucio. Bucio was later indefinitely suspended from practicing law in November 2017 after he was convicted of felony unauthorized use of property in Shelby County Common Pleas Court in January 2017. The opinion also ordered that Bucio not be allowed to apply for reinstatement until after he completes the five-year community control sanction he received as part of his criminal sentence.
Contact Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org