SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) – A state appeals court has overturned a murder conviction in San Bernardino County after determining jurors committed misconduct by discussing potential prison time for the defendant.

A division of the fourth district court of appeals said Thursday the jury misconduct created substantial bias against Moses Manuel Echavarria that prosecutors failed to counter.

Jurors in 2014 convicted Echavarria of first-degree murder in a 2011 slaying over a debt related to a construction project. But one juror said another juror asserted during deliberations that Echavarria would walk free with time served if he were convicted of second-degree murder. Several jurors later changed their votes to first-degree murder.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office said it was evaluating its options. Prosecutors had argued that it wasn’t clear that the juror’s statement caused other jurors to change their minds.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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