HARRISVILLE, Mich. – The trial of Aaron Trout, who is facing murder and child abuse charges for the alleged killing of 2-year-old Jayde McDonnell, was adjourned early on Friday due to interference from spectators. Two individuals made direct contact with one of the jurors, despite repeated warnings from Judge Laura Frawley. The incident occurred during a recess period when the jury was out of the courtroom.
Judge Frawley expressed her disappointment and reprimanded the individual involved for her conduct. She also mentioned that Alcona County prosecutor Thomas Weichel was considering holding her in contempt of court. The judge emphasized the impact this incident could have on the impartiality of the juror and the potential for a mistrial.
The individual who had contacted the juror apologized for her actions but claimed that it had nothing to do with the case. Weichel expressed concerns about jury tampering and requested that the court find her in contempt for the contact, citing the letter she had sent to Trout that he never received.
Judge Frawley called in the juror who had been spoken to and asked her about the interaction. The juror reassured the attorneys that it would not affect her impartiality and stated that the individual had approached her to thank her for her service. In response, Judge Frawley decided to schedule contempt hearings for both individuals and adjourned the court early.
Prior to the adjournment, the jury heard testimony from members of the Michigan State Police Forensic Team and neuropathologist Amanda Fisher-Hubbard, who examined McDonnell’s brain and other organs for evidence of damage and likely causes. The trial is set to resume on Monday.
Judge Frawley took the opportunity to remind the remaining jurors about the importance of not discussing the case with anyone or consuming media related to the trial. She emphasized the need to avoid any appearance of impropriety and prevent the possibility of a mistrial.
It is crucial for the integrity of the trial that jurors remain impartial and free from outside influence. The interference from spectators contacting a juror raises concerns about potential jury tampering. Contempt hearings for the individuals involved will take place on Monday, and the court will decide whether to dismiss the juror who was spoken to. The trial will continue to pursue justice for the tragic death of Jayde McDonnell.