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Juror fired from job during Elkins trial

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Updated: 8/30/2013 11:16 pm
BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- The streets of Brunswick were quiet after the verdict against now 18-year-old DeMarquise Elkins was read Friday, but what most didn't realize is that the case may be far from over.

A jury convicted Elkins on 11 counts for the March 21 murder of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago. Over the past two weeks, Elkins' defense attorney, Kevin Gough, filed 10 motions for a mistrial, and the latest came moments before the verdicts were read.

Gough argued one of the jurors became upset this week, after she was contacted by her boss and fired for being absent because of the trial.

"It's hard to imagine that that strong emotional reaction was not passed along to the other jurors," Gough told the court. "You now have a panel of 12 people who are all going to be blaming our client for one person's misfortune."

The judge denied the motion and moved forward, saying the juror claimed no bias, but attorney Eric Friday, who is not affiliated with the case, says the defense now has a good reason to appeal.

"How can you not have an emotional reaction to getting fired?"

Friday says the employer has a lot of explaining to do to the court. Contacting an juror and terminating them for fulfilling their civic duty are both against Georgia law.

"They'll try any excuse in the book to say it wasn't because of jury service, but it's going to be hard to support that claim."

Friday believes the judge made the right decision to get a verdict, but says this case may be far from over.

"If a not-guilty came back, problem solved, but once that guilty verdict comes back, the defendant has the right to appeal any problems in the trial, and this is going to be one they appeal. "

Gough tells Action News he plans to file that appeal immediately.

Friday says Florida law is similar to that in Georgia, in that jurors cannot be contacted during a trial, or fired for serving. The difference is how much employers must pay their employees. Florida law does not require employers to pay while employees are serving the court. Georgia employers are required to pay the employees their full rate, minus the amount they are paid by the court.
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