The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein

Saturday, July 09, 2005

San Luis Obispo Tribune | 07/07/2005 | Juror wishes he'd known Hardacre past

Source HERE

San Luis Obispo, CA

In hindsight, Juror No. 1 -- also known as Dan Gello -- would have made a different decision about John Howard Hardacre two weeks ago.

The businessman, who works in San Luis Obispo, wished he had known the man that he and the 11 other jurors set free was a three-time convicted child molester.

But before deciding Hardacre's fate, jurors weren't told of his record.

"I feel horrible," Gello, 46, said Wednesday. "I thought we had done a good job at the time."

The jury could have found Hardacre guilty of battery with serious injury -- a felony conviction. A judge could have sent him to prison for 25 years to life under California's three-strikes law.

Gello said he felt duped because he didn't know that Hardacre was a sex offender until he picked up The Tribune on Friday morning.

"I felt ... that I had a right to know that, that I should have known that," he said. "I e-mailed the article to one friend saying 'I'm out of jury duty, look what I did.' I felt responsible."

He admits that knowing might have affected the outcome of the trial -- a point Hardacre's defense attorney, Jean Matulis, agreed with.

"If they had known that he had this history, who knows if they would have been able to look at the evidence objectively the way they did," she said. "The jurors shouldn't feel bad about it. I think the evidence supported the jury's verdict."

Prosecutors in the case could not be reached for comment.

After deliberating for more than eight hours, the jury came back with a misdemeanor simple assault conviction, punishable by $1,000, six months in jail, or both.

Gello and his fellow jurors were instructed to decide whether Hardacre was guilty of felony battery stemming from an October 2001 incident at Atascadero State Hospital.

Hardacre, 53, was alleged to have shoved a chair into a female nurse during a scuffle and fractured her leg.

To find him guilty of the felony charge, the jury would have had to decide the attack was a willful or intentional act, Matulis said.

The convicted child molester was set free because he had already served more than two years in prison before the trial.

He was released from San Luis Obispo County Jail on June 29. He is currently living at the Bakersfield Rescue Mission; spokeswoman Candice Gorman said he will remain there until at least Friday.

Hardacre was convicted of molesting children in San Luis Obispo County in 1978, in Clark County, Nev., in 1985, and in Santa Barbara County in 1992.

He was committed to Atascadero State Hospital in September 1998 and classified as a sexually violent predator. As an SVP, Hardacre was eligible to be kept in the hospital indefinitely.

Each of the victims in the convictions was a 12-year-old boy whom Hardacre befriended and then orally copulated, according to court records.

A jury in September 2002 convicted Hardacre of battery with serious bodily injury and sentenced him to 25 years to life in prison under the state's three strikes law, because of the prior convictions.

That conviction was overturned in August 2004 by the state Court of Appeal in Ventura, which ordered a re-trial.

Justices ruled that Hardacre's right to a fair trial was violated because the jury was prejudiced by knowledge of his criminal past.

When Hardacre was tried again last month, Gello sat on the jury with eight other men and three women.

He glanced often at Hardacre, whom he described as a tall man who occasionally took notes and whispered to his attorney.

Gello said Hardacre shed a few tears when a chaplain from the state hospital spoke in defense of his character; he wept when the verdict was read.

He never took the stand; Gello said he never heard Hardacre speak.

"He seemed passive, non-violent," Gello said. "He didn't seem to be a threat."

But there were small clues that Gello now realizes: When Hardacre took notes, for example, he wrote with a small pencil, the kind people use on a golf course.

Gello now reasons that Hardacre couldn't be trusted with a larger one.

Four witnesses took the stand and testified Hardacre wasn't violent and that he would never hurt anyone, Gello recalled. They were convicted sex offenders.

"The (prosecutor) pointed out their backgrounds," Gello noted. "Why couldn't we know what he (Hardacre) was convicted of?"


Four witnesses... AND THEY WERE ALL SEX OFFENDERS? And of course... we believe EVERYTHING a sex offender says right?? Leaving out that this amn was a THREE time convicted sex offender is inexcusable. It goes to show this man had a history of violent crime. Because no matter how you look at it... Rape, molested... It's violent. It's not comparable to getting a parking ticket. The victims feel the effects of the crime for the rest of their life. It should have been brought forth as evidence to this mans charactor. I am disgusted. And another sick pathetic monster is free. Until he offends again. Which we all know he will. The only questions are when, and how many times before he is caught?

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Johnny Newt said...

Well said "Lost", It's a damned travesty of justice that people handed the responsibility of letting a violent deviant run loose in our society among our children aren't even given all the info they need !! Who the hell cares if it sways their opinion , it is absolutely relevant. If this person was brought up on a simple shop lifting charge you can damn well bet a judge would consider their prior theft arrest. Is the safety of our damned wal-marts more important than the safety of our children !!