SALT LAKE CITY — An investigator with the Uintah County Attorney's Office has been charged with tampering with potential jurors during a high profile case.
Jayson L. Chamberlain, 38, of Roosevelt, was charged Tuesday in Summit County's 3rd District Court with tampering with a juror, a third-degree felony.
On Dec. 12, jury selection began for the case of three men accused of raping a 9-year-old girl near Vernal in 2016. The case had been moved from Uintah County to Summit County. Chamberlain "was an investigator for the prosecuting agency" and also a potential witness for the state, according to charging documents.
Potential jurors waited in the courthouse lobby to be interviewed throughout the day. Chamberlain "made contact with many of the prospective jurors," many of whom "described the defendant as 'chit-chatty,'" the charges state.
One juror said Chamberlain told him that "he was in court to help if anything was needed," according to court documents.
"He also overheard him learn things from the defendant's conversations with other prospective jurors that would be helpful for the prosecution during the jury selection process and trial, including their value system, their family situation, and whether or not they wanted to be on the jury and why," the charges state.
Another potential juror said Chamberlain went to her car for her because she wasn't allowed to leave the courthouse, and got her a snack, according to court documents.
Despite the alleged juror tampering, the judge declared a mistrial that day because not enough prospective jurors showed up. The incident garnered heavy media attention and prompted the judge to summon all of those who missed court that day to explain why they weren't there.
After the hearing, defense attorney Loni DeLand filed a motion for the charges to be dismissed because, among other reasons, Chamberlain had improperly cozied up to potential jurors. DeLand claimed the Uintah County investigator attempted to sway potential jurors and get them to like him when he struck up conversations with them in the lobby.
Chamberlain was placed on paid administrative leave after the incident while the Utah State Bureau of Investigation looked into the incident.
The rape case was then moved to 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City where a jury acquitted Larson RonDeau, 38, Randall Flatlip, 28, and Jerry Flatlip, 31.
Uintah County Attorney Mark Thomas made a brief comment Tuesday afternoon, stating, "We're aware of the charges. Mr. Chamberlain remains on administrative leave. We have not internally reviewed the reports yet to make any determination yet as to employment status."