Suspect's girlfriend arrested for trying to Facebook juror deciding his case
Pontiac – — A 22-year-old Goodrich woman has been jailed and faces contempt of court charges after allegedly contacting a male juror deliberating her boyfriend’s fate in a drug trial and asking him to “friend” her on Facebook.
Brianna Trovato was arrested on a bench warrant Wednesday morning outside Oakland Circuit Court after Judge Martha Anderson was informed by a juror he had received a friend request from Trovato. She had been sitting in court every day during the trial of her boyfriend, Samuel Misko, 23, also of Goodrich, who was convicted Wednesday of six counts of manufacturing with intent to deliver marijuana and six related firearms offenses.
“In my 22-year career it’s only the second time I’ve seen anything like this,” assistant prosecutor Beth Hand told Anderson as she requested a high cash bond for Trovato.
“She always sat in proximity of the jury and she and other (Misko) supporters had to be asked to give the jury space ... she sat in court with him (Misko) ... there was no attempt to hide their relationship,” Hand told Anderson.
“ ... Equally troubling is the juror’s name was never placed on the record. How this ‘friend request’ came about is puzzling. The juror was visibly upset ... ”
Anderson set a $2,000 cash bond and ordered a contempt hearing for Friday which could result in further jail time and fines. Travota was remanded to the Oakland County Jail where her boyfriend sits pending a Sept. 8 sentencing date.
The jury was in its second day of deliberating Misko’s fate after a trial when Hand said the juror told others Trovato had tried to contact him. Facebook pages of senders frequently contain photographs of the sender along with personal information, such as whom they might be friends with or dating.
The juror did not “friend” Trovato, according to Anderson but she issued the warrant to have Trovato brought before her in court.
If true, it is unclear what Trovato’s intentions were but it could ultimately have an affect on her and Misko, according to Misko’s attorney, James Amberg.
“This apparently happened during their deliberations,” Amberg said. “Who knows what affect it might have had on other jurors trying to decide on a verdict. I know that I see this as an excellent grounds for appealing his conviction and obtaining a new trial. “
Misko was arrested in 2013 after a “buy bust” of a confidential informant for the NET group. NET officers then raided his Genesee County home and seized marijuana, cash, drug paraphernalia and guns. He faces up to seven years on the drug charges and two years mandatory prison time for weapons offenses.
Trovato, a petite blonde with waist-length hair, was dressed in a purple T-shirt and blue jeans. Her attorney, Edward Bajoka, said she was lifelong resident of Goodrich, had no criminal history, worked at a pizzeria and was preparing for another school year.
Bajoka, who argued unsuccessfully for personal bond for his client, entered a not guilty plea and stood mute, declining to address the charges. He also declined comment outside the courtroom.