September 20, 2018
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Juror’s bathroom banter not enough to get midcoast woman new trial

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Victoria Scott, right, with her attorneys Steven Peterson, center, and Naomi Cohen at the Waldo home where she allegedly stabbed Edwin Littlefield in February 2017.
By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Updated:

BELFAST, Maine — A juror’s alleged bathroom banter and statements that she wanted to pray for the judge and pray for guidance to a verdict weren’t enough to earn Victoria Scott a new trial.

About two weeks after a Waldo County jury convicted Scott of manslaughter for stabbing Edwin Littlefield to death outside a home in Waldo, her attorneys quietly called for a new trial after learning that “Juror A” had spoken with several people on the trial’s last day, prior to reaching a verdict.

Thomas Cumler, a private investigator working for the defense team, claimed he saw a gray-haired female juror speaking with a court officer for “12 or 15 minutes” as other jurors were filing into the jury room. Cumler later asked the court officer what the juror had been saying.

“She just wanted to know how to get a prayer to the judge,” Cumler quoted the officer as saying.

Cumler questioned what else was said during the lengthy conversation, and the officer said she had questions about what happened next in the court process.

Ariana Scott, Victoria Scott’s sister, also claimed to have an unusual interaction with the same juror. Ariana Scott, who attended the last two days of her sister’s trial, said she was in the bathroom washing her hands during a break in the proceedings, when a gray-haired woman walked out of the stall and said she was “sorry for what you’re going through” and that “it must be very hard.”

The woman allegedly then asked Scott if she was here for the “dead man,” and Scott answered that she was there for Victoria. The woman said it must be hard for them, too, according to Scott.

“I’m praying to God that I make the right decision,” the woman said before leaving the restroom. It was only then that Scott realized the woman was likely a juror.

Prosecutors said the woman made a similar comment to them about praying for guidance to a verdict on her way to a lunch break. They argued that there was no need for a new trial because through these interactions she received no information about the case aside from what had already been shared with the entire jury.

Scott’s attorneys argued that “Ariana Scott’s discomfort in speaking with Juror A may have been a factor in Juror A’s decision making.”

“If Juror A was only looking for help from God, she would not have sought to converse about the case with at least three mortals,” the defense team said.

The motion for the new trial was sealed until earlier this month after Justice Robert Murray denied it.

Victoria Scott and her attorneys have maintained that she was acting in self-defense when she stabbed Littlefield after he attacked her in the driveway of a mutual friend’s home. Prosecutors pointed to inconsistencies in her story, and argued that Scott pursued Littlefield outside as he was trying to leave and provoked a confrontation after Littlefield made disparaging remarks about her.

Scott was scheduled to be sentenced later this week, but the date has been pushed back to Aug. 8 because a doctor who conducted a psychiatric evaluation of Scott needed more time to finish his report, according to court records.

Prosecutors have said they expect to request a prison term of 10-15 years. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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