◼ Jury hung in Peterson case
A former Fortuna High School teacher accused of having sex with a student was found not guilty of one count against her Thursday, but the door was left open for a retrial on the two remaining counts after the jury deadlocked.
The accusations against Deirdre Marie Peterson, 41, stemmed from an alleged June 2008 encounter that reportedly occurred while the student stayed overnight at the Peterson's home and her husband was out of town, according to court documents. Peterson testified in court that the accusing student raped her.
The seven women and five men of the jury entered deliberations Aug. 5 and reviewed court testimony throughout this week from Peterson, the accusing student and various witnesses, said Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos.
Jurors were divided evenly on the count of unlawful sexual intercourse with six for guilty and six for not guilty, Gallegos said. The count of molesting or annoying a minor hung with eight jurors voting for guilty and four voting not guilty.
Peterson was acquitted on a charge of oral copulation with a minor.
Peterson and her defense attorney Kaleb Cockrum could not be reached for comment.
Normally when a jury returns without a verdict, the judge sends them back into deliberations, but “the jury said they were hopelessly deadlocked,” Gallegos said.
Although the jury didn't rule in his favor, Gallegos said he was pleased that they weren't convinced by Peterson's defense.
”Her claim of being raped didn't get much traction, I'd say,” Gallegos said. “That's what my interpretation is.”
Gallegos said he plans to re-evaluate the case, and a trial has been reset for Oct. 5 for the two remaining charges.
◼ Accused teacher still on mandatory leave