Juror Makes Up His Mind -- 3 Times

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - A juror who voted unanimously with fellow jurors to convict a man of fondling a 16-year-old girl changed his mind and then switched again to make the conviction stick.

Robert Howard, 36, of Canton, was convicted Thursday in Stark County Common Pleas Court, but one juror changed his mind when the judge asked each juror to confirm the verdict. The juror said "no" to convicting.

Judge Charles E. Brown Jr. ordered the jury to resume deliberations, and 2½ hours later the jury returned with its original verdict -- guilty of a single count of gross sexual imposition.

William Mittas, Howard's attorney, said the turnaround left his client confused and upset. Howard could face five years in prison at his sentencing Sept. 30.

The juror who changed his mind left court without commenting.

The turnabout doesn't diminish the guilty verdict, said Katie Chawla, assistant Stark County prosecutor.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)