For the second time this week, the jury in the Mattapan massacre trial restarted its deliberations, this time on Thursday after a juror was excused to tend to a gravely ill brother in Georgia.
“This is challenging: You have had a full week of deliberations, and I am asking you to do it again, which is frustrating,” Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke told the panel.
The trial is the second for Dwayne Moore, 35, who is charged with four counts of murder in the shooting deaths of four people, including a mother and her 2-year-old son, on Sept. 28, 2010. The jury in the previous trial could not reach a verdict on the charges against Moore in March, while his codefendant was acquitted.
On Thursday, as they have since the second trial started, jurors boarded a bus in Worcester for the approximately hourlong ride to Boston with a State Police escort, but with one less juror on board. The jurors were selected in Worcester in an effort to find an impartial jury for Moore’s retrial.
Locke later told the rest of the panel that the absent juror was on his way to Georgia to be at his brother’s bedside.
On Wednesday night, the juror whose brother is ill contacted court officials in Worcester and told them he would be unable to continue focusing on deliberations because his brother had suddenly developed an aneurysm and was in a medically induced coma.
Locke was contacted by the officials and said Thursday that it was clear the juror would be too distracted to continue. A middle-aged woman was selected Thursday from two remaining alternates as a replacement.
The 16 jurors who heard five-weeks of testimony in the retrial have faced trouble from the start.
On Nov. 19, a juror suffering from an allergy-related gastrointestinal condition asked to be excused. On Monday, Locke dismissed another juror because he had done ballistics research on the Internet, against the judge’s orders.
Each time a juror is replaced, the jury has to begin deliberations anew.
The alternates do not sit in on deliberations, so the newest person to join the talks has not discussed the case or been exposed to any evidence since Dec. 5.
As Locke spoke Thursday, the jurors bore sullen expressions. Most slumped in their seats.
David Duncan, a longtime criminal defense attorney who represented convicted police killer Sean K. Ellis in three trials, said the restarts jurors have experienced in this trial have probably been unsettling. Ellis was convicted of killing a Boston police detective in 1993.
“Trials, especially murder trials, are stressful on everyone concerned,” Duncan said. “With the stakes as high as they can be, with the exception of the death penalty, and with the families of the victims waiting it out to see justice served, it’s frustrating to hear a judge tell them to start over.”
The jury deliberated for about six hours Thursday and is expected to resume Friday morning.