You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Calif. man mistakenly freed is killed

FRESNO, Calif. — A burglary defendant who won his freedom because of a jury’s mistake lost his life a few hours later when he was stabbed to death in a fight.

The jury in the trial of Bobby Lee Pearson, 37, mistakenly signed a not-guilty form Wednesday, and the flabbergasted judge said he had no choice but to order him released from jail because the verdict had already been put on the record.

Continue reading below

The jury had been unable to reach a verdict, stalling on an 8-to-4 vote in favor of guilt. Prosecutors might have had an opportunity to retry Pearson, but by then changing the verdict form would have exposed Pearson to double jeopardy.

‘‘I can’t believe it,’’ Superior Court Judge W. Kent Hamlin said after setting Pearson free, according to The Fresno Bee.

After being released from jail, Pearson went home to get some clothing and belongings when Pearson apparently got into a fight with his sister’s boyfriend, Fresno police Sergeant James Rios said.

The two had a long history of problems, said Rios, adding that the boyfriend stabbed and killed Pearson, who was found dead at the scene. The boyfriend’s name has not been released.

William Terrence, who prosecuted the case, said that despite the bizarre chain of events that led to Pearson’s release, the man he tried sending to prison did not deserve to die that way.

‘‘There’s not a death penalty on a burglary,’’ Terrence said. ‘‘I’m not sitting here thinking he got what he deserved.’’

Terrence said he is still trying to understand the jury’s confusion. He said he explained the verdict forms in closing arguments, and so did the judge.

‘‘Apparently, the message wasn’t quite received,’’ Terrence said.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.