By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
OLYMPIA – The murder trial for the man who just last week was convicted in Lewis County in connection with having pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin when he captured along with Robbie Russell was postponed yesterday because of misconduct by two of the potential jurors.
Robert John Maddaus Jr., 41, is charged in the death of a man found handcuffed and shot to death on an Olympia street in November of 2009.
A pair of former state Department of Corrections employees were reportedly heard by other jurors from 20 feet away discussing what they think they know about Maddaus’s past.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy said the words “derogatory” and “three strikes” were used and the conversation tainted the jury pool.
Attorneys were in the process this week of selecting a panel of jurors from a pool of some 80 individuals, a larger than usual number because the trial is expected to take three weeks.
Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau suggested they start over this coming Monday with a new set of potential jurors.
Judge Pomeroy agreed.
Before the jury pool was dismissed, but while they were out of the courtroom, Maddaus told the judge he didn’t want to continue with his lawyer Richard Woodrow.
“I’d like to fire my counsel, I can’t afford him,” Maddaus said.
The defendant and his attorney had returned from a break to discuss privately how to proceed given the news the case would last a week longer than expected.
Pomeroy said she wouldn’t allow it.
As Maddaus began conversing about his frustrations, jail guards replaced his handcuffs and moved him away from his lawyer into the jury box.
When Judge Pomeroy concluded yesterday’s session by telling the two lawyers to return on Monday, Woodrow said he would be present, but he wouldn’t be very happy about it.
“The last I heard, Mr. Maddaus didn’t want me as his attorney,” Woodrow said. “And I’m not gonna work for free.”
The judge and the two attorneys were set to return to court this morning to resolve the issue.
Maddaus is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Shaun A. Peterson as well as several related charges including four counts of witness tampering.
Bruneau said after the proceedings it’s not a third strike case.
This news story was updated Wednesday Jan. 12, 2011 to correct the spelling of Shaun A. Peterson’s name.
Read “Maddaus jury pool dismissed, trial halted” from The Olympian today Jan. 6, 2011
Read last week’s story from Lewis County Superior Court, “Man found with pounds of drugs in Chehalis pleads guilty to simple possession“