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California man freed by jury mistake is found dead

By Madeleine Thomas

(Reuters) - A California man, who released from a Fresno jail after a divided jury mistakenly returned a not-guilty verdict against him in a burglary case, was found dead on Thursday from an apparent stabbing, just a day after he was freed.

After his release, Bobby Pearson was believed to have gone to a residence to gather some personal belongings, Fresno police Sergeant Jaime Rios said. He was found dead at the same residence on Thursday morning.

"It did appear that the victim in this case had been having problems with the suspect, his sister's boyfriend. They got into an altercation and the suspect stabbed the victim to death," Rios said.

"The ironic twist is that he was released from jail. It was a hung jury on a burglary case, but the jury had filled out the wrong card, so he was released in error," he added.

A spokeswoman for the Fresno County Superior Court said Pearson was released after a jury mistakenly returned a form indicating a not-guilty verdict, even though jurors later informed the court the verdict had not been unanimous, with eight jurors voting to find him guilty and four not guilty.

"Because the court had already accepted and entered the verdict, double jeopardy prevented the not-guilty verdict from being altered," the court's media coordinator, Sherry Spears, said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

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