Carlos Veliz, in grey suit and long ponytail, boards a...

Carlos Veliz, in grey suit and long ponytail, boards a bus at the Nassau County courthouse in Mineola on Friday. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

A Hempstead man wants a new trial following his conviction on robbery and burglary charges after allegations that a juror researched him online, used unauthorized notes during deliberations and bullied a fellow panelist before the verdict.

"Slap me on the hand, I was bad," court records show a male juror allegedly said during deliberations in Carlos Veliz’s trial after a female juror said she confronted him for looking up the defendant.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy heard arguments Friday after a motion from a lawyer for Veliz, 29, asking for the verdict to be set aside because jury misconduct made the defendant’s June trial unfair.

The jury found Veliz guilty of an armed home invasion in Uniondale and another in Westbury, both in 2018.

Murphy said at the end of Friday’s hearing in Nassau County Court that he would issue a written decision in the future about whether to grant Veliz a new trial.

"If this motion is not granted, then the court is telling the public, you get called to jury duty and you can be bullied in the jury room," Veliz’s attorney Donald Rollock argued Friday. "… This is not just about Carlos Veliz’s trial. This is about public trials in Nassau County. Is Nassau County going to stand up and say ‘No, this is not the way we do our trials’? Or are we going to just cover stuff, sweep it under the rug and act like it didn’t happen?"

Nassau prosecutor Ania Pulaski countered Friday that both jurors in question had indicated since the trial ended that their verdicts were based on evidence in court. She said neither had wavered about their votes to convict Veliz.

Citing case law, the prosecutor also recalled her argument from court papers: That the alleged conduct, even if true, isn’t a basis for disturbing the guilty verdict because it doesn’t rise to the level of jury misconduct under the law.

Friday’s court proceeding followed a January hearing where both jurors testified.

Court records show the female juror, known in records as Juror No. 9, testified then that the male juror, known as Juror No. 2, told other panelists on the first day of deliberations that he had researched Veliz.

"He said the defendant was a bad guy from whatever he found on looking on the internet or his phone," she testified.

She recalled that Juror No. 2 "picked on" herself and two other jurors who didn’t find Veliz guilty right away.

Juror No. 9 also testified that Juror No. 2 brought in notes on pieces of paper during the second day of deliberations while lobbying for a guilty verdict.

In addition, she told the judge Juror No. 2 was negative, rude and nasty "to the point that I was actually afraid of this gentleman."

A sworn statement from Juror No. 9 shows she complained to Murphy after the verdict and requested that a court officer escort her to her car "for fear of retribution" by Juror No. 2 — the development that sparked the alleged jury misconduct probe.

Juror No. 2 denied during his testimony that he had told other jurors he had looked up Veliz and called him a bad guy.

"Incorrect. I never said anything of the kind," he told Rollock during questioning in January.

But Juror No. 2 conceded he had used Google to look up Rollock himself. He also acknowledged he brought in notes — written at home — summarizing what the jurors talked about the first day and his opinions on evidence.

Juror No. 2 also testified in January that Juror No. 9 "was not able to make rational deductions" and that he had called her "obtuse or a simpleton" during deliberations.

"So we understand this, you are referring to Juror No. 9 as quote, unquote ‘obtuse’?" Rollock asked later during the January hearing.

"Correct," Juror No. 2 answered.

"You got that from 'Shawshank Redemption' ?" Rollock then asked, referring to a 1994 film.

The witness didn’t answer after the judge sustained an objection from Pulaski.

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