An inadvertent comment from a prospective juror questioned to sit on the jury for four-time convicted child sex offender Melvin T. Lucier led a Scott County District Court judge to declare a mistrial Monday morning.
The decision by Judge Joel Barrow came less than an hour into jury selection in Lucier’s fourth sex abuse trial.
During jury selection, attorneys question prospective jurors on a number of things, such as their familiarity with the case and whether they can set aside what they do know and render a verdict based on the evidence presented in court. When prospective jurors are familiar with the case or defendant, the attorneys and judge typically take them into a separate room to question them outside the presence of the other prospective jurors.
One prospective juror, a woman, when questioned by attorneys Monday said in front of the jury pool that she thought her son sat on a jury in one of Lucier’s previous trials.
Prior to Monday’s trial, Barrows granted a motion filed by defense attorney Michael Motto seeking to bar any mention or testimony regarding Lucier’s prior convictions or that he already is a convicted sex offender.
A new trial date has not yet been set as of Monday afternoon.
Lucier, 55, is charged with one count of third-degree sexual abuse, a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
According to prosecutors, he abused a 13-year-old boy in 2011 at the Patriot Mobile Home Park, 4847 W. Kimberly Road, Davenport, where Lucier lived.
On July 16, a Scott County jury found Lucier guilty of one count of second-degree sexual abuse for fondling another 5-year-old girl in his trailer at the mobile home park in February 2014.
In August, Barrows found Lucier guilty of two more counts of second-degree sexual abuse following a short bench trial. In that case, Lucier was accused of fondling a 5-year-old girl multiple times between 2011 and 2012.
Lucier was given three life sentences — one for each charge — in September.
On Nov. 3, Barrows found Lucier guilty of three counts of second-degree sexual abuse for abusing a girl multiple times between May 2010 and March 2014. He was later sentenced by Barrows to three more life terms.
Lucier also has a 1995 conviction in Linn County for sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl.
Lucier is one of 10 people arrested as part of an extensive investigation launched by the county Sheriff's Office into allegations of sexual abuse at the trailer park.
The case is being tried by Scott County Attorney Mike Walton and Assistant Scott County Attorney Kim Shepherd.