After a day and a half of deliberations, no verdict has yet been rendered by the jury in the child-molestation case against Maricopan Ronald Bragonier.
Jurors met for about four hours Wednesday and all day Thursday, seemingly coming “close” to a decision several times. But when the 5 o’clock hour approached, heralding closure of the Superior Court building for the day, Judge Jason Holmberg sent everybody home.
“I’m calling it quits,” he announced.
The jury is to reconvene Friday morning to attempt a verdict again. Holmberg said he did not want to rush the jury, nor did he want court staff staying after hours.
Bragonier, 56, is charged with four counts of child molestation and one count of sexual conduct with a minor under age 15. The charges stem from a 2017 arrest. All of the counts involve one child, who was 13 and 14 at the time of the alleged conduct.
During the day, the jury sent two questions to the judge for clarifications at a time Holmberg was hearing evidence in a drug case in the same courtroom. Each time, the other case was paused and its attorneys and defendant were sent out of the well as the attorneys and defendant in Bragonier’s case came in to hear the question.
Bragonier sat alone as his attorney, Vickie Lopez, could only attend by phone until very late in the day.
The jury first asked if the definition of sexual contact also applies to sexual molestation of a child. After corroborating that fact was clear in the instructions to the jury and with the assent of the attorneys, Holmberg sent back the note, “Yes.”
Later, the judge and attorneys were a bit flummoxed by the simplicity of the jury’s next question, asking for definition of “to wit,” as used in the court documents ahead of the list of charges. Holmberg sent back a note stating, “’To wit’ is used to distinguish charges from one another. ‘To wit’ means ‘namely’ or ‘specifically.’”
Originally, the jury was expected to have a verdict by 4 p.m. At 5:13 p.m., Holmberg gave the court a play-by-play of what was happening outside the jury room. He said at 4:51, the bailiff knocked and asked their timeline. They told him they thought they were close. However, at 5:10, when he knocked again they still did not have a firm response.
Though the trial used some physical evidence – a towel and a comforter – the jury has been asked whether they found the accused or the teen more believable.