ACA.supremecourt.070419

A black Baton Rouge man convicted last summer of raping a teenager was granted a new trial Friday by a state judge who cited racial animus among some of the jurors.

Sedrick Hills, 44, was found guilty of forcible rape and another sexual assault-related charge by votes of 11-1 and 10-2, respectively. The jury included eight whites and four blacks.

Several days after the trial ended, a black female juror sent a notarized affidavit to Hills' attorney alleging that two white male jurors made racially-charged comments about Hills during a lunch break the day before the jury deliberated and convicted him.

In the affidavit, which Hills' attorney included in his motion for a new trial, Marion Lathan said she heard one of the white jurors say, "Let's convict this n***** already, I am ready to go play golf."

Lathan claims another white juror replied, "The n***** should have just taken a plea deal anyway."

State District Judge Trudy White, who presided over Hills' trial, on Friday said she found Lathan to be credible.

Robert Tucker Sr., who represents Hills, had alleged that Hills was denied his right to be tried by a fair and impartial jury.

Lathan cast the lone dissent on the jury's forcible rape vote and one of the two not guilty votes on the other count.

Prosecutor Sonya Cardia-Porter argued in court filings that she, Tucker and White spoke with the jury for about 45 minutes immediately after the trial ended. She said the mood in the jury room was not "antagonistic or angry," and neither Lathan nor any other member of the jury stated that race played a factor in their deliberations or decisions.

Hills, who was never sentenced and remains free on bail, was accused of raping a female teenager in 2003.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.