LUZERNE COUNTY -- In what the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office called the "most important case" in the county last week, a jury foreman posting on Facebook about the trial could have risked having the case thrown out even before it went to the jury.
The judge for the Melissa Scholl trial told jurors not to speak to anyone about the case, including posting on social media, but it turns out those instructions may not have been followed.
Judge David Lupas declared a mistrial last week in the case of a mom accused of trying to kill herself and her two children. Nine jurors were willing to convict Scholl of attempted homicide and three said she was not guilty.
"Nine was the conviction number," Jury foreman Mark Nemetz said to Newswatch 16 after jurors were released.
Last week, he was supposed to be the spokesperson for the jury, this week he is in a controversy of his own.
"Judge Lupas told all the jurors in open court that they're not allowed on any social media and he named Facebook, and I believe Twitter and things like that. You can't talk about a case once it starts," Scholl's defense attorney, Larry Kansky, said.
The judge told jurors they were not allowed to speak to anyone about the case because it could taint their opinions of evidence presented in court.
However, Nemetz was posting on Facebook about being on jury duty during the trial. He was getting comments saying, "guilty," and "not guilty, end of discussion," and he even posted a picture of Newswatch 16 saying, "they must've found out I'm here today."
"There's people telling him, 'guilty, guilty, guilty,' and him making statements of, 'hopefully, this will be my last day,'" Kansky said.
Kansky said these posts were disrespectful to him and prosecuting attorneys Sam Sanguedolce and Angela Sperrazza because both the defense and the prosecution spent months preparing for this case.
"It seems that no matter how this turned out we still would've ended up with a mistrial due to the conduct of the jury foreman," Kansky said.
Newswatch 16 went to Nemetz's home in Hanover Township to ask him why he would post about this on social media.
"I just said I was on jury duty, as a matter of fact, I just said jury duty day one, day two, day three. That was it," Nemetz said.
He went on to say he never mentions which trial in any of the posts.
Newswatch 16 Reporter Carolyn Blackburne asked him why he decided to make these posts after hearing the judge's instructions, Nemetz said, "No comment."
The district attorney's office had no comment about the Facebook posts.
The defense plans on bringing up the issue during a status conference in July.