The state Supreme Court has set aside a Hawaii island parolee’s conviction in an attempted sexual assault that involved a 12-year-old girl at a Pepeekeo church in 2007.
The high court ordered a new trial Thursday for Peter Kalani Bailey, who had been found guilty by a jury of four counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault and sentenced to a maximum 20-year term.
Bailey will remain in prison because of a previous conviction for murder.
Bailey, 52, who was music director for Hamakua Coast Assembly of God church, is accused of taking the girl to the church to practice singing the evening of July 22, 2007.
They sang songs, but Bailey then undressed her, undressed himself and molested her, according to the prosecution.
In the 52-page unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, the high court overturned the convictions because a juror informed the other panelists during deliberations that Bailey had been either charged or convicted of murder.
The statements violated Bailey’s right to a fair trial, the court held.
Bailey and Francis Talo had been convicted in 1979 of murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Carol Olandy on Oahu.
In the Hawaii island case, Circuit Judge Glenn Hara granted a defense request to exclude any evidence of the murder conviction. The prosecution did not object.
The high court’s opinion said Hara quizzed the juror, who admitted what she said was "wrong." The other jurors acknowledged hearing the remarks but said they still could be impartial.
The judge replaced the juror with an alternate panelist and denied a defense request for a mistrial.
The high court ruled that there was a "reasonable possibility" that the juror’s remarks about the murder case contributed to Bailey’s conviction.
"We hold that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying Bailey’s motion for mistrial, because (the juror’s) statements regarding Bailey’s prior murder charge and/or conviction were not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt," the high court said.
Bailey was on parole at the time of the incident.
He had been sentenced to a life term with parole for Olandy’s murder but was paroled in 2003 after serving less than 24 years.
His parole was revoked because he failed to notify his parole officer he was contacted by police about the Hawaii island case, according to Tommy Johnson, Hawaii Paroling Authority administrator.
Bailey moved to Hawaii island after his release on parole and became active in the Pepeekeo church, teaching music and choir.
He went on trial on first-degree sexual assault charges, but the jury returned the verdict of attempted first-degree sexual assault. Both charges carry the same maximum 20-year sentence.
Even though Bailey’s attempted sex assault convictions and sentence were set aside, he will still be held in custody because of the revocation of his parole, Johnson said.