ANDERSON — More than a dozen people waited on the fourth floor of the Madison County Government Center on Wednesday morning for the doors of Madison County Circuit 1 to open.
Finally, an hour after testimony was scheduled to begin, officials unlocked the doors and announced a juror had been dismissed in the trial of Dylan Tate.
Tate is on trial for the murder of 18-month-old Harlan Haines and is also charged with Level 1 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death, Level 1 felony child molesting and Level 6 felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Judge Angela Warner Sims said the juror in question was dismissed for not following and (or) disregarding jury instructions.
“To protect the integrity of the remaining jurors and the ongoing case, we cannot comment further at this time about why the juror was dismissed,” Madison County Court Administrator Jim Hunter said.
The juror dismissed was Joshua D. Wooden, 37. Attempts to contact Wooden after he was dismissed were unsuccessful.
The Herald Bulletin was contacted Tuesday by a reader who said Wooden was a friend of Tate’s and had told people he was “going to hang the jury up.”
The newspaper passed the information along to a Madison County official Tuesday evening.
Three alternate jurors have listened to testimony in the Tate case, and after Wooden was removed, one of the alternates was selected to replace him on the 12-person jury.
Wooden has an extensive criminal record.
In 2004, he pleaded guilty to Class D felony possession of cocaine and Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana. That same year he also pleaded guilty in a different case to Class D felony theft, Class D felony possession of a controlled substance and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.
In 2008, Wooden pleaded guilty to Class D felony auto theft, Class A misdemeanor operating while intoxicated and Class A misdemeanor driving while suspended.
In 2012, he was convicted of a Class D felony for failure to return to lawful detention and was sentenced to three years at the Indiana Department of Correction.
A warrant was issued for Wooden in 2012 for failure to appear in a child support case. While the warrant still appears as active in court files, it expired in 2014, according to Hunter.
“The warrant in that particular case has nothing to do with the juror being dismissed from serving,” Hunter said. “It was in no way a consideration.”
Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said Wednesday that nothing prohibits a felon from serving on a jury trial.
Attorneys “make strategic decisions on who you should strike and who you shouldn’t,” he said, noting that background checks are not conducted on potential jurors.
No further action will be taken against Wooden for disregarding jury instructions, Cummings said.
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