When a jury couldn’t come to a decision about the guilt or innocence of Bobby Lee Pearson, they were supposed to send a note to the judge saying they were deadlocked.
Instead, they mistakenly signed a “not guilty” document. That meant Pearson, who was described as having an "extensive criminal history," had to be set free.
The Fresno Bee reports Judge Kent looked at his courtroom and said, "I can't believe it."
"I can't change it because double jeopardy has already attached, he continued. “This has never happened to me in more than 100 jury trials that I have done."
By law Pearson was set free but less than two hours later, he was dead.
ABC30 in Fresno, California reports Pearson got into a fight with his sister’s boyfriend and was stabbed to death.
Pearson had already been in jail for over a year. If the trial had ended with a hung jury, he would have remained in custody, and a new trial would have been ordered.