CULPEPER, Va. (WUSA) -- Former Culpeper police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright was sentenced to 36 months in jail on Friday. He received 12 months for each of 3 counts including manslaughter in the death of Patricia Cook. He faced up to 25 years.
Earlier Friday, the judge denied a mistrial for Harmon-Wright. The sentencing was put on hold after the court learned of jurors' alleged misconduct involving, of all things, the use of a dictionary.
The jury was told by the judge that it was to only use the materials provided. After two dictionaries and a thesaurus were found in the jury room, each juror was questioned in open court.
The judge and lawyers wanted to know whether the dictionary helped them find Daniel Harmon Wright guilty of manslaughter. Six jurors admitted to looking up the word "malice" or "malicious." One juror said she didn't know what the word meant, and needed help to make her decision about Harmon Wright.
The jury decided that he did not act with malice, so instead of murder, they found him guilty of manslaughter.
The juror who admitted to bringing in two dictionaries and a thesaurus, said she asked the bailiff if "it was OK" and he said "yes."
Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins says there was no mistake on the part of his bailiffs, only a misunderstanding on the part of the juror who brought in the dictionary. They are allowed to bring in books to pass the time but nothing to help them reach a verdict, except what they're given by the court.
On Friday, the prosecutor told the court that the victim was emotionally fragile, and said that the jury did not hear how three days before the shooting Cook had wandered in a school. The prosecutor claimed that when Harmon-Wright encountered Cook in a church parking lot days later, he lost his temper and slaughtered Cook. The defense, however, said Harmon-Wright was only an officer doing his job.