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Juror Who Wed Killer Seeking to Have His Conviction Upset

November 19, 1988|CLAUDIA PUIG | Times Staff Writer

A woman juror who married a man after voting to convict him of murder, rape and kidnaping has asked an appellate court to overturn the verdict because she was coerced.

Gwendolyn Wix, 41, was a juror in the murder trial of Steven Erickson, 34, found guilty on March 16, 1987, in the February, 1984, abduction and shooting death of Victoria Winchester, 26. Erickson could have received the death penalty but instead was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

San Fernando Superior Court jurors deliberated for 10 days during the penalty phase of the trial, with all but Wix in favor of a death sentence. The panel finally acceded to her point of view because they feared the case would have to be re-tried, Harry Godley, who was foreman of the jury, recalled Friday.

In March, Wix filed a seven-page declaration alleging impropriety on the part of her fellow jurors. She did not mention her marriage in the affidavit, but in a response to the document last month, the attorney general's office wrote that her marriage to Erickson had tarnished her credibility.

Wix, who lives in Folsom, according to Department of Motor Vehicle records, could not be reached for comment.

In the affidavit, Wix said that the jurors discussed the facts of the case with her outside of the jury room and also that they were biased against Erickson.

"I disagreed with the other jurors on the question of the accused's guilt on the charges of rape and kidnaping and on the degree of homicide," Wix said in the affidavit. "The other jurors . . . called me foul names, including 'bitch,' accused me of being a cousin or otherwise related to Mr. Erickson and accused me of knowing the accused before the trial, all because I disagreed with them on these issues."

The attorney general's office said there is no evidence that Wix's fellow jurors acted improperly.

No Evidence

"The supporting affidavits do not contain any evidence that the jurors refused to deliberate," wrote Supervising Deputy Atty. Gen. Donald E. De Nicola.

Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Knight said he plans to investigate whether Wix had contact with Erickson during the trial or whether she might have known him before serving on the jury.

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