BALLSTON SPA -- A mistrial was declared late Tuesday by Judge Jerry Scarano in the case against Jeffrey Hampshire.
The mistrial was declared after a Saratoga Springs police investigator said in front of the jury that the 29-year-old Ballston man was investigated for a date-rape incident. But Hampshire was never charged in connection with the incident, said his attorney, Cheryl Coleman.
"The jury is not allowed to hear evidence of uncharged crimes," Coleman said.
Hampshire is on trial because he is accused of helping his neighbor, Travis Carroll, hide Carroll's broken windshield following a hit-and-run crash in March in Saratoga Springs. The hit-and-run crash resulted in the death of 27-year-old city resident Ryan Rossley.
Carroll had turned himself in after Rossley died. Hampshire, who was in the vehicle at the time of the collision, was arrested almost a month later.
Carroll pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter. In June, he was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison.
Hampshire was indicted in late April on a felony count of tampering with physical evidence and faces up to four years in prison if found guilty.
Jury selection for the trial had been completed early Tuesday.
But Coleman said the statements made by Investigator Laura Emanation were "particularly egregious," because the investigator knew that the girl involved in the date rape incident admitted it had been a consensual act and was charged with falsely reporting an incident.
Judge Scarano excused the jury following Emanation's comments, then asked for the statements to be read back. Coleman reluctantly asked for a mistrial.
"I'm really angry, because I have little doubt this jury would have acquitted Jeff," Coleman said. "There's a complete lack of evidence that he tampered with the windshield."
"Judge Scarano had no choice but to grant a mistrial once Investigator Laura Emanation uttered the words ‘one of the subjects was being investigated for date rape,' when referring to the defendant," said Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy in a statement.
"We made it crystal clear to Investigator Emanation that she could not reveal that information to the jury. We warned her what the consequences would be and in fact that is what happened today - a mistrial by the judge," said Murphy, adding "this does not in any way diminish our commitment to the case."
Coleman said the jury selection process will now have to start over, although a trial date has not yet been set and Hampshire remains in Saratoga County Jail.