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Be nice, judge tells jurors after heated exchange in Atascadero rape case

Jurors are deliberating the fate of Rian Mabus, seen here at a July hearing. He is accused of raping his girlfriend’s aunt.
Jurors are deliberating the fate of Rian Mabus, seen here at a July hearing. He is accused of raping his girlfriend’s aunt. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Tensions ran high during the Rian Mabus rape trial jury deliberations Thursday afternoon, resulting in an emotional exchange that prompted San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge John Trice on Friday to ask jurors to get along.

Trice individually questioned a small number of jurors about the alleged confrontation in open court Friday morning, before bringing in the full jury to resume deliberations with a reminder to be courteous and respectful during the process.

The judge said such outbursts happen from time to time. While he called the case an emotional one, Trice attributed some of the tension to the size and cramped nature of the deliberation room and so he invited jurors to move into the main courtroom for the remainder of their discussions.

Attorneys delivered closing arguments in the Mabus case on Thursday. Mabus, a Paso Robles man, is accused of raping his then-girlfriend’s intoxicated aunt in August 2014.

Mabus was acquitted on charges of raping an unconscious person in July 2016, but the jury in that trial deadlocked on another charge of raping an intoxicated person, leading to a second trial.

Jurors deliberated until around noon on Friday before heading home for the weekend. They are expected to return on Monday morning.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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