Esteban Martinez is a free man, and he may have a petulant prosecutor to thank.
When Martinez's two alleged victims were no shows at his much-delayed and oft-rescheduled felony trial, the court finally lost patience, after nearly five years of waiting to resolve the pending case. And when the court ordered that the trial proceed, the prosecutor refused to participate, even after a jury was sworn in, leading to a judgment of acquittal.
The Illinois Supreme Court ordered that Martinez could be retried, as he was "never at risk for conviction," but yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a brief per curiam opinion, pointed to their own long-standing bright line rule: once the jury is sworn in, jeopardy attaches
. And the trial court's directed verdict was "a textbook acquittal: a finding that the state's evidence cannot support a conviction."
Especially since, you know, the State didn't present any evidence