Teacher gets new trial

Remember the case of the substitute teacher who was being brought up on charges for showing her classroom pornography? (See previous post for a recap.)

There’s an update on her case:

NEW LONDON — A Superior Court judge today ordered a new trial for Julie Amero, the former Norwich substitute teacher who claims pornographic images on her classroom computer were the result of pop-up ads.

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein overturned Amero’s conviction in January of four counts of risk of injury to a minor.

Strackbein acknowledged further forensic investigation into Amero’s computer at the state police crime laboratory and by the defense team had turned up the possibility of “erroneous” facts presented to jurors by the prosecution’s expert computer witness.

“The jury may have relied, at least in part, on that false information,” Strackbein said. “(Amero) is entitled to a new trial in the interest of justice.”

Set to be sentenced today, Amero instead entered another not guilty plea.

Amero’s case stems from a day at Kelly Middle School on Oct. 13, 2004, when seventh-grade students reported seeing pornography on her computer. She maintained at trial the porn was out of her control. Norwich Police Det. Mark Lounsbury, who examined the computer, argued she had intentionally surfed the Web sites.

Her conviction garnered national attention, particularly from those in the technology field who argued the porn was the result of adware generated pop-up ads. Strackbein said the publicity had led to an onslaught of criticism by phone and e-mail to the court, attempts she said, to improperly influence the court with information and misinformation.

In light of the controversial verdict, a team of computer experts had worked to confirm what defense expert witness Herbert Horner of Montville said he was never able to present during the trial.

“I had a two-hour presentation that clearly shows her dilemma was caused by pop-ups,” Horner said. “I’m just hoping now the whole thing gets dropped. I think the prosecutor was sandbagged by his expert witness.”

Defense attorney William Dow III, standing beside a smiling Amero outside the courthouse, said Amero was relieved. He commended the state for acting responsibly and further investigating the evidence.

“I have a great team behind me,” Amero said. “I feel very comfortable with the ruling.”

Assistant State’s Attorney David Smith, who prosecuted the case, did not oppose the motion for a new trial, acknowledging “erroneous evidence,” presented to jurors. He gave no indication if the state planned to move forward with another trial.

Hooray! Erroneous eveidence indeed. But seriously she faces 40 years. She wouldn’t get 40 years for sleeping with a student! Hell, she wouldn’t get 40 years for killing a student! Toss the case, Mr. Judgeman!