JEFFERSON, Iowa -- A mistrial is being declared in the sexual abuse trial of James Exline.
A Greene County judged declared the mistrial just before Noon on Wednesday during the second day of jury selection. The judge made the declaration after learning members of the jury pool had been researching the case online in violation of court rules. The judge now says the case will need to be moved to a new venue further away from local media coverage.
Greene County Assistant Attorney Thomas Laehn isn't surprised by the announcement. He says there was likely too much familiarity with the suspect and victim in this case in the small community. "This case is just part of a larger sequence of events there are other defendants being prosecuted in other related matters," he says, "I think the defense argued that jurors may find it difficult to keep these different cases separate and it would affect their judgment in this case."
James Exline is charged with two counts of Sexual Abuse 2nd Degree for allegedly assaulting his daughter, Paige Exline. Paige was killed in a house fire in May in Guthrie County. Her stepbrother, Patrick Thompson, is charged with First Degree Murder and Arson for allegedly setting that fire. Paige's cousin, Shakiah Cockerham, was also killed in the fire. He will stand trial next year.
Paige's brother, Noah Exline, is also accused of sexually abusing her. He will stand trial for seven counts of Sexual Abuse 2nd Degree in March 2019.