A man convicted of raping and murdering his niece in Worthington will get a new trial in a rare decision handed down by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The death of 2-year-old Samantha Fraga is never far from the minds in her community. A little bench serves as a memorial and a reminder that she never grew up. According to state prosecutors, Josue Fraga brutally raped and murdered his niece at this trailer in 2008. Fraga's has been in prison, but now, the state Supreme Court took the very unusual step of ordering a new trial because a juror in his trial was biased. The trial judge had denied the defense's motion to remove a juror who said, "I think it would be hard" not to be unbiased, among other equivocations.
This marks Fraga's third trial for Samantha's death. After he was found guilty in the first trial, new evidence emerged and a second trial was ordered. He was found guilty in the second trial, too.
"He's been convicted twice already. It's going to open up a lot of wounds for the family," said Worthington resident Jerry Vogt.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ended the opinion saying, "We recognize that their grief may be sharpened by the decision today," but that impartial juries are a bedrock of our democracy.