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California jury's mistake frees burglary defendant

A defendant in a Central California burglary case walked out of a courtroom a free man after a jury mistakenly signed a not-guilty verdict form.

The Fresno Bee reports the flabbergasted judge said Wednesday he had no choice but to order defendant Bobby Lee Pearson to be set free from jail because the not-guilty verdict had been put on the record.

After it was too late, jurors told the judge they were hung on the charges against Pearson.

But Superior Court Judge W. Kent Hamlin said he couldn't change the form because double jeopardy was already attached. He said it had never happened in more than 100 jury trials he has presided over.

Police say Pearson and two co-defendants burglarized an apartment last year.

Pearson has previous felony convictions, including several on gun charges.

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