Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Robert Kalter, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.
Bill McCollum, Attorney General, and Ansley B. Peacock, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Before SHEPHERD, CORTIñAS, and SALTER, JJ.
ON MOTION FOR REHEARING
Upon consideration of the State's motion for rehearing, we grant the motion in part and deny it in part. The opinion issued in this case on October 20, 2010, is hereby withdrawn and the following is substituted in its place.
Hector Garcia appeals his conviction and sentence for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and felony theft. Finding that the trial court erred in disallowing a defense peremptory challenge to a prospective juror, we reverse and remand for a new trial.
Initially, jury selection in the case proceeded smoothly and without incident. After six persons had been selected to serve on the jury, the State exercised a backstrike on one juror. The next venire member to be considered was Ms. Runno. The defense sought to exercise a peremptory challenge on Runno.
[Defense]: We will exercise our fourth peremptory on Ms. Runno, No. 26.
[State]: And we would ask for a race neutral reason.
[Defense]: Race neutral. Ms. Runno has previous jury experience.
[State]: I don't know if that is a valid reason for a peremptory challenge.
THE COURT: The Court is going to deny that.
[Defense]: Prior jury experience has been held as a race and gender neutral reason to strike ...