The trial of Milton N. Bullock on rape charges, delayed for 10 years while prosecutors attempted to locate him and extradite him from Sweden, will have to wait two more months, an Arlington judge said yesterday.
Circuit Court Judge Paul D. Brown declared a mistrial yesterday and rescheduled the case after Robert J. Furlong Jr., a juror, approached him before the proceedings began and said that he had misgivings about hearing the case.
Furlong, one of four men on the all-white jury, said, " 'I feel very uncomfortable as a member of a white jury trying a black man,' " Brown told the court. Brown said he told him that juries are assembled from lists of voters, without regard to race. According to Brown, Furlong said he did not wish to continue serving on the case.
"In 35 years on the bench, it's the first time I've ever had a juror say, 'I'm prejudiced,' " Brown said. Furlong could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Bullock, 34, is charged with rape, sodomy and abduction with intent to defile in connection with an incident in May 1975.
Shortly before a trial scheduled for November of that year, Bullock fled the country for Sweden, prosecutors said.
He was deported from Sweden last August and has since been held without bond in the Arlington County Jail.
Defense attorney Tom Harrigan argued that the charges against Bullock should be dismissed, saying the juror's behavior "taints the proceedings." Brown denied Harrigan's motion to dismiss, then granted the prosecutor's motion for a mistrial and rescheduled the case for March 18.
Postponing the long-delayed trial "is distasteful to everyone, but it's beyond the control of counsel or the court," Brown said.
Judith Stevens, 35, described in four hours of testimony Monday how a stranger threatened her with a knife, drove her to a deserted lot, sodomized her and raped her twice on May 15, 1975.
Stevens lowered her head as Brown announced his decision yesterday.
Assistant prosecutor Helen Fahey said she was disappointed and frustrated that the case will have to be retried.
"I don't know what struck the juror between yesterday and today," she said. Potential jurors routinely are asked whether they have any biases that would prevent them from delivering a fair verdict.
Stevens (formerly Judith Palfrey) is now a marketing consultant in Pittsburgh.
In 1977, she became the first rape victim in Virginia to testify publicly about her experience before the State Crime Commission.
When reached by telephone yesterday, Stevens said she did not want to comment on the judge's decision to declare a mistrial for fear of affecting the upcoming trial in March.