The case of a 41-year-old former Greenacres police officer charged with failing to tell a lover he had HIV is headed to trial again after a jury on Thursday failed to reach a verdict.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer declared a mistrial in the trial of Ervans Saintclair after jurors spent nearly eight hours over two days deliberating his 2014 case and ultimately told the judge they couldn’t decide unanimously whether he was guilty of the rarely pursued felony charge of uninformed HIV-infected sexual intercourse.
Feuer set Saintclair’s retrial for Jan. 29.
The case, which involves a now 40-year-old former neighbor who was Saintclair’s on-and-off lover between 2010 and 2013, is just one of several similar charges against Saintclair, who prosecutors say was diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS as early as 2007 but kept his status from multiple lovers.
Assistant State Attorney Brianna Coakley on Thursday told Feuer she plans to take the case involving the current alleged victim to trial again before pursuing the other cases. Saintclair’s attorney, Ade Griffin, said after the jury deadlock that their impasse was a sign that prosecutors hadn’t proved their case.
“My client maintains his innocence,” Griffin said as Saintclair left the courtroom without comment.
Aside from testimony from the alleged victim, only two other witnesses testified: the lead detective in the case and a doctor, who said she began treating Saintclair for HIV before he met the alleged victim.
Coakley also played jurors a recorded call between the alleged victim and Saintclair. In the call, recorded after the detective told the alleged victim that Saintclair had HIV, Saintclair denied having the illness and said a jealous ex was spreading rumors about him because she was upset he hadn’t paid a bill for her.
Griffin in her closing arguments Wednesday said that medical records prosecutors presented in the case didn’t prove Saintclair had HIV or that he knew of the diagnosis.
Coakley responded by showing jurors details from the medical records of several doctors who treated Saintclair, including one who noted that Saintclair was in tears after he was informed he was HIV positive.
“If you just got told you have HIV and you cry in response, you know you have HIV,” Coakley said.
Jurors began deliberating the case just before 3 p.m. Wednesday and asked to listen to the recorded call again before Feuer sent them home for the day. They returned Thursday and deliberated for five hours more. At one point during a lunch break, they sent a letter to the judge saying they were deadlocked, then asked for the letter back 20 minutes later.
Eventually, however, the panel of three men and three women told Feuer they couldn’t agree on a verdict even after the judge delivered special instruction for them to keep trying to come up with a unanimous decision.
According to an arrest report, Saintclair found out he was HIV-positive when he had his pre-employment physical exam for the police department in 2007.
Deputies started investigating Saintclair in 2013 after a woman said he told her he was HIV-positive only after they had had sex several times in 2007. That woman’s case couldn’t be prosecuted because the statute of limitations ran out, but deputies say she helped them find other women with whom Saintclair had more recently been involved.
Saintclair was initially placed on administrative leave after his arrest and was eventually terminated from his employment with the Greenacres Police Department, which was taken over by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in 2016.