35th District Court Judge Steve Ellis will rule later on an appellate attorney’s motion for a new trial because, the attorney argued,  jurors were influenced by inadmissible evidence when they convicted a man of a sex offense in December.
    Assistant District Attorney Elisha Bird countered attorney Erica Copeland’s argument in a hearing before Ellis Friday morning, saying Ellis had admitted the disputed evidence during the December trial of Dan Olin, 42, of Brownwood.
    Olin was convicted of continuous sexual abuse of children after a hard-fought trial and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Jurors returned the guilty verdict Dec. 9 after deliberating for more than six hours.
    One of the jurors in the Olin case testified Friday that jurors heard a recording  of a jailhouse phone call involving Olin that they hadn’t heard in open court. But jurors had received no new information in that recording, the juror testified, and he did not believe any outside influence had influenced the jury.
    According to testimony and lawyer’s statements:
    When jurors deliberated Olin’s guilt or innocence, they were provided with at least one disc that contained recordings of jailhouse phone calls between Olin and family members. About a week after the trial, Bird became concerned jurors may have accessed information that was not played in open court.
    The district attorney’s office notified Ellis of Bird’s concern, and Ellis scheduled Friday’s hearing on whether Olin should be granted a new trial. Bird said during the hearing that even a “concern” on her part was enough for the district attorney’s office to notify the judge. The district attorney’s office does not “sit on” or hide concerns it may have about a case, Bird said.
    Ellis and the attorneys reviewed trial transcripts that pertained to two disputed discs. Copeland argued the record showed Ellis had never admitted the discs. Jurors had been deadlocked before listening to the recordings on the discs, Copeland argued, but reached a guilty verdict after hearing the recordings.
    Bird argued that Ellis had used language that implied he was admitting the discs. Bird also argued that what jurors heard in the recordings was neither new nor detrimental, and that jurors had heard the same information from direct testimony in open court.   
    Ellis said he is required to make a ruling within 75 days of Olin’s Dec. 9 conviction.