CHARLESTON — A juror from a DUI case that resulted in a bribery investigation has been charged with perjury.

Jacob R. Stephens is accused of lying while testifying at a post-trial hearing in the case against Christopher K. Whitley.

In Stephens' case, the charge is connection with his saying during the hearing that heard another jury say Whitley would "get what he deserved." That led a judge to overturn the guilty verdict in the DUI case.

Other jurors denied that Stephens made that statement but it led to a Mattoon police investigation resulting in the bribery case. Also, a prosecution motion to reinstate the guilty verdict against Whitley is pending.

Stephens, 23, of Mattoon, appeared in court on Thursday, when county Public Defender Anthony Ortega was appointed to represent him.

Circuit Judge James Glenn scheduled the next hearing in Stephens' case for Oct. 24. That was set as Stephens' preliminary hearing, at which the prosecution presents evidence for a judge to decide if there is sufficient cause for the case to continue.

In addition to perjury, Stephens is charged with obstructing justice, which accuses him of lying to try to prevent Whitley's prosecution. Both charges are felony offenses.

Assistant State's Attorney Joy Wolf, who is prosecuting the case, would not comment when asked if authorities knew why Stephens made the statement during the post-trial hearing.

Whitley, 41, of Mattoon was charged with driving under the influence in May 2015 and the jury's guilty verdict came during a trial in April. The hearing at which Stephens testified took place in August and was for a defense motion to have the verdict overturned.

Bribery charges were filed against Whitley last month. He is accused of having a man offer money to a woman who was also on the DUI case jury and making an offer to the man, as well.

According to police testimony at an earlier hearing in Whitley's case, the investigation found that he had the man offer the woman $5,000 to say she looked up online information on Whitley during the trial.

The investigation also found that Whitley offered the man, a mutual friend of his and the juror's, a discount on a vehicle at the Pilson automotive dealership, where Whitley works, according to the testimony.

Whitley's next court appearance is scheduled for Friday, a hearing on the prosecution's motion to have the DUI verdict reinstated. All 12 people who served on the DUI case jury, including Stephens and the woman Whitley is accused of trying to bribe, have been subpoenaed to testify at that hearing.

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Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave



Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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