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Judge drops one of seven charges against Winfield

News file photo Former Alpena Public Schools teacher Heather Winfield testifies earlier this month in Alpena’s 26th Circuit Court.

ALPENA ― One of seven charges against former Alpena Public Schools teacher Heather Winfield does not apply to Winfield’s case, Judge Roy Hayes ruled on Thursday afternoon.

Winfield faces accusations she sexually assaulted a former student between 2016 and 2018. She denies the charges.

Fifteen hours into jury deliberations in the trial that started Sept. 7, Hayes dismissed count seven, that of using a computer for “committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or soliciting another person to commit” a crime, according to Michigan statute.

The prosecution argued during the trial that Winfield tried to lure the alleged victim into a sexual relationship via social media messages.

The statute charged by the prosecution does not apply, however, Hayes said, because if a child is solicited for sex, the child is not committing a crime.

As of 4:30 p.m., the jury continues to deliberate the remaining six charges, including sexually assaulting a child younger than 13. Winfield faces up to life in prison if found guilty.

Jurors paused deliberation about 5 p.m. Wednesday and resumed early this morning. Around 2:30 p.m. today, jurors asked the judge what would happen if they could not agree on all charges. Hayes asked them to return to the jury room and continue trying.

“We are planning on staying late,” the foreman told the judge.

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