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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 24th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 7 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 7

Judge declares a mistrial for Lompoc prison guard

BY AMY ASMAN AND CAMILLIA LANHAM

Jurors failed to reach a verdict April 19 in the trial of former Lompoc prison guard Timothy McNally, prompting Judge Patricia Kelly to call a mistrial.

As of press time, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office had yet to announce whether it will attempt to retry McNally, who’s charged with murdering his friend and fellow prison guard Gary Bent in a Lompoc hotel room last year.

According to trial testimony, McNally shot Bent in the neck with a 9-milimeter handgun while they were in the bathroom of their Embassy Suites room. The men had been drinking all day following a training seminar, and toxicology reports also found bath salts in their systems.

Defense attorney Michael Scott argued before the court that the shooting was an accident, while Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens argued that McNally’s extensive weapons training should have prevented him from making such a mistake.

After two days of deliberations, the jury returned to the courtroom split 7-5 over the felony charge of second-degree murder; the court didn’t comment on how the jury voted. The members did agree on a lesser charge of manslaughter, but Kelly told them, “Until you can agree on count one, you can’t move on to any lesser [counts].”

The jury went back into deliberations and eventually sent out a note asking the court to clarify the legal term “malice aforethought.” Kelly told them to refer to their jury instructions.

Under California Penal Code, malice is defined as either express (the deliberate intention of unlawfully taking the life of another) or implied (malice applied by a jury or judge when no considerable provocation appears).

The jury deliberated a little longer before coming back to court with a verdict. Kelly asked the jurors if the court could provide them with any additional information to bring them to an agreement. When they declined, Kelly declared a mistrial.

“The jury is hopelessly deadlocked,” she said.

A follow-up hearing has been set for May 1.