Mistrial in 20 Year Old Murder Case

December 22, 2008 2:10:46 PM PST
A judge declared a mistrial in a more than twenty year old North Valley murder case.Jurors could not decide whether Robert Thompson killed two young girls in 1986.

Everyone involved in this trial admits the amount of time that has passed since the murders makes it a very difficult case.

But the victims' family members say they've never stopped hoping for justice.

Robert Thompson gestured toward his family moments after a judge declared a mistrial in his murder trial.

A short time later, family members of the two young victims in the case left the courtroom in tears, shocked that jurors did not return a guilty verdict after two days of deliberations.

John Wetzel, Victim's Uncle: "The longer they stayed out, the more convinced I was they were working toward a conviction verdict, and that seemed to be the case. Maybe they should have stayed out there a couple more days and got it right."

Thompson is accused of killing 15 year old Shiela Carter and 12 year old Jodi Ragsdale with car jack on December 13, 1986. The 42 year old reputed Hell's Angel was identified as a suspect at the time of the murders, but authorities did not arrest him until 2006 when they say DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

Randy Thomas, Defense Attorney: "I think the split in this jury is an indicator that the case was not nearly as strong as they had originally assumed. There was a great deal of scientific evidence in favor or Mr. Thompson. There was a lot of older testimony that changed over the years."

Defense Attorney Randy Thomas says the jury was split eight to four but could not say which side had the majority. Jurors would only say it was a difficult deliberation.

"It was really hard, just very hard."

Now it's up to the district attorney's office to decide whether to pursue a second trial.

Dave Moranda, Chief Deputy District Attny.: "We're coming back to court on the 29th and by then we'll have a decision if we're gonna go forward and try him again."

Thompson's attorney has always maintained his innocence and has even identified another man as the real killer.

But prosecutors say Thompson is responsible, and the victims' family members we spoke with say they're hoping for another trial and a guilty verdict.


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