Megan Martzen murder mistrial, jury leans "not guilty"

February 14, 2013 12:29:22 AM PST
Just two votes separated Megan Martzen from being cleared of murder charges Thursday.

The 22-year-old still has the case lurking over her head, but she has a new support group in the jurors who believe she's "not guilty".

The air was filled with emotion on both sides of a very packed courtroom. Martzen alternated between tears and smiles, but she left the courthouse encouraged that she was very nearly acquitted.

Martzen could once again crack a smile as she walked out of court Thursday. After years of being labeled a "murderer" by Reedley police and Fresno County prosecutors, Martzen now knows ten important people did not believe she murdered Ella Van Leeuwen.

"When you really look down to it, there was no proof," said juror Annette Rodriguez. "[There was] no smoking gun."

Action News spoke to four jurors who said there was significant doubt as to whether Megan did anything intentional to hurt the 17-month-old she was babysitting. Their final vote was 10-2 in favor of not guilty on murder, and 8-4 in favor of not guilty of child assault.

Jurors never spoke to Martzen, but one of them sent her an apology through an Action News reporter.

"I had a message from one of the jurors to you and she said, 'Sorry we couldn't convince the other two, but you'll be okay,'" the reporter told Martzen.

"I will be," she replied. "God has been good through this. We just have to keep trusting Him through this, but God is really good and we'll be okay."

Martzen's not in the clear, though. Prosecutor Jeff Dupras told the Van Leeuwen family he intends to take the case to trial again. But none of the jurors who talked to attorneys after this trial ended thought any jury will ever unanimously believe Megan is a murderer.

"The truth will set you free, so I think she's going to be fine if they choose to retry it personally," said juror Jennifer Aleman. "I don't think they're going to convict her."

Martzen is due back in court next month. If the district attorney's office decides to move forward, a new trial could start within the next two months.


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