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DA Says Juror, Not Evidence, Led To Hung Jury

 

"Extremely disappointing."

That's how Door County District Attorney Ray Pelrine characterizes the hung jury in Brian Cooper's double murder trial.

Following nearly 14 hours of deliberation over two days, the panel indicated to Judge Todd Ehlers Saturday that it was unable to reach a consensus on two first degree intentional homicide charges.

Pelrine says the panel was 10-2 in favor of conviction. But he says the stalemate didn't come from any particular aspect of the case, but from the actions -- or inactions -- of a single juror.

"It was my sense, and I think this was confirmed by the last message from the jury, that it was not the evidence that was the barrier to them reaching a verdict, it was a juror," says Pelrine. "At least one juror was pointed out as being not involving themselves in the deliberations."

Pelrine says that was a first for him.

"What is absolutely unique in my experience is a hung jury and the reason as expressed from notes from the jury is that it's for something having nothing to do with legitimate deliberations and legitimate disagreement among jurors. It's a juror that simply was no longer doing what jurors are directed to do."

The jury -- made up of Wood County residents -- did return a guilty verdict on a charge of third degree sexual assault.

The murder case will be tried again but dates have yet to be scheduled.

Cooper is expected to retain new counsel. The new defense attorney, Pelrine, and Judge Ehlers would then have to meet to discuss possible trial dates.

Door County Clerk of Courts Nancy Robillard says she doesn't yet have a final bill from Wood County for the cost of the trial but previously estimated it would cost in the range of $16,000 to $20,000.

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