After a full day of deliberations, jurors remained undecided Tuesday on the fate of the former owner of the 509 Fitness gym in Kennewick.
The 12-member Benton County Superior Court jury will return today to see if a verdict can be reached about whether Jason Ray Sleater is guilty of theft for charging a gym enhancement fee to members.
Prosecutors allege Sleater was not authorized to collect the $19.60 fee from about 375 members. Sleater's defense attorney, however, said the gym contracts allowed for it.
On Tuesday, the jury sent two notes to Judge Bruce Spanner with questions about the law, said Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor.
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Jurors also twice told Spanner that they were deadlocked. Spanner asked them in court whether they felt they could reach a verdict in a reasonable time and when the foreman said yes, they went back into the jury room to keep trying, Bloor said.
The jury of three men and nine women started their day at 8:30 a.m. and went home at 4:30 p.m. They also deliberated for just more than an hour on Monday.
Sleater, 35, now of Spokane, is charged with first-degree theft and seven counts of second-degree theft for charging the gym enhancement fee to some members about a month before it closed last year.
To convict Sleater of first-degree theft jurors have to determine that he wrongfully obtained or exerted control over the property valued at more than $5,000 and that he intended to deprive the members.
The second-degree theft charges are connected to an access device. Bloor said that the access device can be the members' account numbers, but defense attorney Scott Johnson argued that it meant Sleater took their debit or credit cards.
Sleater's defense also centered around one of the victims, Kennewick police Detective Bill Dramis, who confronted Sleater about the fee.
Johnson said his client was charged with eight felonies because Dramis wanted revenge after Sleater kicked him off the gym property.