A Franklin County jury admitted it was “hopelessly deadlocked” Friday in the trial of a former Pasco police officer accused of raping a woman in 2014.
The panel of four men and eight women said they could not reach a unanimous verdict, which led to a mistrial for Richard J. Aguirre.
However, jurors did agree they wouldn’t reveal to the prosecutor and defense attorneys how divided they were on their votes for both counts.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have much information at all that helps us out in evaluating the case,” Prosecutor Shawn Sant said later Friday, noting that it is unusual not to get feedback from jurors.
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Now, Deputy Prosecutor Frank Jenny must decide whether to re-try Aguirre or dismiss the Superior Court case. A hearing is set for Aug. 2.
Aguirre, 52, is charged with third-degree rape and fourth-degree assault. His trial started July 6 with jury selection
Judge Bruce Spanner had both sides return to court at 3:19 p.m. Friday after getting a written question from the jury.
“After two days of careful deliberations, we have not reached a unanimous decision. How should we proceed?” Spanner read.
Defense attorney John Henry Browne replied, “That was my guess.”
The jury panel, made up of four men and eight women, got the case late Wednesday and deliberated Thursday and Friday.
Spanner calculated that the jury had deliberated about 12 3/4 hours. That did not include the one hour they returned to the courtroom Thursday for a replay of Aguirre’s recorded statement with authorities, he said.
“Now the whole trial took about 14 1/4 hours. Of that, 3 1/2 were opening statements and closing arguments, so 10 3/4 hours of actual testimony,” Spanner said. “So they’ve now deliberated longer than they’ve listened to testimony.”
He then had the jury brought in at 3:24 p.m.
Spanner addressed the foreman, asking of there was “a reasonable probability of the jury reaching a verdict within a reasonable time” as to either count.
The man answered “no” to each question.
“Are you, sir, satisfied that as a jury you’re hopelessly deadlocked and the parties’ positions are not going to change from this point forward?” the judge asked.
He also questioned if further efforts would be futile.
The man responded “yes” to both.
“You’ve done your duty this month, and I know it must be particularly difficult having been unable to come to a decision,” Spanner told the jury after granting the motion for a mistrial.
One juror told the Herald later Friday that the panel had agreed not to discuss the deliberation process and the final votes.
Four jurors had stayed behind after court was done to meet with Jenny, Browne and defense attorney Michael Lee, but “they didn’t share a whole lot,” Sant said.
The jurors had a couple of evidence questions, but otherwise would not give an idea if they were evenly split or short one vote for a unanimous decision either way, he said.
“Typically our process in cases like this, especially given the nature of the crime, we want to consult with the victim and make sure we’re in a position to be able to say for sure what decision we’re making Aug. 2 when we’re back in court.”
Earlier this week, the alleged victim told jurors she met up with Aguirre for dinner in Kennewick in November 2014. They went on to have drinks at two other locations with the woman’s cousin and his wife, before calling it a night.
The woman, who has known Aguirre her entire life, testified she thought it was safe to spend the night at his Pasco home instead of driving back to Yakima County.
The woman is not named under a Herald policy not to identify people who report being sexually assaulted.
She testified that after passing out on one side of Aguirre’s bed, she awoke to him touching, kissing and sexually assaulting her.
Aguirre denied any sexual contact with the woman, who was in her 20s.
His attorneys argued that the woman’s credibility is on trial, and suggested she had an ongoing affair with a former lover and she had to lie so her husband and family wouldn’t know she had been with the man that night.
The defense said Aguirre’s DNA, found on the woman’s underwear, could have been transferred either when she was sleeping in his bed or from wearing his T-shirt to sleep.
Aguirre resigned from the Pasco police force in April 2015.
He also faces a murder charge in Spokane County for the 1986 death of a prostitute, Ruby J. Doss. That trial is set for Nov. 28.