Deliberations stall in temple killings retrial

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Johnathan A. Doody, 39 By Catherine Holland Johnathan A. Doody, 39 By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- A judge is pondering whether to declare a mistrial or send jurors back to continue talks after deliberations stalled for a second time Wednesday in the retrial of a man charged with killing nine people, including six monks, at a suburban Phoenix Buddhist temple more than two decades ago.

Johnathan A. Doody, now 39, was just 17 when he was accused of participating in the August 1991 slayings at the Wat Promkunaram temple.

He was found guilty in 1993 and sentenced to 281 years in prison, but an appeals court threw out his conviction in 2011 after finding that investigators improperly obtained a confession from him.

Doody's retrial began Aug. 12. Jurors deliberated for less than a week before one of them said it was too emotional for her to continue. Deliberations were halted, and she was replaced with an alternate juror. The judge then instructed the panel to begin anew Oct. 3.

The fresh jury deliberated for three days before stalling again.

On Tuesday, the jury foreman sent the judge a note indicating the panel was "having difficulty coming to a decision due to a member of the jury not willing to deliberate and follow instructions."

Judge Joseph Kreamer questioned each juror Wednesday, seeking more details.

"In what way is she not willing to deliberate?" Kreamer asked the foreman.

"I think she is being emotional," the foreman replied, explaining the juror is basing her decision on speculation and not facts. "She says nothing is going to change her mind."

When the judge questioned the female juror, she told him she felt badgered by the others and that some have called her "stupid."

"We've gone over and over and over it many times," she said.

At the conclusion of the day, the judge asked attorneys on both sides how they would like to proceed.

"If they can't reach a verdict, then you need to declare a mistrial," said Doody's attorney, Maria Schaffer, telling the judge she would like him to instruct the jury to continue deliberating.

Prosecutor Bob Shutts agreed but expressed frustration at the conundrum.

"If she's not listening, then she's not participating," Shutts said.

Kreamer said he would make a decision when the jury returns Thursday morning.

Another man, Allesandro "Alex" Garcia, pleaded guilty in the killings and was sentenced to life in prison in exchange for his testimony against Doody and a promise that prosecutors wouldn't seek the death penalty.

Garcia said the crime was Doody's idea and that the two wanted to steal gold and cash that they believed the monks kept. Authorities said the robbers ransacked the temple's living quarters and made away with about $2,600 and other valuables.

Each victim was shot in the back of the head.

During the retrial, Schaffer urged jurors to discount Garcia's testimony, saying he was a "sophisticated and savvy" teenager at the time who lied to minimize his involvement.

Prosecutors told the panel that the evidence showed both Doody and Garcia were responsible for the killings.

Doody's brother and mother were members of the temple. He has maintained his innocence.

Garcia's attorney, Benjamin Taylor, speculated Wednesday that jurors are struggling over his client's testimony.

"Either you believe him or you don't," Taylor said. "He's the only one that places Doody at the scene."

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Doody's conviction and ruled his confession inadmissible partly because he wasn't properly read his rights.

In the confession, Doody said he went to the temple during the robbery but claimed he was outside when the shootings occurred.

The appeals court's decision meant prosecutors couldn't use Doody's confession at his retrial. They instead relied largely on Garcia's testimony.

Garcia said Doody was determined to leave no witnesses and shot each victim. Items taken from the temple were found at Garcia's house, where Doody was staying at the time.

The judge at Doody's first trial spared him the death penalty, noting it couldn't be determined beyond a doubt whether Doody was the triggerman.

Prosecutors couldn't seek the death penalty in Doody's retrial because of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibits authorities from pursuing the ultimate punishment against defendants who were under 18 years old when the crime occurred.

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