What does a hung jury mean?
A person is not innocent, nor is that person guilty. It means, according to Mike Miner, Kosciusko County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, it was a “dry run.”
This was the case Wednesday when the jury, in the state vs. Franklin L. Engle, could not unanimously decide if Engle was innocent or guilty on one count of sexual misconduct with a minor.
Miner, who will be retiring at the end of the year, stated he feels the state’s intention is to refile the case. Engle will be retried for one of the alleged crimes.
There is no time limit to when the state has to refile charges. It is expected the charges will be refiled in the next few weeks and possibly be set for prosecution in 2015.
The hung jury and not guilty verdict, rendered by the jury, were no surprise to Miner. “I’ve had too many jury trials to be surprised,” he stated.
The defense counsel, Samuel Bolinger, had called his one and only witness, the defendant himself on Wednesday morning. The majority of the morning had been spent with jurors reading transcripts in the juror room.
When court reconvened at 1:54 p.m. the defense had already requested a directed verdict. A directed verdict would allow the judge to rule that there is not enough evidence to continue a court case. Superior Court I Judge Duane Huffer denied the motion for a directed verdict.
After giving jurors their instructions, which included making a decision beyond a shadow of a doubt and that all jurors must concur on the decision, closing statements were heard.
Miner stressed the girls were ashamed and embarrassed at what happened, evident during testimony when one victim was asked where the misconduct occurred. She replied she didn’t remember.
It was also noted his former wife had no motivation to initiate the investigation as their divorce was “no war of the roses” and was finalized within two weeks of the filing.
“You’re really talking about these two girls. Both testified about sexual deviate conduct … is it possible both are lying? If so, why? What is their motivation? I don’t see it done as pure pleasure … they were uncomfortable talking about this …”
Bolinger noted in his closing arguments there were three critical witnesses, the two girls and his client. He referred to his opening statement when he likened the case to watching a movie, but frame by frame. When broken down, things are seen that are not seen at normal speed.
Referring the jury’s deliberation as that of using the evidence as pebbles being placed on a scale. Those stones, he noted would tilt to the side of innocence. He also played on the fact the two victims could not remember things and on their use of time of how long the misconduct took place. He said common sense would tell you someone would have seen the act occur.
The defense tore apart the testimony of the witnesses, which caused one of the mothers to leave the courtroom in anger. He stressed for the jurors to use common sense and in doing so some of the testimony did not equal common sense.
When the jurors returned after close to 4 hours of deliberation, not one noticeably looked at the defendant. Many noticed looks of anger on their faces.
Jurors were only polled on the not guilty verdict. It is unknown if it was one or more jurors who kept the vote from being a unanimous decision.