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Mistrial declared in bedroom homicide Jury deadlocks in Riverside murder case where wife says she accidentally shot husband with hunting rifle

A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the case of a Riverside woman jailed for nearly a year in the fatal shooting of her sleeping husband.

After a second day of deliberations at Robin Kalinowski's murder trial in the 2005 death of her husband, Senior Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico declared a mistrial shortly before 5 p.m.

The 12-member jury told him that they were deadlocked on a verdict and that their positions had hardened. The jurors did not talk with the media after pronouncing their verdict.

After excusing the jury, the judge ordered prosecutors and Kalinowski's attorney to meet with him today to discuss the timetable for the next trial.

The 43-year-old woman is charged with second-degree murder for what she contends was the accidental shooting of her husband, Kevin Kalinowski, 41, as she was moving one of his hunting rifles off the bed in their unlit bedroom at about 1 a.m Nov. 10, 2005.

John K. Jordan, Kalinowski's attorney, said Tuesday's outcome left him and his client "disappointed, but it's better than one of the possible alternatives," adding that "we are ready to do this again because from Day One, my client has said this was an accidental shooting and not a crime."

Prosecutors Thomas M. Finnerty and Aaron F. Glazer said they will be discussing with the judge and Jordan whether the next trial for the defendant should be a murder trial or the murder-conspiracy trial she also faces for allegedly trying to hire a "hit man" who proved to be an undercover police officer to kill the Tonawanda man with whom she has admitted having an affair in 2005.

Kalinowski, who has been jailed since her second-degree murder indictment last November, was indicted in the spring on murder conspiracy in the second case.

D'Amico said he hopes to get one of the two trials scheduled within the next month or so.

During 82 minutes on the witness stand Monday morning as the only defense witness in the trial, Kalinowski periodically became emotional as she denied intentionally killing her husband of 15 years.

She tearfully told the jury she and her husband "liked each other, we loved each other, and he was a good man." She referred to the death in 1993 of their 15-month-old daughter during a heart transplant as having given them an emotional "bond that nobody could take away from us."

She acknowledged that she had used the weapon involved in the shooting -- a bolt-action .22-caliber rifle once owned by her late father -- for target practice two weeks before her husband was killed. But Kalinowski insisted she still cannot recall exactly how the rifle fired.

In his closing argument Monday, Finnerty told the jury that what he called Kalinowski's frequent "deer-in-the-headlights looks" of tearful grief on the stand were merely her way to "play to the sympathy" of jurors.

Finnerty and Glazer argued that uncontradicted forensic evidence in the case based on the 2005 autopsy on the victim proved that Kalinowski deliberately "executed" her sleeping husband by pointing the rifle barrel against the back of his head as she pulled the trigger.

On the witness stand, Kalinowski acknowledged that she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of grand larceny for stealing $20,000 worth of checks from the Allied Mechanical company while working there as a receptionist more than seven years ago.

She testified that her embezzlement case, for which she was spared jail, was related to antidepressant drugs she was taking because of the emotional problems she had after a nephew's terminal brain cancer followed soon after the death of her own infant daughter.

She said professional counselors told her her that women suffering from depression sometimes respond by stealing money.

She also told the jury that what she described as a brief sexual affair in the months before her husband's death had been a "mistake."

She also insisted on the stand that her husband periodically brought weapons into their bedroom for cleaning and repairs.

When pressed by the prosecutors about the nearly dozen conflicting explanations of the shooting she reportedly gave to friends and associates, Kalinowski said she had been the victim of a vicious Riverside-area "big rumor mill" that developed after her husband's death.

Kalinowski acknowledged that in jail, she had befriended two middle-aged criminals who told the jury she had admitted the killing and sought a hit man to get her boyfriend. But she said they were lying to try to get better treatment from the authorities in their own cases.

Kalinowski's husband and his brother, Kenneth, were partners in Kalinowski Contracting. The shooting victim was also a partner in Drinkwell Products, which specialized in home brewing supplies.

A hunter and fisherman, the victim was also a partner in Teed-Off Miniature Golf, which constructed portable miniature golf courses leased or donated for charitable events. He also was active as an officer and coach in the River Rock Baseball League in the Riverside area.

The couple's two sons, Kevin and Erik, have been living separately with relatives of their mother since her arrest.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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