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Jury unanimity is lacking, so mistrial ruled in fatal knifing at Kenmore bar

A judge Wednesday declared a mistrial in the case of a stabbing death at a Kenmore bar, saying he did not believe that jurors could reach a unanimous verdict on Erich F. Jones' claim of self-defense.

"There is no reason to believe they can render a unanimous verdict," State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia said.

On the seventh day of jury deliberations, defense lawyer Daniel J. DuBois requested the mistrial, calling jurors "obviously deadlocked."

Homicide prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable consented to the request, saying the last of the jury notes "makes it crystal clear" that jurors could not agree on a verdict.

Two jurors sent a note to Buscaglia saying they would not change their minds to agree with the others on the jury. The two did not indicate whether they accepted or rejected Jones' self-defense claim.

"I will not and cannot change my verdict," a juror wrote in the note, with two other jurors signaling their agreement.

The juror said, "I feel that I have deliberated fairly and justly." But further deliberation would not lead to a change, the juror said.

Jones faced a second-degree murder charge, although jurors could have convicted him of first-degree manslaughter if they rejected his self-defense claim.

Buscaglia scheduled a Nov. 9 return date to schedule a new trial.

The trial lasted 3 1/2 days.

Over seven days of deliberations, jurors requested the testimony of 11 witnesses to be read back to them. Testimony from a few witnesses was read back more than once.

Nine times jurors asked the judge to reread the legal definition of justification.

Jurors sent some 30 notes to the judge during their deliberations.

Prosecutors contend Jones, 42, of Ramsdell Avenue, stabbed Carlo Gibson, 26, with a pocketknife, inflicting fatal, 6-inch deep wounds in his neck and chest during a fight in the early morning hours of April 17 in Drifters bar.

Curtin Gable and co-counsel Eugene T. Partridge III said the killing was not justified and did not amount to self-defense.

DuBois called Jones' actions justified, saying that Gibson picked a fight with Jones within minutes of Gibson's arrival at the bar.

Jones did not testify.

But jurors watched a video of his Kenmore police interrogation in which he said Gibson threatened him first.

"He said he was going to kill me," Jones told a police detective.

email: plakamp@buffnews.com