Hung Jury?

On June 24, the second day of deliberations, jurors in the Haidl gang rape case said they are “unable to reach a verdict” on count 1, rape by intoxication, and asked if they should halt discussions about the other 23 counts.

Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseo accepted the 1:25 p.m. jury announcement and ordered the panel to continue debating the merits of a case that's attracted national attention.

The development is sure to delight defendants Greg Haidl, Keith Spann and Kyle Nachreiner. They are charged with videotaping themselves raping and molesting Jane Doe, an unconscious 16-year-old minor at a July 2002 party in the Corona del Mar home of Orange County Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl, Greg's father. In addition to sexual intercourse and oral copulation, the drunken defendants used a Snapple bottle, Tree Top Apple Juice can, lighted cigarette and a pool cue to repeatedly penetrate the girl's vagina and anus as she lied motionless on a garage pool table. If convicted, they face as little as probation to a maximum 55 years in prison.

There's little doubt what has jurors at odds. Forty minutes after Briseo told the panel to continue, the eight-man, four-woman panel asked court staff to read back the “complete” testimonies of Dr. H. Ronald Fisk, a defense-paid neurologist, and the prosecution's Dr. Peter Fotinakes.

During the five-week trial, the doctors gave conflicting testimony about Doe's consciousness. Fisk claims Doe faked a coma and could solve math problems during the late-night incident; Fotinakes said Doe was “clearly” in a stupor from beer, marijuana and a likely drug-laced, eight-ounce glass of Bombay Gin given the girl by the defendants.

In their closing arguments earlier this week, defense lawyers John Barnett, Joe Cavallo and Peter Morreale pleaded with jurors not to compromise during deliberations, a sign the defense believed the majority of the panel favored the prosecution.

“These kids have been sitting here for two months with their hands folded (as if in constant prayer) and putting their faith in you,” an emotional Morreale told jurors on June 23. “Make no mistake about it: these are boys. . . . Don't throw the prosecution a carrot.”

In his closing statement, prosecutor Dan Hess asked the jury to punish the defendants for their “horrible sadistic acts” on a girl who “clearly couldn't resist.”

On Wednesday, the panel selected a jury foreman and almost immediately asked to rewatch Haidl's graphic homemade video. They reviewed the tape again this morning. Afterward, jurors emerged from Briseo's 11th floor courtroom for a break. As they waited to catch an elevator, they joked and chatted.


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