Teacher sex case jury 'hopelessly deadlocked'

February 10, 2009 5:30:15 PM PST
There was a heated argument in court late Tuesday afternoon after a judge demanded a jury keep working on a verdict in the trial of a teacher accused of having sexual relations with her student.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The jury says they're hopelessly deadlocked, eight to four. Shannon Hrozek's attorney asked for a mistrial, but then quickly withdrew that request. In a heated exchange, Judge Susan Brown said she would be willing to grant a mistrial, if the defense would be ready to begin a new trial Monday morning. That was a demand the lawyer for the former Westfield High School teacher considered ludicrous.

Hrozek is charged with sexual abuse of a child. Prosecutors say she performed oral sex on a 16-year-old male student in her classroom last year. It's a charge Hrozek denies.

The trial lasted a week. Deliberations began on Monday, and just hours in, jurors told the judge they were deadlocked.

"As it stands now, they're still deliberating, even though I think it's pretty obvious they are deadlocked," explained defense attorney Katherine Scardino. "This is not the appropriate thing to do. They need to be dismissed."

Hrozek's lawyer says, although no one wants it, a mistrial may be the only outcome. The jury will return to the criminal courthouse Wednesday morning to continue deliberating.

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