Jury to spend third day deliberating fate of girl accused of killing dad

February 2, 2012 3:30:27 PM PST
A Harris County jury spent a second day deliberating the fate of a Katy girl who shot her father when she was 12 years old.

There's still been no verdict after Day 2 of deliberations. The jury in the 315th Juvenile Court on Thursday afternoon sent a note to Judge Mike Schneider indicating that they are deadlocked. The judge, though, sent them back to continue deliberating. They did so until about 5pm Thursday, when the judge sent them home. They are expected to continue deliberating Friday.

Since resuming deliberations Thursday morning, the jury sent several notes to the judge. The most recent asked for read back of testimony from a DPS trooper about a comment made by the girl to the trooper where she allegedly said she killed her father because she "wanted more freedom." Defense attorneys claim she never made that statement.

Nearly three years ago, in an otherwise quiet Katy neighborhood, 38-year-old Mark Nelson was shot to death. He was shot in the head in his sleep, police say, by his then 12-year-old daughter. They recovered a .38 caliber revolver at the scene.

At trial, the girl's attorneys called the shooting the culmination of years of abuse at the hands of her father. They claim he physically and sexually assaulted her repeatedly since she was just six years old.

"It's a good defense, and it's a legitimate defense, and it's a sad defense," KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said.

Androphy says the jury's inability to reach a verdict thus far is indicative of the struggle they are having with the evidence.

"That suggests they're having trouble," Androphy said.

Authorities say Nelson was home alone with the seventh grader at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors say this is a case of murder; they insist the girl never made any outcry of abuse before or immediately after the shooting and that the girl simply thought her father was too strict.

We'll be watching this case closely for verdict or mistrial. If convicted, the girl, now 14, could receive anything from probation to up to 40 years in prison.