For the second time in four months, a jury couldn’t bring an end to the longest, most expensive criminal prosecution in Spokane County history.
After three days of deliberations, the jury of nine women and three men found itself hopelessly deadlocked Thursday in the Joseph D. Andrews double-murder trial.
Andrews was arrested nearly three years ago for the execution-style killings of Eloise Patrick and Larry Eaves. On Feb. 19, 1994, the Spokane residents were shot in the head at close range. Their bodies were found in a car parked near downtown.
Facing a possible death sentence if convicted, Andrews first stood trial earlier this year. That jury wound up being hopelessly deadlocked, also after three days of deliberations.
Defense attorney Dutch Wetzel said the second mistrial is as disappointing as the first.
“It’s apparent the inability to reach verdicts by these juries is based on the problems jurors had with the witnesses and evidence presented,” Wetzel said.
So far, the county has spent at least $600,000 defending the 27-year-old Andrews, who admits he was selling “crack” cocaine during early 1994 but insists he had no hand in the murders.
After the first mistrial, Spokane County Prosecutor Jim Sweetser dropped his pursuit of the death penalty, hoping a second jury would take a less critical view of the evidence.
Now, Sweetser must take another hard look at the case - and its weaknesses.
“These are still very serious charges,” he said, stopping short of announcing there will be a third trial.
“We’ll base our decision on whether we can hold the defendant accountable,” Sweetser said.
In both trials, jurors had the challenge of dealing with confusing, often contradictory, testimony by witnesses with sordid histories and lengthy criminal records.
Prosecutors said Andrews killed the 37-year-old Eaves because of a $1,000 drug debt, then shot Patrick, also 37, in the back of the head to eliminate a witness to the killing.
The case against Andrews was built almost entirely on circumstantial evidence.
The only witness to say Andrews killed the pair is his former girlfriend, Tarry Green, 27.
Green testified she sat in the back seat of Patrick’s car next to Andrews as he pulled out a 9mm pistol and fired six shots into Eaves and Patrick.
Defense attorneys in both trials attacked her credibility, offering numerous instances of admitted lies and suggesting she pointed the finger at Andrews to avoid being prosecuted for the murders.
The second jury found itself evenly split on whether to convict or acquit Andrews when deliberations began Tuesday.
By Thursday, nine jurors favored convicting Andrews on both first-degree murder counts. But the panel decided there was little hope of reaching a unanimous verdict.
Besides the need for multiple trials, the Andrews case is breaking spending records largely because the county is paying big for his defense.
Under state law, at least two attorneys must represent a defendant facing the death penalty. Andrews needed private attorneys to avoid conflicts of interest with public defenders representing people called as witnesses in the murder case.
The private attorneys cost the county $70 an hour for work outside of court; $100 an hour for courtroom time.
Public Defender Donald Westerman said the cost of defending Andrews the first time around was $513,000. Wetzel hasn’t billed the county for the second trial.
On Thursday, jurors left the courtroom refusing to answer reporters’ questions.
But one of the jurors from Andrews’ first trial said she wasn’t surprised by the second mistrial.
“It’s the same problem we had - credibility of the main witnesses and nothing solid to go on,” said the former juror, who asked not to be identified.
A third trial would be pointless, she said.
“I voted to convict him. But at the same time, I can understand the concern of not sending someone to jail without having a solid case.
“What good would another trial do? It’s not like they’re going to find some new evidence.” , DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo