BOISE – A man found guilty of first-degree murder for the execution-style shooting of a teenager was barely spared the death penalty Saturday because of a deadlocked jury.
Jurors began deliberations Wednesday, but announced Saturday they could not agree whether Jason McDermott should receive the death penalty in the murder of Zachariah Street, 18.
Eleven of the 12 jurors believed McDermott’s actions met the aggravating factor required for a death penalty, but the one holdout means McDermott’s sentencing falls to 4th District Judge Cheri Copsey.
McDermott faces 10 years to life in prison, but Copsey can’t sentence him to death when she rules, likely in June. An Idaho law passed in 2003 calls for juries, not judges, to issue the death penalty.
The same jury found McDermott, 24, guilty last week of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Prosecutors alleged McDermott and Robroy Wall Jr., 25, each shot Street in the head and left him in the desert May 2, 2003, because the victim had provided sheriff’s deputies information allegedly implicating them in a car burglary.
Wall’s trial is set for the spring. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
A third defendant, Daniel Hosford, 18, reportedly witnessed Street’s shooting and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a plea bargain including his agreeing to testify against the others.
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