Thursday, August 16, 2001

Jury can't reach verdict in Hamilton murder trial

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Shirley Simpson never did find out who killed her son in 1974 — and now she's wondering if she will see a conviction in the 1999 slaying of her daughter.

        “I just busted out and took to crying,” said Ms. Simpson, 64, of Hamilton, Wednesday after a jury reported it was unable to reach a unanimous decision in the case of Randy Young.

        Mr. Young, 38, is accused of murder in the death of Tammy Esther McClellan, 36, a mother of two whose body was found in Hamilton's Crawford Woods Park. She died from the combined effects of cocaine use and a physical attack, the Butler County coroner ruled.

        As difficult as it has been for Ms. Simpson to sit through the trial, she points out at least charges were filed in the slaying of her only daughter. No charges were ever filed in the case of her son, Clayton Adams, 21, who was found shot to death in a Fairfield Township ditch 27 years ago.

        Although juries are deadlocked occasionally, several courthouse sources said that rarely happens in murder cases. Victoria Robertson, legal office manager for the clerk of courts, said she couldn't recall a hung jury in a murder case during her 21 years there.

        Ms. Simpson said she thought assistant Prosecutor Lee Oldendick presented compelling evidence against Mr. Young. But defense lawyer Melynda Cook-Reich had argued that someone other than her client could have had the opportunity to kill Ms. McClellan.

        Mr. Young acknowledged he was with Ms. McClellan on April 8, 1999, but said “she drove away in her truck and he never saw her again,” Mrs. Cook-Reich said. Ms. McClellan's body was found two days later. “She could have been there (in the park) a whole 24 hours after my client was with her,” the attorney said.

        This morning, Judge Keith Spaeth intends to set a retrial date for Mr. Young, who has been held in the Butler County Jail since he was arrested and charged last September.

        Judge Spaeth said he had no choice but to declare a mistrial around noon Wednesday, after the jury foreman indicated that further deliberations would be useless. The trial began Aug. 6 and included 4 1/2 days of testimony before the jury began its work Tuesday morning. About nine hours of deliberations followed.

        Ms. Simpson said she and a half-dozen supporters were shocked that the trial ended without a conviction — tough to take after waiting more than two years.

        “This has been so hard,” Ms. Simpson said.'


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