Friday, June 07, 2002

Charge dropped in bleach case

Deadlocked jurors dismissed

By Marie McCain,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Hamilton County jury — the first to try a juvenile defendant in Ohio history — was unable to reach a verdict Thursday after two days of deliberations in the case of a teen-age Avondale girl accused of killing her father.

        Jurors could not agree on whether the teen, charged with involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault, intentionally assaulted her father and whether her actions led to his death.

        After jurors failed to make a decision Thursday, Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon dismissed the jury and the involuntary manslaughter charge against the teen.

        The 15-year-old, who is not being named because of her status as a juvenile defendant, still faces the felonious assault charge and was ordered to return to court June 17.

        The jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of guilty on the felonious assault charge; while on the involuntary manslaughter charge, the vote was 11-1 in favor of not guilty. New Ohio law allows jury trials in serious juvenile cases.

        Prosecutors believe the girl intentionally threw bleach on 39-year-old Archie Dale Hall Jan. 28 during an argument that turned physical inside their Northern Avenue home.

        During trial, prosecutors contended the bleach triggered the respiratory problems that led to Mr. Hall's death Feb. 18.

        They introduced testimony from emergency room workers and a Hamilton County coroner that indicated Mr. Hall had a serious breathing problem shortly after the incident.

        At that time, prosecutors will announce whether they want to pursue the remaining felonious assault charge.

        If convicted, the teen, who was 14 at the time of the incident, could face detention until she turns 21 and possible incarceration once she becomes an adult.

        After Thursday's hearing, the girl's attorney said his client was pleased with the outcome.

        “She has been holding up well through this whole thing,” said Terry Weber, assistant Hamilton County public defender. “We are somewhat relieved by today's decision, but we still have to come back and deal with the other charge.”

        During the trial, the defense argued that the teen had been protecting herself and did not intentionally throw bleach on her father.

        Both sides agreed that Mr. Hall died because he couldn't breathe and that he most likely vomited and inhaled some of that fluid.

        However, the defense argued that Mr. Hall was intoxicated when he argued with his daughter and that the alcohol he had ingested caused him to vomit, not the bleach.


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