Mistrial declared in case of accused freeway shooter - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mistrial declared in case of accused freeway shooter

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A deadlocked jury caused a judge to declare a mistrial Thursday in the case of a transient accused of shooting at cars on a San Diego freeway, wounding a 21-year-old college student and damaging the car of another motorist.

The jury foreman told Judge Charles Gill that the panel was deadlocked 8-4 in favor of acquittal on two attempted murder charges against 59-year-old Stephen Dragasits.

Jurors deadlocked 7-5 for guilt on two counts of shooting at an occupied vehicle and 10-2 for guilt on two counts of assault with a firearm.

The jury sent a note that it was deadlocked on Wednesday, during its third day of deliberations.

Gill scheduled a status conference for April 20 on what to do next in the case.

In her closing argument Monday, prosecutor Chandelle Konstanzer said the defendant deliberately fired from his motor home, which was parked alongside southbound state Route 163, wounding University of San Diego student Ashley Simmons and hitting the car of Jeffrey Lloyd-Jones on the morning of April 5, 2011.

"He was aiming at these individuals," Konstanzer said. "He was aiming. He intended on killing them."

But defense attorney Euketa Oliver told the jury in her closing argument that no one saw her client shoot at anyone.

Video footage shot by a motorist driving in the area the morning of the shootings shows a motor home parked by the freeway, but it is a different motor home than the defendant's, Oliver said.

Konstanzer said Dragasits lived in his RV and liked to hang out in the vicinity of Kearny Mesa Road along the freeway near the Clairemont Mesa exit. About a month before the shootings, Dragasits was convicted of throwing large rocks at cars in the same area, she said.

The CHP found .22-caliber casings in the area after the shootings, and some had the defendant's DNA on them, Konstanzer said.

But Oliver said there were questions regarding the collection of evidence and whether acceptable standards were followed in testing for DNA on the shell casings.

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