Jury Deadlocks on Manslaughter Count : Man Found Innocent in Death of His Wife

Times Staff Writer

A man portrayed by the prosecution as jealous of his wife and bitter over the failure of their marriage was acquitted of murder charges Friday, but a jury was unable to decide if he was guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter for shooting her to death.

After four days of deliberations, the jurors deadlocked 7 to 5 in favor of finding Bill Franklin Vickers, 31, guilty of manslaughter in the shooting last March 8 in the Garden Grove home that he and his wife had just sold.

Investigators said Cindi Vickers already had separated from her husband of 13 years and was living in Laguna Niguel, but returned to the house to clean it and to pay some bills before the buyers moved in the next day.

As she sat at a table making out checks, Vickers shot and killed her with a gun he had borrowed from a friend two weeks earlier.

Thomas Avdeef, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, described Vickers as a jealous, moody man who knew that when his wife moved out and opened her own bank account the day before the shooting, it was "the end of the road" for their marriage.

Defense witnesses said Vickers was jealous of his wife's popularity and good looks and was upset about her ridicule of him in front of friends and relatives for his grammar, looks and baldness.

Vickers' attorney, James Riddet, said, "We don't quarrel with the fact that he shot the gun." Vickers "definitely snapped" and shot his wife but should never have been charged with first-degree murder, Riddet said. Jurors acquitted Vickers of both first- and second-degree murder and reached no verdict on the voluntary manslaughter count.

Vickers remains in Orange County Jail, pending a bail hearing on Monday. Riddet said he would meet with Avdeef next week to see if the prosecution would demand that Vickers stand trial again on the manslaughter charge.

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