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A Mistrial for Buckey : Jury Hopelessly Deadlocked in McMartin Case : Acquittal Favored on Most Counts

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A mistrial was declared today in the retrial of McMartin Pre-School defendant Ray Buckey after jurors declared they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg declared the mistrial after asking each juror if they agreed with the foreman’s assessment that further deliberations would be fruitless.

The foreman informed the judge that a majority of the jury favored acquittal in all but one of the eight counts against Buckey, who became the central figure in a 7 - year-old molestation case that gained national attention.

The jury was in its 15th day of deliberations when the mistrial was declared.

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Weisberg summoned it into court just hours after granting an unusual request from the jury foreman that two sealed verdicts delivered last week be returned for further deliberation.

In both of those counts, the jurors later disclosed, unanimous acquittals were replaced with 11-1 votes in favor of acquittal. The foreman made it clear the unidentified holdout juror would not be swayed. It was not known what caused the holdout to reverse, but the jurors spent much of the last week reviewing medical evidence presented in the retrial.

In declaring a mistrial, Weisberg said “it is clear to me that the jury will not reach a verdict in this (case). Therefore it necessitates a mistrial in this case.”

Buckey appeared impassive as the mistrial unfolded.

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It is not known whether Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner will seek a new trial.

The McMartin case--which included allegations not only of rape, sodomy, oral copulation and other sex crimes, but also of pornographic photography sessions, “naked games,” field trips away from the school for illicit purposes, animal mutilation, threats and satanic-like ritual and sacrifice--began in the fall of 1983.

Stemming from a 2 1/2-year-old boy’s report to his mother that he had been sodomized at his school by a “Mr. Ray,” the case ultimately cost taxpayers $14 million, altered scores of lives and careers and focused international attention on the issue of child sexual abuse.

Buckey himself spent five years behind bars before being released after supporters posted more than $3 million worth of property as bail. And three persons involved in case died of unnatural causes, prompting the trial judge to comment that McMartin had “poisoned” everyone it touched.

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After nearly three years of trial--and nine weeks of jury deliberations--however, Buckey was found not guilty last January of 40 molestation counts and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, was acquitted of all 12 counts against her.

Reiner then decided to retry Buckey on eight of the 13 counts the jury had been unable to decide. It was essential to resolve the case in the courtroom, Reiner said. Either Buckey, now 32, was a monster molester who preyed on tiny children and deceived their trusting parents, or he was an innocent, albeit troubled, young man caught up in a witchhunt.


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