Mistrial Called in Alleged Third-Strike Burglary Case

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A mistrial was declared Friday after a jury could not reach a verdict in the trial of a developmentally disabled man accused of stealing about $25 worth of goods from a Fountain Valley house.

Timothy Scott, 37, of Santa Ana could have faced life in prison had he been convicted because prosecutors filed charges under the state's three-strikes law. The jury voted 11 to 1 in favor of conviction.

It was the second time in 2 1/2 years that Scott was tried on charges that he stole two cheap watches and about $17 in change from a house near Mile Square Regional Park in May 1995.

The case was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Robert B. Hutson the first time because police failed to disclose that an eyewitness to the crime did not pick out Scott in a lineup, according to Joel Garson, Scott's attorney.

Garson said the prosecution's second case was based solely on weak circumstantial evidence.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Scott Petersen, who prosecuted the case, was not available for comment.

As Garson described the circumstances, Scott was spotted by police in Mile Square Park one morning in May 1995. At the time, Scott was on parole and had smoked marijuana earlier that day.

Scott ran when he saw police. Although he was not a suspect in a crime, he was arrested anyway "based on his past record," Garson said. He was later charged with burglary after the theft at a nearby house was reported and the goods were found in a yard.

Garson said that Scott had three prior felony convictions--two for burglary and one for a shooting he was involved in when he was 17.

Garson said he will ask Hutson on Wednesday to dismiss the case. Scott remained in custody at the Orange County Jail.

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