Jury still out in shaken-baby case

Relates to:
Date: 2004-06-17

Portland Press Herald (ME)

A judge tells jurors in the Sarah Allen trial to keep working after they say they can't reach a verdict.
Author: GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer

Jurors in the Sarah Allen manslaughter trial ended a second full day of deliberations Wednesday without reaching a verdict. Justice Ellen Gorman sent the jury of six men and six women home at 4:30 p.m. She instructed them to return at 8:30 a.m. today to resume their work in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Allen, 30, is charged with shaking her 22-month-old son Nathaniel to death on Feb. 14, 2003.

Prosecutors say she killed the boy after becoming enraged by typical toddler behavior. Allen says the boy that she and her husband, Jeremy, adopted in April 2002 died after a series of falls at home.

A medical expert hired by her lawyer said Nathaniel may have had an undiagnosed brain disorder that led to his death.

The trial began June 1. Jurors were presented with a wide range of evidence - hours of testimony by a dozen doctors was interspersed with home videos of the Allen family and entries in Nathaniel's baby book recorded by his mother.

Wednesday morning, the jury sent a note to Gorman asking for the definitions of criminal recklessness and reasonable doubt.

At 2 p.m., jurors sent a note saying they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Gorman instructed them to go back and deliberate further and to notify her in writing if they were deadlocked.

She told jurors there was "no magic formula" for reaching a unanimous verdict.

When no message came by 4:30 p.m., the end of the business day in Maine courts, Gorman sent the jury home for the night.

If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, Gorman must declare a mistrial under state law. The state would then decide whether to prosecute Allen a second time.

Allen has been supported throughout the trial by a large group of family and friends. They have filled the waiting area next to the courtroom, and at times can be heard singing hymns during deliberations.

Jeremy Allen, a U.S. Navy journalist based at Brunswick Naval Air Station, is facing an assault charge alleging he spanked Nathaniel with a wooden spoon the night before the boy died.

Jeremy Allen was supposed to go on trial, but the case was delayed when lawyers were unable to pick an impartial jury.

Staff Writer Gregory D. Kesich can be contacted at 791-6336 or at: gkesich@pressherald.com

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