A second mistrial was declared Thursday in the case of a Granada Hills man accused of murdering his former girlfriend's date.
After deliberating for two days, a San Fernando jury told Superior Court Judge John H. Major that it was deadlocked 8 to 4, with the majority favoring a first-degree murder conviction for Charles Ruben Stevens. In a September trial, jurors had deadlocked 10 to 2 for conviction.
Stevens, 35, was accused of fatally shooting Evans Lee Crawford, 29, outside Crawford's Granada Hills house in December, 1984. Investigators believe that Stevens shot Crawford because the victim was dating Roberta Duenas, a Sylmar woman who had broken up with Stevens a few months before.
After interviewing Duenas and the victim's sister, detectives arrested Stevens at his home in the 16200 block of San Fernando Mission Boulevard. Investigators said the murder weapon was a .22-caliber revolver that Duenas had given Stevens as a birthday present.
In the second trial, Steven Kurylia, one of the defendant's friends, testified that he overheard Stevens and Crawford arguing over Duenas on several occasions. One of Crawford's neighbors, Kathleen McCrory, testified that, minutes after the shooting, she ran outside and saw a man fitting Stevens' description looking around furtively. When the man spotted her, he turned his head and ran, McCrory testified.
Stevens, who has been in custody since December in lieu of $100,000 bail, was gratified that more jurors in the second trial favored acquitting him, Deputy Public Defender Paul Enright said.
"I haven't given up," Deputy Dist. Atty. Janice Maurizi said. "I think it's a strong case. Unfortunately, it's a circumstantial case.
"There were no eyewitnesses. And there are certain people who will probably never convict unless you actually have an eyewitness."
Maurizi said some jurors indicated after the trial that they wished contents of police interviews leading to Stevens' arrest had been presented. She said the jury may also have mistakenly believed that the case involved the death penalty.
Maurizi would like to try the case again but said she was uncertain what the district attorney's office will do.
Stevens is scheduled to appear before Superior Court Judge David D. Perez, who presided over the case before he was transferred to Santa Monica Superior Court, on March 17.