The retrial of Wayne Mayer, the deputy district attorney charged with petty theft, got under way Wednesday as attorneys attempted to select a jury in San Diego Municipal Court.
Mayer, 41, is accused of stealing a power saw and a drill from the back of a pickup truck parked at De Anza Cove on June 14. Last month, jurors in Mayer's first trial on the misdemeanor criminal charge deadlocked, 9-3, in favor of conviction after two days of deliberations.
During that trial, Mayer testified that stress from his participation in the retrial of accused police killer Sagon Penn had driven him to drink so heavily that he had an alcohol-related blackout and could not recall taking the tools.
According to the testimony of a psychiatrist, Mayer also felt stress from marital tensions fueled by his wife's friendship with Police Agent Donovan Jacobs, a controversial prosecution witness in the Penn trial, and his own "doubts" about Jacobs.
Jurors in the first trial said they were in agreement that Mayer had taken the tools, a fact the defense did not contest, but were divided on the question of whether Mayer was so impaired by alcohol that he could not have formed the intent to commit the theft.
Mayer, a 10-year veteran of the district attorney's office, is on paid leave from his $65,000-a-year job pending the conclusion of his case.
The current proceeding marks the second time in less than five years that Mayer has been accused of petty theft. In 1982, the prosecutor was charged with stealing a fishing rod from a drugstore; he was placed on probation after pleading no contest to a reduced charge of trespassing. Mayer never told his supervisors in the district attorney's office about the episode and did not identify himself as a deputy district attorney to the arresting officer.
Defense attorney Peter Hughes and Deputy Atty. Gen. John Swan, whose office is prosecuting the case, are scheduled to complete jury selection and may present opening arguments in the case this morning.
On Wednesday, Hughes declined to say whether his defense strategy will differ in the retrial.
"It all depends on what new evidence the prosecution comes up with," Hughes said.