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Mistrial Declared in Bridges' Assault Case

November 10, 1989|LOIS TIMNICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A mistrial was declared Thursday on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon filed against actor Todd Bridges after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked 8 to 4 in favor of acquittal.

Bridges, 24, who appeared on the "Diff'rent Strokes" television series, was acquitted earlier this week of attempted murder and attempted voluntary manslaughter charges in the shooting of a convicted Texas drug dealer.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lorna Parnell reduced bail for Bridges from $1 million to $25,000 after conferring with the commissioner who heard the trial.

Bridges' attorney, Johnnie Cochran, said that after posting $2,500 cash, his client would be released late Thursday from the Men's Central Jail where he has been held since his arrest in early February.

After the mistrial was declared, jurors said they found witnesses for both sides--including Bridges-- "hard to believe" and gave Bridges the benefit of the doubt.

"There was no way to know what really happened," said juror Maxine Hall.

In the trial, Bridges testified that he was so intoxicated after a four-day cocaine binge that he could not remember if he shot Kenneth (Tex) Clay, 25, at a "rock house" in South-Central Los Angeles on Feb. 2. "I don't think I did. I didn't know who did," he told the jury. He claimed he was using about 14 grams of cocaine a day at the time and was "based out."

Clay, a self-described bodyguard for the owner of the rock cocaine house where the shooting took place, survived eight gunshot wounds. He testified that after an argument with Bridges, the actor and an associate kicked open the door and Bridges stood over him and shot him at close range, emptying the handgun until he heard its hammer clicking.

Bridges' associate, Harvey Duckett, also testified against the actor after pleading no contest to being an accomplice in the attack.

Deputy Dist. Atty. William Hodgman said he would like to retry Bridges on the assault charge but will have to confer with his superiors. All parties were ordered to return to court Nov. 21.

Cochran said the trial had been "a cathartic experience" for the actor, who had found himself "at the depths of life" last Christmas. "He was out of work and wanted to kill himself. . . . This incident was the culmination (of his use of drugs)."

Now, however, Cochran noted that Bridges owns a home in Granada Hills and is engaged to be married.

It was not the actor's first brush with the law. In 1987 he received a suspended sentence after pleading no contest to charges of making a bomb threat, and in 1983 he was fined $240 for carrying a concealed firearm.

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