A jury deliberated for more than five hours Tuesday without reaching a decision on the fate of convicted murderer John J. Famalaro, who faces execution or life in prison for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing Newport Beach resident Denise Huber.
The panel of nine women and three men did not request that any testimony from the trial's penalty phase be read back to them before they adjourned in late afternoon. They will resume deliberations today .
The same jurors took about five hours last month to convict Famalaro of the crimes against the 23-year-old Huber. They must decide whether the aggravating factors of the crime--during which Huber's skull was struck 31 times with a roofer's nail puller--outweigh mitigating factors such as the 40-year-old defendant's lack of a criminal record and his troubled childhood at the hands of what defense attorneys called an emotionally abusive mother.
Defense attorneys maintain their client lacked a strong foundation while growing up and was unable to cope with the difficulties he faced as an adult. They asked the jury to spare his life, saying that he had tried hard to be a good person with strong religious values but failed.
The prosecution conceded that Famalaro's childhood had been difficult but argued the defendant had many opportunities throughout life to overcome his problems and did not take advantage of them. The prosecutor said the defendant's troubles did not give him an excuse to kill Huber.
The victim disappeared from the side of the Corona del Mar Freeway on June 3, 1991, and her whereabouts remained a mystery until three years later when her nude, handcuffed and bludgeoned body was found inside a freezer in a Ryder rental truck in front of Famalaro's Arizona home.