After deliberating for two days, a Los Angeles jury deadlocked Friday on whether to recommend the death penalty for a man who raped and killed two women, one of whom had appeared as a body double for Janet Leigh in the movie "Psycho."
Eleven of the 12 jurors voted in favor of death for Kenneth Dean Hunt, 34. With the other juror holding out for a life sentence, Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor declared a mistrial in the penalty phase of the case.
Prosecutors will now have to decide whether to continue seeking the death penalty with a new jury, which would decide only on the penalty. Otherwise, Hunt will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Connor has scheduled a hearing for April 24 to determine what to do next in the case. On March 15, the jury convicted Hunt on two counts of rape and first-degree murder with special circumstances for the killing of Myra Davis, a 71-year-old actress, and Jean Orloff, a 60-year-old oral surgeon's assistant.
"We're disappointed, especially since it was 11 to 1. We were hoping for an end," said Lois Bachrach, Orloff's sister, who wanted the death penalty.
The trial has been particularly difficult for Bachrach because of mistakes made by the Los Angeles Police Department and the county coroner's office, both of which failed initially to realize that Orloff was a homicide victim.
After being told Orloff died of natural causes, her family held a memorial and was preparing to have her cremated. But a coroner, called in to sign a death certificate a few days after the initial investigation, discovered that she had been raped and strangled.
Investigators soon began to suspect that the same person who killed Orloff also killed Davis 10 years earlier.
Thanks to a tip from Hunt's brother-in-law and DNA evidence, police arrested Hunt, a handyman who had been in both women's homes.
In closing arguments Wednesday, Assistant Dist. Atty. John Gilligan said Hunt's repeated crimes made the death penalty the only choice.
He said Hunt had left a path of destroyed lives, and three dead bodies.
In addition to killing Davis and Orloff, Hunt served time in prison for manslaughter in the death of 67-year-old Bernard Davis.
In that case, Hunt punched Davis, who was walking to the market with his wife, after Davis told him to quit kicking his dog. Davis fell, hit his head on the pavement, lapsed into a coma and died. Hunt was sentenced to six years in prison and was still on probation when he killed Orloff.
Several women also testified that Hunt had groped them.
"What we've seen is the reality of horrible violence being inflicted on people, people whose only misfortune is that they came upon Kenneth Dean Hunt," Gilligan said.
Hunt's attorney, Mark Windham, asked the jurors for mercy and said he had tried to help them understand how a boy, who was so sweet that one year he refused to open his Christmas presents until his mother and sister got home, could turn into a sexually deviant killer as an adult.
Windham presented testimony that Hunt's father, who had not spoken to his son in 20 years, drank excessively and was cruel to him. According to the testimony, the father once forced Hunt to eat his own vomit and bragged about it.
After problems in the home, Hunt was sent to a hospital, but was forced to leave after he molested other children.
He was diagnosed with a sexual behavior disorder and eventually landed in a youth detention facility, where he stayed for 4 1/2 years.
"When did the cure happen?" Windham asked. "Some people will say he's a bad seed. That not a theory; that's a cliche. We're not born violent, but someone can change that."