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Orange County

Jury in Shotgun Maiming of Girl Says It's Stuck; Judge Has Options

October 16, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County jury said Wednesday that it could not agree on whether a father should be held criminally negligent for maiming his daughter with an accidental shotgun blast.

The panel of eight women and four men was "hopelessly deadlocked," 11 to 1, and could not reach a decision after nearly 1 1/2 days of deliberations, the jury foreman told Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue in Santa Ana.

The foreman did not specify whether the panel was leaning toward conviction or acquittal on the felony child endangerment charge against Jeffrey West of San Clemente. West, 35, faces up to nine years in prison if convicted in the Sept. 27, 2002, shooting.

West, who had just bought the shotgun at a Big 5 sporting goods store, was sitting on the edge of the bathtub loading and unloading the weapon when it discharged, hitting his 8-year-old daughter, Madison. The child was standing a few feet away, watching West's girlfriend put on makeup.

The blast severed her right arm just above the elbow and she lost a kidney. Deputy Dist. Atty. Karen Schatzle said in closing arguments this week that West was reckless when he pointed the barrel at the girl in a cramped bathroom and that he didn't lock up other loaded guns in his house and car.

West's attorney, Robison Harley, stressed that the shooting was accidental.

The other jurors tried to sway the holdout juror, who was very vocal and opinionated, but were not successful, officials said. The panel is expected to return to court today and the judge has several options, including dismissing the jury, giving the panel more time to decide, or granting a possible request from attorneys on either side to replace the holdout juror with an alternate.

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