Tampa Bay Online
NEW PORT RICHEY - A murder trial rife with controversy and surprise produced another twist Friday night:
A hung jury.
Despite almost 10 hours of deliberations, the dozen jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict in the case of self-professed neo-Nazi John Ditullio Jr.
The vote: 10-2 in favor of not guilty.
Circuit Judge Michael Andrews declared a mistrial and dismissed the Pasco County jury just before 11 p.m.
Ditullio, 23, took a deep breath and smiled slightly.
"I'm disappointed, but at the same time we'll come back and do it again," defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand said. "Hopefully, this time it'll be 12-0, and they'll recognize that he's innocent of this charge."
A hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday to discuss a possible retrial date.
Ditullio remains charged with first-degree murder in Kristofer King's death and attempted murder in the wounding of Patricia Wells. He could be given a death sentence if convicted.
King's mother, Charlene Bricken, declined to comment as she left the courthouse. Wells left the courthouse an hour before Andrews declared the mistrial.
At the time of the March 23, 2006, slaying, Ditullio was a recruit of the American Nazis, a neo-Nazi group that congregated at a compound in Griffin Park.
Wells lived next door to the compound with her son, Brandon Wininger. Wininger wasn't home on the night of the attacks, but his friend King had gone to the home to use a computer.
Prosecutors argued that Ditullio donned a gas mask and entered Wells' mobile home after midnight. He slashed Wells' face and turned the knife on King, who was trying to escape, authorities said. King, 17, died of knife wounds to the head. Wells escaped and ran for help.
Prosecutors said Wells was attacked because she associated with a black man and King was stabbed because he was gay. They said Ditullio was trying to impress the American Nazis enough to gain admission into the group.
A former group member testified for the prosecution that Ditullio was responsible for the crimes.
The defense acknowledged Ditullio's association with the group, but Ditullio testified that he didn't commit the crimes and was set up by the other members.
The defense advanced the theory that Shawn Plott, another American Nazi now listed as a fugitive, was the attacker.
An eleventh-hour defense witness, Samantha Troupe, testified that she lived in the compound before the group scattered after the stabbings. She said Plott told her a year later that he was responsible for the crimes.