Mistrial declared in third Mateu murder trial

Posted: Wednesday, May 07, 2003

KETCHIKAN (AP) A jury in the third trial of a man charged with murdering his father has failed to reach a verdict, forcing a mistrial to be called Tuesday, according to the Ketchikan Daily News.

Jos Che'' Mateu, 20, was on trial in Juneau Superior Court, charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the January 2000 slaying of his father, Jos R. Mateu in Ketchikan.

Two previous trials held in Ketchikan also resulted in hung juries. The first jury was deadlocked at 9-3 to acquit and the second, 7-5 to convict. The jury count in the third trial was not immediately available.

The Juneau jury in the third trial deliberated for approximately eight hours before writing a note Monday to Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins asking what it should do if it is deadlocked.

The jury sent a second note saying it was in fact deadlocked. At that point, Collins called the jury into the courtroom and asked whether there was a reasonable chance a verdict might be reached. The jury foreman said he didn't believe there was.

The jury deliberated again on Tuesday. A mistrial was called Tuesday afternoon after the jury still could not reach a verdict.

The trial began April 1. During opening statements, District Attorney Richard Svobodny described the senior Mateu as an active member of the Ketchikan community who was sometimes violent toward his son. Che Mateu, said Svobodny, was a hormonal teenager whose declining relationship with his father and breakup with his longtime girlfriend turned him into a ticking time bomb.

Che Mateu was alone in the house with his father on the night of the murder, Svobodny said. The victim made spaghetti for his son, not knowing that in a short time his son would be sneaking up behind him'' and shooting him in the head, Svobodny said.

Che Mateu left a trail of evidence, including a spent bullet casing in his bedroom and footprints that led to an area where police said a rifle was thrown into the ocean, according to Svobodny. He said the rifle was recovered and bullets in the weapon matched bullets kept in the Mateu home.

Assistant Public Defender Valerie Leonard said Che Mateu might have had minor disagreements with his father, but the relationship between the two was loving and caring.

Leonard said Alaska State Troopers botched the murder investigation, moving and destroying crime scene evidence and failing to consider any suspects other than Che Mateu.

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