Ketchikan jury deadlocked in Mateu trial

Posted: Friday, May 11, 2001

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A Ketchikan jury has failed to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Jose M. Mateu in the shooting death of his father last year.

After the jury announced the deadlock Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins tentatively scheduled a new trial to begin Sept. 10.

Mateu, 18, also known as Che Mateu, was on trial on charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in connection with the January, 2000 shooting death of his father, Jose R. Mateu. District Attorney Steve West and defense attorney Louis Menendez declined to comment on the outcome of the trial, which began April 23 in Ketchikan Superior Court.

Juror Kenneth Lewis told the Ketchikan Daily News that several jurors became emotional and cried when the deadlock was announced.

''We failed to come to a conclusive point other than somewhere in the middle of the road,'' Lewis said. ''I'm a little bit distraught about the part that I was involved in.''

Lewis said he believes the justice system works, and worked in this case. ''I believe that the prosecution's job was to prove to me the guilt of another human being, and with all their resources and manpower, they did not,'' he said. One important point - the time of death - never was proven conclusively, Lewis said.

''Time of death is essential,'' he said. ''There were too many holes that were left up to the jury to put time frames on. You can make up all sorts of scenarios in your head, but you have to be provided some concrete timelines. There was way too much gray area.''

During the trial, an FBI analysis of the bullet fragments found in the victim's head connected the bullet that killed Jose R. Mateu to a box of bullets found in the Mateu residence. Defense experts, however, testified that the FBI process was flawed.

The night Jose R. Mateu was killed he ate a spaghetti dinner with his son, who spent the night at a friend's house, District Attorney Steve West said in his opening statement.

Alaska State Troopers went to the home the next day and found the body after Jose R. Mateu's co-workers at Ketchikan Dray Heating became concerned when he failed to show for work. West said the father was shot once in the back of the head while sitting in a recliner soon after eating dinner.

Menendez said in his opening statement that the prosecution had made some mistakes and held back evidence.

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