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No verdict in Ark. beauty queen death; resume Sat.

Jurors deciding the fate of a man accused of killing an Arkansas beauty queen couldn't reach a verdict Friday after eight hours of deliberation, and were ordered to return Saturday to try again.
CLARKSVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Jurors deciding the fate of a man accused of killing an Arkansas beauty queen couldn't reach a verdict Friday after eight hours of deliberation, and were  ordered to return Saturday to try again.

Jurors told Circuit Judge Bill Pearson late Friday that they need more time to decide the case of Gary Dunn, who is charged with capital murder for the 2005 beating and stabbing death of  Nona Dirksmeyer, 19.

Jurors twice told the judge earlier Friday that they couldn't reach a unanimous decision, and Pearson told them to keep trying.  But just after 8 p.m., the jury foreman asked the judge to allow jurors to go home. Pearson agreed, and told them to return at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Dirksmeyer was a music major at Arkansas Tech University and the reigning Miss Petit Jean Valley when she was found dead in her Russellville apartment Dec. 15, 2005. Dunn lived next door at the time. Dirksmeyer's boyfriend was acquitted of the crime in 2007.  Deliberations in Dunn's trial began Thursday, but came to a halt when a juror was replaced by an alternate. The jury had to start from scratch.

On Friday, another juror was removed and the panel again had to begin deliberations anew around noon. The jury foreman later told Pearson jurors were divided, but the judge instructed them to make "every reasonable effort to harmonize" their opinion.

Dunn's attorney asked for a mistrial, but Pearson denied the request.

When Pearson brought jurors into the courtroom late Friday to learn how they were progressing, the foreman said they wanted to go home for the evening.

One alternate juror, seated alone in the hallway outside the courtroom all day Friday, remained in reserve if there is another problem.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Text of jury question in Gary Dunn Ark. trial

Text of jury's question in murder trial of Gary Dunn, charged with killing Arkansas beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer.
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Can a juror's "common knowledge" include knowledge of a previous accusation or conviction if said information may lend to the establishment of a certain behavior or sequence of behaviors?

Should we assume that because this information was excluded from the prosecution argument that it can't be considered?

This information has not been discussed in deliberations thus far at all.

Also, what happens if no verdict is reached? Does G. Dunn simply go free or is he subject to being tried again?

Jurors sent a question, judge read into the record, sent jurors back to deliberations.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Courtroom cleared for hearing in Nona Dirksmeyer murder trial

CLARKSVILLE, Ark. (AP) - The judge presiding over the trial of a man charged with killing beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer has started proceedings by clearing the courtroom.

A bailiff announced that everyone but the attorneys had to leave the Johnson County courtroom for a private hearing Friday morning. There was no indication what the hearing was about, and a gag order prevents attorneys and officials from discussing it.

Gary Dunn is charged with capital murder in the 2005 death of Dirksmeyer in Russellville. Defense attorneys claim Dirksmeyer's boyfriend, Kevin Jones, was the killer. Jones was acquitted in 2007.

On Thursday a juror was removed from the panel after a similar hearing. Deliberations then started from scratch after an alternate was put onto the jury.
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